Posted by: Keith Clark | January 6, 2013

A Prayer for Epiphany

Here is a prayer for Epiphany from Walter Brueggemann’s  Prayers for a Privileged People.

The wise ones hurried from the East.

They are the wise of the world.

They are the ones wise in science,

for they read the “intelligent design” of the stars.

They are the wise ones of the economy,

for they come with gold.

They are the wise ones of politics,

for they sought a king.

They are our delegates, as we stand

carrying all the learning of the academy,

of the market,

of the laboratory,

of the halls of power.

They came, tenaciously and eagerly and regally.

They came and bowed down before your foolishness.

They sensed the contradiction

between his vulnerability and their sagacity,

between his innocence and their calculation,

between his exposure and their many concealing

robes of power.

They worshiped him!

They recognized that he called into question

all that they treasured,

so they yielded their best to him,

their preciousness,

their secret potions,

their rich perfumes.

And we stand alongside them with

our wealth,

our control,

our smarts,

our sophistication,

our affluence.

Give us freedom like theirs

to yield,

to worship,

to adore,

to have our lives contradicted.

Give us grace like theirs

to embrace the foolishness of the child,

that the first will be last and the last first,

that the humble will be exalted and the exalted humbled,

that we may lose the world and gain our lives.

Give us the imagination like theirs

to go home by another route

on the path where foolishness is wisdom

and weakness is strength

and poverty is wealth.

Make our new foolishness specific

that the world might become–

through us–new.

Posted by: Keith Clark | December 22, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Posted by: Keith Clark | December 18, 2012

Newborn Beginning . . . after Caesar

Here is an Advent prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s  Prayers for a Privileged People.

The Christ Child is about to be born,

the one promised by the angel.

Mary’s “fullness of time” has arrived.

Except that the birth is scheduled

according to the emperor:

A decree went out that all should be numbered.

Caesar decreed a census, everyone counted;

Caesar intended to have up-to-date data for the tax rolls;

Caesar intended to have current lists of draft eligibility;

Caesar intended taxes to support armies,

because the emperor, in whatever era,

is always about money and power,

about power and force,

about force and control,

and eventually violence.

And while we wait for the Christ Child,

we are enthralled by the things of Caesar–

money . . . power . . . control,

and all the well-being that comes from

such control, even if it requires a little violence.

But in the midst of the decree

will come this long-expected Jesus,

innocent, vulnerable,

full of grace and truth,

grace and not power,

truth and not money,

mercy and not control.

We also dwell in the land of Caesar;

we pray for the gift of your spirit,

that we may loosen our grip on the things of Caesar,

that we may turn our eyes toward the baby,

our ears toward the newness,

our hearts toward the gentleness,

our power and money and control

toward your new governance.

We crave the newness.

And while the decree of the emperor

rings in our ears with such authority,

give us newness that we may start again

at the beginning,

that the innocence of the baby may

intrude upon our ambiguity,

that the vulnerability of the child may

veto our lust for control,

that we may be filled with wonder

and so less of anxiety,

in the blessed name of the baby we pray.

Posted by: Keith Clark | November 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Posted by: Keith Clark | November 22, 2012

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Here is a Thanksgiving prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s  Prayers for a Privileged People.

Amid football,

family, and

too much food,

we pause quickly and without inconvenience

to remember and to thank.

We remember ancient pilgrims

who followed dreams of alabaster cities

and financial opportunity;

We remember hospitable first nation people

who welcomed them, and then lost their land;

We remember other family times

filled with joy and

filled with anxiety, and

old scars still powerful.

We thank you for this U.S. venue of

justice and freedom,

and are aware of its flawed reality;

We thank you for our wealth and our safety,

and are aware of how close to poverty we are

and how under threat we live.

We gather our impulse for gratitude today,

grateful to you and to our ancestors,

grateful to you for our families,

our health,

our government,

our many possessions.

We gladly affirm that

“All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above,”

But we yield to none in a sense of self-sufficiency,

our weariness in needing to share,

our resentfulness of those who take and do not give.

Your generosity evokes our gratitude,

but your generosity overmatches our gratitude.

We are ready to thank,

but not overly so;

We remember our achievements,

our accomplishments,

our entitlements,

and our responsibilities

that slice away our yielding of ourselves to you.

Move through our half measure of thanks

and let us be, all through this day,

more risky in acknowledging

that we have nothing except what you give.

You have given so much–not least your only Son.

Gift us the gift of dazzlement and awe

that we may rejoice in our penultimate lives

and keep you ultimate all the day long,

relishing the wonder of your self-giving love.

Posted by: Keith Clark | November 7, 2012

A Post-Election Day Prayer

Here is a post-Election Day prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s  Prayers for a Privileged People.

You creator God

who has ordered us

in families and communities,

in clans and tribes,

in states and nations.

You creator God

who enact your governance

in ways overt and

in ways hidden.

You exercise your will for

peace and for justice and for freedom.

We give you thanks for the peaceable order of

our nation and for the chance of choosing–

all the manipulative money notwithstanding.

We pray now for new governance

that your will and purpose may prevail,

that our leaders may have a sense

of justice and goodness,

that we as citizens may care about the

public face of your purpose.

We pray in the name of Jesus who was executed

by the authorities.

Posted by: Keith Clark | November 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Posted by: Keith Clark | October 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Posted by: Keith Clark | September 15, 2012

Weekly Wrap

Posted by: Keith Clark | September 3, 2012

A Prayer for Labor Day

Here is a Labor Day prayer from Walter Brueggemann’s  Prayers for a Privileged People.

We are again at our annual moment to honor labor,

to remember those who do hard work,

to recall tales of depression poverty,

to wonder at our surging economy.

As we remember, we are aware that “labor” today

is surrounded by hostile euphemisms . . .



minimum wage,


all strategies to cut costs,

with the result that laborers are put more at risk,

all the while we indulge in endless extravagance.

We are mindful this day:

that most labor in our country is performed

by people maybe not like us,

African Americans, Hispanics,

other people who lack our advanced skills and connections,

and who settle for being labor that is cheap, while

food and housing continue to grow more expensive;

that we are here because our mothers were in labor for us,

loving us before we were born,

available for inconvenience and for pain,

and as we grew . . . for worry in the night;

that there is other work to be done, what Jesus called,

“my Father’s work,”

healing the sick,

caring for the poor,

casting out demons,

doing the hard work of justice.

We give thanks for those who do this.

On Labor Day, with most of us so privileged

that we do not sweat unless we

play tennis or jog,

give us fresh perspective on our labor,

that our lives consist in more

than earning and eating,

in making and selling,

that our lives consist in the hard, urgent

work of the neighborhood.

Empower us as you did our mothers

that we may birth new well-being,

that neighbors may live in justice,

that we may know the joy of compassion,

that overrides the drudgery of our common day.

We pray in the name of Jesus,

from whom we know your own self-giving life,

for we gladly confess that “no man works like him.”

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