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An Interfaith Prayer Service That Was First Conducted Over Twitter

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Back in 2009, I created a twitter account simply for leading twitter prayer services.  It was run by a basic script engine - and could still be done with a simple script and command line twitter account like ttytter, though the original script I used would no longer work.

I thought - and still think - the delayed and incremental nature of Twitter would be useful for forcing time for reflection. To take each thought and really consider it.

In those still-early days of twitter, it was almost entirely participatory, and hashtags hadn't really been used strongly for organizing conversations. If I were to arrange something like this today, I might use a hashtag instead of a dedicated account.

But it just happened the once. I did it as a proof of concept; others thought it was interesting... but not interesting enough to participate in themselves.

But that's not the point.  The actual text of the service is no longer hosted anywhere, due to site changes and the like, so I thought I'd share it with you today. I've only altered it to reformat the text so it's in standard paragraphs.

Welcome to this multi-faith prayer service, conducted over Twitter. 
You may retweet the prayers after me if you like, but it is not necessary.  
This will take approximately one hour, and just over 100 tweets.  

Perhaps you're ill, perhaps you've gotten out of practice.  Maybe you're just reading this after the fact. It's hard to carve time to examine spiritual, the religious.  Real life gets in the way.  I hope this exercise will help you.

Regardless, this - to the best of our knowledge - the first twitter prayer service. So a brief explanation is in order.

On twitter, I have met a wide variety of faiths, and I do not wish to exclude my friends (or adversaries). While I come from a Roman Catholic tradition, this is not a Catholic (or Christian) service. I attempted to find several representative readings for us;  but it is not an exhaustive list.  If you have a particular passage in your holy (or secular) text that reflects the theme, please @reply later, or use the hash tag

Please use this time and format to reflect on the spiritual and divine in your own life. Reflect on your relationships and the people in your life.  While in India, the Sufis taught that the divine made all things, and is in all things.  Seeing the Divine is the hard part. Medevial Jewish monks did not call the divine strong or all-knowing, but instead that the divine was not weak. This reminded us that we cannot truly know the Divine, that our language is not sufficient.

From these principles I have drawn these prayers.  The Divine is not ignorant of your intent when you reflect on these.

Therefore, I do not invoke any of the names of the Divine.  This required altering some prayers slightly.

Amen is a traditional term that means literally we agree.  I hope to have crafted something here that fulfills that.

You have searched me and know me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely.

First Prayer:
From the unreal, lead us to the Real; from darkness, lead us unto Light; from death, lead us to Immortality.
Om peace, peace, peace.

First Reading:
They who want to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. They will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed. They will do so without without coveting or being carried away by the emotions of the majority. 

May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy. May all living beings live in Security and Peace. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility.

Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of anyone in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone harm.

Just as a mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, 
we should cultivate the Boundless Love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below, and across. Our love will know no obstacles, our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. 

Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain mindfulness of love in our own heart.
This is the noblest way of living. 

Second Prayer:
All praise is due to you, who have sent the prophets to teach us how to live as full human beings. 
Make us among those who can truly say, 'We hear and obey.' 
Awaken in our hearts those attributes you love the best, and help us to be Merciful, Compassionate, Just, and Patient with each other and with all those around us.

Second Reading:
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ''Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor.'' And they rebuked her harshly.

''Leave her alone,'' said Jesus. ''Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.''

The expression of love - in Western culture - has largely been shaped by gender.  Women talk of emotion, men do things for women. Women want to share their weaknesses and spend time together;  men wish to fix problems and buy things.

This separation happens with our faiths as well.  Too often, we become either locked in contemplation or just going through motions.

Both are required;  a balance must be struck.  The forms of love, the ways of showing it are different, but the love is the same. We must strive to respect and draw from both to be a whole person, and truly live the Divine way.

Remember:  In Mark, Yeshua was speaking to a bunch of men, used to doing things of action.  The disciple's way of caring was through action - selling the perfume and donating it.  They wanted to fix the problem.

But the woman showed emotional, ''impractical'' love.  Yeshua's wisdom comes in this:  He realized that both have value.

Our emotional needs are as important as our physical ones;  a balance of the two is needed to live a proper life.

So too must our love be expressed towards the Divine.  Not only must we love, but we must live so to show that love.

Third Prayer:
Mystery of Life, Source of All Being, we are thankful for the gifts of life and being, of love and connection. 
We are thankful for all the wonders of the world around us. 
We are thankful for each other and for all the members of our global family. 
May we have eyes that see, hearts that love and hands that are ready to serve in love and in kindness.

Please take the time to donate money to Kiva in lieu of any real ''collection plate''.  http://kiva.org/ 

Fourth Prayer:
Blessed are You, who bestows good things on the unworthy, and has bestowed on me every goodness.
Amen. They who have bestowed on you every goodness, may they continue to bestow on you every goodness. Selah.

Fifth Prayer
I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning and to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon.
I vow to live simply and sanely, content with just a few possessions, and to keep my body healthy.
I vow to let go of all worries and anxiety  in order to be light and free.
I am aware that I owe much to my parents, teachers, friends and all beings.
I vow to be worthy of their trust, to practice wholeheartedly,
so that understanding and compassion will flower, and i can help living beings be free from their suffering.

The Q'uran says:  ''What is good and what is evil are in no way commensurate.  
Return evil with some better thing and, so doing, you will make the one with whom you are at enmity to become like a close friend.  Only those who have patience can attain this, and any such, reaching it, come to possess great good fortune.''

Our call this week is to love.  Love is not just a card or a ring, love is not just carnality or helping out. Love is a complex thing we do not have enough words for, and many many meanings.

Challenge yourself in the coming week to love radically.  Love in new ways.  Challenge yourself to love those you think you hate.

Thank you for listening, and may you have a blessed week.

Many of the prayers are modified from the peaceCENTER at http://www.salsa.net/peace 

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