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A Humble Child of God – Ronnie McBrayer

A powerful reflection from Ronnie McBrayer which centers around the experience of then ten year old Martin Luther King, Jr and the Atlanta premier of “Gone With the Wind”
— Read on ronniemcbrayer.org/2021/01/19/a-humble-child-of-god/

Evening Prayer & Reflection – 18 January 2021

Memorial to the Rev, Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr in Carrollton, Georgia

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

It has been a day for reflection

It has been a day for prayer

It has been a day for study

It has been a day of worship planning

It has indeed been a full day

At the end of this day I pause to consider

How can we be the light of God’s love in the gathering darkness

How can we make Dr King’s dream a reality

Thomas Merton offers some insight in his 1963 Letter to a White Liberal as he considers Dr King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

In other words, the condition of the possibility of white people being transformed into the love of God and neighbor is the freedom of African-Americans to thrive as human beings.

There is much to ponder this night

There is much work to be done

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…

Beyond ‘I have a dream’: It’s time to take Martin Luther King Jr. out of the box | America Magazine

A year after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the poet Carl Wendell Hines Jr. published “A Dead Man’s Dream,” in which he wrote: “Dead men make such convenient heroes/ For they cannot rise to challenge the images/ That we might fashion from their lives.”

Dr. King was a remarkable visionary, a true social justice warrior and a devoted lover of God. What makes me uncomfortable is that the man we celebrate today, both on his birthday and during African-American History Month, is often reduced to a speech about dreams.
— Read on www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2019/01/31/beyond-i-have-dream-its-time-take-martin-luther-king-jr-out-box

The Cosmic Dance – A Reflection and Prayer

An icon from a series created by Marcy Hall of Rabbit Room Arts (https://www.etsy.com/shop/RabbitRoomArts?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=262201491) for Christine Valters Paintner and the Abbey of the Arts.

A very special thank you to my dear friend and brother Paul Pynkoski for sharing this quote and picture today. As we approach the commemoration of the birthday of the Rev, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr and the inauguration of our new President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris threats of violence and hate continue to surface. We need courage, hope, peace, and light as we face these difficult times with them. I share these words of hope from Thomas Merton.

For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.
Yet the very fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.
(New Seeds of Contemplation, p.297)

May we join in the beauty of the Cosmic Dance as we work for Justice and Peace. May we do the work the Prophet Micah calls us to: Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly with God! (Micah 6:8)

Called to Serve – A Reflection

This rock juts out into the Chippewa River on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. On a Friday evening in October of 1980, I received my call to ministry while praying on this spot. Thirty-three years later, Denise and I visited the University and we spent time in reflection on the rock. The young college junior had no idea where that call would take him, or the adventures he would experience. Speaking of calls, the readings from the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel focus on God’s call.

The first Scripture reading is from the first book of Samuel and is the story of his call to serve the Lord. There is an interesting back story that is told in chapter one about Samuel’s mother Hannah and the family he would be born into. Samuel’s mother was his father Elkanah’s first wife. Elkanah most likely married his second wife Peninnah because Hannah (his first wife) was barren. Despite this, Elkanah loved Hannah deeply and showed favor to her. This didn’t set very well with Peninnah, especially since she had borne Elkanah the children he wanted, including sons who would carry on the family name. Every chance that Peninnah had, she provoked and tried to irritate Hannah. On the last trip to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, Hannah broke down in tears and refused to eat. Her husband didn’t understand why she was upset and tried to remind her how much he loved her. When Hannah went up to the temple to pray, she was seen by Eli who was sitting in the doorway to the temple. As Eli watched her praying and weeping bitterly. Eli thought she was drunk and essentially told her to go away. She told him that she wasn’t drunk and that she was deeply troubled. Without asking her what she was troubled about, he sent her away with a blessing, asking the Lord to grant her petition. Her deep longing was filled when the Lord blessed her with a son. Hannah dedicated Samuel to the Lord’s service and that was how young Samuel ended up in the temple serving Eli.

A few years later Samuel is serving in the Lord in the temple. The call narrative opens with the words, The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. (1 Samuel 3:1) The voice of the prophet had been silent in the land for a long time. When Samuel heard the voice calling his name, he thought it was old Eli calling for him. After the third time Samuel woke him up, it finally dawned on Eli that the Lord was calling Samuel by name. He instructed Samuel to answer the Lord and Samuel responded to the Lord in the way Eli instructed him to answer. Here I am.

Samuel’s first task as a young man was to tell Eli that God was going to judge him and his house for the iniquity Eli knew yet didn’t do anything about. What a way to start his prophetic ministry. Samuel faithfully served God for years and lived through the tumultuous time of King Saul and King David. He had no idea what was in store, but the one promise he knew was that God would guide him as he did God’s difficult work. Samuel was honest with Eli and with the people even when the message wasn’t good. His honesty and truthfulness were honored by the LORD as revealed in verses 19-20: As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD.

The next call narrative is found in John’s Gospel and is the call of Philip and Nathanael. As Jesus was walking to Galilee he found Philip and asked him to “follow me.” Philip immediately had to go tell Nathaniel all about it. We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth. (John 1:45) Philip’s excitement must have been somewhat dampened by Nathanael’s less than exciting reply. Really? Can anything good come out of Nazareth? When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” (John 1:47) Both of the calls have a deeper connection. Samuel was trustworthy and truthful while Jesus said that Nathanael had no deceit in him. Central to the call of both Samuel and Nathanael is being truthful. Having that sort of integrity should be a part of any call to serve the Lord.

When God called the young college junior into ministry, he knew that he had been called to be a USAF Chaplain but had no idea where that call would take him. Have there been times when I have struggled with that call? Of course, there have been times where I have struggled. Now I find myself shepherding a flock through a global pandemic. Is it easy? Not at all. Is it easy for the congregations that I have served during the pandemic? Not at all. I have tried to be honest and loving with those whom I have walked alongside of through the years. Does it always happen? No. But I am not going out on my own in this call to serve. It’s not Michael’s message, it is the Lord’s message that I try to live out in my own life and ministry. Through it all by God’s grace I have been able to respond again and again, Here I am, Lord.

During these turbulent times, God is calling us to be a witness to the love, justice, and mercy of God. Christ-followers are being called to share the truth about love, justice, mercy, and peace to a broken and hurting world. With so much mis-information and deceit out there, we are called to share the truth of God’s call to be that witness in these uncertain and difficult times. We are being called, sisters and brothers. The time is now… how do you or will you respond to that call of the Lord? Will your response also be Here I am, Lord?

Pace e Bene – 16 January 2021

Picture and quote courtesy of Pace e Bene.

“Until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes –
Until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all, without regard to race –
Until that day, the dream of lasting peace, world citizenship, and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never attained.
But we know we shall win as we are confident in the victory of good over evil.” — Bob Marley

Evening Prayer – 15 January 2021

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Thank you Lord for a day of study and reflection

Thank you for the wonder of your creation

Thank you for your call to Be Still

As the night beckons us to sleep

May your Spirit surround us with your love

And 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…

The Truth that Sets Us Free — Jake Owensby

“Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable.” This is Richard Rohr’s amplification of Jesus’s famous teaching: the truth will set you free. (Falling Upward, p. 74; John 8:32)

What I take Rohr—and more basically Jesus—to be saying is something like this. Truth liberates us from the confines of a narrow heart and a misguided mind. And before we are able to feel the relief of new-found freedom, we will experience the disorientation and anxiety of letting go of our habitual way of making sense of things… read more at https://jakeowensby.com/2021/01/15/the-truth-that-sets-us-free/

Evening Prayer – 14 January 2021

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Today has been a day filled with opportunities

Opportunities to support and encourage

Opportunities for sharing and reflection

Opportunities to learn and be challenged

Opportunities to support and encourage Social Justice

Especially this night, I am thankful to be with my sweetheart and partner in live, love, and ministry

Yes, I am also thankful for our sweet puppy

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 – 13 January 2021

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

Today has been a challenging day, Lord

It has been a time of deep reflection

It has been a time to seek Spirit’s presence

It has been a time to simply Be Still

Through it all, you have guided me

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…