Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Vacation - A Prayer for Leisure & a Prayer for the RNC & DNC

I am away on vacation...

Prayer for the Good Use of Leisure

O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of
refreshment and peace; and grant that we may so use our
leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our
spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Cities (& Country)

Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of
that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their
glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth.
Renew the ties of mutual regard which form our civic life.
Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate
poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail
with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and
women from different cultures and with differing talents may
find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for the RNC & DNC:

Almighty God. We thank you and ask your blessing as the RNC/DNC gather for this American moment in our political system. We ask you to guide and direct with your wisdom our President, Congress and the courts and all those gathered in convention. May America continue to be a light unto all the nations, enabling those who lead us to make dreams, hopes and aspirations of all Americans into realities, and to make the American ideal a certainty not just for some, but for all. And finally, by your mercy may we never forget that our freedoms have been won with the blood and the sacrifice of past generations, and remember that our industry and innovation has been forged with the sweat and toil of all American men and women. We pray this in Jesus name. Amen.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

#Prayers on Sunday

We remember…
Alton Sterling and Philando Castile
Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, & Lorne Ahrens

All Saints Anglican Church and the Anglican community in Damascus, Syria has not been heard from in some time and is now believed to be "lost and in flight”

For the Human Family

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.

O gracious and holy God,
Give us wisdom to perceive Thee,
Intelligence to understand Thee,
Diligence to seek Thee,
Patience to wait for Thee,
Eyes to behold Thee,
A heart to meditate upon Thee,
And a life to proclaim Thee through loving service & compassionate action;
& may the blessing…

St. Benedict

July 10 Sermon

O Gracious Lord, Open my eyes that I may see the needs of others; Open my ears that I may hear their cries; Open my heart so that they need not be without relief; Let me not be afraid to defend the weak or the poor because of the anger of the strong or the rich. Show me where love and hope and faith are needed, and use me to bring them to these places. And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this day be able to do some work for you, of peace and compassion like the Good Samaritan. Amen. (adapted from Alan Paton)

Today we welcome Scarlett into the Body of Christ. She will be baptized and we will receive her into the household of God. We will invite her to join us and the whole Church in confessing the faith of Christ crucified, proclaiming his resurrection, and sharing in his eternal priesthood.

She is being baptized at a time when there is great anxiety in our land. Violence and fear seem to lurk everywhere, talk of walls and separation. We are challenged in these days when it seems that all we see & hear about is evil and death, we are challenged to lead those gracious loving lives that God expects of us. In St. Paul’s words from Colossians, we are “to lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to God, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.”

At a time of great racial division when we have seemed to lost our way, Jesus challenges us to lead those worthy lives with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, a parable of mercy, of love, and a challenge to the existing way things are seen in society.

When asked by a lawyer, someone grounded in the Holy Scriptures, what must be done to inherit eternal life, Jesus asks him to answer his own question – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And Jesus said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live." But then he asks, “who is my neighbor?”

And in a parable, Jesus talks about the one who fell among thieves, who needs help, the priest and Levite look upon this man and walk away, he is dead or soon will be, they will not be defiled by the dead man but the Samaritan, the least likely, the foreigner, the one who does not worship right, is the one who has compassion on the victim. A shocking answer for the lawyer!

It was and is a radical parable by Jesus. A Samaritan, hated by the Jews in those days because of his race & religion, is the one who was moved with pity and embodied the compassion of God, who had mercy on the victim.

Jesus said, “Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" The lawyer said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

The lawyer couldn’t say Samaritan, but the point that Jesus made was clear; no racial or religious difference can stop our love for those whom God has made.

We are called to love God, to love our neighbors as ourselves and to show mercy. Jesus through his parable enlarges our vision of compassion beyond the boundaries (both religious & racial) that we want to set, and challenges our divisions with love and hope.

It reminds me of a modern version I recently read of this parable…

Susan Sparks – The Parable of the Black Police Chief & the White Supremacist
(pastor at Madison Ave. Baptist Church in NYC)

Her parable is based on a true story – from the Huffington Post a year ago:
At a Ku Klux Klan rally held at the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday, there were many images of hate: men and women shouting slogans of bigotry and division, their clothing emblazoned with symbols of intolerance. But the most memorable image of the day wasn’t one of hatred at all. It was quite the opposite — a photograph of a black police officer giving a white supremacist a helping hand.

The powerful photo, captured by Twitter user Rob Godfrey, shows police officer Leroy Smith helping the unidentified KKK supporter out of the sun. The older man, pictured wearing a National Socialist Movement t-shirt, is said to have been struggling in the scorching Columbia heat when Smith went to his aid.

The photo has gone viral as people praise the officer’s extraordinary show of professionalism and grace under such trying circumstances.

As Soren Kierkegaard tells us in Works of Love, the person nearest us, no matter who he or she is, is our neighbor. The neighbor is someone who acts on love, without always thinking it through, without always asking or knowing why.

How shall I inherit eternal life? asks the lawyer, and I think of some words of 44 years ago that speak to the answer that Jesus gives…

“Jesus' answer to the lawyer means simply, 'You don't need any great speculation over the meaning of life; you just need to do the ordinary, everyday things; you need only be there when your fellow man (or woman) is in difficulty, then you are already in accord with that meaning. Then you are not merely seeking that meaning; you are in the process of fulfilling it. For you will meet God in the imprisoned, the hungry, and the naked; when you are close to all of those, then you also dwell close to God, and you are in contact with the basic meaning and goal of your life.” (Helmut Thielicke, How to Believe Again, Fortress, 1972).

The Good News of Jesus Christ is with the Good Samaritan who showed mercy, of Officer Leroy Smith who gave love to his neighbor, the one in need, both of whom refused to let religion or race dictate their compassionate response.

We are to be that loving neighbor, and to help teach that to Scarlett and all of our little ones (and each other!), for we are called by Jesus to go and do likewise. Amen.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

In Light of #Dallas #BatonRouge #Minnesota

A word from our Presiding Bishop

For the Human Family (from the BCP)

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.

God renewer of life and fountain of mercy:

Be with us in the aftermath of loss and violence;

Open our hearts every more fully to love our neighbors,

Particularly those who seem most different from us,

And those who may bring us suffering and harm;

Help us to have the eyes and mind of Christ,

And to trust that your mercy is over all your people;

Give us courage, in the midst of trouble,

to live as those already sharing your resurrection life,

rejoicing in the goodness of your reign,

and by the grace of your Holy Spirit keep us in your peace,

through Jesus our Savior. Amen.

prayer by the Rev. Jennifer Phillips

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Prayer for Immigrants & Refugees

Defender of the downtrodden, we remember before you the people of other nations who come to this country in search of opportunity and in flight from oppression. May we look on those whose lives have been stunted and limited by the poverty and injustice of the past and seared by the conflict and turmoil that afflict their native lands.

We bless you for all that America has meant to those who have come here by land or sea and for all the courage and strength and energy with which they have enriched this country. We rejoice in all those millions whose lives have been enriched by the wealth and freedom of this country and whose children have taken their own place among us, for many of us are the children of immigrants who came with mingled hopes and fears to this new place.

We ask forgiveness for the hostility with which the newcomers among us have so often been greeted and the exploitation which has too frequently been their lot. In this nation dedicated to liberty, may we learn to restrain the greed and self-seeking that are too common among us and work harder to ensure impartial administration of our laws. May newcomers find this land to be indeed a place of freedom where energy is rewarded and hopes and dreams are fulfilled.

May those in countries where freedom and opportunity are still limited by the powerful and destroyed by conflict, who yet dare to believe in democracy and the reign of God, see in our nation once more a beacon of hope and a witness to the fulfillment human beings can find where laws are designed for the common good and government officials seek the welfare of those they serve. Amen.

- Christopher Webber (adapted from Walter Rauschenbusch's prayer of 1910)

July 3 Sermon

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.

Vacation – What do you pack?
· Lightly – bare essentials?
· Over pack – to be prepared?
· Nothing at all? Relying on others?

When Jesus sends out 70 – they take nothing
· They will rely on others hospitality
· They will proclaim: kingdom of god has come near
· Condemn none; proclaim to all
· Important: not the effect but our names written in heaven

What is Jesus doing?
· Radical vulnerability
· Dependence on God & others
· Not interested in statistics
· Making his ministry our own

We are called as disciples to take up our empty suitcases from here and proclaim the Kingdom of God but there is a question whether we are a traveler . . . or a tourist?

In his book Hidden History: Explaining Our Secret Past, historian Daniel Boorstin writes that there is a difference between the two. Throughout the centuries, travelers were those interested in unfamiliar settings and wild encounters that enlarged the traveler's perspective. "The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience," Boorstin writes. But tourism is a spectator sport full of contrived, prefabricated experiences.

"The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes sightseeing."

The root words for travel and tourist informed Boorstin's study. "Travel" comes from the same word as travail, meaning trouble, work, or even torment. A traveler takes risks, plunges into diverse cultures, and seeks to learn local customs. Unplanned experiences are the traveler's norm, sometimes involving challenging exploits. Travelers eat whatever food is placed before them. They aim to learn as much of the language as possible. Shopping for souvenirs plays no part in their ventures.

But "travail" and sacrifice are not part of the tourist's itinerary. The word "tour," from the Latin tornus, literally means "one who goes in circles." A tourist is a pleasure seeker who passes through different exotic experiences only to return to a comfortable bed at night. Insulated from the noise, the smells and the local people, a tourist's "circle" is complete once he is back home unpacking mementos and photos.

So, on this journey of life that God has set you on, are you as a disciple of Jesus an engaged traveler or merely a tourist passing through? [Adapted from "Tourist and traveler" by Peter W. Marty, The Christian Century, April 27, 2016.]

Jesus sends the seventy-two not just to see the places Jesus will visit but to be his disciples ministering with peace and healing and reconciliation for those they encounter. The work Jesus entrusts to the seventy-two he has now entrusted to us, his church of today. The work is not a pleasure cruise or a comfortable circle where we merely tour; the call of Jesus to the work, the ministry of our baptisms, is the work that begins and ends at this Eucharistic table, for he calls us to be engaged with one another as a means of support, reconciliation and peace, no matter who we are, even where we are not welcomed.

And on this Independence Day weekend, let me end with this story:

Traveling during his term as Vice President, Thomas Jefferson requested a room at Baltimore's principal hotel. The Vice President was traveling alone, without secretary or servants; it had been a long trip and it showed in his clothes and appearance. The proprietor, not recognizing his distinguished guest, refused him a room. After Jefferson left, the proprietor was informed that he had just turned away from his establishment the Vice President of the United States.

The horrified innkeeper immediately dispatched his servants to find Mr. Jefferson and offer him whatever accommodations he wished. A servant caught up with the Vice President at a small inn several miles down the road. Jefferson sent the servant back to Baltimore with this message: "Tell your master I value his intentions highly, but if he has no room for a dirty farmer, he shall have none for this Vice President."

The Gospel Jesus calls forth from us is that vision of the heart that sees beyond stereotypes, politics and appearances, and recognizes and honors the goodness that every human being possesses. On our way, we recognize and honor the dignity that every human as a son and daughter of God. That is the challenge of discipleship: to lift up the humanity we all share as brothers and sisters, all children of God.

Our ministry as a traveling disciple is to seek peace in the midst of conflict; to bring the light of compassion into the darkest of nights; to bring healing and wholeness to the hurting, the fallen, the lost, the desperate, and the grieving. May we be travelers, traveling lightly, doing God’s work wherever we find ourselves this weekend and in the days to come. Amen.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Prayer for July 4th

Midway through our American Triduum:

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.

You can also find some interesting thoughts on the holiday here.