Saturday, September 28, 2013

At the Police Station Dedication (A Prayer)

O Gracious God, we thank you for the beauty of this day and for your presence with us as we come together to celebrate the renovation at the Monroe Police Department and dedicate this brand new building. We thank you for all the persons who have worked very hard to complete this project for the town of Monroe and its police force. Our prayer is that you will continue to lead and bless all who work in this magnificent facility, that all may live into their duty to protect and serve all the citizens of Monroe as they have done since its inception in 1952 and enhance the quality of life for all people. Help all of us, Lord, in these anxious days to be free of our fear, to look to these helpers, those who defend our freedom & keep us safe & sound, so we can tuck our children & grandchildren into bed in peace and harmony. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, guide us courageously to stand with each other and our men and women in blue, in faith and truth. Amen.  (cobbeled from various sources)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Poem from Sermon: Bridge Builder

This is the poem that Deacon Christopher mentioned in his sermon.

The Bridge Builder is a poem written by the acclaimed author Will Allen Dromgoole (1900).
An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

International Day of Prayer for Peace

from the World Council of Churches
Each year on September 21st the World Council of Churches calls churches and parishes to observe the International Day of Prayer for Peace. September 21st is also the United Nations-sponsored International Day of Peace.

As it approaches, the World Council of Churches invites people to offer prayers for peace. This year we would like to invite you to pray for the upcoming World Council of Churches 10th Assembly. The theme of the assembly is a prayer for peace:

“God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace”.

Churches from all over the world will gather in Busan, South Korea, October 30 to 8 November 8, 2013, for the event.

We would like to ask you to pray the theme – pray it for the world, pray it for the church, pray it for the churches attending the WCC assembly, pray it with the assembly.

God of Life…

God of Life, Lead…
God of Life, Lead Us…

God of Life, Lead Us to Justice…
God of Life, Lead Us to Justice and Peace.

Each word and phrase of the assembly theme are a kind of prayer. The nine words together are a statement of faith, a cry of hope, an affirmation of unity and a pledge to discipleship.

Some may meditate on the words; others may pray by finishing one of the sentences.

This peace prayer day please join us in prayer. Join the WCC 10th Assembly in prayer.
(From our BCP, adapted)  Almighty God our heavenly Father, guide the nations of the world into the way of justice and truth, and establish among them that peace which is the fruit of righteousness, that we may become the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.  Amen.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15 Sermon

“We are all in this together” is an old saying (true of the Apple Festival!). I have heard our own Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it this way, “We can be human only together.”

We are linked you and I, awash in this individualistic culture, its hard to remember that at times. The rugged individualism that in many ways defines our culture, for good and bad, tells us we are distinct and often forgets the bonds that unite us.

But it is scripture that reminds us that we are all connected. Remember the poor, the sick, the hungry, those in prison, they are part of the family too. Jesus tells us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves, such love is played out in the parables we heard this morning…

Parable of the Lost Sheep & Lost Coin

-why leave 99 to find just 1, why search for one coin out of ten? Why does heaven rejoice when one sinner repents?

-parables of who God is, of God searching out for the lost, not let anyone or anything be lost.

-Because God is more merciful than we ever could be, God is more forgiving than we could be, God will always seek the one out who is lost, to bring everything back into wholeness.

It is the story of our lives, that by the grace of God we are saved; that God always seeks us out, wants no one lost, wants us to be complete. And the parable is true of us, that often we are the lost and we are the ones searching for the lost. I think of this true story I read on the internet:

Rachel had just begun a new job teaching children with severe learning and emotional difficulties in an inner-city school. The job was draining, often bringing her to tears - but she prayed each day that she could make a breakthrough to one broken soul.

Her most difficult charge was ten-year-old Kyle, the son of a drug-addicted mother, a boy with permanent scars along the side of his left arm from a beating with an extension cord when he was three. Kyle was given to angry, violent outbursts and running away.

Rachel and another teacher had planned a field trip for their students. But because of his behavior issues, Kyle would have to remain at school. Kyle flew into a rage, screaming, cursing, spitting, and swinging at anything within striking distance.

And then he did what he had done at other schools, at home, and once at a juvenile detention center: he ran. Kyle dashed out the door, straight into the heavy morning traffic.

And Rachel ran after him. She had no idea what she would say or do once - and if - she caught up with him. But she ran after Kyle.

Kyle ran for several blocks, dodging cars like a professional athlete. He was fast, but Rachel managed to stay with him. Finally he stopped, near a trash compactor behind a dilapidated strip mall. Bent over with exhaustion, he looked up, surprised to see his teacher running toward him. But when he saw Rachel, he did not run. He stayed still as Rachel approached. He calmed down; his anger and fear subsided. Rachel and Kyle locked eyes. Rachel willed every ounce of compassion and understanding in her heart toward his.

Before either could say a word, the principal of the school arrived with the police. Kyle would be taken for psychiatric evaluation. Rachel did not take her eyes off Kyle as he got into the car - and Kyle's eyes never left Rachel's.

Rachel later shared her disappointment at what had happened with Kyle's speech therapist who knew Kyle's history and family situation. The therapist placed her hand on Rachel's shoulder and said, "Rachel, no one ever ran after him before. No one. They just let him go."

Kyle eventually returned to school. He asked if he could return to Rachel's class. As the weeks passed, Kyle was glued to Rachel's side, complying with instructions, attempting to do his work - once even smiling. For a child with deep attachment issues, it was amazing to see Kyle finally developing a bond with someone - someone who ran after him. [From a story by Rachel Macy Stafford,]
Grace is the joy and fulfillment experienced by the shepherd who finds the lost lamb, the woman who recovers the missing coin, and a teacher who ran after a lost student. We are meant to be whole. We are meant to be connected. And it is the love that is behind it all, that led us to find the lost and be found when we are lost and be united. Amen.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Prayer for the 12th Anniversary of 9/11

O gracious and loving God, on this 12th anniversary of the terror attacks on 9/11, we lift up our nation in prayer. We remember all the victims who lost their lives to hate. We remember the brave and courageous who rushed to the scene to help, to those who came to search through rubble, who cut through steel and debris. We remember those who grieve loved ones lost and for all the anxiety and fear we had in those days. We also remember how we came together to support one another in a time of need. Have mercy, Lord, give us strength and peace to not seek revenge nor turn our hurt to hate, but make us courageous in compassion and in justice for all. Help us to know your steadfast love & hope, your presence that is as near as breath; rekindle in our hearts the hope of life that conquers death. This we ask in your son’s name, Jesus our Lord. Amen

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Rev. Robert Farrar Capon, RIP

The Rev. Robert Farrar Capon died on September 5. (1925-2013) My favorite books of his are the  trilogy he wrote on Jesus’ parables: The Parables of Grace, The Parables of the Kingdom, and The Parables of Judgment. I love this quote from him:
 "I am and I am not a universalist. I am one if you are talking about what God in Christ has done to save the world. The Lamb of God has not taken away the sins of some — of only the good, or the cooperative, or the select few who can manage to get their act together and die as perfect peaches. He has taken away the sins of the world — of every last being in it — and he has dropped them down the black hole of Jesus’ death. On the cross, he has shut up forever on the subject of guilt: “There is therefore now no condemnation. . . .” All human beings, at all times and places, are home free whether they know it or not, feel it or not, believe it or not. "But I am not a universalist if you are talking about what people may do about accepting that happy-go-lucky gift of God’s grace. I take with utter seriousness everything that Jesus had to say about hell, including the eternal torment that such a foolish non-acceptance of his already-given acceptance must entail. All theologians who hold Scripture to be the Word of God must inevitably include in their work a tractate on hell. But I will not — because Jesus did not — locate hell outside the realm of grace. Grace is forever sovereign, even in Jesus’ parables of judgment. No one is ever kicked out at the end of those parables who wasn’t included in at the beginning."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Prayer for Labor Day

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another
that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide
us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but
for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for
our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of
other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out
of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

- Posted using BlogPress from my mystical iPad!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September 1 Sermon

The statue began with his faith. An Ontario-based artist had the 25th chapter of Matthew in mind as he sculpted. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells his disciples though a parable that when they help the sick, the hungry, the homeless, the least who are members of the human family, they also help him.

But his statue was considered controversial, it made people uncomfortable. He “depicted a darkly shrouded figure lying huddled on a long park bench. From a distance, the figure could be anyone, and only on close examination do you see the crucifixion wounds, visible on his exposed feet.” (

Timothy Schmalz's "Homeless Jesus” was inspired by a scene he witnessed one December night when he spotted a homeless man lying on a park bench, he said. "My instinctive thought was, that is Jesus Christ. I just saw Jesus."

But way too many in our country don’t see Jesus among the homeless. They see them as deterrents to economic progress, as a nuisance and a problem to be dealt with.

In cities like Raleigh, NC, Columbia, SC, Tampa, FL& Portland, OR –laws are passed to arrest the homeless, not allowing the homeless to leave a shelter, hotlines so you can call and remove a homeless person and sometimes laws are made against those who minister to them. (
Love Wins Ministries has been working with the homeless for over 6 years in Raleigh, NC. Their statement about who they are says, “At Love Wins Ministries, We feed people… But we are not a feeding ministry. Sometimes, we help people get jobs…But we are not a job training program. Maybe 10-12 times a year, someone leaves homelessness with our help…But we are not a housing ministry. Yet, at any given moment, we may be doing any of those things. But what we really are is a ministry of presence and pastoral care for the homeless and at-risk population of Raleigh, NC.”

But last Saturday they were told not to feed the people outside the park like they had been doing or they would be arrested for breaking a city ordinance. The pastor tweeted what happened and then social media picked up the story. By mid-week the mayor and city council said the ordinance wouldn’t be enforced…

It got me thinking about how the faith that we have inside us, will lead us at times to a place of conflict, a place where we must choose what we will do and what our faith means to us.

As we prepare to baptize two little ones among us, Isabelle & Mason, it is important for us to think about how we live out our Christian faith, how we raise up these little ones in the Christian faith and how through our prayers and witness help these and all children to grow
into the full stature of their Christian faith.

Not just by the words we use but by our actions (our prayers and witness). What does our faith say we should do about those in need?
Jesus said, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
Jesus invites us to look beyond our comfort zone and look to those in need, to those who can’t repay us. Help them, Jesus says. Look through the eyes of humility that looks to the well-being of all; humility is part and parcel of being a disciple of Jesus.
In the letter to the Hebrews this morning, we heard these words, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Again, our lives are commended to do good, to share what we have, by doing so we are living out our faith. And we do this, because we are all children of God, all made in God’s image, no one better than another.
A minister was invited to preach one weekend at a large New York City church and was told that if he usually ate breakfast, he could have breakfast at the church with the homeless.

So early Sunday morning, the visiting preacher came to that church and stood in line with maybe two hundred people, waiting to be served. He struck up conversations with those waiting with him.

Several people shared their stories of illness, financial disaster, unemployment, divorce, broken relationships. Then someone who did not know he was a minister asked him, "What put you here?"

Not knowing what to answer, he said, "I was invited." Not wanting to create any distance, he sat with them for breakfast, ate what they ate, talked with them, and got to know them a little more before heading to the church. [Fred Craddock, Craddock Stories.]
I was invited. – How will you care for the least in our society? How will you invite them in and not shut them out?

Jesus asks us to act through the perspective of Gospel humility - humility that realizes that we are not the center of all things but part of a much larger world, humility that is centered in gratitude for all the blessings we have received as a result of the depth of God's love & to act out of that love for God has set us a banquet table for every needy, hurting, & confused soul. Amen.