Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Prayer, day 2712

Holy One of Blessing,
You encircle us and enfold us;
in your constant love we are kept safe and protected.
You are with us always, O God, 
You gaze tenderly upon all creation,
the work of your fingers and wisdom,
lovingly crafted and upheld by your mighty hand.
Set our feet upon the plain of justice,
and make us a bulwark for the oppressed and the vulnerable.
Make us one with each other:
may our arms open wide to encircle our neighbor,
as you encircle us all.
O Comforter, grant us your benediction,
and pour out your peace like a balm over us
that we may sing out your glory in our lives.
Grant your comfort to those whose hope is in you,
especially those whose needs we lift before you as we pray

Monday, June 29, 2020

Prayer, day 2711: On the third anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood

Almighty God, who is making heaven and earth,
we lift our hearts to You in gratitude and praise.

Let all the round Earth sing out your glory;
let heart tell to heart the wonders of the Lord.
Plant within our hearts the strength and courage
to serve You and your Holy Church in all we do.
May we celebrate the beauty of God
in every person we encounter,
aflame with the light of Christ,
who is mother and father of us all.
Make us steadfast laborers in the fields of justice and peace,
standing with all oppressed in body, mind, or spirit.

Abide within our hearts, Blessed Jesus,
that we may sing your love into the world.
Make us healers, hearers, doers,
shepherds for the found as well as the lost,
grounded in your grace and mercy.

In humility, we lay our lives before You:
bless and hallow them to your glory, O Merciful One.
Spirit of God, rest upon us,
and extend the shade of your blessing over all for whom we pray.


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Prayer 2710: Fourth Sunday after Pentecost A

Inspired by Matthew 10:40-42, Proper 8A

Most Merciful God,
with joy we come before your altar 
and gather together 
to praise You and learn from You. 

Light of the World, 
you call us to see the needs of those around us, 
and to welcome and care for each other 
as we would welcome You -- 
to root out our prejudices and fear, a
nd be tender and merciful to all who struggle. 

May we offer the cool water of compassion 
to all who thirst, 
in the Name of the Living Water 
who graces us abundantly in all our paths. 

Spirit and Advocate,
deliver us from hardness of heart,
and fill us with determination
to live in integrity, lovingkindness, and mercy. 

Holy Trinity, united in love, 
grant the blessing of your peace 
to all for whom we pray.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Prayer, day 2709: For Pride Weekend

Most Merciful One,
we gather before your altar
to sing out our praise to You: 
lory and honor be yours forever!

Grant us the courage
to walk in love alongside You, O Savior,
holding aloft the banner of reconciliation
for all creation.

Let us proclaim the gospel of Christ in all we do,
and put our hand to the plow of justice,
never turning back from preparing the field for seed.

In your mercy, give us boldness of Spirit
and strength of heart, O Savior,
to follow You in welcoming all under your tent.
Grant your blessing to all who call upon You, O God,
and pour out your peace upon those we now name.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Prayer 2708

Creating God,
we sing before You,
opening our hearts to your truth,
and praising your holy Name:
hear our humble prayers,
and lead us in lovingkindness this day.

Wash us clean
of the fear that is the foundation of all our basest impulses:
greed, selfishness, tribalism, hopelessness, and violence.

Grant us the wisdom
to let go of all that harms our souls,
lashing out from our own woundedness and pain.

May we welcome your healing, O God,
and lean into the beauty of your love.
Give us the ability 
to turn our wills to the relief of the suffering,
and the compassion to place ourselves alongside those 
in any need or trouble,
that we may worship You, Lord Christ, and not ourselves.

Holy One, we are all your children:
help us grow in wisdom, grace, and generosity.
Set our feet within the paths of justice and peace,
and place your comfort upon all for whom we pray.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Lessons in Prayer: Speaking to the Soul, June 25, 2020

When my kids were little, we really enjoyed watching Disney movies. No, let me be honest—we still do even now that the kids are grown. Before our kids were born, my husband and I were unashamed to go see Disney and Pixar movies even without a child along with us as cover. One of our favorites, Aladdin, came out two years before we had our first child—and we couldn’t wait to share it with her and her siblings when they were old enough. The genius casting of Robin Williams as the Genie made this film and its lessons about love, friendship, integrity and personal honesty just about perfect (after they fixed some troubling song lyrics).

And yet, as much as we have all at one time, wished for a genie of our own, I remember that as I was growing up and putting away childish things (except a love of animated movies) I noticed that I had a tendency in my prayer to try to make God into a genie. When I would pray each night, I would catch myself reciting a laundry list of wants and wishes. Some of them were exceedingly shallow—“please help me get through this test”--- and others were just as misguided, like praying that there would be less fighting and yelling in my home. God is NOT a genie, or a wish-fulfillment device. The only people each of us can pray to God about changing is—yep, each of us ourselves.

As I was meditating on this Sunday’s readings, I struck by this statement in Paul’s letter to the Romans:

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Very early in my life, I realized I didn’t know how to “pray as I ought.” Once I stopped the God-as-genie prayers, I prayed rote prayers, like the Lord’s Prayer, but the problem was that it was too easy to skim over the words when they became too familiar, instead of feeling anew the sentiments behind them. I began to study prayer traditions around the world and collect prayers, like this one by St. Augustine for purity which was so funny and yet real:

“Oh Lord, help me to be pure,
but not yet.”

I learned I could pray with beads, or by tying knots, or by focusing on my breath, or by mindful, deliberate movement, like yoga.

A few years ago, I began to write a new prayer almost every day. I even wrote a prayer cycle based on the Lord’s Prayer. I became aware of, in the words of the 17th century monastic Brother Lawrence, prayer as the “practice of the presence of God,” to begin to try to spend time in conversation with God, “living as if there were none but God and I in the world” and yet of listening rather than talking, and of offering up whatever I was doing to God whenever I could. On the week before I started seminary, when Michael Brown was killed on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, I meditated about “praying with our feet” as we marched in peaceful protest against systemic racism—a kind of prayer that has bloomed again from yet still more violence against people of color in the last few weeks.

I am still no expert in prayer. But here we are Lord, standing in the need of prayer, as the old beloved spiritual goes. As we face rising COVID-19 surges again, and as we face more deaths of people of color in their homes and in the streets, never have we needed to pray “as we ought”—prayer where we listen to God, prayer where we seek God’s wisdom, prayer where we admit our faults and refusals to see injustices, and resolve to set our feet upon a better path. Prayer that doesn’t focus on what we ourselves hope to get but on what we can offer to the world to the glory of God. Prayer that is led by the Holy Spirit, if only we are brave enough to set her free within our hearts and our lives. Prayer that leads us deeper into community with each other, and strengthens us for the holy work with which God blesses us: to love each other in word, and love each other in deed, and love each other even if that means giving way in our own desires so that another may flourish. And so, right now, I pray:

Our Father in heaven,
loving Parent and Creator,
tender Mother,
save us from the time of trial,
for we are prone to wander
and lose our way.

Make us stronger in our faith
and more willing to wrestle with the angel of doubt.
Guide us into living and loving more fully
according to your precepts.
Help us turn aside all vain ambitions
and concentrate fully upon your Word.
Give us courage to make our hearts bigger,
even if that makes them bigger targets,
for love is always the answer.
Help us to persevere
through the difficulties of life,
knowing that You are always with us.
Give us the sight to see hope amid darkness.

O Loving One, hear our prayers
and grant your benediction and grace
to those whose needs we now raise before You.


This was first published at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul on June 25, 2020.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Prayer 2706: On the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist

Almighty God,
we boldly proclaim your Holy Name 
nd lift our hearts to You in praise.

Living Savior,
our brother in baptism,
our model for holy living,
we embrace you with all our might:
lead us and guide us as your beloveds.

May we make straight the way of the Lord
by all we can contribute as your witnesses,
and represent the gospel of love and inclusion
in all we say and do today.

Draw us to enter joyfully, O Lord, 
into the discipleship to which you lovingly call us 
through the waters of baptism and beyond.

Purify our wills to reflect your lovingkindness
and help us turn aside from all evil,
embracing instead the pure truth
that calls us to be advocates for others,
walking in integrity and bold ministry in the world.

Spirit of the Living God,
fall afresh on us and bless our labors today, 
and let the peace and comfort of God 
rest like a dove upon all those for whom we pray.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Prayer, day 2705: in thanks for creation

Come, let us sing a song of thanks and praise 
to the Creator of the Earth, 
who tenderly embraces us and loves us! 

Uphold us with your loving hand, Lord Christ, 
and place us upon the path of wisdom and justice, 
that we may follow you always.

Inspire us, Holy Spirit and Advocate, 
that we catch fire 
with the love and charity of God,
to work for the common good.

Holy One, 
you restore the hopes of the anxious 
and call home the lost:
press the kiss of your blessing on those we now name.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Prayer, day 2703: The Third Sunday after Pentecost

Almighty, All-Merciful God,
who has stretched this day before us in beauty,
we praise and bless You for your goodness.
May we be grounded in gratitude
and filled with your grace, O Holy One,
Source of Light and Life.
May we be a blessing to those we meet today,
embodying peace and kindness
in witness to our God.
May we carry your hope to the weary,
and extend healing hearts to those who ache.
Precious Savior, fill us with a Spirit of Mercy
and rest your hand upon those for whom we pray.


Friday, June 19, 2020

Prayer 2701: A Prayer for Juneteenth

Almighty God,
Your benevolent hand upholds us as
You call us to a shared life together
built on the solid rock of justice and kinship.
We shout with joy
at the breaking of the captives' chains
and join in the glad cry of freedom!

Set us upon the higher rock of brotherhood,
and make us wise in the knowledge
that none are free unless all are free.

May we never seek our well-being
at the expense of others,
but protect each other in amity and compassion.
May we stand with courage
on the side of equality and liberty for the oppressed.

Triune, loving God,
may we never forget that freedom,
intended for us by God but generated within community,
comes with responsibility to each other,
grounded in love and mutual support.

Open our eyes to see the lingering divides among us,
O God of Justice,
and strengthen our hands to build bridges
and join hands in Your Holy Name.
Bless and keep us
and all those who cry out to You, O God,
and rest your peace upon these for whom we pray.


Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Night Prayer: Speaking to the Soul, June 18, 2020

I am back with my mother in Tulsa, here for a month, my vacation time in this time of COVID-19, continuing with my sister to help her recover after a stroke that affected her speech and language. Last night, I surprised my mom with two comfortable new outdoor chairs, which we promptly set up in the driveway so that we could enjoy the cooling evening breeze, mosquito-free, and reminisce about the thousands of times my late father would do the very same thing, handing out sticks of Wrigley’s Spearmint to the neighborhood kids, who called him “The Green Gum Grandpa.” This siting in the driveway on outdoor furniture is a treasured Eastside Tulsa tradition, our Okie version of sitting on your stoop in Brooklyn. 

Although my mom often struggles right now for the most commonplace of words in answer to questions, reminiscences flow freely from her, with only slight pauses betraying the recovery she is in the midst of—normally, my mother is a treasure trove of remembrances, and we laughed as we noted that we were only missing a pint bottle of something wrapped in a paper bag and perhaps the company of a semi-feral neighborhood cat to truly be imitating my dad. 

As darkness fell, long after nine p.m., my mom and I fell silent, listening to and marveling at the variety of birds that whirled overhead or flashed into my mother’s carefully curated but humble garden shrubs, especially cardinals. Cardinals were my dad’s mom’s favorite bird, and our family holds tightly to the legend that when a cardinal visits you, it’s a sign of someone you love who has passed away coming to visit you. 

“Hello, Short,” we breathed, enchanted by our quick-winged visitor. The yearning call of that cardinal, searching for his mate, reminded me of the lyric by the great Karla Bonoff, voiced achingly by Linda Ronstadt, one of my dad’s favorite singers: 

I've made up my mind I would leave today 
But you're keeping me going I know it's insane 
'Cause I'll love you and lose again 
Well the heart calls 
And the mind obeys 
Oh it knows better than me… 

For contrary to Marc Antony’s claim in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, it has been our experience that the bad things men do die with them or loosen their grip upon our hearts, and that the good they did and the gentleness and reverence they produced even within a maelstrom of a life of regret echoes on the edges of our perception. That hoped-for grace tarries behind patchwork of twisted nandina branches in crimson flashes. 

In questioning whistles and trills, with bright eye Dad’s avian shade peered at us, asking for a sign of our tendency toward forgiveness, hopeful we might remember our own yearning for grace, of the need for our stories’ denouement to end upon a major chord despite the long fugue of disappointment that marks so many a life. This is the stuff of forgiveness, forgiveness that has counted the cost and benefit and erred on the side of grace, and we do not take it lightly. We cannot withhold the ebb and flow of compassion in our lives if we also remember the times it has welled up unbidden for us, as well. 

It is in this moment of reckoning and releasing that the words of the Rev. John Williamson and the Holy Spirit, in one of the most beloved prayers in the Night Prayer service from A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa

it is night. 

The night is for stillness. 
Let us be still in the presence of God. 

It is night after a long day. 
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.

The night is dark.
Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives
rest in you.

The night is quiet.
Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,
all dear to us,
and all who have no peace.

The night heralds the dawn.
Let us look expectantly to a new day,
new joys,
new possibilities.
In your name we pray.


Let the quietness of God’s peace enfold us, and all dear to us, and let that be enough. Let love be enough, and not fade away.

This was first published at Episcopal Cafe's Speaking to the Soul, June 18, 2020.

Photo from Wikipedia.

Prayer, day 2700

O Holy One, 
blessed be your Name:
You are our light and salvation,
abiding with us in sunshine or in shadow. 

It is You, O God,
who holds us fast in the palm of your hand. 
It is You, O Loving One, 
whose angels sit with us
when we are awakened by troubles in the night. 

You have whispered your comfort in our ear 
and soothed our brow in sleep: 
You have gentled us and given us peace. 
Your love sustains us 
as we turn our face to the dawning of the day, 
and calls us back when we wander into the brambles. 

May we seek You as our companion and guide 
in our journeys this day, O Most High. 
Give ear, O merciful God, 
as we confide in You our needs and concerns, 
drawing those in need into your embrace.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Prayer 2699: Inspired by Matthew 18:1-9

Most Merciful One,
we bow before You.
With our lips and our hearts,
with our breath gifted by God, 
may we praise the Lord our Maker,
Sovereign of the Heavens.

May we mold ourselves
that we may reflect the innocence
and open-heartedness of children,
loving generously and without fear,
seeking knowledge and wisdom as holy and good.
For we are your children, O Blessed Lord Christ, 
hearing your voice
and secure within your embrace
that we may serve your purposes
for healing and transformation of the world.

Come Holy Spirit,
and shape us with your power
that we may be worthy vessels of the gospel.
Extend the awning of your mercy, O God,
over all who turn to You for comfort and aid.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Prayer 2698: A Prayer of Resistance

Most Merciful One,
we sing out our gratitude to You,
alive to the beauty of creation
that supports us like a mother's embrace:
You are our mainstay and help,
urging us to love and service in your Name.

Our faith is our strength;
it flows from your loving-kindness and steadfast love
that urges us to unity,
to work for the good of the Beloved Community
and invite all God's children
to the table of kinship, freedom, and abundance.

With a weary song in our throat,
worn thin by the casual scorn
and calculated cruelty of the mighty,
we nonetheless persevere
and rise,
for You are with us, O Savior,
and urge us forward, nourished by your gospel of hope.

Spirit of the Living God,
set our hearts afire with love and devotion,
and renew us by your wisdom and truth.
Holy One, press the kiss of your blessing
upon all whose cares we lift before You.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Prayer 2697

O God Our Shield and Shelter,
we center ourselves in your abundant grace, 
rejoicing and praising your Name.

Enlighten the recesses of our hearts
by your holy wisdom and charity,
that we may throw off the chains
of prejudice, division, and injustice,
and instead claim for ourselves the power of your Spirit
to heal the world and our relationships with each other.

In loving kindness, direct us into holiness,
that we may walk in love as You love us.
Blessed Savior,
draw us within the boundaries of your healing embrace,
and grant your blessing upon those for whom we pray.


Sunday, June 14, 2020

Embodying Loving-kindness: Sermon for Proper 6A, 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

What would it be like if compassion rather than suspicion was the primary lens through which we looked at strangers? I’ve been thinking about that question a lot over these last trwo weeks as we have seen protests ion the st4eets, partly over the fact that some people are looked at with more suspicion than others, merely because of the color of their skin. I’ll be honest: I’ve been thinking about that longer than just these last two weeks. 

One of the things that just wore me down so much at the start of this pandemic was the way some people responded by hoarding necessities: milk, toilet paper, hand sanitizer. At one of the grocery stores near my house, they had to post a guard to enforce the plea to only buy two gallons of milk at a time after a woman tried to buy ten despite the signs all over the dairy department. When asked to put eight of them back at the checkout counter, she allegedly became so enraged, screaming that the milk was for “HER FAMILY” that the police had to be called. Meanwhile all around her in the checkout lines were people who had families too, and many of whom who needed milk, too. She looked at the people around her and saw them as competition, not as people with needs equal to, and perhaps even greater, than her own. 

It’s easy to make caring for ourselves and our loved ones a priority. It’s in our best interests, after all. Far more difficult is responding to those we do not know with the same consideration, compassion, and provision we make for our loved ones. 

This kind of scarcity-based thinking lurks in our society all the time—but crises can make it worse. Even if that crisis is just a predicted inch of snowfall, suddenly it’s all like the literal Hunger Games in the dairy department. And yet, the next time I went into that grocery store I noticed something even more important: the way it seemed so many people had determined to go another direction. I watched a young mother with a baby on her hip reaching up on a shelf to get one of the last packs of toilet paper for an elderly person in a scooter. I saw people with baskets filled giving way so that a person with only a few items could go ahead of them. I witnessed a man slipping 20-dollar bills to cashiers to thank them for their help in helping us all buy what we needed as we transitioned to sheltering in place. 

In our reading from Genesis today, we see Abraham as an exemplar of hospitality, generosity, and thinking about others. When approached by strangers, Abraham drops what he is doing to welcome them, to offer rest, refreshment, and nourishment to them. The rabbinic tradition holds that Abraham was exemplary in this regard, and that his generosity to others flowed out of is unity with God and God’s will. 

In the stories told in Jewish midrash—which are collections of imaginative explanations and extensions of sacred texts—the rabbis go further. Abraham’s hospitality is more than mere welcoming of stranger, they say, but is instead a sign of his powerful unity with God so that he embodies one of God’s key characteristics: chesed, or “loving-kindness.” The rabbis teach that this kind of open-hearted embrace of the other, especially if that other is more vulnerable than you, is one of the pillars that supports the world itself. Chesed is about cultivating a character of love, generosity, charity, and service that comes from allowing God to work within us and align ourselves with the divine spark, or breath, that God planted within us from our very beginnings. (1)

Now it turns out that Abraham was offering hospitality to God Godself. And yet he didn’t know that. And in return, those strangers demonstrated to Abraham that his and Sarah’s own needs were seen and lovingly, generously addressed by God. When Abraham and Sarah respond to the wondrous predictions of the strangers with disbelief, and even bitter laughter, they are brought up short by this question: “Is anything too marvelous for God?” 

It seems wise to remember that, if we take seriously God’s creating power alive and moving in the world even now, we would see the wonders of God’s handiwork and love all around us. In our scriptures, this hospitality that Abraham embodied was referenced in Hebrews 13:1-2: “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Opening our eyes to that possibility—that strangers are angels among us, that we are stronger when we let compassion rather than anger and woundedness rule our lives-- also helps us to endure these challenging times, that God sees our needs, and even more, offers us a way through that leaves us grateful and blessed. 

That same compassion and generosity lies at the root of Jesus sending out his disciples to heal and preach to the lost and hurting around them. The twelve who are initially selected receive a new name: apostles, which means “sent.” They are instructed to go only among the common people of Israel—this is exactly the community for whom Matthew is writing. 

Jesus has compassion and empathy on the common people because he sees their needs, like Abraham did as those strangers approached, and is determined to fulfill their need for comfort and help, much like sheep who have no shepherd to watch over them. It doesn’t matter if their needs are not his, or if he himself had ever experienced the same struggles they faced. He saw that they were sheep without a shepherd—and called his disciples to go out in compassion and empathy too. To live a grace-filled life, especially because they themselves had received grace. 

These were sheep without a shepherd. To be a sheep without a shepherd was to have no leader to act to protect you. To be a sheep without a shepherd was to be vulnerable to being harmed or even killed. To be a sheep without a shepherd was to be “harassed and helpless.” And worse, among the people of Israel, there are wolves lurking among the sheep. They are those who collaborate with the forces of empire against the concerns of their own people. They are those who dehumanize the poor, the sick, the needy, the oppressed, and then justify the sacrifice of these people upon the altar of profit. Those who deny they have any obligation to either sinners or strangers, all the while forgetting the ways in which we all fall under those same labels at one time or another. 

And that’s where I think we are today, too. Far too many people keep wanting to dress that wolf up in sheep’s clothing. Far too many people want to be fans of Jesus, rather than disciples. 

I grew up hearing how important it was to accept Jesus as your “personal Savior,” to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus. Those disciples we hear of in this Sunday’s gospel certainly have that kind of relationship with Jesus. And what is the next step? Jesus sends them out into the world, giving them the power to heal others, warning them that their faithfulness will not come without risk, cost, or danger. 

That relationship with Jesus involves sharing in his relationship with others too. In other words, it is not enough to have a personal relationship with Jesus—unless we allow Jesus to transform our hearts so that we have a passion and a mission for the sake of others, we have nothing. It’s not enough to believe we are assured of going to heaven if we support people who make lives for too many of our kindred hell on earth. 

It’s at this point that we see that everything Jesus did, he did out of compassion and empathy for those who had nothing, those who were harassed and helpless, like a sheep without a shepherd. 

And so, we who have received grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, are sent out, just as Abraham was by God long before Genesis chapter 18. The gospel that we are called to proclaim, just like those apostles is a simple one: The kingdom of heaven is near! And it may not feel like it—then or now. But it’s when things are the bleakest that the good news is most necessary. 

That good news is this: the power to cure the sick and cast out demons is how the kingdom is announced to the world. This tired old world that is tired of isolation even as people insist on their own rights over the care of those around them. We may no longer believe in “demons,” but as we’ve discussed previously, demons don’t have to have pointy horns and pitchforks. Demons are those things that destroy our relationships with each other, and the power that can overcome our modern demons is the power of love, the power of empathy, the power of community in action. And they are just as real and just as destructive as any monster or zombie. 

Our modern demons are too many to list, but include things we have seen tearing us apart in just the last several weeks: selfishness, contempt for our neighbors and their well-being, racism, exploitation of the poor, white supremacy, violence, fear of others and fear of strangers. 

Jesus’s gospel commands us to open our hearts to God with everything we are, but also commands that we be willing to open ours hearts to each other --especially those in categories we might like to declare as “less-than.” Jesus’s gospels demands that we leave the judging to God, and just love each other—but not some pale, passive love but rather love in action, love that risks everything and holds nothing back. And that upends a lot of our notions of justice and especially retribution. By maintaining social distancing, by continuing to wash our hands, by continuing to wear masks to protect those around us, we are proclaiming the gospel as loudly as any street-corner preacher. 

This time in which we live right now is a time of great anxiety, beset still by a global pandemic and a global awakening to the structures of racism that too many people have overlooked if they didn’t think it affected them personally. By the way, it does. No one’s life is untouched by the wounds that racism and prejudice and violence and contempt for the lives of others inflicts upon society. But this anxiety can also lead us toward admitting the brokenness in many of our relationships with each other, and to rely upon God’s help to urge us to action. That’s ultimately the point of faith. Faith is not a magic inoculation against struggle. Faith is a transformative power that urges us to loving-kindness and hope. This is a time when faith is called for. Not faith as a possession or a talisman, but faith as a goad to action grounded in love.

As Biblical scholar Walter Brueggeman writes, “Faith is not a reasonable act which fits into the normal scheme of life and perception. The promise of the gospel is not a conventional piece of wisdom that is easily accommodated to everything else. Embrace of this radical gospel requires shattering and discontinuity.” (2) 

We have an opportunity to use this time to name the things in our society that did not serve us well, and we can start with those demons of division that leave us fearful and convinced that there is not enough. Let’s seize it and not grow weary. In a spirit of loving-kindness, let’s work through this upheaval to a better future, to deeper discipleship, to lovingkindness that opens our hearts to empathy and shared commitment to real justice, which is the only true foundation for lasting peace and healing. 


Preached at the 10:30 am online service at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville, on June 14, 2020.

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)Psalm 116:1, 10-17Romans 5:1-8Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)

1) Elinoar Bareket, "Chesed: a Reciprocal Covenant," at https://www.thetorah.com/article/chesed-a-reciprocal-covenant, and Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, The Beginning of Desire: Reflections on Genesis, loc. 2460-2500 of 9976, kindle edition.
2) Walter Brueggemann, Genesis: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching, p. 157.