Centering reflections to begin worship

Centering Prayer: Take from me...
“Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.” Psalm 37: 7
Lord, help me to relax.
Take from me the tension
that makes peace impossible.
Take from me the fears
that do not allow me to venture.
Take from me the worries
that blind my sight.
Take from me the distress
that hides your joy.
Help me to know
that I am with you,
that I am in your care,
that I am in your love,
that you and I are one.
(Source: David Adam in “The Open Gate” SPCK 1994, posted on the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand website).

Look for the Spirit in the nooks and crannies of your life, the small tucked-away spaces where surprises happen more often than not. The sacred is part of us, just like the mind: it fills every part of us, therefore it is not only in the obvious moments like worship and prayer, but in the quirky times like watching a sunset or holding a baby. The Spirit slips in in the blink of an eye. Love inhabits the deepest part of ourselves, the quiet center, until it becomes who we are. The holy and the everyday are brought together, a heartbeat begins, and life continues with a smile. (Bishop Steven Charleston)

Friends, we are holders of a common thread;
the thread of priceless grace that winds creatively in, and around us all.
Often it feels golden, unbreakable;
at other times, it looks tarnished and frayed,
to the unthinkable point of shredding apart
through antipathy – distrust, of one another.

We come, therefore, to be stilled, to listen deeply,
to create room for another voice, another presence
– beyond and before our own –
to reorient and lift us in perspective and heart,
instilling lasting grace, peace and hope.
(Source: Sean Gilbert 2012)

I sit in the presence of eternal love.
I breathe in the rhythm of eternal breath.
I delight in the joy of eternal presence.
My soul is at rest.
My spirit has found peace.
God is in me.
God is around me.
Behind, before, on left and on right.
God is with me,
Wherever I go.
(Christine Sine, Godspace)

I am breathing.
Breathing out anxiety, breathing in an awareness every breath is a gift.
Breathing out despair, breathing in a new resolve to love harder.
Breathing out worry, breathing in wonder.
Breathing out blame, breathing in a sense of my own power and agency.
Breathing out fear, breathing in a belief there’s still some good in this world, a goodness stronger than evil, and it’s worth fighting for.
Breathing out judgment, breathing in understanding.
Breathing out cynicism, breathing in gratitude.
I am breathing.
Breathing in and breathing out.

(Source: Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I know I am breathing in; I know I am breathing out. Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. I dwell in the present moment. I know this is a precious moment.
(Source: Thich Nhat Hanh)

Gracious life-giving God, you call us to live out our faith in ways that honor you and bless our neighbors, and we recognize that worship is an essential part of our faith journey. We believe that what we do here in worship does shape our daily witness to Jesus whose disciples we profess to be. We know that our faith is most visible when we live by your kingdom values of love, justice and peace. And so we pray that in our worship the unfailing treasures of your kingdom will shape and reshape our hearts and that our discipleship will be clear in our worship, our witness and our service, this day and in the week to come.
This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen
(Source: Carolyn Bowers, Progressive Christianity)

The Psalmist writes: “Thy word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path”
(The candles are lit)
As this flame shines in our gathering,
so may God’s Word of hope and love shine in our hearts.
Guided by God’s Light, we center ourselves for worship.
(Source: RevGord, Worship Offerings)

God, I awake to my life.
I am in awe at the wonder,
the gift that is my life,
this mystery that is you unfolding.
You are the rose opening in me.
You are my freedom,
you are my beauty,
you are my future.
I receive you.
I become you.
Grateful and open,
I step out into this day
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

May I Pray This Day
Good who is Spirit and Christ,
May I pray this day into being
May I pray myself into it.
May I pray myself through it.
May I pray it into being better.
May I pray myself into being better.
May I pray myself into connection with you.
May I pray myself into connection with others.
May I pray myself into loving all I encounter.
May I pray at the heart of my being.
May I pray at the core of my discipleship.
May I pray.
That it may be so. Amen
(Source: Jon Humphries, 2017)

The Yahweh Prayer
A rabbi taught this prayer to me many years ago. I write about it in the second chapter of my book The Naked Now. The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it with an open mouth and throat: inhale–Yah; exhale–weh. By our very breathing we are speaking the name of God and participating in God’s breath. This is our first and our last word as we enter and leave the world.
Breathe the syllables with open mouth and lips, relaxed tongue:
During a period of meditation, perhaps twenty minutes, use this breath as a touchstone. Begin by connecting with your intention, your desire to be present to God. Breathe naturally, slowly, and deeply, inhaling and exhaling Yah-weh. Let your focus on the syllables soften and fall away into silence. If a thought, emotion, or sensation arises, observe but don’t latch on to it. Simply return to breathing Yah-weh.
You may be distracted numerous times. And perhaps your entire practice will be full of sensations clamoring for attention. Contemplation is truly an exercise in humility! But each interruption is yet another opportunity to return to Presence, to conscious participation in God’s life.
(Source: unknown)

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
(Source: David Whyte, Everything is Waiting for You, ©2003 Many Rivers Press)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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