Quiet Time Redefined: a midweek Eucharist homily

imagesA little over two years ago I was slowly emerging out of survival mode.  I had my first child the previous year and life beyond diapers and nursing was starting to appear again.  While at the playground one morning, one of my dear friends bravely asked me the challenging question that had been plaguing me in my own consciousness for months postpartum:

What do you do for your quiet time?

Quiet time, that phrase I grew up with in my conservative, evangelical Christian home that stood for the time you set aside to spend with God through bible reading and prayer, to practice being in God’s presence.  I was honest with her and told her that “right now nothing much I’m just trying to survive motherhood, little sleep and working part time.” I asked her what she did. She told me about an app on her phone and we moved on in our conversation.  But I still felt the condemnation and weight of shame over not having a better status report.

If she had asked me pre-kid I would have had a glowing response but now all I had was “nothing much” and a healthy dose of guilt regarding my lack of quiet time.  I knew it was important and something that I should do as a “good” Christian, and that in fact by not doing it I was robbing myself of opportunities for God to minister to my weary heart.  Especially in the midst of such an important transition in my life- motherhood- and the new responsibilities that it entails.

I don’t think this shame over a lack of quiet time is limited to the experience of being a mother.  I’ve experienced this feeling before especially at other points of transition: when I started college, started into the working world, got married, climbed up the success ladder at work.  We are- as Erica put it beautifully several weeks ago- “in the midst” of many situations, seasons and demands on our time and energy.  How can we maintain a relationship with God when we are “in the midst” of so much with seemingly no time and a burden of shame from not living up to a Christian ideal?

After the conversation with my friend, I started attending a bible study and was challenged by a statement from the leader. She very honestly and candidly told our group of moms:

You are more in control of your time than you think you are.

I was incredulous. Doesn’t she realize how hard it is to do what I do and that I have no time? I’m lucky if I can get away by myself just to get a shower most days!   But then my heart softened and I realized her point. Yes my life is very full and sporadic at the moment. But I do still have a modicum of control.  I do still have time, even if it is very little, to give to something.  

I am encouraged afresh by the parable of the woman with the mite (Mark 12:41-44), or as it is in the ESV, the two small copper coins. Usually when I’ve heard this passage discussed it has to do with tithing but I think it can also be understood beyond monetary devotion to describe the offering of ourselves. The woman gave two mites which we are told were worth essentially nothing in that culture. We are also told that she is a poor widow, again, something that was worth essentially nothing in that culture.  And yet Jesus praises this picture of sacrifice and worship because this seemingly insignificant amount that she gave was all that she had to live on, all that she had to give for her seemingly insignificant life to exist.  And it was not worth nothing to her; it was costly and significant to her (2 Samuel 24:18:25).

The Lord knows how much time I have in my day. How I chose to squander it in escapism on my phone or by submerging myself in my part time job.  How I relish it with a nice shower or quality time with my husband and kids. How I choose to sleep rather than do the dishes not out of slothfulness but out of necessity. And He knows that when I choose to give him my seemingly insignificant block of fifteen minutes of undivided attention that maybe all I have to give that day. And it is costly to me.  And he loves it and rejoices in it.  The Lord sees the heart; my intentional gift matters, not because of the quantity or size of it, but because I am freely giving this costly gift and He wants to be with me.

The point I am trying to express is not the need to make time in and of itself, creating another legalistic check list for shame.  The point of carving out this time is to be with Jesus; talking to him, listening to him, just being with him.   Quiet time and devotions are terms that carry a lot of guilt and shame baggage because it has become a place of legalism in the Christian community.   Kristen Terry beautifully liberated many of us during the women’s retreat by encouraging us to consider changing the way we talk about spending time with God. She told us, simply and plainly, in the moments we spend with the Lord to:

Just allow God to love you

That’s all quiet time is supposed to be about anyway, not our achievement or failure of completing another check off our list.

May we not forget the intent of quiet time in the first place and confuse the execution of this discipline as the means of grace.  Quiet times are a tool to connect us with our loving God who wants to hear from you and speak to you.  I believe the Lord would look us in the face, look me in the face and simply say:

I just want to be with you, whatever that looks like right now, and love on you.

God knows our crazy lives. He knows how much time we actually do or do not have. He loves you and wants to be with you. Come to Him free from shame with whatever offering of time you may have to give and allow Him to love you in it.

~ Lauren L.

Need some time and space to spend some time with the Lord? Join us on Wednesday, April 19 at 7:30 p.m. for a time of silent, contemplative prayer.  Bring a Bible, journal, blanket/jacket and an expectant heart.  

 

Give Us this Bread Always: a midweek Eucharist reflection

Every Wednesday lunchtime this year we have been gathering in the sanctuary to celebrate the Eucharist. There are just two more – today and next Wednesday (04/12/2017), so if you haven’t been to one yet do think about coming! 12.15pm – 12.50pm in the Sanctuary. Meanwhile, here is Amy’s homily from last week ….

images

John 6:25-35

Today’s gospel reading is a conversation between Jesus and a crowd beside a lake. But to really enter into all that is happening here, we actually need to first back up a little bit to get some context.

If we rewind to the day before, we learn that Jesus started out right where he is now – on the other side of the Sea in Capernaum. We learn from Matthew’s gospel that while in Capernaum yesterday, he received the horrible news that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. Imagine how Jesus must have felt – lonely in his work of proclaiming the kingdom. Vulnerable to the whims of a violent ruler. And just really, really sad. And so Jesus decides he’s got to get out of here and find some solitude with God. He decides to cross the Sea of Galilee with his disciples, to go up a mountain that Matthew calls a “desolate place” – a landscape that matches his own emotional state.

So he does. He crosses the sea, he climbs the mountain, and he sits down rest in his Father’s presence. But as soon as he does, he looks down. And there below him are swarms of people, following him up, because they have heard that this man has the power to heal.

And of course Jesus knows that the people rapidly approaching them are hungry and that his disciples have no money to feed them and are getting nervous. And so he takes the bread and fish offered by a little boy and blesses it and breaks it and distributes it to every last person – thousands of them – and they sit in this desolate place and feast together. And the people are so amazed and satisfied that they want to make him king right then and there – but remember what Herod’s been up to? Clearly, that’s a bad idea. And so Jesus retreats even further up the mountain for a few moments of solitude.

That night, his disciples set out their boats to head back across the Sea of Galilee. (And oh, by the way, Jesus also walks out to them on the water in the midst of a storm. But that’s a story for another day.)

The next morning, Jesus and his disciples wake up on one side of the lake, back in Capernaum, while that crowd of thousands wakes up on the other. And they quickly realize that Jesus isn’t there, and neither is his boat. And they put two and two together and jump in their boats and row across the lake to find him. And that’s where our story picks up.

This context is important, because we need to know what kind of people are asking Jesus questions in today’s passage. These are people who have climbed a mountain and crossed the sea just to be with Jesus. And these are people who have already feasted on his miraculous provision of bread. Everything about these people’s actions suggests that they are hungry in their souls. But for what?

Well, leave it to Jesus to find out, and not in a terribly gentle way. He chastises them for following him. He’s suspicious. He says, “I know what you’re after. You just want some more of that free bread. Well free bread’s never going to satisfy you. You’re wasting your effort working for something that’s just going to leave you empty.” But they don’t just shrug their shoulders and disperse. They persist. They press in. They show that maybe they’re not just looking for a free lunch after all. They say, “Okay, Jesus; if we’re working for the wrong thing, then tell us what to work for instead. What is the work of God and how can we do it?”

And then Jesus tells them that the work of God isn’t really work at all: it’s believing. It’s trusting him with our hunger. What is the work of God? It’s showing up hungry, and believing he alone can feed us.

But the crowd doesn’t really get it yet. They press in again. They ask: “Okay. But if that’s our ‘work’, then who’s going to, you know, actually do the work? What’s your work, Jesus? How are you going to prove to us that you’re really working for us? That we can trust you with our hunger? Are you going to give us manna, like Moses did?”

And Jesus patiently corrects them. He reminds them that it was never Moses who gave their ancestors manna, it was God himself. He reminds them that for 40 years God fed their ancestors every day, while they didn’t plant or water or harvest, while their only work was to show up hungry every morning and receive from the hand of God. And Jesus goes on to tell them that this bread of heaven, this manna, is in their midst again. It’s him!

And then the crowd says one of my favorite sentences in the bible: “Give us this bread always.” We actually prayed this recently in the collect on the 4th Sunday in Lent: “Evermore give us this bread.” It’s a request that feels so demanding, so desperate, so hungry; it feels like something a child would say.

Remember that these are people who have already eaten miracle bread from his hands. And these are people who have climbed a mountain and crossed a sea because they are hungry and hope Jesus can feed them. So when Jesus tells them he is the bread of life, they know what it’s like to be hungry, and to they know how good it feels to be fed. They can say to one another, “Remember those barley loaves that we ate together yesterday? When we were hungry and penniless and so desperate for healing that we climbed a mountain to be with a stranger? Remember that mysterious bread that was more than enough, that tasted so good when we needed it most?”

Jesus is like that bread. Except that Jesus will satisfy them not just for an afternoon, but forever.

And just like this crowd, we are also people who have already feasted on this miraculous bread. The bread of life has already come down from heaven, blessed by God in the person of Jesus. It has already been broken on the cross and given to us to feed our deepest hunger and give us life forever. We have already feasted on God’s provision for us in the desolate place of our own sin and brokenness.

And so what is the work of God for us today? It’s showing up hungry. It’s trusting this bread with our deepest hunger. It’s saying no to all the empty filler calories that tempt us – stuff like financial security and control and affirmation – that temporarily takes the edge off our appetite but ultimately leaves us empty. Instead, we can show up hungry and receive this bread of life: blessed, broken, and given for us, again and again, forever.

“Give us this bread always.”

Father, thank you that you are our bread of life. You are barley loaves in a desolate place, and you are manna in the wilderness. Show us where we have been numbing our hunger with food that does not satisfy. Help us to show up hungry and to feast on your life-giving provision. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Father, we pray for our world, that your wisdom would guide all our leaders, and that your Spirit would move powerfully to bring peace and healing in places of poverty, conflict, disaster, and pain. We pray particularly for refugees fleeing Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, and other places of great suffering – people who are quite literally hungry in desolate places and wandering in the desert. Strengthen and uphold and protect them on their journey. Generously provide for their hunger and thirst. Settle them in places of safety and abundance. And stir our hearts to see and care and pray and act on their behalf. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

~Amy Rowe

Exiles, Come Home: a midweek homily

Two weeks ago David Griffin spoke on Isaiah 54:1-10 at our mid-week eucharist

3e0df650cae2e3e43e827b925f578a0a

It is not for nothing that book of Isaiah has earned the nickname “The Fifth Gospel.” Although it begins with warnings of judgment, the book concludes with some of the most encouraging promises of redemption that we find in the Old Testament. Indeed, our passage today is the Servant Song that comes right after the famous suffering servant of chapter 53; chapter 54 is the message of hope after the servant’s great suffering in the last chapter. That message is: God remembers his promises, so he wants you who are exiles and strangers to him to come home and dwell with him.

From chapter 40 on, Isaiah is addressing the exiled people of Judah. Because of Judah’s chasing after other gods and failure to do justice to the oppressed, God allowed the Babylonian armies to conquer his chosen people. As a result, the enemy deported a large chunk of Judah’s population to live in Babylon. All that to say, the nation of Judah finds itself trapped in a foreign land, longing for the land that God had promised to his people. They’re wondering: has God forgotten us? Can we really worship God outside of Jerusalem, the holy city where his Temple was destroyed?

Then, after the Persians take over, King Cyrus announces that all exiles can return to their foreign lands. From Chapter 40 onward, Isaiah exclaims: don’t despair! This is really happening! Don’t feel defeated and helpless, for the Lord is restoring your fortunes! Come home, all you exiles, strangers in a foreign land, displaced by war!

The imagery used here is stunning. The people of Judah in exile are compared to a barren woman, for God’s people has been reduced to a remnant of what they once were. But in just a little while the barren woman (Judah) will soon have children in abundance. You’re going to need a much bigger tent for all the kids you’ll be having!

Don’t be afraid, says Isaiah, who then compares Judah to a divorced woman, covered in shame and feeling abandoned. My absence was only temporary, says the Lord God. I am your husband, and I will always keep my vows. My momentary anger is nothing compared to my everlasting love for you! And I swear from this day forth that it will never happen again. Come home to me!

Our reading from Galatians today quotes this passage, but Paul creatively applies it now to Jesus. In the New Testament, of course, Jesus is the Suffering Servant, Israel in exile. So Paul connects the barren one to Sarah to suggest that the church fulfills the many children promised in Isaiah and, spiritually speaking, the children of the promise God made to Sarah. And because God’s people are his children by promise, they are not his children by virtue of doing the works of the law. No, they inherit the promise by faith in Jesus, in whom all God’s promises are made good. So now God’s family can encompass all the nations of the earth, and not just ethnic Israel.

And so, Isaiah speaks to us here by way of Jesus. And the overall message is: you who are far off, estranged from God and his family, the door is wide open! Come home from your exile away from the Lord Jesus, your husband, redeemer, and friend.

And for those of us already a part of God’s church, God always commands those who used to be strangers, foreigners, aliens, to welcome those who are currently displaced and estranged from their homeland—and not just spiritually, but concretely. We have a warning from Isaiah, for Israel was originally sent into exile for failing to do justice to foreigners, the homeless, the oppressed. So let us open our arms wide to displaced people from among the nations, as visible testimony to what Jesus has done for us.

Let us now lift up our prayers to God after a moment of silence.

O God and Father of all, who sent your Son to preach good news to those who are far off and those who are near:

Seek us out in those moments of loneliness and despair. When we are feeling alienated from you or from other people, let the prophet’s words dwell in us richly, to remind us that our apparent exile has come to an end, though we may not see how that may be now. We thank you and praise you for being our faithful husband, our holy redeemer, and our friend who has sworn everlasting love toward us.

Lord, in your mercy…. Hear our prayer

Let us stretch out the tent of our church, so that people from all over North Arlington, and from the world over, my find their home. Bless our missions in West Asia, Bolivia, and Cambodia; refresh the workers there, give justice to the poor there, and may your saving Gospel be preached to all in those places who haven’t heard it. We pray you also bless our upcoming church plants, so that the stranger doesn’t need to come, but home may to go to the stranger.

Lord, in your mercy…. Hear our prayer.

Finally, Lord, open our hears to those who are exiles and refugees in the most concrete sense of those words. Remind us of your great love for us, so that we may be moved to great compassion for the suffering stranger. Guide your church in all wisdom and mercy so that she may speak up for the outsider with the words of comfort like those you speak to your people through your prophets and apostles.

Lord, in your mercy… Hear our prayer

~ David Griffin

54 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord, your Redeemer.

“This is like the days of Noah[a] to me:
as I swore that the waters of Noah
should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

 

Kept “in the midst of it” – the homily from last Wednesday’s Eucharist

Behold

Readings: Psalm 121; Isa. 49:1-7; Gal 2:15-21; Mark 6:13-29

Today* marks the 6th day of the new administration under Trump. It is the second day of the annual audit at my office.And we’re in the midst of the sometimes dreary days of midwinter; although, today offers a welcome (warm and bright) reprieve.

As we begin let’s first pause to take in the scene, a panorama of your landscape: what day is today…for you? What are you “in the midst of”? Where are your relationships feeling the squeeze? What pressures are you navigating at work or at home? Perhaps your 3 weeks into sleepless nights with a baby or 3 days into potty-training a toddler. You may need to call the plumber because of a shower leak (which just happened to me this morning). Or you’re facing a big deadline or meeting. On the other hand, maybe you’re having a day of reprieve and your face is turned toward the warmth of the sunshine.

Take a moment.  Steady.  *  Scan the landscape.  *  Click.  *  Take a snapshot in your mind’s eye.

It is “in the midst of it” –from that landscape– that the steady-ing hand of the Lord keeps us! Let’s join the Psalmist to notice God’s keeping power at work.

The writer of Psalm 121 captures these promises. We are kept people–no matter the circumstances or uncertainties; no matter what day it is. Six times the Psalmist speaks of the Lord’s keeping power.

He keeps us from being struck by the sun or the moon—by those things totally outside our control. We can’t control the power of the sun (though we might try with sunblock) or the pull of the moon on our tides. Those pressures that abound in our worlds, but cannot be managed by good habits or positive thinking or even brilliant resistance or protesting. There are so many things out of our control. Our good Father steadies not only our environment, but our hearts–our very life.

He is the Keeper. It’s the title given to the Lord in the psalm. He has the power to do it, to keep us from faltering in our faith. And God does it very well—even through the night—He hides us. In those places where our energy is spent and we have nothing left, where our best ideas have run out, where we’re sick, and at the end of the day, when we’re tired.

He also keeps us in the places where we have great hope and expectation for the future. In places of joy, we still need our good Father’s keeping power, to guard our hearts and minds. So, our appetites and attentions don’t wander. So, our orientation remains one of trust and submission to the wisdom of the Spirit and obedience to God’s good laws. He keeps us from ALL evil.

To help us understand our sense of this word “keep,” I took a peek at the etymology of the word (as any former English Major worth their salt would do). Interestingly, keep was also used as a noun in the middle ages, referring to the innermost stronghold or central tower of a castle.” This calls to mind a sense of protection, preservation, and provision for our hearts and minds–our most vulnerable places. This “inner keeping” orients us, so we can lift our eyes to the hills, that secure spot, where our help comes from…

It’s in these days here, at the beginning of 2017, “in the midst of it”, when we face very real places of chagrin and uncertainty. And yet Christ… We are kept, established, held secure through Christ. God the Father, in His great promises to Israel, foretold of his keeping of Christ, who in His resurrection, demonstrated that even with the destruction of our bodies—John’s head on a platter—our hope would not be at an end. We are kept for eternal life…Isaiah’s prophecy continues from the end of our reading to speak of Israel’s restoration:

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land…”
Isaiah 46:8

We are in that day of salvation now. Christ has been given to us. He has given a new convent to those who fear God. He is both our strength and our song. He is our keeper.

In our liturgy, one of the blessings we receive after corporate confession, our priest says:

Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in
eternal life. Amen.

Indeed, may he strengthen and keep us by His tender mercies today and always…

Invitation to pray:

Father God, we need your safe keeping. As your children, fear of what we face can taunt our hearts. But you are our steadfast help to keep our feet firm.

As we lift our eyes, we look to you, the one who made the heaven and the earth. Help us. Keep us. Steady our stance. Turn your face towards us.  May we experience your covering and keeping power “in the midst.”

Keep those suffering and in need of your healing touch.

Keep those in need of your protection and wisdom.

Keep us from all evil. Keep our life—hidden with Christ in God.

~ Erica Chapman

*Homily: 7/37 

The Origin of “Good Soil” – A Midday Eucharist Homily

09-deathvalley-020x1

“give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:38  (Image: Death Valley National Park)

In Mark 4, we encounter Jesus telling the parable of a sower who scattered seed that fell in four different locations.  Three of the locations were not suitable and resulted in the seeds being eaten by scavengers, dying under the harsh conditions or being choked out by surrounding weeds.  However, the fourth location was just right and eventually bore immeasurable returns.

When we hear this parable we quickly surmise that some of the seeds most have fallen into three conditions that they really should have never gone. At first glance, it appears that Jesus is saying, if you see any of these conditions we should walk away from them and there is no point in engaging it.  Even the English translation of the word scatter means to throw in various random directions.  This adds to the thought that the seeds that landed on the barren land seemed to have been truly distributed there accidentally.  After all, what good sower would plant seeds in such conditions on purpose?

I invite you to consider something about the God that created you all the way to the very cells that divided to bring your first heartbeat.   A God who fashioned that heartbeat out of good soil when he breathed first breath into Adam.  I invite you to consider a God who before he made Adam created the soil that Adam was made of.

Soil is made of rocks

The very rocks that Jesus says is not suitable to plant seeds in. Soil is made from a ground that was once shallow and unable to sustain, for very long, the life of things that sprouted up. Yet over time, the wind and elements continued to beat at the rocks and yielded the perfect mixture that eventually turned those rocks into clay.

Soil is made of clay

The very clay that Jesus said seeds landed on, sprouted up and quickly died because the soil was not good.  Clay is a place where shallow rooted plants like weeds and thorns thrive and choke out all other life that require deeper roots. Yet over time, the essence of these weeds and of their victims, became nutrients that continued to break away at the rock and the clay to yield the perfect mixture that eventually turned that clay into good soil.

Good soil is…

…humus-rich, nutrient filled organic matter where biological activity is at its highest.  A soil that is now capable of sustaining, growing and nurturing life.  Good soil exists because the clay existed and the clay exists because the rock existed and the rock exists because there was once a mountain that seemed immovable and impenetrable; yet over time it gave in to the will of time and elements by breaking down into rocks and pebbles.

Some of you opened your eyes at birth and discovered you were a seed that was “scattered” onto rocky soil or even on a mountain top.  You may have been born ill, born into a messy family situation, inherited the difficulties associated with a certain race or class, or you were simply born with certain attractions and addictions that made navigating life harder.

Others woke up one day and discovered that they were a seed “scattered” onto firm ground but that ground turned into clay.  You thought you had a hold on that addiction, on your anger, on your finances or on your personal bigotries but they kept rising up and choking the life out of you and your relationships.

You may look at all of that, hear Jesus’ parable and believe for some reason that you are lost or that there is no good that can come of what you do because of the circumstances you find yourself trying to thrive in.

I invite you to consider a God who used the mountains that would overshadow us, the rocks that would destroy us and the clay that would choke out our potential and created from their ashes and dust the foundation of sustainable and exponential growth and life.

 

The Lord is your keeper;

the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life. 

The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121)

Good soil takes so much to create.  It takes so much breaking, refining, decomposing and pressing together. As Jesus says in Luke 6:38, “A Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap.”  God challenges and breaks us every day.  He refines and decomposes parts of us every day.    That rocky soil that you are standing in will break down into powder. Those thorns that are choking your life and relationships will decompose. Your God will use the rocks and thorns of our hearts and circumstances to make us into good soil.  He will re-make us into what we were originally made from.

I invite you to pray this prayer

Heavenly father, I want to be good soil.  I invite you to break apart the rocks.  The rocks I throw at myself and the rocks I am tempted to pick up and throw at others. Break the rocks into dust Lord.  Take the places that are causing me deep hurt, deep loss and spiritual death and turn them into the stuff of life, growth and expanse.

Break apart the binds of addiction
Dull the glimmer of fame, fortune and prestige
Break apart my pride, my entitlements and my ego
Press me down lord and shake me up until I am running over in your love
A love that gives life.

Lord I want to be good soil.

Amen

Election Prayer: part 3

13-14-5-20-18-0-2mPlease join us tonight at 7:30pm in the sanctuary for a special Eucharist service for Election Day.

As we prepare to cast our ballots, let us join together in praying the prayer below.

Holy God, at the dawn of time you fashioned the world and set it on its course. In the fullness of time your Son took flesh and sowed the seeds of a new order, and day by day your Spirit works to bring to birth mercy, justice and peace.

We give you thanks for the United States. In this Spirit we pray for our land and all its people as the nation prepares to elect a new President, Senators and Representatives.

We pray for the women and men who have offered themselves as candidates for public office. May those who are elected set their hearts always on honorable service and the common good.

We pray for the citizens of this much-blessed country, that they may take up their responsibility to vote with wisdom and freedom, and choose what is best for the whole community.

Loving God, to listen to your Son is to be moved to speak up for the unseen and unheard. Give us hearts to heed your Word and mouths to declare your truth. We pray that after the election, Christians will continue to be a voice for the voiceless.

Bless all who are elected to serve the nation; may the wisdom and courage of the Holy Spirit guide them to govern for the good of all.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen

~Katie

Election Prayer: part 2

eucharist_by_okamihi

On Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30pm, we will hold a special Eucharist service for Election Day. A number of churches around the country are holding prayer vigils and services and we’ve invited our sister churches to join us for this service.

In preparation for our time together, please join us in praying this prayer below this week.

Merciful and loving God, as we prepare for the upcoming election, send the light of your Holy Spirit into the hearts of all in our nation. Bring peace and hope wherever there is confusion, discord and apathy. Awaken in us a strong desire to work for the common good of all peoples, especially for the most vulnerable in our world. Enable us to differ and to dialogue with reverence and respect for one another. Pour out on us a spirit of wisdom and discernment to help us choose government officials who will lead our country in the path of truth, justice and peace. We ask this in the name of the Risen Christ, who is always with us. Amen

~Katie

Election Prayer: part 1

  • holy-eucharist-catholicism-133989_482_493

On Tuesday, November 8 at 7:30pm, we will hold a special Eucharist service  at Restoration for Election Day. A number of churches around the country are holding prayer vigils and services and we’ve invited our sister churches to join us for this service.

No matter what your political leanings, praying for our nation and our leaders is something we are all called to do (1 Tim 2:1-2).  And on a day when we will name some people winners and others losers, when the pull toward power will be felt especially strongly, it is good to come together in common submission and supplication to God, to remind ourselves that He is God and we are not, and to ask for His wisdom and guidance for our leaders — whoever they may be.

In preparation for our time together, we’ll be posting a prayer for our country and the election each Tuesday between now and Election Day. We invite your prayers for our country.

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly entreat you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many kindred and tongues. Empower with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, do not allow our trust in you to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~Katie

The leaves of the tree….


All shall be well
And so our good Lord answered
to all the questions and doubts
that I might make,
saying comfortingly:
I make all things well,
I can make all things well,
I will make all things well,
and I shall make all things well;
and thou shall see thyself
that all manner of things shall be well.

Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

IMG_6401Last night at our semi-regular midweek healing eucharist, we gathered around the Lord’s table to worship our Savior, to pray for healing for ourselves and others, and to share in communion.

Amy told us the story of Ivan the Terrible …a sad story of a neglected child, a bereaved young husband leading to a devastating legacy of violence and evil. She then drew us into the story of Rev 21-22: where the tree of life stands in a river in the middle of the heavenly Jerusalem with its leaves which bring healing to the nations.

We prayed for our own needs, and for the needs of those we know and love, for our community and for this nation. We prayed for Orlando: for the victims, first-responders, police, journalists, neighbors and more… for people, places and situations where we long to see healing. We prayed that the Lord would staunch the wounds in that city and in that community with the leaves from the tree. That the evil actions of one would not lead to a stream of evil, but with gratitude for the actions of the son of man upon the cross which leads to a river of life where all can come to be healed.

And we wrote on our own leaves: the areas where we long for healing personally, and globally. And after we had taken communion, and received anointing we hung our leaves on a golden tree… symbolically pointing to our good Father who hears our cries and answers them.

The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Rev. 22:2b

gold-leaf

Matt led us in sung worship as we called out to God for his merciful touch and then we prayed–I believe God heard and answered our prayers. We recognize that we are all mid-chapter in our stories. God is at work in and with each one of us: restoring and making new, growing our characters, forming us to look more like him. We are so grateful that restoration is on his agenda.

It was in some ways a somber evening as we confronted evil and mourned the places of hurt and pain that we are facing, but it was also a glorious evening as we rejoiced in God’s victory over sin and death; his sacrifice which leads to ultimate healing; his offer to staunch the wounds of our sin; his promise to make all things whole again.

I do hope you can join us at the next midweek healing eucharists: Sept 6, 7.30pm and then on Nov 8, 7.30pm when we will pray for the election.

~Liz Gray

 

The Prayer of Faith Will Save the One Who Is Sick

Do I pray for healing?800px-Κοινωνικόν_του_Πάσχα_-_«Σῶμα_Χριστοῦ_μεταλάβετε»

If you’ve been a Christian for long enough, you’ve likely posed this question in your heart when you or a loved one has suffered physically, mentally, or spiritually. Sure, in the abstract everything is possible with God.  But at some point, hope bleeds into delusion, doesn’t it?

It’s not always easy to swallow the line from scripture: confess and pray, that you may be healed (James 5:16).  Yes, James encourages us, you should pray for healing.

As a lifelong Christian, I know that there’s never a situation when it’s wrong to pray. But when prayer seems like asking God to violate the limits of the possible, it can feel distasteful, even soul-wrenching.

What is hope?

This question is raised quite powerfully in the deeply moving When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir by Paul Kalanithi (Random House, 2016) about finding life’s meaning as a young neurosurgeon dying from metastatic lung cancer:

The word “hope” first appeared in English about a thousand years ago, denoting some combination of confidence and desire. But what I desired, life, was not what I was confident about, death. When I talked about hope then, did I really mean “leave some room for unfounded desire?” No… So did I mean “leave some room for a statistically improbable but still plausible outcome—a survival just above the measured 95 percent confidence interval?” Was that what hope was?… It occurred to me that my relationship with statistics changed when I became one…. The angst of facing mortality has no remedy in probability.

Indeed, if a change in circumstances is the object of our hopes, then we may well fall victim to delusion, or search in vain for solace in the numbers. Christians of all people should be realists.

But if pain, disease, and death are certainties of this life, the Christian also has the certainty of resurrection, the restoration of all creation. God raised Jesus from the dead. So now, the clock of history ticking until Jesus’ final victory over suffering and death.

And occasionally, God reverses the ordinary flow of time by letting the resurrection life of the future break into this present world of pain, disease, and death. When we entreat God to heal us or our loved ones, we ask Him for no less than this, to give us a brief taste of life in the world to come by physically healing our bodies and minds right now.

The Lord will raise you up

I take this to be the lesson of James 5:15-16:

The prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

It sounds like James is promising far more than he can deliver: guaranteed healing. But if we look closely, his language is open-ended, giving us grounds for hope but not presumption. “The prayer of faith will save…the Lord will raise him up.” That is indeed a guarantee. But does James mean that a sick person, prayed over in faith, will be saved and raised up at the end of all things, at the resurrection, so she should fear neither death nor adversity in life? Or does James mean to extend hope for concrete healing in this life? I have a feeling he’d reply to the either/or with a hearty “yes!”

Come to the Healing Eucharist Service

We will be gathering here at Restoration Anglican Church on Tuesday (March 1) at 7:30 pm for a Healing Eucharist liturgy. All are invited to lay hold of this hope for healing—that God would give us an advance on the resurrection life by restoring us now to physical, mental, and spiritual health.  The Eucharist itself is an image of this hope. We physically eat bread and drink wine, and by faith we share not only in the grace the crucified Christ won for us in the past, but also the future grace of the resurrection of our bodies.

~David Griffin

Page 1 of 212
© Copyright Restoration Anglican Church