Friday, November 23, 2012

A Prayer for "Black" Friday

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give to us all a pride in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Prayer

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (from the BCP)

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

A thought from Chapel on the Green

Thankfulness is the memory of the heart.

Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the  fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

November 18 Sermon

“Awaken me this morning, Lord to your light, Open my eyes to your presence.
Awaken me, Lord to your love, Open my heart to your indwelling.
Awaken me, Lord to your life, Open my mind to your abiding.
Awaken me always, Lord to your purpose, Open my will to your guiding.”
Amen. (David Adam)
Repent! The end is near! or some would like us to think…

Some predicted a doomsday with the election. Others look to certain dates, like December 21, the supposed end of the Mayan calendar, which it actually doesn't really end at all. There is even a TV reality show on National Geographic called Doomsday Preparers. Others on TV and on the internet make a living by selling fear. Many feed off the fear that their pronouncements make.

Some look to the bible, to passages similar to what we are reading today, and use it as a way to predict the end of the world. There are some passage that talk about the end, Apocalyptic visions, many with vivid imagery. Many look to these passages, thread them together to give an aura of authenticity. But too many do this to instill in us fear.

I think of a song from Philip Philips I heard on the radio recently with these words:
Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home
I could hear Jesus saying these words to us that we are not alone. It is Jesus who journeys with us. Don’t pay no mind to those who want to fill us with fear, trouble might drag us down, we might get lost, but you can always be found!

As Christians, we don't need a bunker mentality, we need not buy into the fear and anxiety of our age, we need to live into that hope that god entrusts us with...
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
The reformer Martin Luther put it. Such hope in the face of it all is what we can give to a society that can’t see such hope.

When the Jewish people were dispersed from their homeland. When they didn’t know how to have faith in a foreign land. When they wondered if they had a future. It is Daniel who brings them such hope. For Daniel tells of his vision:
“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, but at that time your people shall be delivered."
The vision from God that Daniel shares is a reminder to the Israelites that even though they have been taken from their homeland, God is with them and they will be delivered. It is a message of hope in a bleak time.

In the gospel of mark, the disciples are enthralled with the beauty of Jerusalem. The stones and structures. But Jesus knows such things do not last.
“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down."
This unsettled the disciples but Jesus went on…
"Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, `I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.”
There will be wars, famines, earthquakes… these are but the birthpangs.

We hear those words as rockets are raining down on Israel and Israel returns fire with their own rockets. It is hard not to be alarmed at what Jesus says but I don’t think he is doing that to upset us, but to make us aware of the struggles we will have to follow him. People who would lead us astray, terrible things in our world like wars, famines, earthquakes. But it is just the beginning. The kingdom of God is almost be here. Don’t be alarmed.

But how do we remain in hope?

I think it comes down to how we cultivate our lives and how we want to change the world by living out of our faith and hope and love.

As Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, says
“We mend and renew the world by strengthening inside ourselves what we seek outside ourselves, and not by demanding it of others or trying to force it on others.
If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first.
If you want a reconciled outer world, reconcile your own inner world.
If your situation feels hopeless, honor the one spot of hope inside you.
If you want to find God. then honor God within you, and you will always see God beyond you. For it is only God in you who knows where and how to look for God.”
(I’m handing out a small sheet with Rohr’s words, because I think it’s the right message for us today. Post it on your fridge or on your bathroom mirror and think on these things.)

Emily Dickinson said, “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers—That perches in the soul—And sings the tune without the words—And never stops—at all” She’s right! Hope doesn’t stop. Its in you and its in me. Don’t listen to the fear mongers. Listen to God and start with yourself, “If you want others to be more loving, choose to love first.” Jesus did. Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A New must have App!

Forward Movement has come up with a wonderful app called Day by Day that I recommend for everyone.

The details:

Forward Movement has released its first mobile app, Forward Day by Day, for iPhone. The app offers the daily meditation from Forward Day by Day, the Daily Office, biographies of the saints, the lectionary, and prayer resources. While the app is formatted for iPhone, it works on an iPad too.

Available from the Apple App Store at an introductory price of $6.99, the app offers a savings from the print subscription price of Forward Day by Day. Throughout the app, you can share what you see using the built-in sharing tool. Currently, the app offers sharing by Facebook or email.

Each day's Forward Day by Day meditation is available. At the bottom, you can click a link to visit the web page on the Anglican Communion Office website for the diocese that we are praying for in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer. There's also a list of all the assigned lectionary readings for that day.

Throughout the day, the app will provide the appropriate office, based on time of day. You can pray morning prayer, noonday prayer, evening prayer, or compline. For each office, the complete text is provided, including lessons, psalms, and collects (prayers). You can select Rite I or Rite II.

The app provides the complete biblical texts from the lectionary each day, using the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. At the moment, the app provides the daily office lectionary. Soon there will be an option to select the Revised Common Lectionary for major feasts and Sundays.

When the current day is the commemoration of a saint from the official calendar of The Episcopal Church (Lesser Feasts & Fasts), the app will offer a devotional essay and prayer.

Some prayers from the Book of Common Prayer (1979) are included in the app, along with popular prayers from Forward Movement.

You can purchase the app directly from Apple for $6.99. This price will include Forward Day by Day through at least the end of 2013.

Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church whose mission is to reinvigorate the life of the church. Since 1935 we have published the quarterly devotional Forward Day by Day, as well as pamphlets, booklets, and books that foster spiritual growth and encourage discipleship. As a self-sustaining agency of the church, Forward Movement relies on sales and donations to carry out its work.

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Inheritence of Greatness

Deacon Christopher Holms has written a marvelous book...
How do I pass on to my children the legacy of a man who meant the world to me and taught me so much now that he is gone? This is the question I had asked myself after the death of my grandfather and mentor, Alfred Holms. Sitting alone one night I began typing a letter to my grandfather asking him to help me to remember the things that he had taught me so that I could pass them on. What was meant to be a private meditation instead blossomed into the creation of Thomas Carver and with him, The Inheritance of Greatness.

Thomas Carver is a fourteen year old boy growing up in Fairfield, Connecticut during the year 1809 and has done his best to follow his family"s expectations of him entering the priesthood. As the New England autumn darkens the skies, so, too does Thomas? thoughts and feelings as he unexpectedly embarks on a journey into manhood. One afternoon, after another incident with neighborhood bullies, Thomas arrives home to find his grandfather waiting to take him through Fairfield, Saugatuck and Norwalk where Thomas meets his grandfather's friends who become his mentors. Thomas comes to understand that the anger inside of him is a manifestation of his own fears about who he has been trying to be for everyone but himself. Thomas' mentors teach him that he must inherit the greatness that is bestowed upon all young men by God, the chance to be great.

As the young man gains an understanding of himself as a farm boy, a journeyman, a poet, a blacksmith, a witness of death and finally a knight he enters the Great Watch where he takes part in a secret ritual that solidifies his inheritance from God in a faithful and spell binding way. Step inside and join Thomas on his journey as stories of ancient Greek, Celtic and Norse mythology intertwine their forgotten wisdom with the faith that our hero has seemed to have misunderstood.

"The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness could not comprehend it." John 1:5
I invite you to purchase your book or Kindle edition:

Paperback or Kindle

Darwin Revisited

One of my links from an old post on Darwin is no longer usable.  Thanks to Melissa for noticing!

I encourage readers to learn more about Charles Darwin and his contributions to science and society.

Best way is to google.  The current link has been removed.

November 11 Sermon

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.
“Can anyone understand how it is to have lived in the White House and then, suddenly, to be living alone as the President's widow?”
Those words from Jackie Kennedy remind us the terrible price that widows pay, and many of you I know could indeed answer her question of what it is like to live one day with your spouse (or partner) and the next, be living alone.

Today, we find three faithful widows in our stories. We have Ruth & Naomi in our first two readings and an unnamed widow at the treasury in the Gospel.

You noticed I added a reading from Ruth today and skipped Hebrews. Last week we would have read the first chapter of Ruth, but it was All Saints and we used that day’s readings. So I decided to include it today because it helps set the scene for what we heard in chapter 3 of the book of Ruth, our second reading (you can read Hebrews at home at your leisure, quiz next week.).

So we know that there was a famine in Israel, so Elimelech and Naomi with their two sons go to the land of Moab. Elimelech dies and leaves Naomi a widow with two sons who then marry Moabite wives. Ten years later, her sons die and the famine in Israel is over, so Naomi plans on returning to her homeland, but graciously prays for Orpah and Ruth to return to their people and to their gods. But Ruth refuses to let Noami go…
"Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; Where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die-- there will I be buried. May the LORD do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!"
And with that faithful statement, Naomi and Ruth returned to the land of Israel. But Naomi, as we heard in our second reading, was concerned that Ruth should not stay widowed, so seeing an eligible kinsman, she tells Ruth to seek out Boaz, and in very euphemistic words to offer herself to him and they indeed become husband and wife.

So Ruth the Moabite, faithful to Naomi & Boaz would conceive Obed who would be the father of Jesse, Jesse would be the father of David, & down the line to Jesus. Our God not only works with the chosen people of Israel but with the faithful of every generation and every people.

Such faithfulness is what our Bible says about our relationships to each other and to God. Ruth and Noami being wonderful examples of this in their widowhood and in their lives!

Jesus in the Gospel understood the difficulty of life that many widows lived, for we might not have to worry about scribes, but we sure do have to worry about banks and predatory people and lenders who devour widow’s houses today and yet like to be treated with honor and privilege.

But honor does not lie in their hearts… so Jesus at the treasury points out to the disciples and to us, the widow’s mite as it used to be called, for Jesus said:
“Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
The widow here is faithful to her giving and Jesus sees that her gift comes from the heart. The real "honor" in giving is not the amount but what compels us to give in the first place.

As we begin our stewardship season together, it is important for us to bear in mind the widow’s mite and a heart that gives.

For in exalting the gift of the poor widow, Jesus wants us to realize that, in the economy of God, numbers are not the true value of giving. It is what we give from our want, not from our extra, that speaks of what we truly value, what good we truly want to accomplish, what we want our lives and world to be. What we give to this parish is part of our hopes for this world and for our lives together.

In the Gospel, it is not the measure of the gift but the measure of the love, selflessness and commitment that directs the gift that is great before God. We see that in the story of Ruth & Naomi and we heard it proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospel, and so it is for all of us.

For Christ calls us not to seek greater things or talents to astound the world but for greater love and selflessness with which to enrich the world.

May we through what we give enrich the mission and ministry of our parish so that in God’s love we can welcome everyone, stranger and friend alike, on the journey of faith. Amen.

Prayers for Veterans Day

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant  that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Governor of Nations, our Strength and Shield: we give you thanks for the devotion and courage of all those who have offered military service for this country: For those who have fought for freedom; for those who laid down their lives for others; for those who have borne suffering of mind or of body; for those who have brought their best gifts to times of need. On our behalf they have entered into danger, endured separation from those they love, labored long hours, and borne hardship in war and in peacetime. Lift up by your mighty Presence those who are now at war; encourage and heal those in hospitals or mending their wounds at home; guard those in any need or trouble; hold safely in your hands all military families; and bring the returning troops to joyful reunion and tranquil life at home;  Give to us, your people, grateful hearts and a united will to honor these men and women and hold them always in our love and our prayers; until your world is perfected in peace through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Prayers after the Election

For Our Nation (& the World)

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.

For the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority

O Lord our Governor, whose glory is in all the world: We  commend this nation to thy merciful care, that, being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant  to the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and to all in authority, wisdom  and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful  of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
For Congress or a State Legislature

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: We beseech thee so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress  (or in the Legislature of this State), that they may enact such laws as shall please thee, to the glory of thy Name and the welfare of this people;  through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Courts of Justice

Almighty God, who sittest in the throne judging right: We  humbly beseech thee to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give unto them the spirit of  wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of thee alone;  through him who shall come to be our Judge, thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

All Saints' Sunday Sermon

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. Amen.

There is a song on the radio with these words:
Oh Lord, I'm still not sure what I stand for
What do I stand for? [What do I stand for?]
Most nights, I don't know anymore... ("Some Nights" by fun)
The song asks what we stand for and on this All Saints Sunday, we remember & celebrate those who knew what they stood for, who understood their lives and their faith, and it guided their actions.

But this celebration really begins on the night of All Hallows Eve, or the eve of All Saints, what we call Halloween. When we use fun, humor even ridicule to live into our baptism and defy the power of death over our lives by a carnival type of celebration. As one Orthodox priest said, “Halloween is the time of year when we see that Christ has so triumphed over Evil, that even little children can mock the Devil with impunity." (Fr. Victor)

Halloween can be a moment (if we get to celebrate it!) when we give thanks in revelry and enjoy the gifts that God has given to us, even in the midst of the growing darkness around us and our sense of how close death really is. For we remember that Christ has brought us out of death into life, out of darkness into light. The saints live in that light.

That celebration continuers with All Saints Day, when we remember the saints from long ago and not so long ago…asking God to help us follow them in all virtuous and godly living… “In the New Testament, the word “saints” is used to describe the entire membership of the Christian community, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense. But from very early on, Christians have also used the word “saint” primarily to persons of heroic sanctity, whose deeds were recalled with gratitude by later generations.” (Lesser Feasts & Fasts, 2000)

And so we remember the saints who lived the godly life, to which our first reading from Ecclesiasticus reminds us: “Let us now sing the praises of famous men and women, our ancestors in their generations.” Men and women who in faith lived lives that found joy by doing what God called them to do. To use the words of the late William Stringfellow:
“In truth, all human beings are called to be saints, but that just means called to be fully human, to be perfect—that is, whole, mature, fulfilled. The saints are simply those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.”
Life is a gift and the saints found it by listening to God. They would find fulfillment and happiness in what they did, for some they made their name by how they ruled, others by their counsel, some spoke in prophetic oracles; some led the people by their wise words; others by their musical tunes.

We remember them like President Abraham Lincoln and Q. Emma and K. Kamehameha IV.

We remember them for they reached out with wise words to their native tribe, John Johnson Enmegahbowh and to those who were deaf, Thomas Gallaudet.

We remember them for their prophetic words, Dorothy Day, or their prophetic actions, Sister Constance & her Companions who stayed when others fled as Yellow Fever ravaged Memphis.

When we think of words we remember Walt Whitman and when we remember those who put it to music, we think of Mahalia Jackson.

Each of these saints followed the Lord in their age, in their context, reaching out as they followed Jesus. But our celebration does end there.

Our celebration of the saints ends with All Souls Day, or (as our BCP puts it) the Commemoration of all the faithful departed. We remember our loved ones, family members, friends, even those whose name has become silent, with no lips to speak their names. Even they are commemorated on this day. They are no less members of the community of the faithful in heaven then the saints we think of, but they are not recognized except by those who remember and love them.

Today, I think of Steve Kulwicki, who died after a 2 year battle with cancer. This summer when Ellen and I and the kids were at the family reunion in Indiana. Steve opened his pool to us so we could get refreshed on those very hot days there. He and his wife delighted in seeing all of us use his pool when he himself used it less and less.

A very simple, caring act, but he manifested what Jesus asks of all of us, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Steve did that and I know today he has found a place with the saints and angels of light.

On this All Saints Sunday, may we in our lives, mirror that of the saints & live by faith. To live as humanly as we can in the midst of darkness and death, knowing the light of Christ still shines and it can shine through what each of us does today. Amen.

A Poem for All Souls Day

I used this poem in a funeral sermon recently and I think it works well in our thoughts for All Souls Day...

I tremble with gratitude
for my children and their children
who take pleasure in one another.
At our dinners together, the dead
enter and pass among us
in living love and in memory.
And so the young are taught.
-- Wendell Berry in Leavings: Poems (2005)

Prayers for Election Day

For The Election

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States & of this community in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For our Country

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Prayer after the Storm

Lord, you who calmed the storm at sea, quiet the fears, ease the pain, tend the grief, and light the darkness of your children affected by Sandy. In stunned silence, be their voice. In rages against the night, be their balm. In bewilderment, be their hope. Lead rescuers to the lost, shelter the waiting. Sustain those who work to make life's necessities spring forth in this desert of gloom. Blanket the weary with your tender touch. Shake us from our comforts to share out sisters and brothers' sorrow and burden and assist and pray them into new life. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus, who suffered and was raised to new life. Amen.

How you can help in the aftermath of the Storm

Volunteering: The Connecticut Red Cross is asking interested volunteers to email with their phone number and email address. The Red Cross will then contact them with further information about how they can help out.

Blood Donations: The Red Cross is reporting a shortfall of more than 7,000 blood donations in the Northeast.  To find the location closest to your home if you're interested in donating blood, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit

Monetary Donations: Persons interested in donating to charitable solicitations for hurricane recovery efforts are encouraged to review “Tips for Giving in Times of Crisis” available online from Charity Navigator in order to avoid charities fraud.  Charity Navigator has also prepared a webpage specific to Hurricane Sandy with tips for making smart giving decisions in the wake of the storm, as well as a list of highly-rated charities responding. (Monetary Donations to Episcopal Relief & Development is one place you can send them).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Another thought on Job

Courtesy of Forrest Gump...

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Autumn Triduum

“All Saints' Day is the centerpiece of an autumn triduum. In the carnival celebrations of All Hallows' Eve our ancestors used the most powerful weapon in the human arsenal, the power of humor and ridicule, to confront the power of death. The following day, in the commemoration of All Saints, we gave witness to the victory of incarnate goodness embodied in the remarkable deeds and doers triumphing over the misanthropy of darkness and devils. And in the commemoration of All Souls we proclaim the hope of common mortality expressed in our aspirations and expectation of a shared eternity.” – The Rev. Sam Portaro from “Brightest and Best”

You, O Lord, have made us from the dust of the earth and to dust our bodies shall return; yet you have also breathed your Spirit upon us and called us to new life in you: Have mercy upon us, now and at the hour of our death; through Jesus Christ, our mediator and advocate. Amen.

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy
Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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