Thursday, April 30, 2015

Prayer 829

Loving One, thank you for bringing us safely through another night. We praise your light that arises in our hearts as the sun rises in the East. Let our mouth be filled with your praises and our hearts with joy for your mighty works. You have made us to love one another. We thank You for the miracle of the human heart: let us fill it with your compassion in thanksgiving for your grace. Let us fill our hearts with love, not fear, for we know that YOU are with us always. Spread your sheltering embrace over those for whom we pray this day. 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Prayer 828

Come into our hearts, Lord Christ, and make them your home, for you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help us to follow paths of righteousness and justice for your Name's sake. May we obey your commandments in each thought, and embody your ways in a world that does not know you through our own fault. May we love You with all of our being, and love each other in all of our actions. Make our hearts a hearth where your Spirit can burn, and animate us to do your will. And give your angels charge, we pray, over all those who are in any trouble or need.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Prayer 827

We rise from our night rest with your praise on our lips, O Holy One. Let us walk humbly and gently upon the earth, giving thanks for your glorious creation. Make our hearts a sanctuary for your never-failing Love, and turn our hands to bringing that Love to the world. Heal the divisions among us, uniting us in our common life together. We thank you for preserving us through the trials we encounter, for You are with us always. Send your Presence as a healing balm especially to these for whom we now pray.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Prayer 826

Merciful One, we lift up our hearts to the glory of your radiant love, and give praise that we dwell in your presence forever. Lord Jesus, in your ministry among us you were a healer: may we reach out to you now to heal us. Heal us of our anger and thirst for vengeance, remembering all the times we ourselves have received mercy. Heal our wounded spirits, that the pain of the past does not cripple us today. Heal our mourning hearts, as we remember those who have died and what they meant for us. Heal us of our distracted ways, that we may remember your mercy and dwell in your presence in each moment. O Guardian of Our Souls, seal us as your own forever, and renew and revive our strength through your compassion, especially for those we now pray.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Prayer 825- God, My Shepherd

Based on Psalm 23
Let me give thanks and praise to God,

my shepherd and provider,
who claims me and unfailingly loves me as God’s own. 
I lay all my trust at the feet of the Almighty,
Lover and Seeker of my soul. 

God leads me into verdant, abundant pastures
filled with all I need, and gives me rest and security. 
God restores and refreshes my soul,
tending and guarding my inmost being. 
My Shepherd sees my weariness, and lifts me up;
guiding me in right pathways,
that I bring honor to God’s Name. 

God, You shield me with your strength and vigilance;
may I always remain at your side. 
No matter what terrors or trials approach me,
I am not afraid 
for You, 
are with me, even if death overhangs me. 

O God, You provide for me plentifully and exalt me,
even as my enemies look on,
helpless to harm me. 
You have consecrated me
and blessed me abundantly,
and the cup of my blessings overflows
like a spring in the desert. 

O God, your promise to love me
envelops me in goodness and mercy,
following me as my companions throughout my life. 
I am secure in God’s arms,
and my home is with you forever,
even into eternity.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Prayer 823

Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son

Almighty and everliving God: we thank You for bringing us through the shadows and shoals of night and setting us safely upon the bright shore of this day. We stand in awe of your generous love, and offer You our worship, praise and honor. 

Holy One, we thank You for the everyday saints You have placed in our lives: parents, friends, guides, mentors, healers, confidants, and sages. We thank You for the compassion and generosity that knits us together, and pray that we grow deeper in your Wisdom. 

Make us devout tenders of the love that has been entrusted us, and may we add fuel to that holy fire in all we do, inspired by the Spirit. Guide us this day to be joyful servants of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, serving each other in constancy and tenderness. Pour out your blessing of healing and mercy over all who lift their hopes to You.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prayer for Earth Day

Barbados beach
Prayer for Earth Day

Loving Creator, Blessed Savior, Holy Spirit: 
we praise You 
and bless You for all your marvelous gifts, 
and sing your praises in joyful thanksgiving. 

We thank You for the wind that stirs
the prairie grasses and treetops, 
the breath of the Earth as she carries us through space. 

We thank You for the whispered prayer of pines 
and the trilled alleluias of forest-birds. 

We thank You for the grandeur of canyons, 
and the patient power of water and wind to carve them. 

We thank You for the warm, hallowed earth 
that bears us in its embrace, 
pregnant and precious with new life and growth. 

We thank You for the mantle of sky 
that brings us breath, light and rain, 
a starry testament to the depth of your infinite love. 

We thank You for giving us today our daily bread, 
generously bestowed from your abundance,
drawn in our nets 
from the profligate beauty of earth and sea and sky. 

Most Merciful God, forgive us our vain strivings 
that have wounded, disquieted, and trammeled your creation.
Forgive us for our failure to love creation as You do.

Give us the eyes of children 
that we may see the wonders of your handiwork anew, 
O Holy One. 

Give us wisdom
to use our hands 
not vainly to mold and subdue your creation 
but heal it and tend it. 

Give us hearts 
to treasure and revere it 
as a sacred gift and trust. 

May we always remember that You formed us
in your likeness, 
made from the dust of stars 
and the richness of humus, 
the brine of the sea in our veins: 
of one being with all that is created.

May we remember that we are created
to be rooted in the land 
but long for your heavenly kingdom,
placed gently in the care of this Earth by You, O Creator.


Prayer 821

We praise your Wisdom, O God, that sings to us in creation! We thank You for this world in all its beauty and wonder. 

Teach us to be trustworthy stewards of your living Earth, to walk gently, reverently, and humbly upon it. May we remember that everywhere we stand is in the presence of the Almighty and is holy ground. 

Give us faith that grows as the grass in the meadows. Teach us to care for all of creation as brother, sister, mother, father-- making each others’ burdens our own. 

Let us, with all creation, rejoice together, work together, pray together, and mourn together. Send your healing Spirit upon the entire Earth, and especially for those for whom we now pray.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Prayer 820

Our praises rise before you, O God Most High;
Our prayers rise unto You, O Redeemer, Our Lord Jesus Christ;
Our fears we lay before you, O Holy and Eternal Abba, Father and Mother.
Our hopes we breathe in from your Eternal Love, O Savior;
Our resilience we draw from you, Abiding Holy Spirit, who lifts us and prepares us for our work in your kingdom today.
O Creator we turn into your embrace for solace and strength, and lay before you those needs for whom we pray.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Prayer 818: On the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing

Photo of the Survivor Tree from the Oklahoma City Memorial website.
Holy One, we worship You in heart, mind, and body,
and praise your glorious wisdom
as we study your words in the rising light,
as dawn illuminates your handiwork,
reminding us of your love and care, O God of All.

Awaken us, who dream of peace,

to see your glory spread across the sky,
to sing out your Name to all people.
Teach us to walk in love with each other,
and root out the callousness and contempt we embrace,
that we may turn from the way of death and destruction
to embrace the way of light and life.

You know our suffering and our sorrows, Lord Christ:

in the midst of sorrow You are there,
and your hand of healing comforts us.
Give ear, we humbly pray, O Beloved Savior,
to the whispered prayers and remembrances of your people,
and soothe the hearts of those who worry or weep.
Give your peace to those who miss lost loved ones,
especially at the hands of terror and violence.

Lead us to a deeper fellowship

with You and one another, Blessed Redeemer,
and bring our hearts to rest in You.
Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see You
as You stand before us:
in the face of friend and beggar, seeker and saint.

Merciful One, pour out the balm of blessing and recovery

on those we now name.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Prayer 817

We bow before You, O God, as rosy-fingered dawn paints the spring sky, and the whole Earth whispers "Alleluia! The curtain of the night sky is pulled back to reveal your glory: the depths of your love are everlasting. 

Holy One, we praise You for the blessings with which You shower us, awed by your glorious creation. Make us one body and one heart by the power of Your Spirit, O Lord, that we may serve You in unity and peace. Lord Christ, we turn toward You as a child is comforted in her Mother's arms: you are the rock of our salvation. 

Here we place our prayers and songs at your feet: gather in your loving embrace all who call out to You.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Prayer 815- on Yom Hashoah

Vad YaShem. Photo from wikipedia.

In Memoriam- Yom Hashoah
Holy God, You are with us at our rising and at our sleeping: hear our prayer.

There is a time and a season for everything, O Holy One: may we remember that our times are in your hand.

You have given us freedom: let us always use it to love You fully, and to love each other as our own flesh and blood.
You have given us hearts and minds: let us use them to serve You, and all humanity, and all creation with steadfast righteousness.
You have given us memory, for learning and for mourning: may we never forget those who are gone from us.

Merciful God, you give us reason and skill: may we use them to resist evil committed by us, and committed in our names.
You have called us with an undying love: may we turn to You and walk in your ways of peace and comradeship.

May we all sink deep our roots in the waters of life, and turn to your light to guide us, heal us, renew us in fellowship and compassion, especially as we pray for all victims of the unimaginable genocide of the Holocaust, 

may we never forget.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Prayer 813

O Merciful One: with happy voices we praise You and bless You and magnify your Holy Name! May we rise from our beds with your praise upon our lips, treasuring your love and wisdom within our hearts. Make us a new creation, and forgive us all the wrongs we have done that we may be consecrated anew to your service. Nourish us with your truth, and strengthen us for our labors: may we greet the day with joy. Guide us in the paths of compassion and peace, and set us on fire to do your will. Hear our prayer as it rises like incense on the breath of morning, and look with favor upon our prayers and supplications.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Prayer 812

Almighty God, we lift up our eyes from all our worries and concerns, and behold your glory everywhere. The heavens proclaim your praises in the midnight sky as it subsides into dawn. The birds sing alleluias to the sun as the light reveals your manifold gifts you bestow with an open and generous hand. The scent of lilacs on the breeze acclaim your grace and compassion. 

Draw us into the life You intend for us, O God: to walk in justice, gentleness, and mercy throughout all our days. Let our lives testify to the healing love of Christ: may we allow your grace to sink into our bones and animate our hearts. Draw into your embrace those for whom we pray, for we know You are always near.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Art of Doubt, the Barrier of Disbelief

This was also posted at The Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on April 12, 2015.

The Art of Doubt, The Barrier of Disbelief

This is the second Sunday of Easter, which means it’s “Thomas Sunday.”  Today we will hear the story of how Jesus appeared to the disciples—all except Thomas. When he hears about Jesus’s miraculous appearance, he doesn’t believe until he sees with his own eyes.

Yet, when seen without caricature, Thomas has always had a heroic quality to him in my mind. He is willing to admit that he has doubt. He doesn’t keep those doubts to himself, which would have been easier and far more popular. Thomas is willing to give voice to his doubts. And when he gives voice to them, his needs are met. He DOES get to see Jesus. He does get the proof his doubtful mind needs. But remember, in the story we hear today, ALL the apostles were doubtful, or they would not have been afraid. None of them seemed to believe until they too had seen Jesus with their own eyes. Thomas is the one who is willing to admit the emotional crisis that all the apostles are feeling, which manifests itself in the locking of doors of the house where they were staying.

Some would say that we, too, live in a time of doubt. I wonder. Perhaps we should take it a step further. We seem to live in a time of disbelief. Shaped by the modern sensibility, we fear being seen as naïve, gullible, credulous.

Disbelief is the adamant unwillingness to be converted to a new reality, even when presented with evidence. Disbelief is the stopping of the ears to hear that which surrounds us. It is the stubborn rejection of the warnings of a traumatized planet, reeling from tons of pollutants and casual human disregard. Disbelief is the outlawing of any opinions that challenge one’s own beliefs. Disbelief snuffs out the light of inquiry and douses the wick with water.

Doubt, on the other hand, is the oxygen that can make the flame burn brighter. Doubt invites examination, and is willing to adapt to new information. Thomas stands in a long line of doubters in scripture, and none of THEM get the word “Doubting” attached like a title in front of their name. Abraham and Sarai heard the promises of God, and scoffed, even laughed. Gideon put God to all sorts of tests in the Book of Judges. Jeremiah tried to beg off from fulfilling the role of prophet, claiming youth and inexperience. Zacharias responded to the promise of a son with skepticism, and was struck silent.

When Thomas DOES see Jesus and see his wounds as proof, he exclaims “My Lord and My God!” He abandons his skepticism in the face of proof, and states the unthinkable—that Jesus is not just the Son of God, but IS God. Thomas’s doubt has led him further toward being a witness to who Jesus truly is. Thomas is wary, but still open to possibility.

We have much to learn from Thomas, because Thomas reflects the willingness to suspend stubbornness, and to allow the light of mystery to penetrate, bringing him to new understanding and enlightenment, remaking what he has previously  known.  Thomas may doubt, but he is willing to admit that he does not know everything. He is willing to be shaped and reformed in light of revelation, and to open himself to a new understanding of reality. Thomas is willing to own up to being human.

May we also be willing to doubt. May we be willing to suspend disbelief enough to see and hear what is right before us.  May we make a space within our imaginations to receive new truths, allowing them to break in and reshape what we think we know.

Prayer 811

Most Merciful God, we are drawn before your altars by our joy, praising You for all your compassion and tender love that makes us whole. Tune our hearts to sing a new song, that we may lift our voices in harmony to sing out your glory. Make our hearts fertile fields for your wisdom, Lord Christ, blooming as all of creation witnesses to your truth. Give us the strength and faith to seek You in all our questions, and to rest in You as the source of all goodness. Lord, we turn to You in hope: send your Spirit upon those for whom we pray.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Prayer 810

Blessings and honor to You, Lord God, whose mercy endures forever! We open our hearts to your instruction, that we may always seek your wisdom and lovingkindness. May we be astonished at the beauty of your creation, and serve it as it supports us in every moment. Lord Christ, may we breathe in your goodness and compassion, and love and cherish each other, as beloved of God just as we are. Holy Spirit, inspire us to service, that we may offer up all we do as a thank offering for our many blessings. We lift up our prayers, Lord Christ: in your mercy draw near to those who raise their hopes to you.


Friday, April 10, 2015

Prayer 809

Merciful and Mighty God, rule in our hearts today, that we may serve You and others rather than ourselves. May we remake ourselves in your image, O Holy One, rather than remake You in ours. May our work be filled with joy and our hearts be filled with your praise, O God. May we be unafraid to cast ourselves upon your promises, Lord Christ, for the opposite of faith is not doubt, but fear. May we have the courage to follow the paths of your wisdom, O Spirit of Truth and Love, that we may walk in justice and peace. Loving One, place your peace especially upon those whose needs and thanksgivings we carry in our hearts.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Prayer 808

Holy God, we are thirsty for your word, and seek to learn your ways: awaken us to your wisdom, that we may stand before You night and day. Give us ears to hear your prophets, and shake off the apathy and hopelessness that seeks to imprison us. 

May we rejoice in the works of your hands, O Creator, from the smallest microbe to the ocean deeps. May we rejoice at your providence, and extol our place within the web of creation, which sustains us as your loving arms lift us up. 

Dedicate our hearts anew, that we may amend our ways and heal the hurts we have inflicted. Pour your blessing like a balm over the hearts of those who cry out for healing or comfort, Lord, Christ, and shield and preserve the joyous.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Prayer 807- Inspired by Psalm 65

Soon, it will be time to plant the garden at our parish to support providing fresh produce to Trinity's Food Pantry.

Tuesday of Easter
(Inspired by Psalm 65)
We lift up our praise to You, O God, whose mercy is never-failing! We thank You for not just forgiving us for our manifold faults, but blessing us abundantly. You protect us like a mother bird hovers over her chicks; your wings spread over us to shade and shield us from harm. You have placed us in a land you have made to bloom; our hills and fields are cloaked in fruit and grain. You have blessed us beyond imagining, and we raise hymns of praise as we proclaim our awe. You make our desert hearts to blossom: let us respond in kind to each other. Knowing You are always with us, we ask that You look with favor on these, your servants, today.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Prayer 806- Easter Tuesday

Easter Tuesday
Most Merciful God, You spread the canopy of love over us, and we rise rejoicing, praising your Holy Name. We know that our Redeemer lives, and we shout with joy with countless throngs of angels and archangels. To You be honor and glory, O Lord of hosts: You hold all creation within your hand, and unify it with love everlasting. 

Lord Christ, draw within your tender embrace all people in their daily lives and toil: bless and hallow us, and make us blessings to others. Dayspring of Life, bend tenderly over us and draw us into your embrace, for we are your children. Holy One, make your face to shine upon us, and stretch forth your compassionate hand over those we now name.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Prayer 805- Easter Monday

Easter Monday
Blessed Savior, we waken with glad alleluias on our lips and in our hearts. Bring us into new harmony with all of creation, earth and sky and beloved fellow creatures today. 

Let us open our eyes and breathe in the new breath of spring, scented with the hope of new life in Christ. 
Let us open our hearts to the love all around which sustains us, that breaks open the bonds of sin and distress and brings us to peace. 
Let us cast off the shroud that has bound us- the distractions, rages, and anxieties that have held us in the grip of estrangement from You and each other. 

Let us walk gently upon the earth, giving thanks for the life all around which sustains us, generative and blooming in beauty. Holy One, You make all things new: renew the hearts and hopes of those for whom we pray.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Prayer 804- Easter Sunday

Alleluia! Let us raise our voices and hearts before the splendor of the Risen Lord! The Morning Star of our hopes has leaped from the sleep of death, and smashed the walls of sin and death which bound us. 

We give you unceasing thanks, Lord Christ, for sweeping us into your embrace and raising us to new life in you. Holy One, fill us with your wisdom, and strengthen us in faith and assurance. 

Roll back the stones in our lives, and let the light of peace spring forth from our hearts. We know that our Redeemer lives, and we seek to walk beside you as true disciples: strengthen us for our journey, we pray. 

Blessed Savior, pull all peoples within your embrace, and hear the prayers and praises of your beloved children.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Prayer 803- Holy Saturday

Light through the chapel onto the floor of the nave, Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion.

Holy Saturday
In silent reverence, we wait to rise, Lord Christ: on the wings of morning we lift up your name as a prayer of hope. All of creation pauses in expectation, turning toward your outstretched arms on the cross, Lord Jesus. We turn our faces toward the sun, and center our hearts and aspirations upon the coming of the Light of Christ. May we remember your commandments of love and faith, O Holy One. Blessed Savior, may we clasp hands across the table of brotherhood and love each other as You love us. Accompanied by a cloud of witnesses, may we too bear your banner before the world, and enlighten the darkest corners of our hearts. O Redeemer, draw all who hope into your saving embrace,especially those we now name.


Friday, April 3, 2015

Prayer 802- Good Friday

From the Museum of the Middle Ages in Paris.

Lord Christ, you laid down your life for us in love and devotion: all that we have and all that we are worships You. 

We bow before You in awe, O God, as we give You honor and praise for your great love for us. 
'Deliver us from hardness of heart: strengthen our faith and trust in your mercy, for we know all too well our own failures. 
Have mercy on us, Blessed Lord, and forgive us our faults; blot out our offenses and accept our repentance. 

Most Holy One, may we dwell upon your wondrous acts of mercy and charity, and seek to be worthy disciples of your Word. 
Instruct our hearts and tune our intentions, that we may be witnesses of your truth and workers in your vineyard. 

Remember your faithful ones who suffer in body, mind, or spirit, and soothe the hearts of the sorrowing. 
Beloved One, stretch out your protection over those we now name.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Sermon for Maundy Thursday: A Love Story

(Preached at The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday, 2015, 6:30 pm)

A table. A robe. A towel. A basin.
Water. A cup of wine. A loaf of bread.

Blessing. Thanksgiving. Service. Love.

These are the images that flash before me tonight.

I picture myself in that room. The dust from the triumphant march through the crowded festal streets of Jerusalem still clings to the disciples’ feet, as we remembered on Palm Sunday.

As the disciples lean back, they can probably still hear echoes of the crowd’s “Hosannas!” ricocheting off the stone walls around Jerusalem.

And now they have shared a meal with their teacher, their brother,
their Messiah. The disciples are gathered around a table where everyone is loved. Where every one is loved.

Tonight is the night for a love story.

The first sentence that jumps out to me is this one:  “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus is getting ready to leave his disciples—and he wants to show them what true love is.

There is just one lesson left to impart. There is just one commandment left to give.

The lesson is service. The commandment is love.

Love is thanksgiving. Love is sacrifice. Love sometimes includes heartbreak.

On this night we dwell between the two poles of our existence- the agony of loss and the call of love. Earlier this week I was sitting in class with Dr. Clint McCann, who is a renowned scholar of the psalms. We were discussing psalms of lamentation, especially the ones that are quoted in the Passion Narrative this week. Dr. McCann noted that the gospel writers could not understand the story of Jesus during Holy Week without the lamentation psalms, psalms in which the psalmist asks for help when feeling abandoned, and laments being turned upon even by his closest friends.

Yet Dr. McCann also pointed out that every one of those lamentation psalms quoted in the story of Jesus’s passion turns to praise at the end. And that’s often how it is in our lives, too. Our lives are shot through with both sorrow and joy.

Yet it is love that remains at the end.

The central act in our story tonight is Jesus washing his apostles’ feet—even Judas’s, whose act of betrayal gets omitted in the middle of our gospel reading. In the verses omitted here tonight, Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9- Even my dear friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

I wish they had included the quote from psalm 41, for, in our reading tonight, we see Jesus taking that same heel of his betrayer and washing it. In washing Judas’s feet alongside the others’, Jesus declares not just his love but his forgiveness for Judas’s betrayal. This is what Jesus means by love. He loved his own until the end—even Judas.

Tonight is the night for a love story.

What is the act Jesus chooses to demonstrate his love for his disciples? Something so humbling that no one would have expected it. Jesus kneels before each one of his disciples, and takes their feet into his hands to wash them. Now, this was not just an act of hospitality. Washing the feet of a guest was the job of a slave. Jesus kneels down, and washes the dust from their victory march from their feet, because washing feet is also a sign of welcome, a sign of thankfulness that our guests have arrived to break bread with us.

In the other three gospels, the Eucharist is the main point of the story of this night. John’s gospel, as it so often does, tells that same story in a different way. John talks about the details of the Eucharist much earlier. In John 6, Jesus states that “I am the bread of life.” He reminds us that the way to life is through the gift of love that Christ has for us.

John places words from the Eucharist earlier because he wants to make clear that Holy Communion is something Jesus does throughout his life on earth, rather than just at the end. John’s gospel doesn’t highlight the Eucharist tonight—because John’s gospel is shot through with Eucharistic imagery.

John is making an excellent point here. By eating of the bread of life,
and drinking of the cup of salvation, we share in all of Jesus’s life—and Jesus’s life is a life of love for all.

We share in the living reminder that we are to love one another—even in the face of difficulties, differences, even in the face of anger. The word “love” appears six times in this passage, and appears in the first sentence as well as the last. Love that roots itself in our very being and transforms us.

And we are still in need of that transformation, centuries later. Last week the governor of Indiana signed a bill purporting to be about religious freedom. Its stated purpose is to grant businesses the right to deny service to anyone—and in the name of “religious liberty.”

Laws like this attempt to draw lines and boundaries around not only who we think should be able to love each other, but around whom WE ourselves will love and serve.

And let’s not kid ourselves- laws similar to Indiana’s exist right here in our own state. Those who defend this law rest their defense on the example of Jesus.

But our gospel insists otherwise.

The commandment Jesus left us with—not an easy commandment certainly—was to love one another through our actions, and to serve each other, humbly and thankfully.

Laws like this attempt to place exceptions to Jesus’s command to love each other. It ironically attempts to allow people to refuse to serve others—and to refuse to serve others in the name of that same Christ who calls us to serve each other tonight in the most humble way possible. Jesus drew no lines. The love of Jesus doesn’t draw lines—it permeates everyone and everything. Love literally surrounds the story we hear in our gospel.

It is LOVE that marks us to the world as followers and disciples of Jesus. Love for each other. Love that is tied up in ACTION, not in sentiment or mere warm feelings, but love that calls us to truly serve each other—love wrapped up in justice, in welcome, and in forgiveness.

And that love extends to everyone. Everyone.

It is not only Jesus’s love for the disciples that glorifies God—it is by the disciples’ love for each other that everyone in the world will know the name of Jesus.

That’s why we are going to gather in a few minutes and wash each others’ feet. I know that makes many of us anxious, and self-conscious.

How do I know that? I know because my Facebook feed has been filled with pedicure pictures, including mine, that’s how. And in the midst of those pictures there was a meme of a sign that said “If you hate anyone because of your faith, you’re doing it wrong.”

Jesus reminds us that to love and serve each other is a blessing, yes, but also that we bless others in allowing them to serve us. That’s also a hard thing for many of us to do, myself included. On this one night, we remember that service goes both ways, and that both to serve and to be served are acts of love, and acts of faith.

And after the foot washing, there will be the thanksgiving. We will remember and give thanks for the love that binds us all together, when we are joined around the altar across age, time, and circumstances to partake in Holy Communion. Our readings tonight tie together Paul’s description of the institution of the Eucharist with John’s story about the last hours Jesus spends with his apostles, and reminds us that he spends those last few hours serving his followers and urging love-- all at a time when war could all too easily erupt in our hearts.

This is when the movement toward the cross becomes inexorable. And yet, this is the night we also celebrate the institution of the Eucharist, for which our parish is named. This is the night we are reminded that, no matter what happens, Jesus loves us, and we are to love each other, serve each other, and give thanks. Now, I noticed, and I hope you did too, that tonight’s psalm is NOT a lamentation psalm, but a psalm of thanksgiving. Our psalm tonight asks, “How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things done for me?” And the answer is this: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord. I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” And soon, we will do just that, in joy and love and peace. In our church, all are welcome at the altar! If that’s not a source of joy and blessing, I don’t know what is!

Tonight, we bring together the footwashing, and the forgiveness, and the thanksgiving, and most of all the love. That’s what Holy Communion is all about.

As we consider over these next days the paths that lead through the dark wilderness of betrayal and sacrifice, how can our own hearts not break a little?

Yet, let our hearts break.

Let them crack open, so that the light of Christ can shine through the cracks and illuminate our inmost selves. Let that light in and illuminate all the hurts, all the betrayals, all the losses we still hold within those broken hearts.

Let us bring our broken hearts to the altar where we re-enact every time we gather the ongoing healing and cleansing that washes over us through the love of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Let’s let our hearts break open, for only when they are open can they be filled.

Then healed, renewed, let us fill those same hearts with joy, and peace, and thanksgiving for Christ’s love for each and every one of us, and for the love we have for each other.

As we raise our open hands let us raise our open hearts, healed and renewed by the power of love, to receive the Body and Blood of our Savior, who did not die to save us long ago, but lives today in you and me and in all of us, who is with us at this altar right now, loving everyone around this table.

Let us receive Jesus Christ, who continues to save us and love us during every minute of our lives and beyond, bringing us to new life filled with love and service and thanksgiving for each other.

Tonight is the night for a love story.

Prayer 801- Maundy Thursday

(for Maundy Thursday)
Lord Jesus, we come together at your table to remember that we are your people. You share yourself with us in the bread and the wine; we remember that we are your Body and seek to follow your example. Let us act as a sacrifice for all people and be a priestly people to minister to the whole Earth. Let us humble ourselves and serve each other without vanity or hope of gain. Cleanse our hearts for service as You washed the feet of your disciples, pouring out your love like water. Even as You prepared to give yourself over for us, give your blessing and benediction to those we now name, Lord Christ.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Prayer 800

Almighty God, we give You thanks for your tenderness and compassion toward us. Forgive us, O Merciful One, for our weaknesses and our failures, especially our failures to love as we should. Give us the wisdom to amend our hearts to see your grace throughout each day, Lord Christ, that we may fasten ourselves to your household. May our lives and hopes sing out your goodness and grace, O Holy One, that we may raise high the banner of Christ. Strengthen us to walk in empathy and truth with those who journey with us today, seeking to serve You whole-heartedly. Spread the awning of your blessing over all who call upon You, Almighty God.