Daily Prayers for May 4

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Come, let us sing to the Lord : let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Song “Come, Thou Fount”

May the words we say and the prayers we pray : echo heaven’s praise.

Psalm 19:1 4

The heavens declare the glory of God : and the firmament shows his handiwork.

One day tells its tale to another : and one night imparts knowledge to another.

Although they have no words or language : and their voices are not heard,

their sound has gone out into all lands : and their message to the ends of the world.

May the words we say and the prayers we pray : echo heaven’s praise.

Numbers 6:22 – 27 Luke 4:14 – 30

May the words we say and the prayers we pray : echo heaven’s praise.

Mechthild of Magdeburg, a thirteenth-century mystic, prayed, “I cannot dance, Lord, unless you lead me. If you want me to leap with abandon, you must intone the song. Then I shall leap into love, from love into knowledge, from knowledge into enjoyment, and from enjoyment beyond all human sensations. There I want to remain, yet want also to circle higher still.”

Prayers for Others

Our Father

We will proclaim your bounty and your blessing, O Lord. We will sing to one another the song you have put in our hearts. Our feet will bring good news to the ends of the earth. Help us, Lord, to live out our promises. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

Smells and Bells

We worship a God who came as a material Savior. So when we pray, we can use all of our senses. We see symbols of our faith. We hear words and songs. We smell the incense of our prayers rising to God. We touch and taste Christ in the sacramental life. Just as a whiff of apple pie can conjure up nostalgic memories of home, so our incense can help us pray. But, as Amos declares, if all we have is incense, without justice for the poor and fruit from our prayers, we should snuff out the incense and shut up with our songs, because they are nauseating to God. If our material tools help us worship the eternal God and bear fruit for the kingdom, then we keep them. If our material tools lead to narcissism or to an obsession with having the right incense or the correct color of candle, then we need to let go of them.

Disagreements in church history have led many Christians to feel like the physical world and the spiritual world are at odds, but it’s important to see them as complements, not opposites. After all, God breathed into the dirt to make humanity. (The very name human comes from the word humus, meaning “dirt.”) The incarnation of -Jesus is all about God taking on flesh and being born as a baby who cries, eats, and poops. -Jesus uses physical stuff like dirt and spit to heal -people, and God is always communicating — ​through rocks and fire (even through a donkey).

Physical stuff can help us pray. In the celebration of communion, or the Eucharist, we eat bread and drink wine (or juice) in remembrance of -Jesus. The physical elements help us literally “re-member” -Jesus as we are knit together into his body. We are what we eat. Sacrament comes from the Latin translation of the Greek word for mystery. A lot of the most sacred and beautiful rituals of Christianity are mysterious. There is more going on than what we see, but what we see can help us know God at work in the world.

Take water, for example. When we see water, we think of the waters of creation, the waters that swallowed up the Egyptian armies, the flood in Noah’s day, the baptism of -Jesus. It may seem odd that -Jesus identified himself with things of the earth such as “living water” and “the bread of life.” But just as much as -Jesus used the stuff of earth to show us something about himself, he also showed us that there is something of God in the creation around us. Even mud and spit can be used as healing balms. God is everywhere.

Think of the power of candlelight vigils or how the Scriptures speak about our prayers going up to God like incense. Certain parts of the church regularly use oil and water, not as magic potions but as material signs of the Spirit’s touch. Pentecostals often anoint the sick with oil as a sign of healing.

“Is any one of you sick? Call the elders of the church to pray over you and anoint you with oil” (James 5:14).

Catholics often dip an olive branch in water and fling the water out on the -people as a reminder of their baptism. We want to give you an invitation to use material things in prayer. You may want to burn incense as you say prayers for others. Or maybe you could do a foot-washing ceremony during confession, or light a candle as we suggest during evening prayer, remembering the light that shines in the darkness and is not overwhelmed.

Maybe you want to get even more creative. One pastor created an Easter ser-vice by putting snow on the altar, on Saturday, when the world was cold and the sun stopped shining. He made icicles out of red liquid and placed them in a crown above the snow so that as they melted, they dripped red onto the snow. Members of the congregation were invited to come and chisel their sins on ice tablets on the altar. Then, as Easter approached, the ice melted and the world came to life again.

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