Monday, July 29, 2013

July 28 Sermon - Lord's Prayer

O Lord, open our eyes, to behold your presence.
O Lord, open our ears, to hear your voice.
O Lord, open our hearts, to receive your love.
O Lord, help us to behold, hear and receive you in Word and Sacrament
That our mouths may proclaim your praise. Amen. (adapted from a prayer by David Adam)
Hosea: What is this book Hosea?
One of the twelve “Minor Prophets” of the Hebrew Scriptures. We have been reading from Amos.
He is a prophet of the Northern kingdom of Israel.
In the book: God is the forgiving husband, Israel the adulterous, harlot.
Plays out through Hosea who marries Gomer, a harlot.

(Note: this book does not appear often in Kid’s Bible Story Books – for good reason!)

In poems and prose Israel is indicted for its lack of faithfulness – “for bloody crime following bloody crime.” Remember this a prophet holding Israel to account for its actions (or lack of action).

In the final chapter (14) there is a plea to return to God – the promise of healing – but also a warning that the evildoers will stumble.

Next Week: Chapter 11 of Hosea – God will not give up on Israel even as it turns away…

Luke – Teach us to Pray!
What is your earliest memory of prayer?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless this bed I lie upon.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.
That’s one of the earliest prayers that I remember. The other is the Lord’s Prayer – as my father worked for the railroad and was gone so often, it was my mom who taught us to pray. I remember a little card with a nite glow cross on it and the words of the Lord’s Prayer next to my bed.

Author Anne Lamott believes we have three essential prayers: “Help, Thanks, and Wow.” It is these three prayers – asking for help, giving thanks for what we have and all that is good, and the feeling of awe in the beauty of the created world – are essential for our lives to be in relationship with God. I think you find all of that in the Lord’s Prayer too…

But what does the LP mean? Let’s think about the Lord’s Prayer…

The LP version most of us know dates to 1549 as revised in our 1789 BCP. But lets look at how the NRSV translates the Luken Lord’s Prayer (which is different from Matthew’s Lord’s Prayer):

We begin with the prayer being addressed to God:

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

The prayer begins with the reminder that we are intimately connected with the one who created us. Father – Abba – implies a relationship we have. Then we honor God by “hallowing” or honoring/making holy God’s name. And our first petition is to ask that God’s kingdom come, which is asking God to be God, to let his peaceful reign begin on earth.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”

Next is our petition for our daily food, one of our basic needs.

“And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.”

A petition for forgiveness – God to forgive us as we ourselves forgive others.

“And do not bring us to the time of trial."

And a final petition for God’s fidelity.

In giving us bread, forgiving our sins and not bringing us to the time of trial, the prayer reminds us that it is God who sustains our lives, forgives our sins and is always faithful to us.

What’s missing? The doxology – “for thine is the Kingdom, etc.” this was added by our Anglican ancestors in the 17th century (1662 BCP, and earlier Scottish rite) and it is why to this day Protestants end with the doxology and Roman Catholics do not.

Our reading from Luke today ends with a parable and exhortation, which reinforce the point of the prayer that Jesus just taught: that God stands ready to answer – ask and it shall be given – but you may have to be persistent, and what you get may be beneficial & necessary for you but not what was asked for!

Lord, teach us to pray. And Jesus gave us that prayer and calls us to be persistent in our offering that prayer. To which every service we do here, has the Lord’s Prayer in it. (and of course in our ecumenical gatherings, we are reminded of the differing translations of the LP!)

Again in the words of Anne Lamott:
“Prayer is communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding… from one's heart to God. Some of us have cavernous vibrations inside us when we communicate with God. Others are more rational and less messy in our spiritual sense of reality, in our petitions and gratitude and expressions of pain or anger or desolation or praise. Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.” (from Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott)
The prayer that Jesus taught us, invites us into a deeper relationship with God, who hears us when we pray. May we say that prayer not just to repeat it as we always have but as a means to live into and explore our bond with God and to live our lives more deeply and fruitfully with our God. Amen.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Praying for those affected by the Spanish Train Derailment

Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus: Draw near to the people of Santiago de Compostela, Spain in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

--Prayer on the Occasion of a Disaster from Holy Women, Holy Men

Monday, July 22, 2013

Compline at Camp Washington

Compline for Children’s Camp

Opening Song of Peace

Leader: God, be with us here at camp as we say goodnight to this day and to each other. Amen.

Leader: God is our helper.
All: He made everything that is!

Leader: Let us confess our sins to God.
All: Loving God, you know that we do not always do the right thing. Sometimes we do or say things that we shouldn't, and other times we don't do or say things that we should. We ask that you forgive us and help us to be kinder and more thoughtful in all that we do and say so that others may see you shining through us. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Leader: May God forgive us and love us, no matter how many mistakes we make. Amen.

Leader: O God, come quickly and save us.
All: Hurry and help us! Glory to the father and to the son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!

The Reading for the Day


Leader: Let us give thanks to God for all God’s gifts so freely given to us. For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea.
All: We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food & drink, our homes, our families and friends and for Camp Washington,
We thank you, Lord.

For the counselors and staff of Camp Washington
We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work & pray, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

(A moment of silence for our prayers.)

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Jesus; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Leader: Keep us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye.
All: Hide us under the shadow of your wings.

Leader: Lord, have mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.
Leader: Lord, have mercy.

All: 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 tresspasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Leader: Lord, hear our prayer.
All: Let our voices rise to you.

Leader: Let us pray.

O God, we stand here in the quiet of the night. Grant us a peaceful end to the day, and watch over us in the night as we sleep and dream. Be in our thoughts and souls as turn over our hearts to you. Amen.

O God, be our light in the dark night, and protect us and all children from scary things. For the love of your son, Jesus our Savior. Amen.

All: Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Leader: Let us bless the Lord.
All: Thanks be to God.

Leader: O God of love and mercy, grant us this night, with all your people here at camp, rest and peace. Amen.

Closing Song (cabin dismissal)

Morning Worship at Camp Washington

It was a wonderful week at camp, peacemaking was the overall theme.  The scriptural theme and the book used each day follows:

Monday Theme: Planting Seeds of Peace
Scripture: Matthew 17: 20-21
“Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’”

Story: “Wangari’s Trees of Peace” – Jeanette Winter

Tuesday Theme: Peace Within Us
Scripture: John 14: 27
“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid’”

Story: “The Seeds of Peace” – Laura Berkely

Wednesday Theme: Being a Peacemaker in the world

Scripture: Romans 12: 17-18
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”

Story: “The Librarian of Basra” – Jeanette Winter

(Also used the story of the Peace Cranes and at lunch I read "Three Questions" by Leo Tolstoy for the Monks' Meal)

Thursday Theme: Peace is ours to give

Scripture: Matthew 25: 34-40
Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and got to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Story: “A Little Peace of Me” – Madeleine Lippey

Friday Theme: Following the path of peace
Scripture: Psalm 29:11
“The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace”

Story: “Martin’s Big Words” – Doreen Rappaport

Time was given for both scriptural reflection and book reflections in small and large group settings.  Prayer exercises also accompanied each days themes.

Away at Camp

July 21 Sermon - Just One Thing

Just One Thing was my sermon given at our joint service with Monroe Congregational Church on Sunday Morning.

O Loving God, whose son Jesus enjoyed rest and refreshment in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany: Give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for his sake; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

It is great to once again join together for a joint summer service between MCC & St. Peter’s Church.

Today we heard from the Gospel of Luke about Martha & Mary welcoming Jesus into their home. So often when we hear this passage we think it’s a battle between sisters…

Martha vs. Mary – who will win? Sounds like something on pay per view.

Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” So we all should be like Mary. Thanks for coming out this morning. Am…but, wait. Is that all?

I think if we see this passage as some sort of rivalry between the two and Jesus picking one sister over another, we miss the point. We need to remember the Gospel passage right before this story, because they are linked.

In the passage preceding this, we find the parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and Levite do not attend to the injured man, they were distracted, by social standing or by needing to get somewhere above everything else, they failed to love and to act but the stranger who was not distracted, the one who saw the injured man and responded with love was the one least expected to do so, the Samaritan.

Likewise, in this passage, we have Mary & Martha welcoming Jesus into their home – they are the hospitable hosts. They prepare and welcome Jesus and the disciples. Mary heard Jesus talking and so she sat down along with the other disciples to take in his words.

Martha did not see what Mary was doing as helpful or right. She missed what Mary was truly doing. Not loafing but listening, taking in the words of Jesus.

Jesus does not say that what Martha was doing was wrong, so in fact, it’s not Martha vs. Mary at all but simply a story of Martha & Mary. Martha’s duty of hospitality was not misplaced, only that she was “worried and distracted by many things.” Martha was doing right by her acts of hospitality but so was Mary in sitting down and listening to Jesus.

The problem is the worries and distractions that can overwhelm us as they did Martha. Mary saw through it all, to see the important thing, of the one who came into their midst, Jesus. Martha missed the importance of her guest in the busyness of it all. She got overwhelmed, she could not see the most important person right in front of her, Jesus, instead she resented Mary and made the work the most important for her.

Who hasn’t gotten so busy, so distracted, that they missed the reason why they were doing it in the first place?

After Martha complained, Jesus said, “there is need of only one thing.” Indeed, Just one thing is needed – it is our love for the other in our midst, be it family, friend or stranger, the one thing is the love of our neighbor and that’s why Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. (Just as Jesus praised the Samaritan for his mercy to his neighbor.)

Maybe if George Zimmerman was not so distracted, not so willing to see the other as the enemy, Trayvon Martin would still be alive today. As one Bishop tweeted after the trial (Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer) “I want to live in a world where George Zimmerman offered Trayvon Martin a ride home to get him out of the rain that night. Come Lord Jesus!”

But of course we live in a world, where we judge others, where our preconceived notions too often overrule that ethic of love that Jesus commanded us to follow. We need only one thing and too often we avoid it. Like Martha in the Gospel, we can get distracted by our work, our lives, our prejudices, and miss loving and being loved by our “guests.”

In his book Sources of Strength, former President Jimmy Carter wrote about his experience with Eloy Cruz, a Cuban pastor who had a great rapport with poor immigrants from Puerto Rico, and was asked for the secret of his success. Pastor Cruz said, “Senor Jimmy, we only need to have two loves in our lives. For God, and for the person who happens to be in front of us at any time.”

I think Pastor Cruz got what Jesus was saying to Martha and to us. In our busy world, with its myriad of distractions, Jesus invites each one of us to make a place in our lives for just one thing, just one thing we need to do – that is to love one another. Amen.

Prayer for the Royal Baby

Prayer from the Church of England for the Royal Baby
22 July 2013

God our Creator,
who knows each of us by name
and loves us from all eternity:
we give you thanks for new life and human love.
Bless William and Catherine
as they welcome their son into the world.
Give them patience and wisdom
to cherish and love him as he grows.
Surround the family with the light of hope and the warmth of your love
today and always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

from our Book of Common Prayer:

O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that
whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives
Christ himself: We give thanks for the blessing you have
bestowed upon William and Catherine in giving them a child.
Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and
give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to
bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and
pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable,
following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Prayers for the SF Airline Crash and the Train Derailment in Quebec

Bishop Andrus of CA offered this prayer and asked all people of faith to keep those affected by this crash in their prayers:

Loving God, source, guide and goal of life, we pray your comfort and protection for all those aboard Asiana 214, and for the firefighters and emergency personnel who are responding to this emergency. Be with our medical personnel who will care for the injured in the hours and days to come. Comfort and sustain the families and friends of those who were aboard the flight. Help them and us to know and feel that bidden or unbidden you are always with us, and that the fall of no life on Earth is apart from your loving presence. Amen.

and for the people of Lac-Megantic:

Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave of his friend Lazarus: Draw near to the people of Lac-Megantic, Quebec in this time of sorrowand anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

--Prayer on the Occasion of a Disaster from Holy Women, Holy Men

July 7 Sermon

Mike Subda

That was the name on the quiet memorial in the woods. He died at the age of 58. I would learn later that he died from complications from cancer surgery. He loved to hunt and would do it on my brother in law’s property in NY, and thus the rock and plaque sit where Mike once hunted from, it was a very appropriate memorial, and a way to remember his friend.

We all carry the names of people who have meant something to each of us, who have touched our lives, family and friends who mean something to us. And we all like to be remembered even a simple stone or marker to help our name not be forgotten is good!

And yet, there are always those whose names we don’t know, who may also have had a big impact on our lives…

For Naaman – the commander of the army of the king of Aram, though a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.

But his healing happens because he listened to his wife. Of course! But she happened to listen to an unnamed slave girl from Israel who said that the commander should see the propher in Samaria. When Naaman goes to Elisha (a big deal – enemy territory!), he sends a messenger that tells him to wash in the Jordan seven times and he will be made clean.

Enraged that the prophet did not come out to see him, it is his unnamed servants who convince him to do what the prohet asked of him. He went and washed and he was made clean!

Servants and slaves helped a mighty warrior be made clean.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends out 70 ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go… They are not named but have a role to play in bringing Jesus to others.

And when they come home celebrating what has happened, Jesus rejoices with them. But they are never named. And yet they still have their names written in heaven, they are still known to God, grace has befallen them too!

There have been many over the years, whom we remember: The Martyrs of Japan, Uganda and New Guinea and others come to mind, we might not remember individual names but we remember their acts…

For example, the Martyrs of New Guinea – During World War II, as Japan threatened Papua and New Guinea, many missionaries stayed. Eight missionaries and two lay Papuan Christians were executed "as an example" on September 2, 1942 and during the war, both natives and missionaries suffered. Many Papuan Christians risked their own lives to care for the wounded and to save lives – so those martyred and those who survived and cared for the wounded are remembered on September 2 in churches in Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and here in the US.

Who have been the nameless ones who have touched your lives?

I recently read a story about Joe the Barber, that’s not his real name but that’s what the homeless in Hartford call him. (Anthony Cymerys is his actual name.)

He is an 82-year-old barber who has been giving free haircuts to the homeless in exchange for hugs for 25 years. He began giving free haircuts to the homeless around 1988, when he was volunteering at a local shelter in Hartford. He said he met a heroin addict named Arnold who needed a haircut, so he offered his services to him.
"I said, `Geez, Arnold. Not only are you a bum, you look like a bum. How about I bring in my clippers?'" A retired businessman, said his father cut his hair as a child, and he took it up.   "It's all about inspiring people to do things for the least of our brothers," he said.
We each play a role in the Kingdom of God as St. Paul put it, “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all.”

Whether we are Joe the Barber, or a missionary, or servant or you name it, we are all part of God’s family, part of the new creation in Christ, loving God and our neighbor…
-> Barrington Bunny Story (Homework Handout)
May we remember all those who have touched our lives, and in return, love others as we have been so loved. Amen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of July Prayers

Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to the people of our country a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that we may use our liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Almighty God, whose wisdom and whose love are over all, accept the prayers we offer for our nation. Give integrity to its citizens and wisdom to those in authority, that harmony and justice may be secured in obedience to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Read, mark, and inwardly digest!

I read these stories and believe we should widely share them:

From StoryCorps (NPR) - audio available too!:

For A Mom, Learning To Accept A Gay Son Was 'Nonnegotiable'


When Samuel came out, Connie says, she blamed herself. "It's because I'm a single-parent mom, and I don't know how to raise a son and there needs to be a man around here," she thought at the time. "Somehow I did this to you. And now you were going to be relegated to a life of horror."[...]

When Samuel came home again after his sophomore year, he noticed a magnet on the fridge. "And on the magnet was a rainbow heart that says, 'Love is spoken here.' And so, what kind of advice could you give to a parent who has not come to that same conclusion?"

"I guess the overriding feeling is that, no matter how strongly you think you believe something, at the end of the day, you just always have to love and accept your kid," Connie says. "It's nonnegotiable as far as I'm concerned."

"I don't think I've ever told you that I completely and 100 percent forgive you," Samuel tells his mother... "I'm so sorry, and I could not be more proud of the human being that you are," Connie responds. "You're just an amazing, awesome human being."

From Huffington Post:

Just Because He Breathes: Learning to Truly Love Our Gay Son

or the blog:


Basically, we told our son that he had to choose between Jesus and his sexuality. We forced him to make a choice between God and being a sexual person. Choosing God, practically, meant living a lifetime condemned to being alone. He would never have the chance to fall in love, have his first kiss, hold hands, share intimacy and companionship or experience romance.

And so, just before his 18th birthday, Ryan, depressed, suicidal, disillusioned and convinced that he would never be able to be loved by God, made a new choice. He decided to throw out his Bible and his faith at the same time, and to try searching for what he desperately wanted – peace – another way. And the way he chose to try first was drugs...

By the time our son called us, after 18 long months of silence, God had completely changed our perspective...
And a new journey was begun. One of healing, restoration, open communication and grace. LOTS of grace. And God was present every step of the way, leading and guiding us, gently reminding us simply to love our son, and leave the rest up to Him.

Over the next ten months, we learned to truly love our son. Period. No buts. No conditions. Just because he breathes. We learned to love whoever our son loved. And it was easy. What I had been so afraid of became a blessing. The journey wasn’t without mistakes, but we had grace for each other, and the language of apology and forgiveness became a natural part of our relationship...

And then Ryan made the classic mistake of a recovering addict…he got back together with his old friends…his using friends. And one evening that was supposed to simply be a night at the movies turned out to be the first time he had shot up in ten months…and the last time. We got a phone call from a social worker at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle asking us to come identify our son – that he had arrived there in a coma, in critical condition...[17 days later], Ryan died on July 16, 2009. And we lost the ability to love our gay son…because we no longer had a gay son. What we had wished for…prayed for…hoped for…that we would NOT have a gay son, came true. But not at all in the way we used to envision.

Now, when I think back on the fear that governed all my reactions during those first six years after Ryan told us he was gay, I cringe as I realize how foolish I was. I was afraid of all the wrong things. And I grieve, not only for my oldest son, who I will miss every day for the rest of my life, but for the mistakes I made. I grieve for what could have been, had we been walking by FAITH instead of by FEAR...

We weep. We seek Heaven for grace and mercy and redemption as we try – not to get better but to be better. And we pray that God can somehow use our story to help other parents learn to truly love their children. Just because they breathe.
All of this reminds me of a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu:

"You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them."

Pastors don't try this at home!

What an awful way to lead a congregation...

St. Peter's Day!

Before the cock crew twice--
dread hour of trial--
the Apostle uttered thrice
his dark denial.

And then the Savior turned,
on Peter gazing--
a look divine, that yearned
with love amazing.

Swiftly to Peter's face
the shame came leaping;
he had denied such grace,
and went out weeping.

Lord Jesus, look on me,
your kind face turning;
my soul with agony
of sin is burning.

The way is long, I find
my weak steps failing:
O turn, to my dark mind
your grace recalling.

Oft, oft with weeping eyes
I gaze to heaven;
then, at your look, arise
restored, forgiven.

(Hallgrim Pjeturssen, 1659;
tr. Charles V. Pilcher, 1921)

Prayer for Saint Peter and Saint Paul  ~  June 29
Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified
you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by
their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your
Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which
is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Great article:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Prayers for the Firefighters

Gracious God, when the call comes, when the bell rings, firefighters go out to save people and property, risking their lives in service to their fellow citizens. We remember before you today the 19 firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty in the Yarnell wildfire in Arizona (and the 4 who died in the hotel fire in Houston). Give to these your servants rest and peace. Comfort the families and friends who are mourning their loss. Be with those whose communities are still struggling with fire and guide all those who continue to answer the call to fight the fires. Help us to reach out our hands in love to all the communities devastated by fire. We ask this in the name of the one who brings life to all, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!