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Weekly Devotion

May 6, 2021

Poem: God Our Mother
by Allison Woodard
(written for the Liturgists Podcast episode "God our Mother," October 2017) 
read by Rebecca Francik

To be a Mother is to suffer;
To travail in the dark,
stretched and torn,
exposed in half-naked humiliation,
subjected to indignities
for the sake of new life.

To be a Mother is to say,
“This is my body, broken for you,”
And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,
“This is my body, take and eat.”

To be a Mother is to self-empty,
To neither slumber nor sleep,
so attuned You are to cries in the night—
Offering the comfort of Yourself,
and assurances of “I’m here.”

To be a Mother is to weep
over the fighting and exclusions and wounds
your children inflict on one another;
To long for reconciliation and brotherly love
and—when all is said and done—
To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,
into the folds of your embrace
and to whisper in their ears
that they are Beloved. 

To be a mother is to be vulnerable—
To be misunderstood,
Railed against,
For the heartaches of the bewildered children
who don’t know where else to cast
the angst they feel
over their own existence
in this perplexing universe

To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,
bearing the burden of their weight,
rejoicing in their returned affection,
delighting in their wonder,
bleeding in the presence of their pain.

To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,
And injustice the next.
To be the Receiver of endless demands,
Absorber of perpetual complaints,
Reckoner of bottomless needs.

To be a mother is to be an artist;
A keeper of memories past,
Weaver of stories untold,
Visionary of lives looming ahead.

To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,
And the first disregarded;
To be a Mender of broken creations,
And Comforter of the distraught children
whose hands wrought them.

To be a mother is to be a Touchstone
and the Source,
Bestower of names,
Influencer of identities;
Life giver,
Life shaper,
Original Love.

Music: Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth
Text: Jean Janzen
Music: Carolyn Jennings

adapted from First Presbyterian Church of Argentina 

April 29, 2021

Poem: "The Gift"
by Li-Young Lee

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.

Music: "In The Garden"
words and music by C. Austin Miles, arranged and performed by Riley Gray and Margaret Francik


Holy and loving God, we come to you today with the prayers of the heartbroken, the hopeful, and everyone in between. We thank you that you know us, you love us, and you meet each of us where we are at.

We ask that you bring comfort, hope, and healing to the heartbroken. God hold our fragile hearts as many hurt from medical conditions, loss of loved ones, traumatic news, loss of employment, loneliness, hurt words, and many other things that bring pain. Repair and restore our hearts. Return to us the joy of your salvation so that our mourning can turn into dancing once again.

We thank you that we see signs of hope and an end to this pandemic that has burdened, harmed, and taken away many of our siblings. We continue to grieve loss, and as spring is blooming, so are signs of hope. God grant us patience and wise discernment as we continue to navigate existing in the pandemic so that our social and economic needs can be met, but we also do our best to keep people safe.

As we walk with you, remind us that you walk with us. We are not alone. We hope because you are with us. May we feel your embrace and comfort as we navigate the troubling waters of this world. We ask for reminders that spark joy in our lives—from the things we eat to the things we hear; give us reminders that you are not done working in this world, and that redemption and resurrection are at work. We trust in this, the unfailing love of your son. Amen.

April 22, 2021

Poem: Try to Praise theMutilated World 
by Adam Zagajewski
translated by Clare Cavanagh

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Music: What Wondrous Love Is This
arranged & performed by Riley Gray


Loving God, loving God,
all creation calls you blessed,
and so do we, and so do we.

Loving God,
all your creation calls you blessed.
Your spirit imprints the whole universe with life and mystery.
Yes, all creation proclaims your love.
We now join this chorus of praise.

Loving God,
all of nature calls you blessed,
and so do we.

For you have woven an intimate tapestry
and call it life
and called it good.

In love you have formed a universe
so diverse yet so related,
and into its web you call us forth
to walk the land and swim the sea
with all our natural brothers and sisters.

To the stars
we seem no more than blades of grass.
Yet to you, each of us,
as each blade of grass and each star,
is an irreplaceable treasure,
an essential companion on this journey of love.

Loving God, as you lure the whole world into salvation,
guide us with your Spirit
that we might not be only pilgrims on the earth,
but pilgrims with the earth,
journeying home to you.

Open our hearts to understand
the intimate relationship that you have with all creation.
Only with this faith can we hope
for tomorrow’s children.
Amen. Alleluia!

April 15, 2021

Poem: Patient Trust
by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Music: Suite for a Fall Afternoon: Dusk
Margaret Francik


April 8, 2021

Poem: This Morning 
by Jay Wright

This morning I threw the windows
of my room open, the light burst
in like crystal gauze and I hung 
it on my wall to frame.
And here I am watching it take possession 
of my room, watching the obscure love
match of light and shadow--of cold and warmth.
It is a matter of acceptance, I guess.
It is a matter of finding some room
with shadows to embrace, open. Now 
the light has settled in, I don't think 
I shall ever close my windows again.

Music: Now The Green Blade Rises
words by John M. C. Crum
music: French Carol, performed & edited by Riley Gray & Margaret Francik

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain; 
love lives again, that with the dead has been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

In the grave they laid the love by hatred slain, 
thinking that Jesus would not wake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

Christ came forth at Easter, like the risen grain,
who that for three days in the grave had lain;
raised from the dead, the risen Christ is seen;
Love is come again like wheat arising green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain,
your touch can call us back to life again,
fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been;
Love is come again like wheat arising green. 

by B. D. Prewer

Most Holy Christ,
Come through our locked doors,
you persistent lover,
come where we’re hiding
and blow away our cover.

Come through disbelief,
enter and greet us,
with disruptive peace
come in and meet us.

Come in the doubting
when old fears molest,
come with your own breath
that we may know rest.

Come with your Spirit,
to lives sour and stale,
breathe forth your Spirit
that we may be hale.

Come with forgiveness
like no man has dared,
breathe in us your grace
that it may be shared.

Come in the evening
with your breath of peace
breathe on your people
that nightmares may cease.


As a Lenten devotional discipline this year, you are invited to pray with Scripture as a way of discerning what God is calling you to be and to do during this season.

February 11, 2021

Poem: "The Thing Is"
by Ellen Bass

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you down like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

Music: "Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72 No.1"
by Frederic Chopin
Performed by Luke Faulkner

based on Psalm 22:24

February 4, 2021

Poem:  "Hymn To The Beloved"
by Ana Ramana

Stars hover
like kisses
over our house.
A cow lows
in the distance,
his bell tinkling
the night air.
A praying mantis
flew into my face
this evening
before prayer,
his green and tender
body my skin’s blessing.
Oh Lord, I could
build a shrine to you
every day in my heart,
I could fill it with
moon and sun, with
the lemon butterflies
that milk our path
to the sea, with spume
of wave on rock, tall
cactus mad with bloom,
I could fill it with pebbles
and sand from my shoe, with
a dart of lizard and peak of
jack rabbits’s ears.

I could add
the languorous sway of ferns
in our courtyard, the breeze-ruffled
curtains in my room. I could take
the luminous, rain-freshened
desert, and set that there too, add
the fan of vulture and hawk wings,
the glorious palmful of spider
as he traces a love pact on the

Oh God,
I could fill each left space
with kisses and a horse’s call,
with the slow swank of donkey
in a clearing. I could conjure
a brimming altar of dawn sky,
each mountain’s sinuous fall
and rise, a dozen setting moons,
and still it would not begin
to praise.

Let me at least spend
my days trying. Let me fail you
a thousand ways. Let me breathe
one more, Lord, of your ravishing
days and I will tell lovers and children
and the bird at twilight
of your deepest secrets.

Music:  Sonatine, Movement I "Modéré"
by Maurice Ravel.
Performed by Stefano Ligoratti


January 28, 2021

Poem:  "Today Means Amen"
by Sierra Demulder

Dear you, whoever you are, however you got here,
this is exactly where you are supposed to be.

This moment has waited its whole life for you.
This moment is your lover and you are a soldier.

Come home, baby, it’s over. You don’t need
to suffer anymore. Dear you, this moment

Is your surprise party. You are both hiding
in the dark and walking through the door.

This moment is a hallelujah. This moment 
is your permission slip to finally open that love

letter you’ve been hiding from yourself, 
the one you wrote when you were little 

when you still danced like a sparkler at dusk.
Do you remember the moment you realized 

they were watching? When you became
ashamed of how much light you were holding?

When you first learned how to unlove yourself?
Dear you, the word today means amen 

in every language. Today, we made it. Today, 
I’m going to love you. Today, I’m going 

to love myself. Today, the boxcutter will rust 
in the garbage. The noose will forget

how to hold you, today, today--
Dear you, and I have always meant you, 

nothing would be the same if you
did not exist. You, whose voice is someone’s 

favorite voice, someone’s favorite face 
to wake up to. Nothing would be the same 

if you did not exist. You, the teacher, 
the starter’s gun, the lantern in the night 

who offers not a way home, but the courage 
to travel farther into the dark. You, the lover,

who worships the taste of her body, who is
the largest tree ring in his heart, who does not

let fear ration your love. You, the friend, 
the sacred chorus of how can I help.

You, who have felt more numb than holy, 
more cracked than mosaic. Who have known

the tiles of a bathroom by heart, who have
forgotten what makes you worth it.

You, the forgiven, the forgiver, who belongs 
right here in this moment. You, this clump 

of cells, this happy explosion that happened 
to start breathing, and by the grace of whatever

is up there, you got here. You made it 
this whole way: through the nights

that swallowed you whole, the mornings 
that arrived in pieces. The scabs, the gravel, 

the doubt, the hurt, the hurt, the hurt
is over. Today, you made it. You made it.

You made it here.

Music: "Qui Cofidunt"
Performers: Scola cantorum, Gregoriana Assen, Arnold den Teuling, conductor.

Prayer: "Prayer for Inner Healing" 

January 21, 2021

Poem: "A Thousand Mornings" 
by Mary Oliver

All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for redbird to sing”

Music: "Praeludium" from First Modern Suite, Op. 10 
by Edward MacDowell.
Performed by Richard Fountain.


January 15, 2021

Poem:  "Let Evening Come" 
by Jane Kenyon 

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving   
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing   
as a woman takes up her needles   
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned   
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.   
Let the wind die down. Let the shed   
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop   
in the oats, to air in the lung   
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don’t   
be afraid. God does not leave us   
comfortless, so let evening come.

Music: "Echo" 
words and music by Margaret Francik. Piano: Kyle Ross
Voice: Margaret Francik

based on a prayer by Greg Christopher

January 7, 2021

Poem: "Love after Love"
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Music: "God's Love Made Visible!"
Words by Iola Brubeck, Music by Dabe Brubeck. Performed by Riley Gray and Margaret Francik

Prayer: "A New Year Prayer"
by Sister Mary Ann Barret, O.P.


As we enter into an Advent season unlike any other in our lives, I hope we can walk in our corporate devotion together while being physically distanced and masked apart.  Each day we will send a short devotional to you that can easily be played on your phone, on a computer or tablet, or simply read.  Hopefully, being connected together through these devotional readings and prayers will allow the Spirit to continue to build our church family strong in the ways of Christ, while at the same time fueling each of us to be the Church outside the walls of our beloved church building.

May all blessings be yours this Advent!

November 26, 2020

From Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, The Book of a Monastic Life

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing--
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones--
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

Music:Jesus Christ Who Makes Us Glad
by Marcel Dupre,
performed by Helen Byrne


November 19, 2020

by David Whyte

Breathe then, as if breathing for the first time,
as if remembering with what difficulty 
you came into the world, what strength it took 
to turn that first impossible in-breath, 
into a cry to be heard by the world.

Your essence has always been that first vulnerability 
of being found, of being heard and of being seen.
and from the very beginning,
the one who has always needed, 
and being given, so much invisible help.

This is how you were when you first came 
into the world, this is how you are now, 
all unawares, in your new body and your new life, 
this is the raw vulnerability of your 
every day, and this is how you will want to be, 
and be remembered, when you leave the world.

Music: 10 Preludes, Op. 23 "Andante (Eb major)" 
by Sergei Rachmaninoff 
Performed by Peter Bradley-Fulgoni
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0


November 12, 2020

Poem: "Under Stars" 
by Tess Gallagher

The sleep of this night deepens
because I have walked coatless from the house
carrying the white envelope.
All night it will say one name
in its little tin house by the roadside.

I have raised the metal flag
so its shadow under the roadlamp
leaves an imprint on the rain-heavy bushes.
Now I will walk back
thinking of the few lights still on
in the town a mile away.

In the yellowed light of a kitchen
the millworker has finished his coffee,
his wife has laid out the white slices of bread
on the counter. Now while the bed they have left
is still warm, I will think of you, you
who are so far away
you have caused me to look up at the stars.

Tonight they have not moved
from childhood, those games played after dark.
Again I walk into the wet grass
toward the starry voices. Again, I
am the found one, intimate, returned
by all I touch on the way.

Music: "De pas sur la neige"
by Claude Debussy
Performed by Chiara Bertoglio, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0


November 5, 2020

Poem: "Screech Owl" 
by Ted Kooser

All night each reedy whinny
from a bird no bigger than a heart
flies out of a tall black pine
and, in a breath, is taken away
by the stars. Yet, with small hope
from the center of darkness
it calls out again and again.

Music: "Nocturne, Op. 19 No. 4" 
by Peter Tchaikovsky
Performed by Narek Hakhnazaryan (cello), Noreen Polera (piano)
Copyright: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 

From "Peanut Butter and Jelly Prayers" by Julie B. Sevig

October 29, 2020

I, 62 from Rilke's Book of Hours 

Only as a child am I awake
and able to trust
that after every fear and every night
I will behold you again.

However often I get lost,
however far my thinking strays,
I know you will be here, right here, 
time trembling around you.

To me it is as if I were at once 
infant, boy, man and more.
I feel that only as it circles
is abundance found.

I thank you, deep power
that works in me ever more lightly
in ways I can't make out.
The day's labor grows simple now,
and like a holy face
held in my dark hands

Music: Andante from Johannes Brahms' Piano Sonata No 1 Op. 1
performed by Peter Bradley-Fulgoni

by Miriam Rubin

October 22, 2020

Poem: "Narrative Theology #2" 
by Padraig O'Tuama

I used to need to know
the end of every story
but these days I only
need the start to get me going.

God is the crack
where the story begins.
We are the crack
where the story gets interesting.

We are the choice of
where to begin –
the person going out?
the stranger coming in?

God is the fracture,
and the ache in your voice,
God is the story
flavoured with choice.

God is the pillar of salt
full of pity
accusing God
for the sulfurous city.

God is the woman who bleeds
and who touches.
We are the story 
of courage and blushes.

God is the story
of whatever works.
God is the twist at the end
and the quirks.

We are the start,
And we are the center,
we’re the characters,
narrators, inventors.

God is the bit
that we can’t explain –
maybe the healing
maybe the pain.

We are the bit
that God can’t explain
maybe the harmony
maybe the strain.

God is the plot,
and we are the writers,
the story of winners
and the story of fighters.

the story of love,
and the story of rupture,
the story of stories,
the story without structure.

Music: "Pavane pour une infante défunte" 
composed by Maurice Ravel, performed by Thérése Dussaut.

by Hilary Hirtle.

October 14, 2020

Poem: Pilgrimage II, 1
From Rilke's Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy
Read by Grace Barnes

You are not surprised at the force of the storm--
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. Now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart 
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.
Through the empty branches, the sky remains.
It is what you have. 
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground, lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.

Music: Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72 No. 1 
by Frederick Chopin
Performed by Luke Faulkner


October 7, 2020

Poem:  "Fully Alive" 
by Dawna Markova

I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

Music:  "Dido's Lament" 
Henry Purcell, composer
Arranger and performer, Evgeniy E. Moshkin


September 30, 2020

Poem: "Vigil" 
by Maya Angelou

Music: "We Shall Overcome" 
arranged and performed by
Scott, Pamela and Olivia Brownlee

from Sarah Signorino, Canisius College  

September 23, 2020

by Albert Camus

In the midst of hate, I found there was, within me, an invincible love.
In the midst of tears, I found there was, within me, an invincible smile. 
In the midst of chaos, I found there was, within me, an invincible calm.
I realized, through it all, that in the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. 
For is says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me,
within me, there's something stronger -- 
something better, pushing right back.

Music: "Rescindment" 
by Margaret Francik 
Performed by Alexandra Rannow on voice and Margaret Francik on piano

by St. Francis

September 16, 2020

Poem: "Silence"
by Ana Ramana

Music: "Silence"
by Margaret Francik
(a choir piece that uses the same text as the poem)

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

September 9, 2020

by Rainier Maria Rilke from the Book of Hours

They see not the faintest glimmer of morning
and listen in vain for the cock's crow.
The night is a huge house
where doors torn open by terrified hands
lead into endless corridors, and there's no way out.

God, every night is like that.
Always there are some awake,
who turn, turn, and do not find you.
Don't you hear them crying out
as they go farther and farther down?
Surely you hear them weep; for they are weeping.

I seek you, because you are passing
right by my door. Whom should I turn to,
if not the one whose darkness 
is darker than night, the only one
who keeps vigil with no candle,
and is not afraid--
the deep one, whose being I trust,
for it breaks through the earth into trees,
and rises,
when I bow my head,
faint as a fragrance
from the soil.

Excerpted from a longer prayer by Lois Siemens posted on the website of the Superb Mennonite Church

by Paul Francik
To hear more music from Paul FrancikClick Here.

September 1, 2020

"Everything is Going to be Alright" 
by Derek Mahon

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.


written and performed by Olivia Brownlee
(used with permission)
If you'd like to support Olivia Brownlee in her music making,  click this link to visit her patreon.

August 26, 2020

Poem: "A Litany For Survival" 
by Audre Lord

Music:"Why Has God Forsaken Me?" 
Text by Bill Wallace 
Music by Taihei Sato 
Recorded and arranged by Riley Gray and Margaret Francik

Prayer:"A Psalm of Lament and Praise in a Time of Coronavirus" 
by the Revd Kenneth Howcroft

August 19, 2020

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

A Voice Is Heard in Ramah
Responsive Prayers from Sojourners

Spiritual, arranged by H.T. Burleigh

August 12, 2020

Poem: "Moments of Life"
by Anthony Mirarcki

Music: "We Are an Offering" 
music and words by Dwight Liles, performed & arranged by Riley Gray

Prayer: "A Prayer for These Days and Times" 
by Rev. Cynthia Belt

August 5, 2020

"Once Upon A Children's Game," 
by Barbara Reynolds

"The Prayer Perfect" 
by James Whitcomb Riley

Tim and Shelly Barber 

July 29, 2020

Poem:"Crossing The Delaware" 
by Rob Hardy

Music: "We Come To You For Healing, Lord" 
Text by Herman G Stuempfle Jr.
Music is an American Folk Melody arr. by Annabel Morris Buchanan
Riley Gray and Margaret Francik as performers


July 22, 2020

"From Blossoms" 
by Li-Young Lee 


by Tim Barber

July 10, 2020

Canticle of Creation II 

Poem: Tomatillos
by Shelly Barber 

Astonishing wonders.
inside my heart and
outside my window.
The issue often
is not the issue of why
I feel pain.
But tomatillos.
It's okay even when it doesn't feel okay.
The same Creator who made me,
Made tomatillos.
Unexpected truths,
to lighten the work.
Keep going, Beloved.

Music: Lord, Let My Heart Be Good Soil
Music and Text by Handt Hanson, arranged by Margaret Francik

July 3, 2020

"Corona Pantoum" 
by Monica Raymond

Prayer by James Parker

by Margaret Francik and Riley Gray

Wear your mask!
It's important for society,
who has a better pedigree,
Facebook or the CDC? 
Wear your mask!
Or else we'll have to do this forever,
so come on now, just be clever,
and wear your mask. 

When you go to the grocery store,
When you go to the bank,
When you go to get a new car, oh
The rona doesn't care, so wear your mask!

If you don't know anyone who's sick,
It doesn't mean they're not there,
But if you ignore this fact, oh
You're part of the problem, so wear your mask!

When you go out with your friends,
Or hang out in the park,
You think that you'll be just fine, but news flash:
It's not about you, so wear your mask!

June 26, 2020

Poem: A Prayer for the Sequestered 
by Carol Flake Chapman

Edvard Grieg — In the Homeland, Op. 43, No. 3 
played by Helen Byrne

by Rev. Larry Doornbos

June 19, 2020

The Confession of 1967

"God has created the peoples of the earth to be one universal family. In his reconciling love, God overcomes the barriers between sisters and brothers and breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference, real or imaginary. The church is called to bring all people to receive and uphold one another as persons in all relationships of life: in employment, housing, education, leisure, marriage, family, church, and the exercise of political rights. Therefore, the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those injured by it. Congregations, individuals, or groups of Christians who exclude, dominate, or patronize others, however subtly, resist the Spirit of God and bring contempt on the faith which they profess."

by Damon Syphers 

Master, Rabbi, and Friend, as I look upon your crucified face, I am reminded of your total Love for humanity. You took on all the ills, social injustices, and social inequities of your time. I daresay these same problems have become so much of our life in the 21st century. To you there are no color differences, everybody is made the same according to God’s plan. There are no rich or poor in the sight of God nor are there the social injustices that man has made in the name of religion. As I ponder and meditate your crucified face, I am reminded of the ills of imperialism, colonialism, and domination. So I pray for strength in my lifetime to loosen some burdens of society. Because I know that if I do your work it will help heal your scarred, tormented, crucified face. Please give me the strength, intelligence, and LOVE to be able to take over where you left o# many years ago. For I know if I carry this yoke, I am doing the work of the Father and above all things living the golden rule of “love your neighbors as you love yourself. For you are the Way, the Truth, and the Light.” Give me strength to help others to do Your work to make the world a better place. Amen  

Text: Francis of Assisi, adapt. Marty Haugen 
Music: Marty Haugen
Recording and vocals by Riley Gray

June 12, 2020

Poem: Listening
by Amy Lowell 

’T is you that are the music, not your song.
The song is but a door which, opening wide,
Lets forth the pent-up melody inside,
Your spirit’s harmony, which clear and strong
Sing but of you. Throughout your whole life long
Your songs, your thoughts, your doings, each divide
This perfect beauty; waves within a tide,
Or single notes amid a glorious throng.
The song of earth has many different chords;
Ocean has many moods and many tones
Yet always ocean. In the damp Spring woods
The painted trillium smiles, while crisp pine cones
Autumn alone can ripen. So is this
One music with a thousand cadences. 

Music: Breathe on Me, Breath of God/Trusting Jesus
Pamela Brownlee & Margaret Francik

Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew,
that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do. 
Simply trusting every day, trusting through a stormy way,
even when my faith is small, trusting Jesus that is all.
Breathe on me, breath of God, until my heart is pure, 
until my will is one with thine, to do and to endure.
Brightly doth his Spirit shine into this poor heart of mine;
while he leads I cannot fall, trusting Jesus that is all. 
Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine,
until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.
Singing if my way is clear, praying if the path be drear,
if in danger, for him call, trusting Jesus that is all. 
Trusting as the moments fly, trusting as the days go by,
trusting him what-e'er be-fall, trusting Jesus that is all. 


June 5, 2020

Batter my heart, three person'd God
(Holy Sonnet 14) 
by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Bach Menuet from Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor 
Played by Helen Byrne

The Confession of Belhar

May 29, 2020

Music: "In, Out"
written and sung by Margaret Francik

Poem "Intubation"
by Sara Cupp Smith

I wake in purgatory, where I hear
The rhythmic ventilator’s pulse and see
My hands and feet restrained. There seems to be
No way to flee paralysis and fear.
Intensive care, a cell with pale green walls,
Imprisons me, a soul without a voice,
Immobile, intubated, lacking choice.
The ventilator’s soft which lifts and falls.
Outside this hospital the city fears
Contagion, deprivation, even death,
And many conversations end in tears.
But I am now reduced to breath, then breath.
No other act is possible.  I weep
In silent isolation.  Then I sleep.


For all who have contracted coronavirus,
     We pray for care and healing.

For those who are particularly vulnerable,
     We pray for safety and protection.

For all who experience fear or anxiety,
     We pray for peace of mind and spirit.

For affected families who are facing difficult decisions between food on the table or public safety,
     We pray for policies that recognize their plight.

For those who do not have adequate health insurance,
     We pray that no family will face financial burdens alone.

For those who are afraid to access care due to immigration status,
     We pray for recognition of the God-given dignity of all.

For our brothers and sisters around the world,
     We pray for shared solidarity.

For public officials and decisionmakers,
     We pray for wisdom and guidance.

Father, during this time may your Church be a sign of hope, comfort and love to all.
     Grant peace.
     Grant comfort.
     Grant healing.
     Be with us, Lord.


May 22, 2020
Click on the linked titles to listen.

May 15, 2020

by Brother Richard

played by Helen and Leonard Byrne

from Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church

May 8, 2020

by Allison Woodard
(written for the Liturgists Podcast episode "God our Mother," October 2017) 
read by Rebecca Francik 

To be a Mother is to suffer;
To travail in the dark,
stretched and torn,
exposed in half-naked humiliation,
subjected to indignities
for the sake of new life.

To be a Mother is to say,
“This is my body, broken for you,”
And, in the next instant, in response to the created’s primal hunger,
“This is my body, take and eat.”

To be a Mother is to self-empty,
To neither slumber nor sleep,
so attuned You are to cries in the night—
Offering the comfort of Yourself,
and assurances of “I’m here.”

To be a Mother is to weep
over the fighting and exclusions and wounds
your children inflict on one another;
To long for reconciliation and brotherly love
and—when all is said and done—
To gather all parties, the offender and the offended,
into the folds of your embrace
and to whisper in their ears
that they are Beloved. 

To be a mother is to be vulnerable—
To be misunderstood,
Railed against,
For the heartaches of the bewildered children
who don’t know where else to cast
the angst they feel
over their own existence
in this perplexing universe

To be a mother is to hoist onto your hips those on whom your image is imprinted,
bearing the burden of their weight,
rejoicing in their returned affection,
delighting in their wonder,
bleeding in the presence of their pain.

To be a mother is to be accused of sentimentality one moment,
And injustice the next.
To be the Receiver of endless demands,
Absorber of perpetual complaints,
Reckoner of bottomless needs.

To be a mother is to be an artist;
A keeper of memories past,
Weaver of stories untold,
Visionary of lives looming ahead.

To be a mother is to be the first voice listened to,
And the first disregarded;
To be a Mender of broken creations,
And Comforter of the distraught children
whose hands wrought them.

To be a mother is to be a Touchstone
and the Source,
Bestower of names,
Influencer of identities;
Life giver,
Life shaper,
Original Love.

Text: Jean Janzen
Music: Carolyn Jennings

adapted from First Presbyterian Church of Argentina

May 1, 2020

"A Prayer for reconciliation" by Padraig O'Tuama
Prayer by Rev. Michael Scott of the Dublin Community Church

 "Cup of Water"
 written by Tim Barber and sung by Tim and Shelly Barber and friends

April 24, 2020

by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

by Margaret Francik

by Roy E. Dickerson
in Daily Prayer Companion
I pause, Father, to commune with you. Help me to be still and know that you are God. Ease awhile any tense muscles or strained nerves or wrought-up emotions. Let me be relaxed in body and calm in spirit so that I may be more responsive to your presence. I pause, Father, to commune with you. Amen.

April 17, 2020

by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.

And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Composed and played by Margaret Francik
(The recording is a little soft. Please turn up your speakers.)


"Jesus, during Your ministry on Earth You showed Your power and caring by healing people of all ages and stations of life from physical, mental, and spiritual ailments. Be present now to people who need Your loving touch because of COVID-19. May they feel Your power of healing through the care of doctors and nurses.

Take away the fear, anxiety, and feelings of isolation from people receiving treatment or under quarantine. Give them a sense of purpose in pursuing health and protecting others from exposure to the disease. Protect their families and friends and bring peace to all who love them."

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

—Philippians 4:6 (NIV)