A Sunset Prayer

I have always loved the month of June. The budding leaves and the warm blue skies fill my heart with hope and promise. When I was a teacher, the month of June made me feel like I was swimming in oceans and oceans of life’s most precious resource: time. I loved the long days without classroom bells or hectic schedules or papers to grade. For me, June was time with my kids, time in my home and time riding my bike. When I was teaching, I never took even a single day during the month of June for granted—because I knew how quickly the calendar pages turned every summer. In some ways, June seems like it will last forever. And in other ways, there is no month that sails by more quickly. And even that makes me love the month of June all the more!

We have a favorite family poem that captures the essence of a June day for me. It was written by Jacob Glatstein, a Polish American Jewish poet. This poem is written to describe the daily prayer at sunset. Every sunset on every golden day in June can be an opportunity to walk toward your Creator with a prayer on your lips and in your heart. Each day can be lived as a gift to eternity. As Glatstein writes, we “age with the days that keep dawning.” I think this poem captures the unique way that time flows day by day—with both the fleeting and the eternal wrapped into every single moment.

The rhythm of our worship schedule changes in the summer here at St. James Lutheran Church. We gather on Saturdays at 5:00 PM and Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM. During the first two weekends in June, we focus our attention on the gift of the Holy Spirit, which connects us into One Body of believers. The last three weekends in June we begin the longest season of the church calendar: “Time after Pentecost”. Join us as we return to the gospel of Luke and hear stories of Jesus’ compassion and concern for everyone he encounters…including, you!

June day in Spearfish Canyon

The Sunset Prayer

I’ll let you in on a secret about how one should pray the sunset prayer. It’s a juicy bit of praying, like strolling on grass, nobody’s chasing you, nobody hurries you. You walk toward your Creator with gifts in pure, empty hands. The words are golden, their meaning is transparent, it’s as though you’re saying them for the first time. If you don’t catch on that you should feel a little elevated, you’re not praying the sunset prayer. The tune is sheer simplicity, you’re just lending a helping hand to the sinking day. It’s a heavy responsibility. You take a created day and you slip it into the archive of life, where all our lived-out days are lying together. The day is departing with a quiet kiss. It lies open at your feet while you stand saying the blessings. You can’t create anything yourself, but you can lead the day to its end and see clearly the smile of its going down. See how whole it all is, not diminished for a second, how you age with the days that keep dawning, how you bring your lived-out day as a gift to eternity.

- Jacob Glatstein, tr. Ruth Whitman

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Join us for worship on the 2nd Sunday in Advent, December 6, 2020.