For six weeks, from this Sunday until Advent, Hope Central is focusing on prayer. We want to learn to pray, discover new ways to pray, to experience our prayer more deeply, collectively and individually. As praying people, we are like Jesus, following Jesus. Over and over in our gospel stories of Jesus, Jesus takes time to pray, goes away to pray. In Luke 11, those who followed Jesus asked him how to pray, and he gave them the words of prayer we know as the Lord’s Prayer. St. Paul, one of the first and closest followers of Jesus writes to folks in Greece in the town of Thessaloniki, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”
We’ll try at Hope Central to take up this practice of rejoicing, giving thanks in all circumstances, and begin to shape and understand our communal and perhaps individual lives as constant prayer.
Each of the six Sunday mornings, Courtney, Ben and I will preach about prayer – an introduction, how to understand what we are saying or expecting of God as we pray, different ways to pray, the testimonies of folks in our congregation about their prayer life, yelling at God and lamentations as a forms of prayer, prayers of gratitude and praying with children.
Each Sunday, we’ll ask you to experience new ways of praying, to stand as we pray, to move, to cover your face, to pray new forms of prayer during the Prayers of the People, to be willing to seek God in new ways. This Sunday, led by Barbara McQueen, we’ll use a form of the Prayers of the People from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and next week, Beverly will lead the prayers of the people that include poem and much silence. Because we love our prayers of the people, we will return to our usual way of praying every three weeks, just to ground us in what is usual. But because we’ll miss hearing your prayers and you’ll miss saying your prayers, we’ll provide a book at the back of the sanctuary to write your prayers, and these prayers will be prayed by the Called to Care Team.
For this six weeks, we will pray the Lord’s Prayer in a new way – a translation from Aramaic – mostly likely Jesus’ first language and the liturgical language currently used by the Lebanese Maronite Catholic Church of Nancy and her dad Tanous Azar – to English. Perhaps we’ll find this prayer printed in the bulletin to be awkward at first, because the Lords prayer we usually pray is so automatic and comforting. But we offer this translation because it is as close as we can come to Jesus’ own words, because it is inclusive, because, we hope, it will open a new prayer space inside of us.
O Birther! Father- Mother of the Cosmos
Focus your light within us – make it useful.
Create your reign of unity now-
through our fiery hearts and willing hands.
Help us love beyond our ideals
and sprout acts of compassion for all creatures.
Animate the earth within us: we then
feel the Wisdom underneath supporting all.
Untangle the knots within
so that we can mend our hearts’ simple ties to each other.
Don’t let surface things delude us,
But free us from what holds us back from our true purpose.
Out of you, the astonishing fire,
Returning light and sound to the cosmos.
You’ll find on resources on our home page www.hopecentralchurch.org for daily prayers and devotions from the United Church of Christ, from, and a weekly poem or prayer supplied by Beverly Pacheco.
Lillian Fuchs will lead a time of teaching and prayer on Saturday, November 1 at 1PM called “The Body as Prayer. Lillian writes:
One of the most sacred gifts of God’s creation is our own bodies. Indeed they are a miracle; constantly regenerating and renewing themselves. This creative energy is available to us every moment of every day. Come learn how to use our body as prayer, and experience the renewing, presence of God ‘s love within us.
If there’s interest, I’ll lead a time of teaching and prayer, praying with drums, maybe with Bobby and Gillian.
So as to not get overly earnest and dour about prayer, on Friday, 11/21 at 6:30PM, we’ll have a movie night and watch Talledega Nights http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/talladeganightstheballadofrickybobby/, rated PG.
This idea to set aside a focused time to grow deeper in prayer was the idea of our Called to Care team, they whose work for us is to notice the needs and joys of our congregation. They, Patti Ryan, Beverly Pacheco, Jill Seaman, Megan Jewett, Ben Perkins, Courtney Jones, led by Barbara McQueen will participate, lead, and continue to pray for us. If you have questions, ideas, worries, would like prayer for yourselves or your needs, please do contact any of these good and me.