Thursday, October 29, 2020

Knit Together By God

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Give us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living, that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. (All Saint's Day BCP 245)

It is a good time of year for knitting. The days and nights are cooler, making us all desire warm, comfy, cozy things. Knitting is not only creative, it creates something warm and comfy as well. However, if you think about knitting from the perspective of the yarn, it is a strange twisting and entangling process through which the whole, the end goal, cannot be seen. 

The Collect for this coming Sunday starts by acknowledging that God has knit all of us together in community in Christ. As the people being knit together, we are like the yarn, enduring a strange twisting and entangling process with all those around us, not always able to see God's end goal. What does the full communion, the full body of Christ, look like? Is our community comfy and cozy, as most knitting usually ends up? We cannot know. We don't always enjoy the process of being knit together, but our commitment to following Jesus keeps us prayerfully being knit together into God's handiwork.

Thankfully, we know as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 139:13-14 "For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well." We can trust in God's knitting skills. We may not always be happy with the twists and turns our community takes, but we know God's knitting will create something wonderfully made. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dangerous Prayers

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 25 BCP 235)

Every prayer we pray is in some ways dangerous. Prayer always changes the world. Prayer changes the pray-er, the pray-ee, and the situation, even if we do not realize it. In that way, every time we pray, we are changing the world. For those fighting for the status quo, all our prayers are dangerous. This coming Sunday we will pray for God to increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity. These are especially dangerous gifts in the power structure of the world, because every act of faith, hope, or charity changes the world and realigns its trajectory towards God's justice.

Attached to the newsletter today you will find a PDF of a novena, a set of prayers for nine days, leading up to Election Day. I ask that you print it off, save it electronically, or however else you'd like to bookmark it and participate. Starting Tuesday, pray for our country and our upcoming Election. Pray for the good of all people, for the gifts of faith, hope, and charity to increase in our own hearts and in the hearts of those throughout the country. Help move the world closer to God's justice and kingdom through your dangerous world-changing prayers. Come, let us pray together. 

For those reading this post, the links are here: 

https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/pressreleases/new-prayer-initiative-offered-in-advance-of-elections-in-the-united-states/

https://www.forwardmovement.org/Pages/Item/15381/Season-of-Prayer.aspx

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Beyond our Backyard

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 24 BCP 235)

One good thing that national and global disasters do is draw our attention away from our own little corner of community. Especially in this day and age, we have a tendency to focus only on our own situations and our own personal community. We forget the great wide world of creation and all the things going on other places, including all the other people striving for a good life. 

When we start looking beyond our own backyards, we can see the wondrous miracle of diversity throughout the world. People live in so many different ways, work in so many different environments, and prioritize different aspects of life. Usually when we see others' ways of life, we can start to appreciate more aspects of our own life and the gifts we have been blessed with. Certainly, as the world is right now, even here in Franklin, we are richer and given more blessings than most in the rest of the world. 

We will pray this coming Sunday in the Collect above and the Prayers of the People for the rest of the world. In doing so, we are reminded of the diversity God has created and our responsibility in caring for those we have never met. God is working for the good of all people, not just the people here or the people we love. Sometimes without the bigger picture, we cannot hope to understand what God is doing. Thankfully we know God is at work all around our global community.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Bubble Wrap of Grace

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Proper 23 BCP 234)

I wrote the other day on Facebook that life the last six months has been like running in the dark. For most of us, going for a run is always a challenge, but attempting to run in the dark, either early in the morning as I do or late at night, has its own particular challenges. The biggest challenge is that it is hard to see where you're going and if the ground is safe and even. Running in the dark can feel very treacherous, and many of us have had such feelings about our lives right now. Moving forward each day is treacherous. We don't know what is coming and we don't know where the ground is. 

Thankfully, in the Collect for this coming Sunday, we pray for God's grace to always precede and follow us. Basically, we are asking for God to bubble wrap us in grace, so that as the day goes along, anything treacherous we fall into will be changed by God's grace. God is encircling us with love and mercy, and when we remember this in our daily lives, the world doesn't seem so treacherous. We know that God will be with us and protect us every step of the way. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Power of Mercy

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 21 BCP 234)

God shows God's almighty and amazing power chiefly in showing MERCY. The greatest way we know about God's power is through MERCY. Mercy, what so many leaders and politicians have cited as weakness, God uses to show great power. 

The world would be a very different place if we all followed in God's image and showed our power through showing mercy towards others. Mercy has never been a trademark value in the United States. Throughout the centuries we have shown what little power we have through war, bullying, threatening, and genocide. Politicians and leaders love to claim we are, or perhaps were, a Christian nation, yet, in looking at our history, over and over again, we fail to show mercy.

My friends, please pray for mercy. Mercy on our nation, mercy on us as people, mercy on the victims of our country's long held hatred. Pray for mercy for those who are struggling right now and pray, pray without ceasing, that you can show God's almighty power through showing mercy towards those around you. We all could use God's great mercy right now.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Holding Onto God

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 20 BCP 234)

Everyday things change. This is true all the time, but seems especially true this year. Every day things have changed. New rules, new garments, new ways of meeting, new ways of shopping. Every day we open the news, the newspaper, our social media sites and learn of more changes in our society and lives. We definitely live in a world in which things are passing by, sometimes faster than we can keep up with!

Thankfully, as fast as this world passes by, we know in God there are many things which endure forever. God's love for us and God's mercy are never ending. We can hold on to these no matter what else passes by too quickly. When we make God's heavenly things our priorities in life, we start to live into God's eternal life promised to us by Jesus. Grounding ourselves in the promise of eternal life, we are able to suffer "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" with God's grace.

Changing our priorities to align with God's is another change in our lives. However, once we have made that change, the changes, chances, and cheats of earthly things do not impact us as much. We are grounded in God's heart and life. God's love and grounding gives us the assurance to pass through all earthly changes with God's grace. With God as our rock and salvation, we can endure. 


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Follow God's Heart

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Proper 19 BCP 233)

Through social media we see a lot of inspirational quotes about following your heart, trusting your heart, and listening to your own heart. In many ways, these are well and good, we do need to learn to listen to ourselves in order to know ourselves and learn from our emotions. However, in other ways, I find these quotes require a grain of salt because if we don't have God in our hearts, following our hearts may lead us in the wrong direction.

Without God in our hearts, we may follow our hearts when they are listening to human values and not Godly values. Without God in our hearts, we may walk down a path we are not suited for. The Collect for this coming Sunday helps us to pray for God to guide and govern our hearts through the Holy Spirit. With God directing and ruling our hearts, then learning to listen to our hearts does help our lives. With God as our strength and guidance, we know we are on the path towards eternal life. 

This week, get in touch with your heart. Test your heart. Examine your heart and see if you are truly trusting and following God in your heart.  When you know that God is in your heart, you can follow it without reservation. God will guide you on the best way for you.