Friday, June 29, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fortnight for what?

Much ink has been spilled lately regarding the RC Church's Fortnight for Freedom.  But I think if we are really to talk about Religious Freedom, we must talk about it in a way that doesn't exempt us from society nor does it ignore the liberty of other religious bodies.  In other words, it isn't just about us, which the Fortnight for Freedom feels like.

It must be about all of us together...

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gracious Father, we pray for your Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt,
purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart and especially the hearts of the people of this land, that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for those affected by Wildfire

A prayer for those in Colorado affected by the wildfires there...

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, protect all those facing the destruction from the fires in Colorado and guide those who are working to put the fires out; that, among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be defended by your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, heavenly Father, who by your son Jesus Christ has promised to all those who seek your kingdom and its righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send us, we entreat you, in this time of need, such moderate rain and showers in Colorado, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to our comfort and to your honor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Litany of Hope in a time of destruction by wildfires
By Maria L. Evans (her blog here)

Creator God, Author of the Universe;
as the deer long for cooling streams,
as weary people long for shelter in skeletal, burned places,
gather your creatures and your children safely into your loving arms.
(silence)
In your mercy, Lord,
Hear our prayer.

Ever-present God of the wind and sky,
God who holds the oceans in the palm of Your holy hand,
God who has dominion of thunder and rain,
Assuage the thirst of a scorched land and a parched people.
(silence)
In your mercy, Lord,
Hear our prayer.

Sheltering God of maternal eagle’s wings and home-seeking sparrows,
Comfort your people.
Brace the aching legs of weary firefighters and volunteers
and ease the pain of the hearts of those displaced.
(silence)
In your mercy, Lord,
Hear our prayer.

Resurrecting God of of the Valley of Dry Bones and the Easter miracle,
Forgive, restore, and renew your people.
Remind us that, just as the lodge pole pine requires fire and death for rebirth,
that your people can also find hope in the acrid smoke of tragedy.
Call to the hearts of those unaffected by wildfires
to put their hands toward the cloud of smoke and pillars of fire
and grasp the hands of those who flee in fear.
We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ,
who conquered the burnt wasteland of sin and death,
refreshing us with the living waters of the peace that passes all understanding.  
Amen

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 24 Sermon

In the silence of the stars, In the quiet of the hills, In the heaving of the sea, Speak, Lord.
In the stillness of this room, In the calming of our minds, In the longing of our hearts, Speak, Lord.
In the voice of a friend, In the chatter of a child, In the words of a stranger, Speak, Lord.
In our service of word & sacrament and in the waters of baptism
Speak, Lord, for your servants listen. Amen. [adapted from a prayer by David Adam]
A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town. One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone. She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village and went straight to the combination bakery/ice cream parlor.

There was only one other patron in the store: Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee. The woman's heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes.

The actor nodded graciously and the star struck woman smiled demurely.

Pull yourself together! She chides herself. You're a happily married woman with three children, you're forty-five years old, not a teenager!

The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman's direction.

When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change but her other hand was empty.
Where's my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store? Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk's hand or in a holder on the counter or something! No ice-cream cone was in sight..

With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar, warm, friendly grin and he said to the woman, 'You put it in your purse.'
That was a true story. Sometimes it can be a Paul Newman, but much more often it is something much more traumatic like the death of a loved one, hearing the doctor say it is cancer, losing your job, or even your car breaking down, those unexpected storms that throw our "boats" off course, that cause us to panic and that throw us off balance and create much anxiety even despair.

Within each of us is the grace of the "awakened" Jesus in today's Gospel: the wisdom, the patience, the courage to discern the presence of God even amid the storms of tension, fear, anxiety, and tragedy we experience.

The words Jesus addresses to the storm can just as well be addressed to us and to our hearts: “Peace! Be still!” In our stormy, whirlwind lives, we need to hear his voice and make time for peace and stillness in order to hear the voice of the Spirit; to calm our lives as we navigate our small boats through life's stormy Galilee sea. The grace of the Risen Christ enables us to discern the presence of God even amidst the roar of the tempest and sea.

As Frederick Buechner writes in his book Secrets of the Dark: "Christ sleeps in the deepest selves of all of us, and whatever we do in whatever time we have left, wherever we go, may we in whatever way we can call on him as the fishermen did in their boat to come awake within us and to give us courage, to give us hope, to show us, each one, our way. May he be with us especially when the winds go mad and the waves run wild, as they will for all of us before we're done, so that even in their midst we may find peace and find him."
Which reminds me of the Breton Fisherman’s Prayer who knew something about being tossed on the sea (a plaque which was presented to JFK):
Dear God, be good to me; The sea is so wide And my boat is so small.
So how do we in the midst of our lives take the time to hear the voice of God, to still ourselves in good the quiet moments or in the stormy times of our lives?

My wife has been using a bell that goes off on her iphone periodically. She then pauses and says a prayer of thanks to God for that moment, even if the kids are totally out of control, the dogs are running a muck and all is chaos. She stills herself, prays and reconnects.

It is a very simple but easy way to stay connected with God during our day, much like the monks and nuns of yester year and today who take each day to pray at specific moments to recommit themselves to God in the busyness of their lives.

There are many such ways to pray, but this morning, I invite you to that same practice. To take a moment, quiet your selves, and when I ring the bell, say a quiet prayer of thanks to God (or even ask for help) in the midst of our chaotic and stormy lives. I will end our silent prayers with a final collect.

Ready your selves – nice deep breath, (pause) < Bell >
Give us Lord the grace to walk by faith, through every storm of life to keep our eyes on you. And when we fail to see, or start to sink, or feel lost, stretch out your hand to raise us up. So may we learn to hold to you through good and ill, until we come to the haven where we would be, in everlasting joy and peace. Amen. [prayer by Jeffrey John]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 3 Sermon: Trinity Sunday

Thanks be to the Father
I arise today
He gives me light
He guides my way

Thanks be to the Savior
I arise today
He gives me love
He hears me pray

Thanks be to the Spirit
I arise today
He gives me life
With me to stay. Amen.

This ‘Rising Prayer’ by David Adam, a priest and author, helps us see our connection to the Trinity, our understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As I thought about Bishop Laura’s stories from last week about her time in Haiti, it got me to thinking about our relationship with God. How we talk about it.

David Adam’s prayer is in the celtic tradition. David says: “Celtic Christians saw a universe ablaze with God’s glory, suffused with a presence that calls, nods and beckons – a creation personally united with its Creator in every atom and fiber.”

That connection in Celtic Christianity was always with the Holy Trinity. As one person put it, “They followed the one God who embraces the world with his two arms of love: the right arm is Christ, the left arm is the Spirit.”

What Trinity Sunday is about is our relationship to God and its importance. The Trinity is how we experience our relationship with God and our ancestors in England, the celts, understood this at a very personal level and were comfortable with it.

The Carmina Gadelica – a collection of prayers, hymns, poems and songs collected and translated from the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland in the 19th Century, is a treasure trove of this understanding, one night prayer says this…
I lie down this night with God
And God will lie down with me
I lie down this night with Christ
And Christ will lie down with me
I lie down this night with the Spirit
And the Spirit will lie down with me.
This understanding of the Trinity, of God understood in three ways, is part of our intimate lives. It calls us to remember and renew a deeper understanding that to call upon God, is to call upon the three. The Trinity can also be seen in something much earlier, St. Patrick’s breastplate, a copy of which you have in the bulletin (or the Hymn we just sang #370).

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
 
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Why I bring this up, is that as Christians, our understanding of God is important, and how intimately involved God is in our lives, helps us understand ourselves too. We remember that salvation is through Christ, but it is the Trinity that invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

As Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister and writer, captures that idea this way: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit mean that the mystery beyond us, the mystery among us, and the mystery within us are all the same mystery. Thus the Trinity is a way of saying something about us and the way we experience God.”

Whenever we call upon God, we are touching upon mystery, but not just mystery beyond us, but mystery that is right here and now. So how might we think of this relationship with God, of God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit?
Think of a wedding -- one of the happiest days of their lives.  During the reception, the whole family is on the dance floor. It starts with their son, who served as an usher, dancing with his mom. The new bride is dancing with her father. Soon the four of them are dancing together, holding hands, clapping, laughing and crying. Before long they are joined by the newest member of their family - their daughter and sister's new husband. It is a moment of complete joy and love for a family that together conquered the many challenges of marriage and parenthood and growing up.

It is a picture of God. (Connections)
That is how the seventh-century theologian, St. John of Damascus described God. He spoke of God as periocoresis - from the Greek words for around (peri) and dancing (choresis). He wrote: "Father, Son and Holy Spirit are like three dancers, holding hands, dancing together in perfect love, perfect freedom and perfect harmony. They are deeply one and yet they are three. They are unified in one intimate, indissoluble substance, yet they are a recognizable community. Most importantly, they are what they are only in relationship to one another - in shared purpose, in mutual love that is expressed through each other for eternity. And so should we be united together."

On this first Sunday after we have ended our Easter celebrations at Pentecost, we contemplate how we encounter God: God as Father and Creator, God as Son and Teacher and Brother, God as Spirit and Love that binds us to God and to one another.

This Trinity, our God invites us, out of love impossible to fully comprehend, to join the dance with God, to join in the mystery. Let me end with a prayer from the The Carmina Gadelica…

In name of Father,
In name of Son,
In name of Spirit,
Three in One :

Father cherish me,
Son cherish me.
Spirit cherish me,
Three all-kindly.

God make me holy,
Christ make me holy.
Spirit make me holy.
Three all-holy.

Three aid my hope,
Three aid my love,
Three aid mine eye,
And my knee from stumblin
My knee from stumbling Amen.

Sermon: June 17

Lord, you are in this place: Fill us with your power.
Cover us with your peace. Show us your presence.

Lord, help us to know: We are in your hands.
We are under your protection. We are covered by your love.

Lord, we ask you today: To deliver us from evil.
To guide us in our decisions. To defend us from all harm.

Lord, give us now: Eyes to see you. Ears to hear your call. Hands to do your work. And hearts to respond to your love. Amen. [Morning Prayer by David Adam]
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa of Calcutta
As St. Peter’s walked on our birthday lap at Relay for Life, it was a moment of grace, a small thing done with great love, to keep celebrating birthdays in the midst of cancer, hoping and praying and working for more birthdays and less cancer.

At the New Haven green, a group of St. Peter’s folks handed out sandwiches and water, another moment of grace, another small thing done with great love, as we celebrated eucharist together, we shared a sacred meal and upheld our common humanity, seeing Christ in those in need and those who came to the green that Sunday afternoon.

Such acts are what Jesus is talking about in his twin parables of the Kingdom of God in the sower and mustard seed in today’s Gospel. A sower who sows seed and knows not how but from the seed will come the harvest that is the Kingdom of God. I think of this true story:
A church had collected clothing for those in need and the youth group volunteered to sort, fold and pack the clothes. The youth made a game of it, trying on items that caught their imaginations, creating weird costumes, merrily clowning as they worked.

Then one of the kids felt a lump in the pocket of a worn cardigan sweater. He reached in the pocket and found a little bundle. He opened it to find a gold wedding ring. On the paper wrapped around the ring was written: "I have no need of this now. I hope it will help you."

The hilarity in the room was hushed. The ring glowed as it was passed silently and reverently from one young hand to another. No one joked, no one presumed to try on that sacrificial gift for a needy stranger. Tenderly, the ring was refolded inside the note. It was secured inside the pocket of the sweater with strong safety pin; the sweater was then packed off with the other clothes. [Cath. Digest]

We never know how a kind word will affect someone else or how even the smallest act of charity will transform another person's life. Christ asks us to embrace the faith of the sower: to be willing to plant seeds of kindness and joy in the certain knowledge that it will, in some way, result in a harvest of God's life and love.
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
And that willingness to sow even when we know tragedy happens, even as we walk in the shadow of death, is the faith of a mustard seed that is inside each of us, a small seed planted, tiny at first, but it will grow into something bigger & useful, such faith is part of the Kingdom of God.
Consider, as we reveled in the glory of Easter, this past April, the people of Sarajevo marked the 20th anniversary of the horrific siege of their beautiful city during the Bosnian Civil War. The longest siege of any city in the 20th century. The anniversary was marked by many events, exhibitions and concerts - but by far the most moving part of the observance was the chairs.

11,541 red chairs. Organizers lined up the red chairs along Sarajevo's main street - one chair for every man, woman and child killed during the 3 year siege of the city. 825 rows stretching for half a mile in the city of Sarajevo. 643 of those were smaller red chairs representing the children who were killed. Many Sarajevans placed flowers, candles and gifts, including teddy bears & toy cars, on the chairs. This was the first time that Sarajevo had any kind of public memorial service for the slain; so many victims had to be buried quickly in impromptu graveyards because of the siege.

The endless rows of red chairs made the mind-numbing numbers of war dead very real. It was a stunning sight: 11,541 red chairs lining the length of Sarajevo's main boulevard, a powerful image of all that is lost when innocent life is taken. (gleaned from AP)
The neatly-placed rows of red chairs in Sarajevo mirror Jesus' image of the mustard seed in today's Gospel. We often dismiss whatever and whomever we consider too "small" to matter, too powerless to make a difference, too insignificant to contribute anything useful or meaningful. But we are all mustard seeds, possessing within ourselves the ability to accomplish God-like things if we are taught and encouraged and inspired to do so.

The sight of those 11,541 chairs was a moving reminder not only to the people of Sarajevo but to the world as to what a city is, what makes a community work, the gifts that each man, woman and child can give to enrich the lives of all of us. The "mustard seed" faith that Jesus calls us to embrace is to honor that seed of God within every human being that enables everyone to contribute to the building of God's kingdom in our midst.
“We can do no great things; only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
Let us honor the gifts we have been given and use them in small ways with great love to proclaim the Kingdom of God in our world today. Amen.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What are we passing on?

I have recently read two articles that are quite thought provoking and both touch on moral theistic deism that is rampant today.

The first, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/june/when-are-we-going-to-grow-up.html.believes that we have gotten off track with our worship, it has become juvenile and not spiritually mature.

"Teenagers can legitimately follow Christ in adolescent ways, including participating in age-appropriate youth ministries. But those ministries must also help youth catch a vision for growing up spiritually. Churches full of people who are building each other up toward spiritual maturity are not only the best antidote to the juvenilization of American Christianity, but also a powerful countercultural witness in a juvenilized society."


Read the whole article.

The second, http://www.hypersync.net/mt/2012/06/communion-without-baptism-1.html asks whether the movement to the open table is boomer lead and asks what millennials and others are looking for today.

"The Millennial generation does not imagine they are accepting or rejecting the Christian Faith--they imagine they are entering into formation for a new way of life, and they expect the Church to initiate, guide, teach, equip, and send them. What follows delves into how this may play out when considering the practice of "communion without baptism."


Also worth a read!

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The Homeless

Last week, St. Peter's joined Chapel on the Green to celebrate Eucharist and to deliver a meal to those in need on the New Haven green.  Every week, another church does it on Sunday.    We do it, because that is what our faith expects of us.  It is what Jesus asked of us.  To help our neighbor and fellow citizens who do not enjoy the same luxuries we take for granted.

A prayer from the BCP wonderfully illustrates this:

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in this land who live with injustice, terror, disease, and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this land; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

To Rhode Island, thank you for helping us see the homeless as one of us...


To Philadelphia, do we really have to criminilize feeding the homeless?


So many of us are just one bill away, one tragedy away from being homeless ourselves.

Relay for Life: Prayer & Poem

Relay for Life Prayer

Loving God, as we walk the relay for life, help us to celebrate the little victories with cancer, for those who cancer is in remission, for those who have hope in new therapies. Let us remember those who have died and all who mourn for loved ones, those families that continue to struggle with cancer and all who minister to those fighting the good fight. Be with us as we fight back against this disease so we can celebrate more birthdays and less days with cancer. We ask this in the name of one who came to heal and save us, our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Relay (Poem)

Walking

Silent tears
Hand in hand

Remembering loved ones
Hoping for a cure

Smiling for those
who fought
and won!

But we still walk
its too early to stop
Too much cancer
not enough birthdays

We give
pray
hope

To end
cancer’s reign

And we walk

Friday, June 8, 2012

Camp Counselors Wanted

Residential Episcopal Camp seeks Male cabin counselors over the age of 18.
Experience with children/childcare a must, as well as a desire to work closely as part of a team. Creativity, energy, and flexibility required. Must be available from late June to mid-august. For more information visit http://www.campwashington.org/summer-camp-employment.php
or call 860 567-9623

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Location:Camp Wasington

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Carmina Gadelica

The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, runes, and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected and translated by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910. (from Wikipedia)

Examples:

RUNE BEFORE PRAYER

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.
Through Thine own Anointed One, O God,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need,
Love towards God,
The affection of God,
The smile of God,
The wisdom of God.
The grace of God,
The fear of God,
And the will of God
To do on the world of the Three,
As angels and saints
Do in heaven;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each time in kindness,
Give Thou us Thy Spirit.

GOD WITH ME LYING DOWN

God with me lying down
God with me rising up,
God with me in each ray of light,
Nor I a ray of joy without Him,
Nor one ray without Him.

Christ with me sleeping,
Christ with me waking,
Christ with me watching,
Every day and night,
Each day and night.

God with me protecting,
The Lord with me directing,
The Spirit with me strengthening,
For ever and for evermore,
Ever and evermore, Amen.
Chief of chiefs, Amen.

A PRAYER FOR GRACE

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who died for me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In love and desire.

Pour down upon us from heaven
The rich blessing of Thy forgiveness;
Thou who art uppermost in the City,
Be Thou patient with us.

Grant to us, Thou Saviour of Glory,
The fear of God, the love of God, and His affection,
And the will of God to do on earth at all times
As angels and saints do in heaven;
Each day and night give us Thy peace.
Each day and night give us Thy peace.

GOD'S AID

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.

God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.

I LIE DOWN THIS NIGHT

I LIE down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me ;
I lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me ;
I lie down this night with Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me
God and Christ and the Spirit
Be lying down with me.

St. Patrick's Breastplate

From Trinity Sunday (Hymn #370)

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom

I bind unto myself today.
I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.
Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility

I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.