Daily Prayers: April 15, 2016

Wonder

I wonder what becomes of the road when it bends out of sight up ahead

I wonder where my breath goes after the chill of the air dissipates

I wonder how the light knows to bend the colors of the rainbow with such beauty and precision

I wonder who will edit my masterpiece after I’ve completed the final chapter of my book

I wonder why I do not love more than I do

Crystal Zerfoss

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the Theological Groundings for DMin Theses class taught by Mike Raschko; Simone Winston, staff; Glenda Rivera-McPherson and Nils Ringo, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: March 9, 2016

Embrace

As my fellow classmates and I are finishing up our final papers of this grueling Winter Quarter, professors are wrapping up their lessons and reviewing students’ work, STM staff and volunteers are settling back in their normal schedules after the annual Search for Meaning Book Festival, I find myself drawn to this month’s theme of Embrace.

As a relatively new preacher, one of my first thoughts when I encounter a theme like this is to whip out my thesaurus and explore all the ways I can come at this notion of Embrace. Hug, hold, encircle, squeeze, cuddle, accept, contain, include, welcome, adopt, encompass… Are these not all ways that we talk about the embrace of Divine Love? Do we not talk about God holding us, communities welcoming us, Love encompassing us?

Perhaps my favorite synonym for embrace, as I whittle my thoughts down through my sermon-producing funnel, is enfold. I believe that we are surrounded and enclosed completely by the warm blanket of Divine Love. Right where we are, right now, in all our fears and questions, our skills and our growing edges, our actions and our inactions, we are enveloped by Love that holds and cuddles and adopts, Love that affirms and empowers and inspires, Love that wraps around and bursts forth through us.

So as we embrace one another, in sharing a sign of peace, a hug of comfort, a knowing look, a kind word, let us remember that the embrace of Divine Love extends through each of us, out through our fingertips, out through our breath…
WE POSSESS THE CAPACITY TO ENFOLD ALL IN LOVE.
May each of us live into this call of embrace.

Crystal Zerfoss

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for Elodia Gonzalez and Tim Greer, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: March 2, 2016

A Blessing Before a Meal

God of many names, Spirit of Life, Ground of our Being,

We are grateful for all things that have brought us to this moment:

For the sun and rain that nourishes all of creation and the bees and butterflies that, through their dances, make fruits and vegetables grow;

For the hands from many nations that cared for, harvested, transported, and prepared our food;

For our grandmothers and grandfathers who dreamed, prophesied, and labored for our world and its boundless opportunities;

For our dreams, prophecies, and labors for our grandchildren’s world in which all people can search for justice, opportunity, and meaning throughout their lives;

And for this time we have before us to sit and to be together, for food and conversation that nourishes our bodies, minds, and spirits.

We are grateful.
Amen.

Sarah Turner

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the African Methodist Episcopal Church, their communities and students in our midst, and for Spencer Barrett, their representative to STM; Vicki Farley and Derek Farmer, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: February 24, 2016

irene

Nourishment for Justice

Over the past (almost) four years I have been a student at the School of Theology & Ministry (STM), I have learned a great deal about myself theologically, spiritually, and physically. As I discovered a more authentic version of my best self, many areas of my life have been finessed. This month’s theme is nourish. For me, it means, what feeds us?

But more importantly, what do I need to be fed for? What do I need nourishment for? The crux of my faith and the foundation of my being is to seek justice. The very same justice that Jesus strived to make a reality here, on earth, during his short time with us. My sense of vocation and calling is to live out the gospel message of radical love and justice. It is daunting most days. The world is in disarray, people are suffering, and sometimes I just want to crawl under my warm comforter and watch Netflix documentaries rather than deal with the real world outside of my home.

To seek justice, I need to be prepared; I need to be centered and nourished. I need to be spiritually grounded (known as, or referred to as, personal piety in my Wesleyan heritage). For me, daily spiritual and prayer practices are essential. I encounter God in many ways, through daily walks with the Divine where I reflect on life and dream of possibility. I meditate on the random quotes given to me while I drink my favorite brand of tea; sometimes they ring too true to bring comfort. Monday nights, I practice yoga where I allow myself to breath and be open to the world. I am spiritually fed by my time spent with close friends who I break bread with and by attending worship at my faith community. This beautiful hodgepodge of lived-out spirituality nourishes my soul and my soul aches when I neglect this part of my call to justice.

To seek justice, I need to be physically ready for justice. We are embodied beings. One cannot ignore this fact, and we need to be able to function properly. I live this out by combining a few of my spiritual practices with the physical: walking and yoga. The other way is how I nourish my body. If I don’t eat, or eat healthily, I can’t seek justice in the ways I can when I am feeling great and ready to take on the world. I have food allergies so I need to be careful or I am knocked out for a few days. Food has become something difficult at times, but also turned into a way I can find something divine. Recently, I realized that a typical Sabbath for me involves preparing and cooking food. Food and activity nourish us; to be healthy (whatever that looks like for you) is vital to be prepared for justice. Justice isn’t easy; it isn’t fast, so we need to be sustained.

Finally, to seek justice, I need to be theologically rooted. To seek justice is to know why you are seeking. It’s not for my own personal gain or for the prestige; it’s because of how I understand my own personal theology—a theology built on the gospel message of love and justice while working to create the Kin-dom of God here and now. Why do I feel called to seek justice? Isaiah 58:6 states: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” We are called to see justice, which grounds my theology. Although theology nourishes my questions, creating new ones, and rarely gives me a definitive answer, it helps me articulate why I seek justice.

This is why I seek nourishment for justice. What nourishes you? And what do you need nourishment for?

Irene DeMaris

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the United Methodist Church, their communities and students in our midst, and for Meredith Dodd, their Formation Chaplain, and Carol Mariano, Liturgical Chaplain; Jessica Palmer, Graduate Assistant; Terri Stewart and Jane Strong, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: February 19, 2016

ed

May this affirmation nourish your soul.

Edward Donalson III

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, their communities and students in our midst, and for Marcia Riggers, Outreach Team Chair, Nancy Winder, Formation Chaplain and Jan Ruud, Liturgical Chaplain; Irene DeMaris, graduate assistant; Sonya Davis and Nina De La Garza, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: February 10, 2016

wine-glass-on-parquet-bread-michele-roohani

Given the February theme, Nourish, I am sharing an excerpt from Shauna Niequist’s book, “Bread & Wine.”

If you knew it was your very last meal, what would you eat? Who would cook it? What would you drink, who would be around the table with you, if you knew it was your very last meal?

For the record, my last-supper meal looks a bit like this: first, of course, ice-cold champagne, gallons of it, flutes catching the candlelight and dancing. There would be bacon-wrapped dates oozing with goat cheese, and risotto with thick curls of Parmesan and flecks of black pepper. There would be paper-thin pizza with tomatoes and mozzarella and slim ribbons of basil, garlicky pasta and crusty bread and lots of cheeses, a plummy pinot noir and maybe a really dirty martini, because you might as well go big on your last night on earth. There would be dark chocolate sea-salted toffee and a bowl of fat blackberries, and we’d stay at the table for hours and hours, laughing and telling stories and reaching for one more bite, one more bite, one more bite.

What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I’ve made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts. I love the sounds and smells and textures of life at the table, hands passing bowls and forks clinking against plates and bread being torn and the rhythm and energy of feeding and being fed. 

When you eat, I want you to think of God, of the holiness of the hands that feed us, of the provision we are given every time we eat. When you eat bread and you drink wine, I want you to think about the body and blood every time, not just when the bread and wine show up in church, but when they show up anywhere – on a picnic table or a hardwood floor, or a beach. It’s about a spirit or quality of living that rises up when we offer one another life itself, in the form of dinner or soup or breakfast, or bread and wine.”

Haley Ballast

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the Integration of Transformational Leadership for Justice class taught by Sharon Callahan; Lizzie Young, staff; Mark Travis and Missy Trull, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

STUDENT REFLECTION & DAILY PRAYERS: January 27, 2016

stayonearth10

source

Reflections on Unity

We ALL live and have our being, together, in both space and time; this is holy!
We all need the same resources for our basic human survival.
And thankfully, those resources are available, present in totality, on this one blue planet.
Ultimately, our survival and the ability to thrive demands that we live in delicate balance with the earth, and with one another.
Unity, or rather living in harmony, is a simple sacred necessity for life with others on earth.

Yet there is one thing that threatens this simple necessity: the reality of difference and our response to those differences.
As I reflect on unity, I wonder what life would be like if everyone was an exact copy of everyone else.
Can you imagine every thought, every word, every action and reaction exactly the same?
Would each person experience life as an incredibly lonely existence?
Would it be redundant to have more than one of those humans?

In response to difference and driven by emotions of surprise, wonder or fear; the activities of ordering, separating, and judging usually follow.
Yet, in ordering, separating, and judging, human beings make critical and life threatening decisions, which determine who will have access, priority, privilege, and power.
Unfortunately, history teaches us that whole groups of human beings have been judged worthless, stripped of access to resources, and rendered powerless.
That is anathema!

We remain one human, with one basic need to survive and thrive, in harmony with one another and with this one earth.
Let us interrogate how we deal with the reality of difference.
Let us use the collective wisdom we have inherited, to chart new paths to reconciliation.
Our very lives and the earth that sustains us depend upon it.
Unity demands not only our reflections but also our sacred actions; this is holy!

Trina L. Banks

STM Cycle of Prayer

We pray today for the Theology in an Ecumenical Theology class taught by Michael Trice; Daniel Kelley-Petersen, staff; Joseph Ward and Marci Weis, students.

Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers

Remembering Brother Roger of Taizé

2015-05-11 08.24.12

 

May 12, 2015 marks the centennial birthday of Brother Roger Schütz, founder of Taizé community in South France.  To remember his birthday and all his works for a peaceful world, at today’s school’s Morning Prayer, Nindyo shared excerpt from Brother Roger’s unfinished letter that was written on the day he died, August 16, 2005.

Brother Roger’s unfinished letter

The afternoon of the day he died, August 16th, Brother Roger called one of the brothers and said to him, “Note down these words carefully!” There was a long silence while he attempted to formulate his thinking. Then he began, “To the extent that our community creates possibilities in the human family to widen…” And he stopped there, too exhausted to finish his phrase.

These words reflect the passion that inspired him, even in his old age. What did he mean by “widen”? He probably wanted to say: do everything possible to make more perceptible for everyone the love God has for every human being without exception, and for all peoples. He wanted our little community to bring this mystery to light, through its life, in a humble commitment with others. So we brothers wish to take up this challenge, together with all those who are searching for peace across the earth.

In the weeks before his death, he had begun to reflect on the letter that would be made public during the Milan meeting. He had noted some themes and some texts of his that he wished to take up again and work on. We have taken them just as they were in order to compile this “Unfinished Letter”, translated into 57 languages. It is a kind of final message from Brother Roger, which will help us to go forward along the road on which God “widens our steps” (Psalm 18:36).

Reflecting on this unfinished letter in the meetings held in 2006 both in Taizé, week by week, and elsewhere on different continents, each person can try to find ways of completing it by the life he or she lives.

Brother Alois [current prior of Taizé]

***

“I leave you peace; I give you my peace.” [1] What is this peace that God gives?

It is first of all an inner peace, a peace of the heart. This peace enables us to look at the world with hope, even though it is often torn apart by violence and conflicts.

This peace from God also supports us so that we can contribute, quite humbly, to building peace in those places where it is jeopardized.

World peace is so urgent in order to alleviate suffering, and in particular so that the children of today and tomorrow do not live in distress and insecurity.

In his Gospel, in a dazzling intuition, Saint John expresses who God is in three words: “God is love.” [2] If we can grasp only those three words, we shall go far, very far.

What captivates us in those words? The fact that they transmit this luminous conviction: God did not send Christ to earth to condemn anyone, but for every human being to know that he or she is loved and to be able to find a road to communion with God.

But why are some people gripped by the wonder of a love and know that they are loved, or even cherished? Why do others have the impression that they are neglected?

If only everyone could realize that God remains alongside us even in the fathomless depths of our loneliness. God says to each person, “You are precious in my sight, I treasure you and I love you.” [3] Yes, all God can do is give his love; that sums up the whole of the Gospel.

What God asks of us and offers us is simply to receive his infinite mercy.

That God loves us is a reality sometimes hard to comprehend. But when we discover that his love is forgiveness above all else, our hearts find peace and are even transformed.

And then, in God, we become able to forget what assails our hearts: this is a wellspring from which we can draw freshness and new vitality.

Are we sufficiently aware that God trusts us so much that he has a call for each one of us? What is that call? God invites us to love as he loves. And there is no deeper love than to go to the point of giving oneself, for God and for others.

Whoever lives a life rooted in God chooses to love. And a heart resolved to love can radiate goodness without limits. [4]

Life is filled with serene beauty for whoever strives to love with trust.

All who choose to love and to say it with their life are led to ask themselves one of the most compelling questions of all: how can we ease the pain and the torment of others, whether they are close at hand or far away?

But what does it mean to love? Could it be to share the suffering of the most ill-treated? Yes, that’s it.

Could it mean having infinite kind-heartedness and forgetting oneself for others, selflessly? Yes, certainly.

And again: what does it mean to love? Loving means forgiving, living as people who are reconciled. [5] And reconciliation always brings a springtime to the soul.

In the small mountain village where I was born, near our home, a large poverty-stricken family lived. The mother had died. One of the children, slightly younger than I, often came to see us. He loved my mother as if she were his own. One day, he learned that they were going to leave the village and, for him, leaving was not easy at all. How can a child of five or six be consoled? It was as if he did not have the perspective needed in order to make sense of such a separation.

Shortly before his death, Christ assured his friends that they would receive a consolation: he would send them the Holy Spirit who would be a support and a comfort for them, and who would always remain with them. [6]

In the heart of each person, Christ still whispers today, “I will never leave you all alone; I will send you the Holy Spirit. Even if you are in the depths of despair, I remain alongside you.”

Welcoming the comfort that the Holy Spirit gives means seeking, in silence and peace, to surrender ourselves to him. Then, though at times dire events may occur, it becomes possible to go beyond them.

Are we so easily upset that we need to be comforted?

There are times when all of us are shaken by a personal trial or by the suffering of others. This can go so far as to undermine our faith and extinguish our hope. Rediscovering the trusting of faith and peace of heart sometimes involves being patient with ourselves.

One kind of suffering leaves a particularly deep impression: the death of someone we love, someone we may have needed in order to keep going forward here on earth. But such a trial can sometimes be transfigured, and then it opens us up to a communion.

A Gospel joy can be restored to someone in extreme distress. God comes to shed light on the mystery of human suffering, going so far as to welcome us into an intimacy with himself.
And then we find ourselves on a path of hope. God does not leave us all alone. He enables us to advance towards a communion, that communion of love which is the Church, at one and the same time so mysterious and so indispensable …

The Christ of communion [7] offers us this enormous gift of consolation.

To the extent that the Church is able to bring healing to our hearts by communicating forgiveness and compassion, it makes a fullness of communion with Christ more accessible.
When the Church is intent on loving and understanding the mystery of every human being, when tirelessly it listens, comforts and heals, it becomes what it is at its most luminous: the crystal-clear reflection of a communion.

Seeking reconciliation and peace involves a struggle within oneself. It does not mean taking the line of least resistance. Nothing lasting is created when things are too easy. The spirit of communion is not gullible. It causes the heart to become more encompassing; it is profound kindness; it does not listen to suspicions.

To be bearers of communion, will each of us walk forward in our lives on the road of trust and of a constantly renewed kind-heartedness?

On this road there will be failures at times. Then we need to remember that the source of peace and communion is in God. Instead of becoming discouraged, we shall call down his Holy Spirit upon our weaknesses.

And, our whole life long, the Holy Spirit will enable us to set out again and again, going from one beginning to another towards a future of peace. [8]

To the extent that our community creates possibilities in the human family to widen…

 

Last updated: 12 December 2005

 

Footnotes

[1] John 14:27

[2] 1 John 4:8

[3] Isaiah 43:4

[4] At the opening of the Council of Youth in 1974, Brother Roger said, “Without love, what is the good of living? Why live any longer? For what purpose? That is the meaning of our life: to be loved for ever, loved into eternity, so that in our turn we go to the point of dying for love. Yes, happy those who die for love.” Dying for love meant for him loving to the very end.

[5] “Living as people who are reconciled.” In his book A Prospect of Happiness? which appeared two weeks before his death, Brother Roger explained once again what these words meant for him: “Can I recall here that my maternal grandmother discovered intuitively a sort of key to the ecumenical vocation, and that she opened for me a way which I then tried to put into practice? After the First World War, her deepest desire was that no one should ever have to go through what she had gone through. Since Christians had been waging war against each other in Europe, she thought, let them at least be reconciled, in order to prevent another war. She came from an old Protestant family but, living out an inner reconciliation, she began to go to the Catholic church, without at the same time making any break with her own people. Impressed by the testimony of her life, when I was still very young I found my own Christian identity in her steps by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.”

[6] John 14:18 and 16:7

[7] The “Christ of communion.” Brother Roger already used this expression when he welcomed Pope John Paul II to Taizé on October 5th, 1986: “The constant longing of my brothers and myself is for every young person to discover Christ, not Christ taken in isolation but the ‘Christ of communion’ present in fullness in that mystery of communion which is his Body, the Church. There, many young people can find ways to commit their entire lives to the very end. There they have all they need to become creators of trust and reconciliation, not just among themselves but with all the generations, from the most elderly to little children. In our Taizé Community, following the ‘Christ of communion’ is like a fire that burns us. We would go to the ends of the earth to look for ways, to ask, to appeal, to beg if need be, but never from without, always while remaining within that unique communion which is the Church.”

[8] These last four paragraphs were spoken by Brother Roger in December 2004 at the end of the European meeting in Lisbon. They are the last words he said in public.

 

Source: Brother Roger’s Unfinished Letter

About Br. Brother Roger of Taizé click here

Featured Prayer Resources Student Reflections

Snapshots: Special Morning Prayer – February 11, 2015

This morning, one of our Muslim Transformational Leadership students, Qasim, shared prayers in a special gathering with faculty, staff and students. Below are the words shared.

At Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, we are committed to deepening in our own traditions while honoring and learning from the traditions of others–working together for a better world.

Special Morning Prayer

§ The Prayer of Prophet Moses (Musa) (Qur’an 20:25-28; Chapter Taha [Surat Taha])

Oh my Lord!  Open my chest [i.e. remove fear from it, or fill it with Your light]. 

And ease my task for me.

Remove the impediment from my speech

so that they may understand what I say.

§ The Prayer of Prophet Jesus (Isa) (Qur’an 5:114; Chapter The Table Spread [Surat Al-Ma’idah])

Said Jesus, the Son of Mary,

“O God, our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven

to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You.

And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.”

§ The Prayer of Prophet Muhammad (Hadith/Statements)

He ended every prayer (salat) with al-Salaamu Alaykum (Peace be upon you), and then recited the following:

O God, You are Peace,

and peace emanates from You and to You peace returns;

so greet us, Lord, with peace, and admit us by Your Mercy,

into Your House, the Abode of Peace (by the religion of peace).

Blessed are You, my Lord, O Possessor of Majesty and Honor.

O God, none can prevent what You have bestowed,

and no wealth can benefit anyone against You.

O God, assist us in remembrance of You,

having gratitude towards You and excellence in Your worship.

Morning Prayer Meditations Student Reflections

DAY SEVEN: WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY – Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reflection

by The Rev. Nindyo Sasongko, Graduate Assistant, Worship and Liturgy, School of Theology and Ministry, Seattle University

 

“Give me water to drink”

My family used to live in a neighborhood where traditional Javanese (an ethnic group in Indonesia) houses could be found. When I was young, I was wondering about two things: Why did all traditional houses have a well in the front yard? Why did the owner put a ceramic pitcher (kendi—read: kindee) filled with water in front of their house? Later I knew that these were parts of Javanese hospitality, a hospitality which has its roots from Javanese philosophy of life.

kendi1When the dry season comes, and many wellsprings do not produce water, neighbors may stop by their neighbor’s house and ask, “May I draw water from your well?” This question is not a superficial request. Many times such a question becomes a door to a long conversation between neighbors. So is with the ceramic pitcher. A thirsty traveler may stop by at any house and ask the owner, “May I drink from this kendi?”  The hosts are pleased to give water from the kendi and ask if the traveler wants to come in and have conversation in their home.

Water is essential to human beings. Water is central in human life. For Javanese people, water is believed to be essence from which human beings have their being. If land is like flesh to human body, water is like its soul. Take a look on the map and find the island of Java, you will see that this island is surrounded by water. Who can claim ownership over water? None. This outlook creates an understanding that water is to be shared with others. Indeed, water connects people.

“Give me water to drink” breaks the silence between two strangers at that noon. Jesus is a stranger to the Samaritan woman. But this woman too, she is not only a stranger in Jesus’ eyes but also to her society and even to the Fourth evangelist since John does not remember her name. We know what comes next. This passage indeed is one of the longest conversations in the Fourth Gospel. “Give me water to drink” breaks barriers, taboos, and stereotypes not only between individuals but also between societies. At the well, the host’s life is enriched by the stranger.

—»»» Ω «««—

Theme for the Day: TESTIMONY

Numbers 20:1-11 The Israelites at Meribah

Psalm 119:10-20 “I will not forget your word”

Romans 15:2-7 “May God… grant you to live in harmony with one another”

John 4:7-15 “Give me to drink”

 

Questions:

  1. How has your understanding and experience of God been enriched by the encounter with other Christians?
  2. What can Christian communities learn from indigenous wisdom and other religious traditions in your region?

 

School Cycle of Prayer:

We pray today for the Ezekiel: Ecstasy in the Face of Empire class taught by Erica Martin; Sharon Callahan, faculty; Lisa Gustaveson, staff; Jessica Wright, graduate assistant; Elizabeth Hunter and Gayle Johnson, students.

 

Prayer

God of life, who cares for all creation, and calls us to justice and peace,

may our security not come from arms, but from respect.

May our force not be of violence, but of love.

May our wealth not be in money, but in sharing.

May our path not be of ambition, but of justice.

May our victory not be from vengeance, but in forgiveness.

May our unity not be in the quest of power, but in vulnerable witness to do your will.

Open and confident, may we defend the dignity of all creation, sharing, today and forever, the bread of solidarity, justice and peace.

This we ask in the name of Jesus, your holy Son, our brother, who, as victim of our violence, even from the heights of the cross, gave forgiveness to us all.

Amen.

Prayer Resources Student Reflections SU STM Daily Prayers Week of Prayer 2015