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Non-Violence – Pace e Bene – 2 December 2020

Image and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“Our society is so inured to violence that it finds it hard to believe in anything else. And that phrase believe in provides the clue. People trust violence. Violence ‘saves.’ It is ‘redemptive.’ But when we make survival the highest goal and death the greatest evil, we hand ourselves over to the gods of the Domination System. We trust violence because we are afraid. And we will not relinquish our fears until we are able to imagine a better alternative.”  Walter Wink

Evening Prayer – 1 December 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Thank you for a day of ministry

Thank you for time of worship preparation

Thank you for fellowship with classmates on Zoom

Thank you for a wonderful gathering for a short course we are offering

Thank you for your love and your guiding light, Spirit

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Non-Violence – Pace e Bene – 1 December 2020

Picture and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“Nonviolence is first and foremost a kind of energy that resides within an individual human being. We do not need different individuals in power so much as we need a different kind of power in individuals.” 

Michael Nagler, The Search for a Nonviolent Future

Evening Prayer – 29 November 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Thank you for your Spirit’s guidance this Lord’s day

Thank you for a wonderful virtual worship service

Thank you for ministry preparation and work completed this day

Thank you for good fellowship this evening

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Evening Prayer – 28 November 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

At the end of the day I thank you, Lord

For my sweetheart and our puppy

For a home to enjoy

For a calling to serve

For your light that shines even in the darkness

Thank you for understanding prayers that are unspoken

For hearing our groans and sighs too deep for words

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre..,

God is Faithful – An Advent Reflection

The season of Advent is upon us! I have always found it to be a bit of a challenge to preach on these Sundays. Many of the Gospel readings in the lectionary cycle focus on the apocalyptic narrative which has led so many to spend more time reading the tea leaves and looking for signs of the end times than spending time in quiet reflection and anticipation.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. We are entering the season of anticipation and preparation in an unusual way. The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia, meaning “second coming.” In the early history of the church, Advent was often called a “mini-Lent” and was a time of fasting and preparation for the coming of the Messiah. It was also a time of preparation for those wishing to join the church. The new members would join the church on the Feast of the Epiphany which commemorates the visit of the Wisemen, Jesus’ Baptism, and his first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. 

Over time, this time has become marked by a consumer attitude of buy, buy, buy. Black Friday kicks off this secular festival immediately following Thanksgiving. I find it interesting that the day after we give thanks for what we have, that we rush like mad to buy more. Somewhere in the middle of all of this madness, the spirit of Advent has been lost. When we read Mark 13:24-37, Jesus’ parable offers a rather apocalyptic vision about the second coming, concluding with the charge to keep awake since we don’t know when the master will return.

Watching and waiting with anticipation are the hallmark of this season. We have spent a great deal of time in waiting, wondering, and anticipation in 2020. We have wondered how long the Pandemic is going to last. We have waited with anticipation for the 2020 election results. We now wonder when there will be an effective vaccine against COVID-19 and when it will be available. We wonder what Christmas will look like this year just as we wondered what Thanksgiving would look like in the midst of a global pandemic. 

As I read and re-read Mark 13:24-37 this week I was struck by the stunning and vivid language describing the coming of the Son of Man. The picture painted by Jesus is pretty incredible. Between the sun darkening, the moon not giving light, and stars falling from the sky we have a pretty overwhelming picture. Jesus told this parable as Mark relates it just before his arrest, torture, and execution at the hands of the Empire. These new leaders of the movement would have their hands full in the midst of so many unknowns. Up until that time, Jesus had taken most of the slings and arrows sent their way. Now, they would deal with it on their own. In the midst of the chaos that was to come, they would have to figure out how to be leaders instead of simply followers. In their own ways, each of the Disciples would find their own unique way to lead this new faith movement as it grew. I wonder if part of the admonition to “Keep awake” meant that they were to look for opportunities for ministry and being Christ to the world. For me, part of that admonition is to be aware of how I can be Christ to those whom I meet. 

In the midst of all that is 2020, have we forgotten to take those moments to simply “be still” in God’s presence? Paul tells us in the opening verses of 1 Corinthians, chapter one, that God is faithful, and that God will give us strength as we live each day. As we approach this Advent season, I think it is imperative for us to keep awake and be ready for what is to come. It is also critical for us to not only remember that God is faithful, but to also be an instrument of God’s faithfulness, God’s peace, God’s justice, God’s mercy, and God’s love in this pandemic weary world.

This year is different from many of the past years we have experienced. In the midst of it all, we need to hear the reminder that God is faithful!

Evening Prayer – 28 November 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Thankful for a day of settling into our new home

The process is not always easy

Yet in the midst of the uncertainty

Your Spirit guides us

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre…

Pace e Bene – 27 November 2020

Picture and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene

“It is not enough for us to possess human nature, we have to act as humans, we have to exercise all the deepest capacities of our nature. More than this, we have to act as persons—freely! As soon as we come into existence we begin to obey the Law of Love.” —Thomas Merton (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, p. 117)

Evening Prayer – 26 November 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a wonderful day with my sweetheart

There is so much to be thankful for

Family and dear friends around the globe

Our kids in Chicago and Mobile

Our Dads in Alabama and Minnesnowda

Our church family in Georgia

For all of these gifts I thank you

Now as my eyelids grow heavy

I lift this humble prayer to you

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace

A wee prayer from the heart of your Padre..,

Thanksgiving – A Reflection and Prayer

This fellow was strutting around like he owned Rocky! Picture from RMNP in May, 2019

Old Thanksgiving memories include the appearance of the pilgrim and turkey candles at Mom & Dads when I was growing up. Dinner would be served on Mom’s china which we will be using again this year. I remember the plays and costumes at school. The “story” of the first Thanksgiving was told without mentioning the “rest of the story.” That education would come later as the voices of the indigenous people rose up. Sadly, far too many continue to ignore that story.

So what do you do with a “holiday” that is so full of violence and suppression? That is a difficult question to ponder. The history which had been whitewashed for so long is finally being told truthfully in some parts of our nation for those who will stop and listen.

Perhaps if we focus on thanks-giving instead of the pilgrims that might be a start. Instead we could focus on both the blessings and challenges of this day. How does one give thanks when unemployment rates continue to climb as jobs are lost and housing is very insecure? How does one give thanks while infection and death rates continue to climb as COVID-19 shows no signs of backing off?

This year of the pandemic has changed so much in our nation and world. Not all of the change has been good. But there have been signs of hope in the midst of the darkness. There are many stories of neighbors and strangers helping each other out through this difficult season.

So as we walk through this day, I will offer the prayer of Howard Thurman, who was the grandson of a slave. He found a way to be thankful in the midst of segregation and oppression. Perhaps we can do the same.

In Your presence, O God, we make our Sacrament of Thanksgiving.

We begin with the simple things of our days:
Fresh air to breathe,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.

For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

We bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that we have known:

Our mothers’ arms,
The strength of our fathers,
The playmates of our childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to us from the lives of many who
talked of days gone by when fairies and giants and diverse kinds
of magic held sway;
The tears we have shed, the tears we have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle in the eye with
its reminder that life is good.

For all these we make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I would add a call to work together so that all of God’s creation may experience these blessings each and every day. Until they do, the work of Justice continues.