Daily Prayers: April 15, 2016


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



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…
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


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.

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



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



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



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




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