A Collect for the Year of Listening
Lover of Souls, you sent your son Jesus Christ to show humankind how to live abundantly and dwell in your heavenly kingdom; be with our Bishop Greg, as he ponders your will for his life, and pour out your wisdom and grace upon each member of the Diocese of Olympia as we listen obediently for how we might proclaim the mighty power of your love and mercy; in the name of your Son who was born, lived, died, and raised for us – who with you and the Holy Spirt lives and reign; one God, ever and ever.
Prayers for a Year of Listening – a Discernment Office
For use by the people of the Diocese of Olympia during a season of seeking God’s direction in our future relationship with our bishop.
Teach us to seek your wisdom,
as we embrace the folly of your love.
O God of love, you are the true sun of the world, evermore risen and never going down: We pray you to shine in our hearts and drive away the darkness of sin and the mist of error. We pray that we may, this day and all our lives long, walk without stumbling in the way you have prepared for us, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God in glory everlasting. Amen.
(Erasmus of Rotterdam, 1466-1536)
Hymn of Praise
Luke 10:1-12 (NRSV)
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
3 Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ 6 And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
7 Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. 8 Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; 9 cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
One of the following readings may be shared followed by question and silence for reflection.
It is the contemplative saints who most know the fear and pain as well as the joy and freedom of entering emptiness; they have chosen to confront that which has to be thrust upon the rest of us. They have stretched and yielded themselves to experience cleanly and clearly the hunger and brokenness of their own hearts and of our world. They have willingly sought to deprive themselves of anesthesia. The have claimed their desire to bear the beams of love, regardless of the cost.
…Spaciousness is always a beginning, a possibility, a potential, a capacity for birth. Space exists not in order to be filled but to create. In space, to the extent we can bear the truth of the way things are, we find the ever-beginning presence of love. Take time, then; make the space. Seek it wherever you find it, do it however you can. Seek the truth, not what is comfortable. Seek the real, not the easy.
From “Entering the Emptiness” by Gerald May in Simpler Living, Compassionate Life: A Christian Perspective, edited and compiled by Michael Schut (New York: Church Publishing).
To know in truth…is to allow oneself to be known. This is the truth that became incarnate in Jesus Christ, a truth known not in abstraction, but in relationship. The shared commitment to truth ensures that the spiritual direction relationship is one of mutuality, for both director and directee must allow themselves to be known. This marks one of the major differences between spiritual direction and psychotherapy: the director must be willing to be known – not just by her credentials, affiliations, and titles, but known in her vulnerability and limitations as a child of God.
Similarly, the directee must be willing to be known, to lay aside his masks one by one, no matter how beautiful and useful. Despite good intentions, this is not easy work. Spiritual direction attracts a disproportionate number of introverts, who require a great deal of time and patience to reach the level of trust necessary for self-revelation. A friend once likened working with them to coaxing a deer out of the forest: you watch or peering between the trees, occasionally venturing into the meadow, but a sudden move on your part can send it dashing back into the woods. Yet only by letting ourselves be known to each other and to our deepest selves can we have the assurance that we are known by God. If this inner work is done in spiritual direction, it will have an effect on the relation of the individual to the rest of creation. When he allows himself to be known to himself, to another, and to God, the directee will be aware of the web of relationship that connects him to all creation.
From “Good Teachers” by Margaret Guenther in Holy Listening; the Art of Spiritual Direction (Boston: Cowley Publications).
We live in a time of struggle between truth and lies, between sincerity, which almost no one believes in still, and hypocrisy and intrigue. Let’s not be afraid, brothers and sisters; let’s try to be sincere, to love truth; let’s try to model ourselves on Christ Jesus. It is time for us to have a great sense of selection, of discernment.
To Live in the Mercy of God, a poem by Denise Levertov
To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees. How far the stems
before ribs of shelter
To live in the mercy of God. The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort. Stone, elbows of
stony wood beneath lenient
And awe suddenly
passing beyond itself. Becomes
a form of comfort.
Becomes the steady
air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest depths of their listening.
To float, upheld,
as salt water
would hold you,
once you dared.
To live in the mercy of God.
To feel vibrate the enraptured
waterfall flinging itself
unabating down and down
to clenched fists of rock.
Swiftness of plunge,
hour after year after century,
O or Ah
spray. The smoke of it.
of steelwhite foam, glissades
of fugitive jade barely perceptible. Such passion—
rage or joy?
Thus, not mild, not temperate,
God’s love for the world. Vast
flood of mercy
flung on resistance.
Denise Levertov, “To Live in the Mercy of God” from Sands from the Well.
The problem is that the wise course is so frequently unclear. For a long while, I thought that this was simply because of uncertainty. When it is hard to know what will happen, it is hard to know what to do. But the challenge, I’ve come to see, is more fundamental than that. One has to decide whether one’s fears or one’s hopes are what should matter most.
Atul Gawande, Being Mortal
How will we practice Christ Jesus’ way of love, justice, and truth this day? How does God call us forward?
How is Jesus sending us into this moment of life? What unique gifts do we bring in this diocese?
One or more of the following prayers is offered.
For the Mission of the Church
Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
For Clergy and People
Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the Diocese
O God, by your grace you have called us in this Diocese to a goodly fellowship of faith. Bless our Bishop, Greg, and other clergy, and all our people. Grant that your Word may be truly preached and truly heard, your Sacraments faithfully administered and faithfully received. By your Spirit, fashion our lives according to the example of your Son, and grant that we may show the power of your love to all among whom we live; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Discernment of a Bishop (adapted)
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide our partnership with our bishop that we may meet and support him as a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Unity of the Church
O God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior, the Prince of Peace: Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions; take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatever else may hinder us from godly union and concord; that, as there is but one Body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Unity of the Church
Almighty Father, whose blessed Son before his passion prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
For the Good Use of Leisure
O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel [in particular our bishop, Greg]; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings with thy most gracious favor, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A Prayer of Self-Dedication
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray you, as your will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you:” Regard not our sins, but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly City, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, now and for ever. Amen.
Grant, Almighty God, that we, who have been redeemed from the old life of sin by our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ, may be renewed in your Holy Spirit, and live in righteousness and true holiness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
One of the following forms of intercession and thanksgiving is offered:
Jesus, faithful servant of God, sometimes it is difficult for us to know how to be faithful:
Help us discern your will and follow you with gladness.
Jesus, faithful servant of God, in this season of discernment, we still see the brokenness of our world:
Help us be people who faithfully bring forth justice.
Jesus, faithful servant of God, we know the world longs for healing:
Help us be people of hope and bearers of light.
Jesus, faithful servant of God, we want to be the people you long for us to be:
Help us walk in your way of love.
Here, the people add particular intercessions and thanksgivings.
A concluding collect is spoken here.
God of hope, help us when we struggle in our daily work.
When we lose our purpose,
renew our hope in you.
When we bow to hatred,
renew our trust in you.
When we despair of bliss,
renew our joy in you.
When we take offense at others,
renew our life in you.
When we compromise our values,
renew our faith in you.
When we cherish regrets,
renew our freedom in you.
When we surrender to despair,
renew our hope in you.
As we accept your renewing love, we offer our prayers to you:
Here, the people add particular intercessions or thanksgivings.
Hold us, and all people, in your loving care,
and may we be hope for others. Amen
A concluding collect is spoken here.
Please pray in the language of your heart.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
who is in heaven and within us,
We call upon your names.
Your wisdom come.
Your will be done
in all the spaces in which You dwell.
Give us each day sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits
as we give grace to the limits of others.
Separate us from the temptation of empire
and deliver us into community.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us
now and forever. Amen.
Loving God, as we seek to know and follow you more faithfully, we pray you will open and fill our hearts with the love and knowledge of your Son, Jesus. May we see ever more clearly what it is you call us to, and may we respond with lives of joy and justice. Amen.
A Collect for Guidance
Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Wisdom is brilliant; she never fades. By those who love her, she is easily seen; by those who seek her, she is readily found. She is a breath of God’s power, an image of God’s goodness, the eternal light and mirror of God’s glory. Now let Wisdom do all things, renew all things, and pass into holy souls everywhere to make them friends of God. Amen.
(Sara Miles, based on Wisdom of Solomon 7, 2007)
Show our hearts your way,
And we shall follow.