Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/21

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In the cold of winter
I longed for your warmth, Lord,
and now that it's here -
I'm tempted to run from its embrace....

Dare I say your warmth
comes too late,
the heat of your presence comes to call
at an inconvenient time?

I dare not prefer the cold to your warmth
so teach me, Lord, to bask in your heat
whenever, however it envelops me...

Teach me to long for the burn of your presence,
searing and sealing me with your love
til my heart is tanned with the the warm glow,
the bronze hue, the touch 
of your branding hand...

Teach me, Lord, 
to soak in your love on any day,
your grace seeping deep inside
through the pores of my soul,
open and sweating the sweet anointing
of your heat, your warmth, your light...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 7/20

Lord, sometimes I look back upon the last few days, the week just past, and catch a glimpse or two (or more) of how your grace has brought me to this day, through trials and troubles that seemed, just yesterday, impossible, irreparable, impassable...

But, here I am, Lord, and with your help I made it through the dark of night and to the dawn of this new day.   I made it, Lord - but only by your grace... 

I so often miss your helping hand, the ways you reach out to encourage and support me: to lift me up when I am down, to lead me on when I hang back, to draw me out of my resentment and self-pity...

I let myself get in the way, Lord:  I look down instead of up, I look in instead of out, I think the worst and not the best, I give up hope when hope's just what I need the most...

I get in the way and close my eyes and ears, my mind and heart to all the ways you're there, right by my side to guard and guide me...

I get in my own way, Lord, and trip myself on disappointment, fear and worry.  I get in my own way and fail to see you're there for me in just the ways I need you.  I get in my own way, Lord, and miss the many ways you call for me to wake up, get up, shape up, grow up, step up, face up to the challenges before me...

One day at a time is all you ask of me and every day is just how often you reach out to me to bring me through the troubles and trials that seemed, just yesterday, impossible, impassable, irreparable...

Lord, sometimes I look back upon the last few days, the week just past, and catch a glimpse or two (or more) of how your grace has brought me safe thus far. Give me glimpses today, Lord, of your presence and the grace you offer me: each day, every day, one day at a time...

Keep me out of my own way, Lord: help me follow on the path where your love helps and heals and lifts me up. 


Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 7/19

no matter how young or old I am,
I've got a lot of growing left to do
 - and maybe even some growing up!

I know I have a ways to go
in becoming the person I was made to be,
the person you call me to be,
the person I truly want to be...

Help me see what holds me back
and help me see what helps me grow
and help me leave behind
what keeps me from becoming
who I was made to be...

I believe you and I
both want the same thing here
- so let's talk...

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10 years ago today was a rainy day...

July 18, 2007 was a rainy day and for me - a day off.  Having mused for some time about starting a blog I took the occasion of the weather and my free time to poke around online to see how one begins to blog.  I followed the directions I found and, to my amazement, within a few hours I had a blog online and I wrote these words as my first post:
I have often thought of starting a blog and this rainy afternoon has provided an opportunity for me to give it a try. I don't know if I have or can make the time to keep this fresh but I do know that if it becomes stale, it will disappear. (I'm not even sure I'll be able to set this thing up and get it online!)
So, let's see how this goes...
Well, 10 years have passed and I've posted at least once every day for a total of 7,560 posts.  Yes, this takes time but writing this page is one of the joys of my life and ministry: I always look forward to it and it never feels like work. I thank God for the opportunity to do this, for the Holy Spirit's help and for all of you who come here to pause for prayer in your daily lives.  If reading this blog is as much a help in your prayer life as writing this page is in mine, then I am very grateful, indeed.

Many of you come directly to my blog and many arrive here through FaceBook and Twitter.  Readers often write and ask if it's all right to forward or share my posts with others.  My answer is always the same: YES!  If you find something here worth sharing with others, please do!  I'm always grateful for your help in this regard. (Just be sure to supply a link back here so that others will be able to find my page...)

So, trusting that I've kept this effort fresh, please keep me in your prayers as I begin the 11th year of A Concord Pastor Comments.


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 7/18

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Be my strength, Lord, 
   when I'm weak and tired, 
   when I'm listless and drowsy:
      be the strength in my arms and keep me faithful to my work;
      be the strength in my body when I want to flee to sleep;
      be the strength in my soul when self-pity's got its hold on me;
      be the strength in my spirit when "I Don't Care" is how I feel...

Be my fortress, Lord,
   when I feel besieged on every side, 
   when it seems there's no place left to go,
   when I need a place that's safe from harm, 
   when I look for shelter for my heart:
      be my fortress, Lord, protecting me from what and whom I fear;
      be my fortress, Lord, a place to go when I'm not sure where home is;
      be my fortress, Lord, my  shield lest any harm might touch my soul;
      be my fortress, Lord, and keep me close within your saving arms...

Deliver me, Lord, from sin and from temptation...

Deliver me, Lord, from thoughts and words and deeds 
      that have no business being in my mind, my speech, my life...

Deliver me, Lord, from anyone and anything 
   that fails to bring me closer to your way, your word, your wisdom...

Deliver me, Lord, from the hold my possessions have on me:
   deliver me from all the things, the toys and stuff
      that spend my time and waste my mind, that drain my soul of spirit
         and bring no good to me or to my neighbor...

Help me know how weak I am so I might know the times
    I need your power to hold me up and help me to go on...
Help me know how vulnerable I am so I might know the times
   when your presence is my only refuge, my safe haven...

Help me know how lost I often am so I might know the times
   I need your wisdom to guide me and your love to save me...
I love you, Lord:
   my strength, 
      my fortress, 
         and my deliverer...
In the quiet of my prayer, Lord, show me
   how much I need your strength,
   how often I need to rest in the fortress of your arms,
   how deeply I need for you to rescue me 
      from harm, from foolishness and even from myself...

In the stillness of my prayer,
   strengthen my faith in your love for me, Lord,
   be the place where my heart finds its peace
   and deliver me from danger, however it might come my way...

Quiet my anxious heart and help me be still
   that I might know that you're my God,
      that you are near,
         that you are here with me...

I love you, Lord:
   my strength, 
      my fortress, 
         and my deliverer...


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Monday Morning Offering: 7/17

George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I come to offer you my grateful heart, Lord,
and to thank you for so many gifts -
especially the ones I didn't expect
and hadn't been seeking,
the gifts you knew I needed more
than the many things that I'd been wanting...

You know me better than I know myself, Lord:
you know what I need
to be the person you made me to be;
you know what I need
to find the happiness I desire
but often confuse
with other foolish things I want...

In the past few months
you've given me more peace
than I ever dreamed of having;
you've given me more healing
that I even knew I needed;
you've given me blessings
beyond my understanding;
and you've given me hope,
enough to carry me through darker days 
and tougher times
when my trust is sorely tempted...

I don't want to seem greedy, Lord,
but I can't help but wonder
what else you have in store for me -
so I pray -
open my mind and heart to every gift
you're ready to offer me...

Open my eyes to see what I need
and not just what I think I want...

Open my imagination
to dream outside the box,
the tiny box of what I think I need,
the bright and shiny trinkets
that capture my attention...

Open my soul
as wide as souls are meant to be,
as deep as souls are meant to go
as far as souls are meant to reach
to open up to grace and healing,
joy and peace,
contentment and serenity
in kind and measure far beyond
what I have often sought...

I come to offer you my grateful heart, Lord,
and to thank you for so many gifts -
especially the ones I didn't expect,
the gifts you knew I needed more
than many things that I'd been seeking...

You know me better
than I know myself, Lord:
fill me, satisfy me, complete me
with only the gifts you know
I truly need...



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Homily for July 16

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Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Consider the power that simple words have in our lives!
Our whole lives can be radically changed, in an instant,
by the words we hear, words like:

“I love you.”
“The news isn’t good.”
“I forgive you.”
"Will you marry me?"
“You’re safe now.”
 “You got the job.”
“I’m gay.”
“You’re pregnant.” 
"I have good news.”    “I have bad news.”
“I’m sorry.”
"Are you ok?"'
"Just go away."
"Let me help you."
 “She’s gone.  He’s gone.”
“It’s a boy.”   “It’s a girl.”  “It’s twins.”
"I want a divorce." 
“You’re beautiful.”
“It’s cancer.”
“I will."
“I won’t.”
“I did."
“I didn’t.”
“Can we talk?”
“I need you.”
“Not now, not yet.”

None of those phrases was more than four words in length
but each of them can make a lifetime of difference.

Perhaps the only thing more powerful than the words we hear
is their absence…  silence…  especially that silence
in which we wait and hunger and hope
for a word to be spoken.

God knows so well how important and powerful
are words in our lives.
And so God spoke his Word to us in Jesus,
Jesus is the Word  of God become flesh.
Jesus is the Word of God.

This parable of the sower and the seed is all about
hearing and rooting one’s life in the power of God’s Word,
and of allowing the seed of God’s Word
to take root and flourish in our lives.

Believers listen for God’s Word and seek to live by it.
So the question the parable poses for us is:
Are we believers? 
Are you?  Am I?

Do I believe in the word of God?
Do I listen for God’s word?
Do I believe God speaks to me?
Do I believe God speaks to his people through the Church?
Do I believe that people in my life who truly love me and care about me
speak God’s word to me?

And when God seems to be silent, do I wait?
do I wait to hear God’s voice, God’s word?
Do I want to hear the word God speaks to me?
Do I invite the seed of God’s word to take root in my heart?

Am I careful to weed and prune the garden of my life
lest the seeds of God’s Word be choked or carried away
by my own desires and distractions, by my own word?
Do I hope for, do I pray for, do I look for
a fruitful harvest of God’s Word in my life?

I began with a number of powerful words that might change our lives,
words we speak to each other.
Every word God speaks to us is even more powerful
and it might be helpful to remember some of the words
that God speaks to every single one of us, words like:

“I created you.”
“I love you.”
“I call you by name.” 
“You are mine.”
“I am yours.”
“I desire your happiness.”
“I forgive you.”
"Come to me."
“Don’t be afraid.”
“Do what’s good.”
“Love what is just.”
“Follow me."
"I will give you rest."
“Not now.  Not yet.”
“I am with you, always.”

God speaks all of these words in the lives of all of us here
and God is faithful to every Word that comes from his lips.
Remember the Lord’s word in the first scripture this morning:
The word that goes forth from my mouth
shall not return to me void - but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it…
God’s word is effective: but often on God’s schedule, not ours.

And God calls us, God calls each of us
to be ever so careful and gentle and strong and compelling
in the words we speak to one another,
mindful of how powerful
can be the words that spill from our mouths,
from your and from mine

The Lord has spoken to us today in the Word of the scriptures
and now we go to the altar of sacrifice,
to remember there the words he spoke to us
on the night before he died.

To this very day, some 2,000 years later,
the words of Jesus have power
to change our simple gifts of bread and wine
and make of them his Body and Blood.

And his words have power, to this very day,
to change us, to change our lives
and to make of us a rich harvest
of the truth of the word he has planted
within us and among us.

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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 7/16

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There's not a moment of any day or night, Lord,
when you don't have time for me...

Not a moment
when you wouldn't put everything aside
just to listen to my story,
to speak to me, heart to heart,
from your heart, Lord, to mine...

Then why am I so often busy,
too busy,
to spend some time with you?

On a summer's day, Lord,
like today,
slow me down and give me time
for nothing else to do but be with you
and rest
and know again for certain
that you walk right by my side...

Let summer doldrums
lull, calm and call me
to a time of prayer,
a place of peace
and meeting you again...

I know you have the time, Lord,
and I know you'll always make the time
just to be with me...

Help me find and make the time I need
this summer, Lord,
just to spend some time with you...



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 7/15

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I know I'm supposed to keep it in
leaving yesterday behind me 
and the future for tomorrow...

But sometimes, like this week,
I can't but look back with praise
for how you've brought me to

And I look ahead with hope and pray
you'll be there in the week to come
just as you were there

I offer thanks and praise
for how you've brought me safe thus far
and how you'll be there on the morrow
as I'm mindful, in the moment,
to keep it in

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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/14

Image: Gwen Duda

In the shadows, on dark days
   when the clouds shade my heart,
      give light to my lamp, Lord...

Be the oil in the lamp of my soul:
   a light in the corners of my confusion,
      a flame burning with life within me...

Be the light upon my path
   to show me the way 
      when I'm lost and alone...

Be a light searching for me
   when I hide in the shadows:
      draw me out of the darkness...

Be the sun burning bright 
   at midday, at noon,
      sharing the warmth of your presence...

Be the full moon's light, be the stars that flicker:
   lift up my eyes 
      to ponder their beauty, their Maker's glory...

When I'm wrong and stubborn, be my light of truth;
   when I'm foolish and wasteful, be my light of wisdom;
      when I dwell in sadness, be my light of hope...

When I prefer the darkness, when I choose the shadows,
   when I cover my eyes and turn from your side:
open my heart to your light
   drawing me out, lifting me up, healing my hurt,
      exposing my fear 
         of the love your light offers and gives...

Brighten the darkness around me, Lord:
   illumine the darkness within me, 
   shine through the darkness that hides me,
   burn in the darkness that chills me, 
   shimmer in the darkness that dulls me,
   gleam in the darkness that shrouds me,
   sparkle in the darkness that dims my hope...

Give light to my lamp,
   let no darkness douse it;
give light to my lamp,
   let no wind quench its flame;
give light to my lamp, Lord,
   let no fear snuff it out...

In the quiet of my prayer, Lord,
  give light to the lamp of my heart:
let no darkness shadow my time with you:
   no worry, no doubt, no fear...

As I pause for prayer, Lord,
   give light to my lamp for the rest of this day
      to guide me through to the night ahead...


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