The celebration of the Lord's day...

Ever since I was a student-intern with Ray Swartzback during my days at Union Theological Seminary in NYC, I have loved the expression celebration of the Lord's Day for Sunday worship.  And this Lord's Day, Sunday, August 28th we are not together in one place for worship because Hurricane Irene has forced the entire Eastern seaboard inside. Ironically, this was to be a day for the renewal of our baptismal vows - and the baptism of a small child, too - but flooding is keeping us apart.  (I will likely meet the parents, grand parents and a few family friends tomorrow in the Sanctuary to perform the sacrament if the weather permits.)

After finishing up our storm preparations last night, I gathered together a few of my treasured prayer books in anticipation of our vacation time.  As I have noted before, vacation time away with Dianne is a time of true retreat and renewal for us:  lots of wandering without a clear plan, equal amounts of time discovering new live music and a ton of sleep and rest.  I have also used this time over the years to reclaim a spiritual discipline that has fallen by the way side in the hustle of the past year - and this year's winner seems to be returning to the quiet daily prayer of the Community of Iona. 

As an Associate Member of the Community, I vow to keep the rule of Daily Prayer and Bible reading as a Devotional Discipline. We are also invited to be accountable for the use of our personal time, money and energy to our local faith community in pursuit of Christ's love, justice and compassion in the world. So every year at about this time as I review the year past, I discover that I have cut corners in my inner journey and my devotional discipline  has suffered.  This year, I want to deepen my connection to Iona and the spirituality of the Community - it is both Reformed and Celtic - and feeds my soul on so many levels.

So, because I can't be at worship with my community - and becuase today FEELS so much like Iona - I'm going to pray the Iona Liturgy with you on-line as a return to commitment.  Please join me if you feel so inclined...

Call to Prayer
God says:  I will woo you and lead you into the wilderness and speak to your heart.
Blessed be God forever: The world belongs to the Lord, the earth and all its people.
How good and how lovely it is to live together in unity. Love and faith come together,
justice and peace will kiss, and faith will spring from the ground as justice leans down
from heaven.
Sing out my soul, sing of the holiness of the Lord; who has delighted in a woman, lifted up the poor, satisfied the hungry, given voice to the silent, grounded the oppressor, blessed the full-bellied with emptiness, and with the gift of tears those who have never wept; who has desired the darkness of the womb and inhabited our flesh. Sing of the longing of the Lord, o sing out, my soul.

Loving God, maker of all: have mercy on me.
Jesus Christ, servant of the poor: have mercy on me.Holy Spirit, breath of God: have mercy on me.

Quiet Prayers
Lord of all life, I lay my life before you.
I give my life to you from whom nothing in me is hidden.
You are before me, Lord, you are behind.
You are around me, Lord, you are within.
I bring the faith that is in me and the doubt,
I bring the joy that is in me and the sorrow,
I bring the hope that is in me and the despair,
I bring the hurts that I carry and the wounds that I have caused.
To join these faiths and doubts, joys and sorrows, hopes and despairs,
Hurts caused and carried to the faiths and doubts,
Joys, sorrows, hopes, despairs and hurts of my sisters and brothers.
Do not cast me away from your presence
And do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your liberation
And sustain in me a willing spirit.
For you have shown me the paths that lead to life
And your presence will fill me with joy.

A time for quiet reflection

Word and Wisdom:  readings for the day

With the whole church I affirm that I am made in God's image,befriended by Christ, empowered by the Spirit.With people everywhere I affirm God's goodness at the heart of humanity,planted more deeply than all that is wrong.
With all creation I celebrate the miracle and wonder of life,the unfolding purposes of God
forever at work in ourselves and the world.

Prayer for the Iona Community
O God, who gave to your servant Columba the gifts of courage, faith and cheerfulness, and sent people out from Iona to carry the word of your gospel to every creature; grant, we pray, a like spirit to your church even at this present time. Further in all things the purpose of our Community, that hidden things may be revealed to us and new ways found to touch the lives of all. May we preserve with each other sincere charity and peace, and if it be your holy will, grant that a place of your abiding be continued still to be a sanctuary and a light. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Universal Prayer for Peace
Lead me from death to life, from falsehood to truth.Lead me from despair to hope, from fear to trust.Lead me for hate to love, from war to peace.Let peace fill our lives, our world, our universe.

Prayers of the Community
O Lord of power and promise, you gather and scatter your people to the ends of the earth;
But wherever we go, we are never beyond the reach of your love.Gather me together now with the Iona Community as I share in our common prayer...

A time for gratitude and concern

Living Wisdom
God in heaven, your name is to be honored. May your new community of hope be realized on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the essentials of life. Release us from our sins as we release those who do us wrong. Do not test us beyond our enduring; save us from all that is evil.For you embrace justice, love and peace now and to the end of time. Amen.

Quiet Prayers

Gathered and scattered: God is with us.
In suffering and hope:  God is with us.
Now and always: God is with us.
As I pray these words - and recall the people I serve and love - I also renew my baptismal vows in the midst of this flood.  I pray that as Bobby and Cate leave for seminary they will know of our love and the Lord's presence in their lives.  I pray that as Rebecca returns to seminary she will grow deeper into her calling.  I pray that as our students and teachers go back to their classrooms they will be safe and filled with an awareness of the sacred trust they share.  And I pray that the people of First Church - and all who are enduring this Hurricane - are safe and loved.  Now and forever, in Christ's name. Amen.

(for more information about Iona go to:


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