Discovering Joy

Joy is a slow-growing, steadfast thing. It’s also not as fleeting as I once thought. I believed until quite recently that joy was an infrequent and reluctant visitor in my life. It would occasionally land for a few days and then flit away and I’d be left with comforting memories. I’ve discovered that it isn’t … Read More

A Bidding Prayer for the Living of These Days

Come, let us pray for faithful people everywhere. (people may silently or quietly voice their prayers) Loving Creator, you are the Alpha and Omega of all that is. The names we have for you are more numerous than we like to admit. The theologies we have constructed cannot define or contain you. Remind us that … Read More

More Than A Prayer


I wanted to write a prayer for this week’s post. I even tried to write a prayer, but I couldn’t. It would be too easy for me to write a poetic prayer that generalized the issues shouting at me from this week’s news. What I see is in jarring opposition to what the lectionary texts proclaim.

I won’t say much more about the NPR article that talks of an increase in adult suicide because I’ve said enough already. But it raised the issue of hopelessness that has pursued me through the week. And after seeing Ironman 3, I am struck by how desperate we are for heroes, for hope, for something stronger than we are that can save us from all danger. On the contrary, Psalm 97 speaks of a God who guards the faithful and rescues them from the wicked. While the language of this Psalm might be a bit outdated, surely there is something here that is relevant and alive today. This God is not absent from the earth unless we all fail to live in God.

Next there is the remarkable story about the three kidnapped women in Cleveland, OH. There is something of the Acts story of release here. It is rather miraculous that a man would break down his neighbor’s door to free a woman screaming for help. We all know stories in which people just stood by and watch violence happen. We will never know how many others walked by as Amanda screamed for help. But a few days ago Charles Ramsey did the unexpected and set three women free. He denies being a hero. Others have pointed out his unfortunate past. However, the moment he set Amanda Berry free, he became a real hero, someone to be admired. What does it matter what he’s done in his past? The Apostle Paul saved a jailer who had done some horrible things and the jailer only witnessed a miracle rather than take part in it.

On a slightly different note, I do have to wonder at the response to Jodi Arias’ conviction. One article said, “Outside the courthouse, crowds cheered.” I understand the need for justice. The woman murdered her lover. She should pay the price. I understand neither the crowds nor the cheers. It adds to my sense that society is desperate to feel safe. Obviously, the day has not yet come when all who are thirsty are free to drink.

Coming full circle, I saw this Coffee with Jesus strip this morning.Coffee with Jesus

It’s perfect for this lectionary reading. It speaks to our need to have hope, feel safe, be loved. It succinctly points at the essence of the Gospel. We live in Christ. Christ lives in us. We worship an indwelling God. There is no need for superheroes or criticizing people who manage to selflessly do the right thing or cheering when a murderer is convicted. Bad things will happen but we will not be alone. We will rejoice with all those who are righteous. We will not celebrate the pain of others.

Finally, I know it’s Mother’s Day. So let’s honor all those who have nurtured us, who have shared their faith with us, who have inspired us to live with courage by shaking the dust off our faith and living in gratitude. If we each do this there is more room for God to dwell, more possibility for hope, joy, and peace.

RCL – Year C – Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 12, 2013

Acts 16:16-34
Psalm 97
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17:20-26

Now or Later?

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.
Acts 11:12

I was reading the passages from this week’s lectionary, especially this verse from Acts, and what keeps coming back to me is the whole idea that we keep pointing toward a time when Christ will come back and the world will be perfect. And yet we believe we are the body of Christ here and now. Then why are we not embodying these ideals here and now? Why do we make distinctions between one another? Why are we not doing more to alleviate sadness, and grieving and mourning? Why do we not love one another the way Christ told us to? We say that we are Christians and that we love one another, and we forget that we also say that we are the body of Christ. We are supposed to be embodying this new heaven and new Earth, now. So may it be.

110God of All Creation,
Move us out of complacency into love. May our love for you overflow into love for ourselves, other people, and all of creation. Amen.

RCL – Year C – Fifth Sunday of Easter – April 28, 2013

Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

A Prayer in the Aftermath

This is my prayerful response to the bombing at the Boston Marathon based on the lectionary readings for the week. If you are looking for a reflection on Psalm 23, click here.

Ever-living God, in days of tragedy and heartbreak, we give you thanks for all the signs of new life around us. The cold days of winter are behind us and the warm days of spring surround us. When anger, fear, and sadness threaten to overwhelm us, open our eyes to the world coming to life everywhere we look. Just as Peter called Tabitha from death to life in your name, you call us from despair to hope. You made us a people of resurrection; lead us into new life now.

Shepherding God, many of us walk in valleys of death; let us walk without fear trusting you to guide us to still waters. We lift up to you all those who suffer in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing. But we do not forget all the places in the world where bombs are frequent – Syria, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, and so many other countries around the world. Guard our hearts and spirits from those who would have us live in terror.

God of mercy and grace, we come to you with much on our hearts and minds. We often feel overwhelmed with the state of our world. We focus on the bad news hearing only the awful things. We mourn with those who grieve the loss of life, limb, or innocence from Monday’s bombing. We cry with those whose lives and homes have been destroyed by earthquake in Iran and Pakistan. We echo the fears of flu in China. We wonder at the failure of Congress to vote with their constituents. And there are the personal tragedies – struggles with cancer, addictions, or illness or worries over finances or relationships with loved ones… You know what burdens us and what we are reluctant to let go of. Remind us that your mercy extends to all of us and all those in need. Hear the cries of your people and let us rest in your strong arms.

God who turns mourning to dancing, lead us in the steps of your dance. We long to hear the songs of joy that you would have our hearts sing. You are with the heartbroken and the hopeless bringing healing and promise. Take the heaviness from our hearts and let us sing your praise out loud. You have been with us through every tragedy, every heart break, every act of terrorism, every loss and you are with us now. You embody life and hope. Death and darkness and destruction have no power over you. We stand with you in resurrection light confident that you will wipe every tear from our eyes. Let us dance with you.

God who loves all creation, hear our gratitude for the blessings of this earth. No matter where we are, who we are, what we have done or not done, you shower us with your love. May our lives be filled with love for you and one another. May our acts of grace, hospitality, and forgiveness not be limited to times of tragedy but become our way of living in this world. Let us be gracious stewards of all that you have given to us. Let us live in the fullness of life, rejoicing in the Good News of Resurrection. We are an Easter people and we are your body. May we be reflections of your glory.

Hear the prayers of your people. In Christ’s name. Amen.

RCL – Fourth Sunday of Easter – April 21, 2013DSC00108

Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

The Sights and Sounds

This week it’s all about sights and sounds. The Acts passage tells of Saul’s conversion to Paul. It’s a dramatic story if ever there was one. Saul sees a bright light, hears Jesus’ calling him, loses his sight, and falls to the ground until Jesus sends Ananias to open Saul’s eyes. Next the Revelation reading actually contains the words, “Then I looked” and “Then I heard.” The scene described is countless angels and other creatures singing to Christ. The drama continues in the Gospel reading. Jesus “showed himself” by the Sea of Tiberias. There was a miraculous catch of fish, a recognition of the risen Christ, and the echoing question of “Do you love me?”

I keep trying to pull them apart to allow them to stand on their own. But this week, I can’t do it. Instead, I find myself asking a lot of questions.

  • To what Truth of Christ am I blind? Who is trying to remove the scales from my eyes?
  • Is Christ asking me to open someone else’s eyes? Am I listening?  Am I willing to do what is being asked?
  • What change is at work in me that I am resisting?
  • Who or what is singing praise to Christ right now? Me? The Church? People? Creation?
  • Why does this Revelation text fill me with such longing?
  • What does it mean to love Jesus and what does feeding his sheep look like now?
  • Is there a difference between loving Jesus in a human way (philios) or in a godly way (agape)? (Jesus gave Peter the same response, but the question was different. It must mean something?)
  • How would these passages be heard differently in different places in the world – Syria? North Korea? Israel? Ireland? China?
  • What sights and sounds point to transformation in the world today?

These are my questions. If you have others, please feel free to share post them. Or, if you are inclined to answer any of them, please do that as well.

Sing praises to God, O you God’s faithful ones,
and give thanks to God’s holy name.

For God’s anger is but for a moment;
God’s favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.

RCL – Year C – Third Sunday of Easter – April 14, 20132013-04-04 19.05.42

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
John 21:1-19