A Prayer for Leaders of the Community

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Photo Credit:  Amy Persons Parkes, St. Andrew State Park, Bay County, Florida -the Pier at Sunset

a prayer offered as the invocation for the Annual Luncheon of the Bay County Economic Development Alliance, Bay County, Florida

God of us all, our Guide and Guardian,
your love never fails,
your courage never shrinks from the face of evil,
and your wisdom is never infected by fear.

God of us all, our Guide and Guardian,
your compassion outstretches our pain,
your justice overwhelms our injustice,
and your imagination and creativity exceed and encompass all perceived limitations.

As the palms and pines tremble in the gulf winds,
as jets crisscross the skies above us,
and as the wakes of ships ripple across the bay,
we ask for your inspiration this day.

As critical thinking is advanced in the classrooms surrounding us,
as state of the art technology is employed throughout our community
to heal bodies and to stream millions of gigabytes of information,
we ask you,
Source of Knowledge and Seat of Wisdom,
to give us the discernment to see a future yet to be unfolded for Bay County.

With your knowledge and in your wisdom,
empower the leaders of this gathering
to boldly step toward a future in Bay County
where every woman, man, and child is able to live meaningful and productive lives.

With your imagination and creativity,
reveal to these leaders possibilities,
where others may only perceive closed doors,
so that, no one within their sphere of influence is underemployed nor triflingly employed.

God of us all, our Guide and Guardian,
place the mantle of your Spirit on these
who offer their leadership for the betterment of the whole people of our county,
and give them the strength to bear both the heft and hope of this great responsibility
and summon within each of us the ability to work as one body,
for the good of all.  

All this, we pray in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Amy Persons Parkes © 2015

A Prayer for Mother’s Day

Each year, I am confronted with the challenge to find a way to honor Mother’s Day in worship.  This year, I am choosing to print the following prayer on cardstock and adhere one crayon to the card. Each worshiper will receive a card. Before we offer this prayer together, I will invite each person to contemplate whether to keep the card for him/herself or to offer the card as a gift to one who has mothered him or her.  Feel free to use this if it will help you and your congregation. I do ask that you give the following credit:  “Used with permission from the author Amy Persons Parkes © 2015”

Holy Light,
your attentive care for us
passes through the prism of this world
revealing the wide spectrum,
the variegated paths,
through which you color your image in us.

On this Mother’s Day,
we praise you for the delicate hues of compassion
cast upon us by nurturing mothers –
mothers who gave birth to us,
mothers who chose us,
women who became mothers we never had,
mothers to whom we gave ourselves as children.
We praise you for the whole vibrant pallet of motherhood which reflects your Light.

We give thanks for the blessed memory of mothers
who once gilded our every days
and whose eternal life in you now tints the heavens.

We pray for peace and forgiveness
to dye the hurtful interactions between mothers and children
rendering something new from an old and worn work.

We seek hope for the mourning mothers,
upon whose canvas the darker tones
of loss and grief have brushed.
With gentle strokes,
paint your comfort.

On this Mother’s Day, Holy Light,
color us all in,
outline and shade,
daub and dab,
until we reflect
a world awash
in your covenant promise.
In and through Jesus Christ, we pray.  Amen.

Amy Persons Parkes © 2015

Emptying Power

Risen Christ,
with adoration and awe, we stand before an empty tomb
with thanksgiving and gratitude, we bow before an empty cross.
Help us to recognize the barren cross and the open tomb
as symbols of your victory over suffering and death.
Grant that we may know the power of your resurrecting love
breathing life into our dying,
sprouting seeds of love within our barren hearts,
and sweeping away the cobwebs of resignation and apathy in our minds.
Risen One, show us in the emptiness of our lives,
the fullness of your glory.  Amen.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2015

One Day

one day sunrise

Sunrise, Manly, NSW, Australia by Jeff Turner, Creative Commons on Flikr

Good and Loving God,
thank you for this one day.
Thank you for this one day that you have opened with the sun’s rising
and that you will close with cool breezes and star light.

Thank you for this one day
in which we will hear children laugh
and in which waves will rise and fall upon our shores.

Thank you for this one day
when we will witness the bravery and courage of first-responders
and in which we will receive care and compassion
from nurses and teachers and kind friends.

Thank you, God, for this one day
for it is all that we have.

The past days are boxed up
like old photos we will look at one Christmas.
And the days to come
dangle in front of us like a baited hook;
we have no idea what they will lure and catch.

And so, we say, “Thank you, God, for this one day.”

On this one day, God,
may our good exceed our harm.

On this one day,
may love far outweigh fear;
and may patience outlast rash thinking and behavior.

On this one day we have, Good God,
may we see and be more light than dark in this world.
And, as in all life, let us enact these principles
in the little things of our one day.

Lead us to return a smile to a frown.
Empower us to wait our turn,
to be open to another’s opinion,
to say “thank you” for a kindness,
and to slow down and see the person beside us.

On this one day, Good and Loving God,
be in us and with us,
that we might evermore grow
into the fullness of your desire for us.

For this one day is all that we have.

In your name, we pray.  Amen.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2014

Written as an invocation for the Bay County Commissioner’s meeting December 16, 2014.

Grace in the Line-Up

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Photo credit: “blip_7” by Michael Crane Some Rights Reserved

In the line-up looking for Grace,
I found her carrying the suitcase full of money
(the check in the mail).

I saw her carrying the small bundle tightly swaddled
(and sleeping peacefully in the nursery).
I spotted her hand-in-hand with the love of my life
(and kissing the bride on my wedding day).

But when I was looking for Grace, God,
somebody pointed to the rain and the flood,
and said I should see her there.
But where, God, where is she?

And then I was searching for her on Google, Lord,
when her name appeared in the obituary.
But God, I’m confused, is she there?

So this made me wonder –
does Grace play in the unwanted rain?
Is she lying quietly in the nursing home bed?
Did I miss her in the back left pew of the church,
where she mumbled under her breath and stunk up the whole place?

In the line-up to identify Grace,
let my eyes be your eyes, God,
that I may see what you see.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2011

Written as part of the final project for the Two Year Academy of Spiritual Formation #30

xylem and phloem

Loyola House Feb 2012 020“A thick and shapeless tree-trunk would never believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture, and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor, who sees by her genius what she can make of it.”

St. Ignatius (1491-1556)

if i were a tree-trunk,
i would stiffen the molecules of my ringed inner core
and repel the penetrating strike of your chisel.

if i were a thick and shapeless trunk,
i would reinforce the xylem and phloem
of my woody bones,
and i would challenge your genius
to find any finer way to feed my growth.

if i were a tree,
among other trees in the wood,
tangled and intertwined together
in a web of my brother Plant’s roots
and my sister Rodent’s tunnels,
i would say,
i want none of your workshop table.

i would resist your desire
to immortalize my frame at the Louvre.

i would care nothing
about the miracle work of your imaginative mind and creative genius.

but i —

i am a human.

and i am caught between what i know
and what i cannot know.

therefore, i say,
do what can be done.

but i know,
no chisel
has ever been
gentle.

© Amy Persons Parkes 2014

An All Saints Prayer

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Laity Sunday in worship at Saint Andrew United Methodist Church.  The laity of our church organized and led worship while I bore witness to their faith as it was proclaimed through the reading of Scripture, in song, the preached word, and during prayer.  Sitting in the pew, pondering the gift of working alongside the saints of the church, I was awash in gratitude, gratitude for the many saints of the church who have shaped and formed me in the way of Christ.  How would I know the love of God if someone had not loved me in God’s name?  How would I know the humility and generosity of Christ if someone had not graciously served me, as a child in Sunday school, as a teen in youth ministry, and as a young adult discerning my way in the world?

On Laity Sunday, the pastoral prayer was written and prayed by St. Andrew’s incoming Lay Leader Vivian Juarez.  As an ordained person, I have been the default “pray-er” for many fellowship dinners, Sunday school gatherings, committee meetings, sick rooms, and celebrations.  When I heard Vivian’s prayer, with thanksgiving I remembered those who taught me how to pray as Jesus did.  For all the saints who from their labors rest, let us give praise to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

Vivian’s prayer:

Gracious and loving God, You are whom we seek.  You are our comfort and our shelter.  We find refuge in you; you give us strength and unconditional love.  Without you, we could not stand.  We praise you for the wonder of your mighty love; we sing for joy at the work of your hands. Lord God, there is none like you!

We are blessed beyond measure.  Your son and our Lord gave his life that we might live eternally with you.  We are called to be your people, to show your love and light in this world. Yet, sometimes we forget to follow Christ’s teachings – we worry about things we shouldn’t, we act possessively over our little area of the world, we forget to treat others with kindness, we talk when we should listen, we hold grudges, and we don’t forgive.  Lord Jesus, we need to mend our ways.  You forgive us for our mistakes and wrong doings. Because we are a forgiven people, we have to exemplify your grace by forgiving others; we must let go of the grudges we hold, the possessiveness we feel, and the worries that we hold.  Help us to trust in you that just as the flower in the field and the bird in the sky, you will take care of us. Help us to understand that everything is yours; we own nothing. Give us courage in the face of illness and devastation.

We lift up to you the names of those we have mentioned. . .

May your spirit and your love be with each of these persons and families.  May your healing presence bring peace and comfort.  We give you thanks and praise for the joys in our lives, and we remember to pray as Christ Jesus taught us:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.  Amen.

© Vivian Juarez 2013