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The Challenge of Amos – John Valters Paintner

“The prophets understood where evil comes from and the suffering to which it leads. The challenge of Amos for us today is twofold: being honest in placing ourselves in the role of his audience in admitting our transgressions, and finding a more positive way to express our righteous anger when confronting evil in the world.”

 John Valters Paintner, MTS, The Online, Self-Study Retreat ~ Exile and Coming Home: An Archetypal Journey through the Scriptures 

Peace – A Reflection

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Today has been one of those days…

It was a time of worship and preaching…

Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both very present…

I find myself in a church, community, nation and world filled with turmoil…

Your presence and guidance were sought, Lord…

Did you know that this nation has only known peace for seventeen out of the two-hundred-twenty-four years it has been in existence?

How much more horrific can this legacy of a nation and world be!

Thomas Merton had the following to say about the lack of peace in this nation: We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. had the following say about the Vietnam War which both he and Thomas Merton spoke against: It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence… “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind,” and the best way to start is to put an end to war in Vietnam, because if it continues, we will inevitably come to the point of confronting China which could lead the whole world to nuclear annihilation.

These two prophets for peace spoke these words in the late 1950’s and the 1960’s. They both died in 1968… mere months apart. Merton had envisioned a retreat with Dr King to pray and to discuss matters of faith and the world. It was supposed to happen in April of 1968. Tragically, Dr King was cut down by an assassin’s bullet on April 4th and Thomas Merton died on December 10th. The two never had the opportunity to meet together or work together. Yet in the forty-plus years since their deaths, they have inspired so many to work for peace, including your Padre.

As the National Holiday to remember Dr King and his work commences tomorrow morning Denise and I plan on being a part of a march and teach-in down in Fort Collins. George Santayana once said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We as a nation and world MUST learn from our horrific past and, by the grace of God, change our course before our global and corporate sin destroys us. In order to do so, we must work for justice and peace. In the words of Dr King, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Dear reader, may we be a part of that work to bend the arc towards justice!

 

 

 

Sermon – Sharing the Good News! – 19 January 2020

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We had a dear friend staying with us this past week after she led a wonderful workshop in Broomfield this past Sunday. The workshop focused on The Gift of Wonder in our lives. That is also the title of Christine’s latest book. As we walked along Sprague Lake (not all the way due to snow and ice) this image captured my imagination. I saw in that moment a sign of life and color in the midst of the cold and blowing snow. It reminded me of our faith response in sharing the good news of God’s love even in the midst of the darkness.

First Reading – Psalm 40:1-11

Second Reading – John 1:29-42

Sermon – Sharing the Good News!

Evening Prayer – 18 January 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

A long day of meetings and travel

While days like today can be challenging

Time spent with my sweetheart is always a blessing

I am so thankful for her love and partnership in ministry

Lord give us rest and refreshment

Prepare us for the morrow

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…

A Calling and a Vocation

I have been thinking a lot today about vocations. In part as I prepare for tomorrow’s sermon I was thinking about the call of the disciples to follow Jesus. What were they called to be and to do? They were called to be witnesses to the Jesus’s message of grace and his upside down economy of love for those whom society ignored.

Thomas Merton often struggled with his calling to the silent cloister of the monastery. He often struggled with his calling to be a writer. As much as he wrote, I can sense at times his unease with the publicity and notoriety it garnered for him.

The picture above is from a quiet meadow on Old Fall River Road in the Rocky Mountain National Park. We love to spend time in the quiet and the solitude of that special place. At times though, it is far from quiet with the crowds who come to visit. Wasn’t it also the same for Merton? He had his sacred hermitage at Our Lady of Gethsemane Monastery in Kentucky. Yet this space was often violated by “fans” who just had to see him and didn’t respect the boundaries that any Monk of Gethsemane would have. The picture below is from the museum at the Monastery. It is a beautiful picture of his Hermitage in the winter.

As I reflect on these two pictures, I consider my own vocation and the need for solitude that Denise and I both require as we seek to serve the Lord. Such space is a crucial part of our own Vocational calling and our need for rest and refreshment. As I sat with these pictures and with Merton, his words about Vocation took on a deeper and richer meaning.

Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice “out there” calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice “in here” calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God. — Thomas Merton in his book, No Man is an Island.

May we find the time and the space, dear reader, to contemplate our own vocation and calling to serve the Lord.

Evening Prayer – 17 January 2020

The sun has set and the Vesper Lights flicker and glow

When I think of those whom I love

Walking with others through the Valley of the Shadows

When I consider the sacredness of our calling

When I think of the honor it is to walk with others

I pause and thank you Lord

I also ask for your continued strength

I ask for your continued presence

Lord guide us and sustain us as we serve

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…

Grief and Loss – A Reflection

Tonight a very dear friend and Sister in Christ is mourning.

The calling to be a pastor is Holy

The calling to be a pastor can be challenging

The calling to walk with parishioners through the Valley of the Shadows is heartbreaking

Yet it is also a sacred duty and honor

We hold her in our hearts and our prayers

We hold those she walks with in our hearts and our prayers

As I continue to walk with my mentor Thomas Merton

I consider how he responded to grief

He wrote an elegy for his brother, John Paul Merton who was reported Missing In Action in 1943 during World War 2

The loss of his brother hit him deeply

In these words he shared the depth of his grief

Sweet brother, if I do not sleep

My eyes are flowers for your tomb;

And if I cannot eat my bread,

My fasts shall live like willows where you died.

If in the heat I find no water for my thirst,

My thirst shall turn to springs for you, poor traveler…

Come, in my labor find a resting place And in my sorrow lay your head,

Or rather take my life and blood

And buy yourself a better bed–

Or take my breath and take my death And buy yourself a better rest.

As I lift my dear Sister, Colleague, and friend in prayer

I seek for each of us the consolation of our Lord’s love

Blessed are those who mourn he said… for they shall be comforted

Comfort and sustain us as we walk through the Valley of the Shadows

Lord, in your mercy, hear our humble prayer

Dona Nobis Pacem

Grant Us Peace