Liturgy as Spiritual Practice – Prayerful Tuesday

Kneeling in Prayer
Kneeling in Prayer

According to my old college American Heritage Dictionary “liturgy is a noun defined as a fixed set of ceremonies, words, etc., that are used during public worship in a religion; ritual.” [1] As followers of faith traditions we most often encounter liturgies when we attend religious services.  But all rituals having a set order to the words spoken and are also liturgies. Graduation ceremonies, inaugurations, State Union Addresses, weddings any ritual using an set order of service uses a liturgy.

We may also use liturgies in our private prayer and spiritual practice’s.  Some traditions have small books with liturgies for each day of the week that include morning, mid-day, and evening prayers.  Each meditation includes a prayer, scripture, maybe a written meditation, and sometimes poetry or pictures to contemplate.  In addition to a traditions individual prayer books there are also many other books that provide written rituals for private prayer.  (You will find a short list of a few of my favorites at the end of this meditation.) Today I am going to introduce you to a liturgy from one of my all time favorite prayer books and offer how I use these resources in my prayer life. One of the advantages of having a liturgy already written out for you is you may adapt them to fit your day and your lifestyle.

I most often use prayer books when I am very stressed out and can’t find a way to sit still and listen for the still small voice of God.  Using a liturgy that includes a blessing or poem, scripture and a prayer calms my heart and open a door into soul allowing me to find my still point and open up to what God is trying to tell me.  If you are new to prayer, any kind of prayer, these pre-written liturgies may provide you with a stepping stone into a regular prayer life.  They allow you to slow down and step across a threshold to you own sacred space.  But, just as with every spiritual practice, you must set a regular time aside each day to read the liturgy.  Most are short and may be read in only a few minutes.  However, setting aside 10 to 15 minutes as a starting place will allow you to sit with the written prayers and scripture in silent contemplation.

Today I offer a liturgy I’ve adapted from a meditation for Tuesday from the Earth Gospel, a guide to prayer for God’s creation written by Sam Hamilton-Poore.   It is an adaption I have used before in my own private prayer and one that allows me to go deeper into that sacred space of my heart.  As you read may you also find a blessing within the words.

Opening Blessing: Edmund Banyard

Holy is the soil we walk on,
Holy everything that grows,
Holy all beneath the surface,
Holy every stream that flows.

A moment of silence

Scripture: Psalm 23 Common English Bible (CEB)

The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
   he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.

You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein the Lord’s house
as long as I live.

Reflection:  “The Avowal” by Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

As swimmers dare
to life face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace

Closing Prayer:

Into your arms, loving Lord, let me “free-fall,”
upheld by your goodness and mercy.
Secure in your embrace,
show me how to love without effort,
trust without fear,
and live with abandon.  Amen


  1. Deleon, Roy ObiSB, Praying with the Body, Bringing the Psalms to Life, Paraclete Press, Bewster, MA, 2009
  2. Hamilton-Poore, Sam, Earth Gospel, a guide to prayer for God’s creation, Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN , 2008 (my offered liturgy will be found on pages 106 and 107)
  3. Newell, J. Philip; Celtic Prayers from Iona, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ, 1997
  4. Rohr, Richard, YES, AND . . . Daily Meditations, Franciscan, Media, Cincinnati, OH, 2013

Ruth Jewell, ©January 28, 2014

[1] The American Heritage  Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston MA, 1982


From Strangers to Family

Vancouver BC, October 21, 2014
Vancouver BC, October 21, 2014

Ruth 1:16-17 (CEB)

16But Ruth said,

“Do not urge me to leave you,
to turn back from following you.
Wherever you go, I will go;
and wherever you stay, I will stay.
Your people will be my people,
and your God will be my God.
17Wherever you die, I will die,
and there I will be buried.
May the Lord do this to me
and more so,
if even death separates me from you!”

Just over 13 years ago these beautiful words from scripture were read at my wedding.  I have always loved the book of Ruth, and yes one reason is because I was named for her, but, primarily I love it because Ruth took her destiny into her own hands and made a place for herself among strangers.  Like the biblical Ruth my own life has been one of making my place in strange places and with strangers all around me.  My wedding was just one of the many steps along my journey to find the face of God.

Now I really don’t want this rambling to be about John and me rather I want to tell you the best part of my marriage, our grandchildren.  Ok, so they are John’s grandchildren not mine, but the youngest ones have known only me as Grammy Ruth and I love them and their parents as much as if they were my blood relations.  And, I have watched with great joy as the two older ones Granddaughter S and Grandson A grow into loving adults.

Recently John, me and our little Chihuahua Suzie spent a joyous week in Boston with John’s son M and daughter-in-law LB and the littlest grandchildren, Grandson L and Granddaughter A.  John’s birthday is January 17th and he shares it with L who turned 7 this year, so for the first time they decided to celebrate their birthdays together.  Watching L as he opened gifts, as he gently held our little dog Suzie, and talked excitedly about everything was a pleasure all its own.  Holding little A and reading a story to her, playing games, watching as she and her brother played, and squabbled, and listening to giggles, laughter and tears put me in a place of bliss that I can’t really describe to you.

I watched as M and LB did a ballet of sorts as they prepared breakfast and got the kids ready for school.  As I listened I realized just how much M and John sound alike and how much grandson L is growing into a young man so like his father and grandfather.  Granddaughter A has inherited her mother’s artistic talents which she combines with her father’s and Papa John’s determination to succeed and do it well.  Even though she is only 4½ she is determined to dance and draw her life in her own way.

I said my journey was to find the face of God and I do, in all of creation including people.  The most important Faces of God I see is when I look at John early in the morning just before rising, in the faces of M and LB when I spot them waiting for us to come from the plane.  I see God’s face in the sleeping, laughing, crying, and determined faces of Grandson L and Granddaughter A.  I hear God laugh and giggle when Granddaughter A dances and runs in play.  I hear God’s voice when I listen to LB and John talk in the kitchen doing clean up from dinner.  I hear God’s voice as Grandson L talks with so much certainty about how something works in his 7 year old world and see God at work as he figures out how to build a new structure of some sort.

This is the wedding gift that never stops giving. I have found a place here in the midst of strangers.  I have found people I love.  After much searching I have found where I belong.  I have been welcomed and accepted as family and been blessed with the love from John’s 3 sons and 4 grandchildren.  I have watched the two oldest grow into strong adults where a future of unknown adventures lies before them.  I have held in my arms Grandson L and Granddaughter A as newborns and offered my blessings and prayers for God to watch over them.

I have watched each of the grandchildren grow into people I want know.  All of them are young people who question everything and when no one can give them an answer they go in search for it.  Even if Grandson L and Granddaughter A might not believe in a Divine force, they know they have a Grammy who sees that Divine force whenever she looks into their eyes.  It is in the question of why does Grammy believes what she does that opens a door to their own journey of discovery of who they are and where they fit in.

My blessed babies, who are babies no longer, have begun their own journeys.  Someday they too will say “wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay.”   That day lies long in the future but time passes quickly and before you know it they will be searching for what they believe.  My prayer for all four of the Grandchildren is they find what feeds their souls with love, compassion, mercy and a passion for justice.  I pray they build a life that gives more than it takes, a life open to the blessings of God whether they call Her God or not.

Ruth Jewell, ©January 25, 2014

Visio Divina – Prayerful Tuesday

Desert Times

Superstition Mountains, Arizona,  ©Ruth Jewell, November 2005
Superstition Mountains, Arizona,
©Ruth Jewell, November 2005

January is a month of quiet stillness, the stillness of snow falling, the stillness of early darkness. It is time when the earth sleeps waiting for the renewal in life coming in future months.  January is a desert time, a time when the darkness can overwhelm us with emptiness, and loneliness.  For some the month of January can last forever, or seem like it anyway.  But spring is coming, hope lies just below the surface of cold snow and hard ground just as water lies beneath the surface of the desert waiting until it is able to break through into the light.

Today I invite you to join me in the practice of Visio Divina with the above desert picture.  As you focus on the desert scene ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When have you felt the silence of the desert in your life?
  2. In what ways did the desert nurture your renewal into a new spring?
  3. And, what is calling your forth from the desert?

May your deserts, whether cold or hot, draw you deeper into the arms of the Holy Spirit.

Ruth Jewell, © January 21, 2014

Walking a Labyrinth — Prayerful Tuesday

Walking the Labyrinth
Walking the Labyrinth

Several years ago I led a labyrinth walk on September 11, in memory of the World Trade Center Disaster.  It was held in the churches outdoor labyrinth and the day was perfect for walking. I placed two baskets at the entrance of the labyrinth, one held fallen leaves to represent those who had died that day and the second held small river stones to represent the courage of all of the emergency people who responded to the attack. Each walker was to carry leaf and stone into the center.  They were asked to leave the leaf either in the center or place it along the path of the labyrinth.  The stone was theirs to keep in remembrance of the walk. The walk was open to the public and was well attended.

One young woman came near the end of the walk and I remember her because she was unsure as to whether she would walk or not.  Finally she picked up a leaf and stone and entered the labyrinth.  As soon as she entered tears started to roll down cheeks, she walk very slowly stopping at each of the stone benches to sit for few minutes.  When she reached the center she sat down on the bench and bent over appearing to be either in pain or great distress.  I thought about going to see if she needed help but changed my mind and waited.  She must have sat there for 15 to 20 minutes before she stood up, carefully placed her leaf on bench and walked out of the labyrinth.

When she exited she came over to me to apologize for taking so long and I told her that it was quite alright.  She said she had read of the walk in the newspaper and that she really wanted to be here today.  You see, her sister worked in the World Trade Center and died that day.  At the time she was also living and working in New York and when she heard that plane had crashed to the towers she had run out and saw the towers collapse.  They never found any remains of her sister.

She told me she hadn’t realized how much grieving she still had to do and that the walk had been more painful than she thought it would be, but she was glad she walked.  I told her the labyrinth was always open to the public and she was free to walk it at anytime.  I also gave her the names of a couple of Pastoral Counselors she could call if she needed to talk to someone.  She left clutching her small stone.

Fortunately all labyrinth walks are as dramatic as this young woman’s.  Most, if not all, are walks that draw us into a quiet place and provide space for conversation with God.  Yes revelations can occur but they are very rare.  It is a blessing just to have a quiet walk that brings some peace and serenity to your life.  That’s plenty I think.

If you’ve never walked a labyrinth here is some historical information.  Labyrinths are an ancient meditation tool that predates Christianity.  Up until the end of the middle ages they were use in place of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  People walked the labyrinths sometimes on hand and knees to simulate the difficulties of a long journey.  Around the middle of the 1400’s labyrinths fell out of favor and it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that they were “rediscovered” as a meditation tool.  They are now very popular and used by those striving for deeper spirituality and also in the health professions where the health benefits of walking the labyrinth have proven to be quite diverse.

The spiritual practice I am recommending this week to walk a labyrinth.  You may locate labyrinth in area that you may walk, or you may “walk” a labyrinth with your finger using a printed labyrinth figure or finger labyrinth made of wood, stone, or metal.

Below are guidelines for walking a labyrinth either with your feet or your finger provided by the Disciples Home Missions and here is a link to a virtual labyrinth provided by The Labyrinth Society and a link to several labyrinth designs you can print out and use on your desk top provided by the Relax 4 Life website

Ruth Jewell, ©January 14, 2014 

Walking Labyrinths

The labyrinth has only one path. It differs from a maze in that there are no tricks to it. From early on within the Christian tradition to now, countless people have walked labyrinths as devoted acts of pilgrimage, prayer and spiritual formation. There is no right way or wrong way to walk the labyrinth. As you follow the winding pathway to the center and back out again, surrender to the journey with an open heart and an open mind.

Four Fold path of the labyrinth

REMEMBERING you are invited to gather your thoughts as you prepare to begin your walk; remember you are blessed. All that we have, all that we are is a blessing from God. If you are waiting in a line of others for your turn to enter the labyrinth, this is a time for literally counting your blessings.

RELEASING begins when you enter the labyrinth and ends upon arriving at the labyrinth’s center. This is an opportunity for “letting-go” of whatever distracts you. This is a time for quieting, opening, emptying, and shedding. For some, this happens through a mindful slowing and deepening of their breathing, or the silent repeated reciting of a simple prayer.

RECEIVING is a gift at the center of the labyrinth.  Having emptied oneself, there is now spaciousness within to receive creative Spirit.  Receiving guidance, interior silence, new insight, deeper wisdom, a sense of peace are only a few experiences that can occur on a labyrinth walk.  It is different for everyone. You may sit or stand in the center as long as you like. Receive what is there for you to receive and accept such as a divine gift.

RESOLVE, begins when you leave the center and return on the same path back out of the labyrinth. There are many aspects of this: you can resolve to take a next step in your life, or come to a resolution about something bothering you. Rejuvenation often occurs, or a feeling of rebirth begins. Or, on your way out, you reclaim those responsibilities you set down on the way in, but for which you have new strength to carry them. Often, feelings of strengthening and integration occur. Symbolically, you take back out into the world what you’ve received.

Some wisdom for these Four R’s of the labyrinth

This way of using a labyrinth is only a map; it is not the territory. You can allow blessing anywhere on the labyrinth. You can release anywhere on the labyrinth, you can receive anywhere; you can come to resolution anywhere on the labyrinth. The Fours R’s is one way of understanding what can happen while you are walking the labyrinth.  Do not hold these too tightly; during your walk you will understand the flow.

This Labyrinth ministry resource is Provided Courtesy of Disciples Home Missions (DHM), Office of Search and Call, of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Indianapolis, IN, Rev. Warren Lynn, This document is created with permission from, and based on a source by, Veriditas, Inc., San Francisco, CA; The Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress

Seeking God’s Face

Master of Vienna, Adoration (1410), FB Page The Celtic Christian Tradition
Master of Vienna, Adoration (1410), FB Page The Celtic Christian Tradition

Sermon – Epiphany Sunday
January 5, 2014
Queen Anne Christian Church Seattle, WA

Matthew 2:1-12 (Common English Bible [CEB])

Coming of the magi

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.”

When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
because from you will come one who governs,
who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. 11 They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.

Greek derivation of Magi, (Strongs Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek Dictionary)

3097. magos mag’-os  (of foreign origin (7248); a Magian, i.e. Oriental scientist; by implication, a magician:–sorcerer, wise man, [interpreter of dreams, prophet].   (plural, could refer to a male or female wise person)

The story of the Magi is such a familiar story. We have heard this story so many times before and I am sure all of us are able to repeat it without difficulty, at least the surface story.   I was confronted with this simple story, which is anything but simple, when I chose to meditate on it for Epiphany Sunday’s Sermon. Sitting in silence, letting the words of Matthew settle into my subconscious I realized there is so much more to this tale than I first believed. There are also way too many questions to address in a single sermon.  If you ever wanted to experience an abundance of graces just read this story carefully.   I could go into the fact that the gender and number of the Magi is never mentioned in the scripture and that the Magi were gentiles; or the Magi don’t visit the stable, they come to the home of Joseph and Mary; and because the story of the killing of the Bethlehem’s children that follows the Magi’s visit lead scholars to believe Jesus could have been as old as 2. And, that’s just few of the questions I found in these 12 verses of Matthew Chapter 2.  What did intrigue me, and what I will discuss, was never addressed by all of the learned theologians I perused. What I wanted to know was the reason these learned gentiles come in search of a child, a child born to a carpenter and his wife.  And, what unknown gifts still hides in this story for me, and all of us, beyond the pretty tale of rich strangers visiting a destitute baby?

First of my questions was what did the Magi expect to find when they arrived in Jerusalem.  Since they came to the city of the kings of Judea they must have expected to find the child born there, and to parents with more than a lineage to David. My guess is they had expected to find a somewhat wealthy family, or at least fairly well off.  After all they were looking for a King and you normally don’t find one living in the home of working class people. They must also have been confused and terribly disappointed that no one knew what they were talking about. I mean, the birth of a King is big news isn’t. Doesn’t everyone celebrate the birth of a King? It isn’t until King Herod calls them for an audience do they learn that the prophets foretell the birth of “the anointed one,” “the Christ,” was to happen in Bethlehem.  I have no doubt they left somewhat confused. But, eventually they find the baby living in the home with his mother and father. They even bring gifts, and while Mary might have preferred diapers, the gifts they gave were costly and fit for a King.  (By the way Bethlehem and the gifts are never mentioned again, why? Another question to confound me.)

They were seeking a child, an infant King, someone who would turn the Roman world upside down and I can only imagine their surprise at finding the child in such humble circumstances. They brought gifts Herod would have drooled over, gold, frankincense, myrrh.  Wonderful gifts but not really practical for the family they found, well the gold was probably most welcome.  But frankincense and myrrh those aren’t baby gifts.  Frankincense and myrrh were used to perfume oils and ointments for the purification of worship spaces and the anointing of the dead.

Now I know what Matthew was implying by the gifts: Gold was the symbol of Jesus’ kingship, frankincense the symbol for the priestly role Jesus would be called to live, and myrrh a foretaste of what he would endure at the end of his life.   But I think these gentile scholars brought something else and it has been bequeathed to us today and our children. The Magi brought the gift of “seeking God’s face.”

God has always welcomed us and longed for our inquisitive search for the face of the Divine, and She encourages us to reach for her Holy arms.  One of David’s Psalms says it well:

30 I will praise God’s name with song;
I will magnify him with thanks
31     because that is more pleasing to the Lord than an ox,
more pleasing than a young bull with full horns and hooves.
32 Let the afflicted see it and be glad!
You who seek God—
let your hearts beat strong again
— Psalm 69:30-32 (CEB)

And in the Book of Acts Paul tells the Athenians “27 God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us.” (Acts 17:27)  No God is never far away, we are.  And, seeking the face of God is one of the joys of creation we should do more often.

The Magi were the first to seek God’s face in its incarnated form, the face of a child.  For Matthew the Magi represent the mission Jesus gives his disciples to reach out to all peoples but especially gentiles, and those born within the great humble mass of humanity, in all its lovely diversity; poor and rich, young and old, all genders, all races, and all people.

For me the Magi represent the longing to see God in the face of my beloved, my grandchildren, best friend, and all creation.  I too want to see the incarnated God, I too long to see the ever present being in the first light of dawn, and I do see it in the face of my beloved when he first opens eyes in the morning.  The Magi have passed this longing down to us and I am grateful for the gift and grateful to pass it on to the next generation.

The Magi’s gift of presence to a child in a humble home was passed on to us through Jesus’ presence in his life, death and resurrection.  Now it is our mission to be present to the incarnated child born to humble parents.   To recognize and honor the incarnation born in each of us, through our gifts to the world whatever they may be; caring for each other, the environment, our nation, and our world.  It is up to us to be the Magi of today and visit the child in a humble home, to offer the gold of our love, to purify our mistakes with the frankincense of compassion; and to anoint those who pass on to the next world with the myrrh of God’s blessings and praise.   In a Judean desert David writes:

God! My God! It’s you—
I search for you!
My whole beingthirsts for you!
My body desires you
in a dry and tired land,
no water anywhere.
Yes, I’ve seen you in the sanctuary;
I’ve seen your power and glory.
My lips praise you
because your faithful love
is better than life itself!
So I will bless you as long as I’m alive;
I will lift up my hands in your name.
— Psalm 63:1-4 (CEB)

So too are we called to offer our praises to God, honor the child that lives today, in each one of us, and in all of creation.  Seek the face of God in all you meet, child, adult, male or female, and all of God’s marvelous creation.  Look in the eyes of your loved ones, your companion animals, see the face of God looking back.  Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©January 7, 2014


Prayers of Intercession and Petition – Prayerful Tuesday


Ephesians 3:16-19  16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Paul’s prayer to the readers of the Letter to the Ephesians is an intercessory or petition prayer to the Holy Spirit, offered by Paul on behalf of the believers of Ephesus.  This prayer strikes a deep cord within me today because I am often asked if praying for others is actually beneficial or just words.  According to some prayer does. Richard Schiffman, in a 2012 post on the religious page of Huffington Post[1], makes the case that those who pray are healthier. In fact he states “It doesn’t matter if you pray for yourself or for others, pray to heal an illness or for peace in the world, or simply sit in silence and quiet the mind — the effects appear to be the same.”  Now I’m not calling Mr. Schiffman the world’s best expert but from my own experience I have to agree with him, prayer does help me and does provide comfort for those I pray for.

So why is Paul’s prayer touching me today? Well because today I have been offering a number of prayers for people and so form of prayer is weighing large on my mind today. I offer prayers for others and I keep a prayer list with names of those who ask me to pray for them. However, and I try to be gentle with those who request prayer and let them know that intercessory prayers may have a downside to them, at least from my perspective.  If we expect G-d to answer our prayers the way we do when we order something on Amazon, then we have a deep problem.  A problem that can harm those we offer prayers for and ourselves.

There is an old hymn that says to “take it to God in prayer” and the implication is all will be made well if we pray.  Now I like that old hymn but I also know that God isn’t going to answer my prayers in any way I expect.  Yes, sometimes there is no answer and that is probably God saying “no” to my request, but, sometimes the answer comes in a way I don’t recognize or expect.  It may not be until long after the prayer I understand what the answer is.

Before we go any farther a word of caution, and I want to make this very clear, my experiences are mine, your experiences with pray are yours. The meanings I receive for my prayers will not mean the same thing to you.  So don’t expect what I learn from my prayers will fit neatly into your frame of reference.

That word of caution is what I am trying, in my inept way, to say. Intercessory pray can become wish list for things you want God to fill.  We all have done that, when I was 8 I prayed for a pony and needless to say I didn’t get one and was very disappointed, going in tears to my father asking why God wouldn’t give me a pony.  He words have stuck with me to this day: “God doesn’t give things we want, God gives us the things we need.  God also gives her gifts in her own time, not mine, God listens but picks the moment when what she offers will do the most good for my life with her. I won’t always recognize her gifts right away, but if I am listening and watching I will see them eventually.”  Now I have to admit I had no idea what he was talking about, all I knew was there wasn’t a pony at the end of my bed the next morning.  But I’ve remembered those words and at this stage of my life I am finally learning what he meant and how to offer a prayer of petition, or intercession, for myself and others.

Today I would like to offer Intercessory and Petition Prayers as today’s spiritual practice, it is an important one to learn not just for yourself, but for those you carry within your heart. How I pray may not work for you but I am sure you will find what works best for you. Unplanned prayers happen when there is a necessity for them.  I have offered a prayer at the bedside of someone who was ill or dying, or when something happens that touches me deeply and I feel the need to offer that prayer.  Those prayers are unplanned and speak from my heart.  I don’t know how to give you instructions for those except to listed for the words and they will come.

Most often I offer prayers of intercession and petition following my daily meditation when I am fully centered in God’s presence. For these Prayers or Intercession and Petition I use the following Celtic Circle Prayer[2], a form of prayer used by early Celtic Christians called the Caim or encircling prayer, which goes like this:

Pray for ourselves

Circle me, O God, encircle me with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for those on our heart

Circle, O God, (name the person(s) you are praying for), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wholeness within, keep sickness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep peace within, keep turmoil out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Prayer for Peacemakers

Circle, O God, those who work for peace (you may wish to specifically name people), encircle them with your presence.

Keep wisdom within, keep folly out;
Keep strength within, keep weariness out;
Keep hope within, keep despair out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those victims of violence and injustice

Circle, O God, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Keep truth within, keep falsehood out;
Keep compassion within, keep hard-heartedness out;
Keep love within, keep hatred out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

For those who commit acts of violence and injustice

Circle, O Holy Spirit, (name people and places), encircle them with your presence.

Help them to see the truth and to turn away from falsehood;
Help them to learn compassion and leave hard-heartedness behind;
Help them find the courage to turn away from evil;
May they feel your love in a world filled with hate;
Help them to see your light in the darkness.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

I don’t always use every one of these prayers at one time sometimes only one or two, but I find that I am less likely to petition God for selfish reasons when I use this prayer.  If these prayers are helpful for you please feel free to you them, but, you may also have or find a prayer that works better for you and that is just as much a blessing.

My prayer for all of you this day is:

Circle, O Holy Spirit all who read these words, encircle them with your presence.

Keep joy within, keep bitterness out;
Keep generosity within, keep greed out;
Keep love within, keep self-seeking out;
Keep light within, keep darkness out.

In the name of the Sacred Three, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©January 7, 2014

[1] Schiffman, Richard, Huffington Post, Religious Page, January 18, 2012
[2] Based on a Prayer from the Gethsemane Chapel, Wells Cathedral, Wells UK.

A Child

a child is born
a child like no other
a child born
to change the world

a child to turn the world
of Rome upside down
an “Anointed One”
to challenge greed and power

the stars in the sky celebrate
the scholar honors with kingly gifts
Herod and all Jerusalem with him

fear who sits on the shoulder of Rome
fear of a fall
fear of being nothing

the Magi bend their knees
hold a child in their arms
creaking old voices laugh
with a child whose laugh lights the sky

come to the home of Mary
visit the child of love
bring your gift of presence
bring your gift of self

Ruth Jewell, ©January 3, 2014