Friday, October 12, 2018

Prayer 2085


In peace, we pray to You, O God;
in times of testing and turmoil
we seek the solace of your shoulder
and the shelter of your hand upon us.
May we abide with you always, Lord Christ,
and walk in your ways and your wisdom.
Holy One, strengthen us and lead us
to live into the faith we profess,
to put actions to our words,
to humbly and joyfully serve You and each other.
Merciful One, your love is from everlasting;
draw all who seek you within the lea of your grace,
and let your benediction rest upon these beloveds.

Amen.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Prayer 2084


O God, the night has ended,
and a new day awaits us.
We seek to be thankful for the joys it will bring
and strong to face its challenges.
You are with us always,
both in the rejoicing
and in the fight.
May we reach out
not only for our own cares and concerns,
but to help those around us.
We may not be able to do everything, Lord,
but we certainly hope to do what we can.
May we live this day as a credit to our faith in You.
We ask your care and blessing upon these, your children.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Prayer, day 2083


Most Merciful God,
receive our prayers and praises,
that we may serve You in unity and peace.
Give us discerning hearts and a will to serve,
singing with joy as we are called by our Shepherd's voice.
Guide us by your light, O Christ,
and open our eyes to your truth,
that we may be renewed and transformed.
May the beauty of God enlighten us,
that we may reflect and testify to the Light,
animated by love and wisdom.
Shield and comfort all who are in distress, O Holy One,
and make us bearers of peace and unity in your Name.
Gather within your embrace
all those for whom we pray, Blessed Jesus.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Prayer 2082


Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,
gathered within your embrace
we arise to greet the beauty of this day,
eager to walk in love and faithfulness,
led by the light, grace, and reconciling example of Christ.
Almighty Creator,
You have woven the night sky and morning clouds
into a tapesty of beauty,
reminding us of your promise of faithfulness--
You who call the stars by name
and have inscibed each of us on your hand.
Sustain us with your word, Blessed Jesus,
that our hearts be transformed in love and compassion,
that we tenderly care for each other
in witness to all You have done for us.
Renew us, O Holy Spirit,
in generosity and lovingkindness,
that we may see and know our mutual dependence
as one body, one spirit, one creation.
Merciful One, pour out your grace and healing
upon all for whom we pray.

Amen.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Prayer 2081


Most Merciful God,
our spirits bless your Holy Name
as we dedicate this day to your service.
Help us to use our prayer to You, O God,
as courage for action in restoring the common good
as the fixed mark to guide our life together
as disciples and witnesses of your gospel.
Strengthen us in compassion and grace, O Savior,
that we may renounce the leanness in our souls,
and instead embody your abundance and justice
which seeks the reconciliation of all things.
Give us the heart to work for peace,
a peace whose foundation is the solid rock of brotherhood,
seeking the welfare of others in the name of love.
Spirit of the Living God,
anoint us with the wisdom from on high,
and pour out your blessing upon those we now name.

Amen.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Interdependence as Gift: Sermon for Proper 22 B


When I was a kid, there was an elderly widow lady named Mrs. Brady who lived a couple of streets over from us. We didn’t see her very often, but every now and then we would see her sitting at the window as we played, and she would waggle her fingers at us and smile as she watched us playing in the vacant lot near her house, or we’d see her toddle to the mailbox on unsteady legs, and we’d shout “Hello, ma’am” all together when she looked at us and wave, because she was pretty much completely deaf. She’d almost always respond back “Hello, honeys!” in a sweet soprano drawl.


Mrs. Brady’s house was the oldest one in the neighborhood, built of brown and golden Oklahoma fieldstone. She had a son who would come over about once a week, and he himself was no spring chicken, if you know what I mean, but he’d mow the yard and repair the fence. Just across the street from her tiny house were modern, fancy, large homes with manicured lawns, homes that had been built on what had been fields on the edge of town, homes with backyards as big as football fields, which in Oklahoma is everyone's dream. On our side of the street, the homes were small, two and three bedroom homes at most. But Mrs. Brady’s was the tiniest of them all.

Then one summer, we noticed that the lawn wasn’t getting mowed. The grass and weeds grew higher and higher. Word got out that Mrs. Brady’s son had died. And then one of my friends named Cynthia who lived nearer to her house told me that one of the neighbors across the street had called the city and complained about Mrs. Brady’s unkempt yard. She had gotten a citation for being a neighborhood nuisance, and the city was threatening to fine her, and then send a crew to mow her yard and bill her for it. They gave her a few days to fix the issue. The city demanded that she follow the laws about lawn maintenance, even though she had no way of doing it herself.

Even as young as we were, we knew there was no way she could afford any of that, and we worried for her. Then, one Saturday, we were playing in the vacant lot, and we looked, and in Mrs. Brady's yard the grass was mowed, the flowerbeds were weeded, and dead limbs were trimmed from the oak tree that towered over her yard and house. We took a break from our playing for lunch, and agreed to meet up again afterward to resume our game.

My friend Cynthia had told her mom about Mrs. Brady, that she was worried the city had fined her. Instead, what Cynthia learned is that several of the families in the neighborhood, outraged at the situation, had joined together and created a rotation. Each week, a different family would take turns mowing Mrs. Brady’s yard and attending to other yard work.

Because Mrs. Brady was a proud woman, and because Oklahoma in the summer is no joke, they would get up early in the morning on Saturdays and get this done, hopefully without Mrs. Brady catching them, which her deafness actually helped. For as long as I lived there, this was what I witnessed, too. After working all week as mechanics, bus drivers, truckers, teachers, and housewives, the neighbors would take turns early on Saturdays making sure Mrs. Brady could stay in her home. This example stayed with me a long time.

I thought about the story of Mrs. Brady and her neighbors as I was pondering this week’s gospel, which is a hard gospel in a lot of ways. Our text from Mark today includes two teachings of Jesus that may seem hard to reconcile at first. First there is a question about divorce. And then there is a continuation of the discussion about “little ones” or children that we’ve been hearing for the last two weeks.

Both of these teachings can be used to miss the point that Jesus is trying to make. In his teaching about divorce, Jesus makes a point that is important for us to hear and hear again, especially in the time in which we live: what is lawful is not the same thing as what is right. We all hope that the goal of the law is goodness, but even good laws can be applied in ways that subvert that.

Something being lawful is a lower standard to something being ethical and good. For instance, many good people violated laws requiring the handing over of Jews, Roma, and other oppressed groups under Nazism in World War II. They were lawbreakers, and many of them paid with their lives. Rosa Parks willingly broke the laws of Montgomery, Alabama, and she was arrested, jailed, and punished. It took a solid year of protest and boycott to change that law.

Jesus’s teaching about children here has unfortunately been used to infantilize those who are vulnerable or who need our help, which is always a danger even among the well-meaning. It can lead to romanticizing children as being mere symbols of pureness and innocence instead of being real people with good days and bad days like the rest of us. This teaching has sometimes been used to deny the full dignity of the vulnerable. Mrs. Brady was caught in the merciless net of the law, and it took her neighbors to rescue her from it, but her neighbors took care to maintain her dignity as they helped her.

Make no mistake—children were not romanticized in Jesus’s time. Children who were too young to work had no status in that society. They were not “welcomed” outside of their families. They were socially invisible. Yet they were absolutely dependent and vulnerable.


In the religious law of Moses, men were allowed to throw away their wives (that’s literally what the word used in Moses’s law meant), and their wives had no recourse. Women were not allowed to protest. A divorced woman had no legal status, lost the right to own property, and would often be forced to turn to begging or prostitution in order to live. Under Roman law, both men and women could sue for divorce, and Jesus, his followers, and the Pharisees lived under Roman law as their civil law.

Throughout most of human history, marriage was a legal contract in which a woman—actually, usually a young girl-- was handed from her father to her husband whether she liked it or not, and the deal was that she would provide children for the husband in exchange for protection and a home in which she would work for the rest of her life. Although this does still exist, even here in the United States, as much as we may wish it were otherwise, our modern context of marriage is usually different from the context of scripture. First of all, we no longer practice polygamy in most of the Western world. Second of all, marriage here in the West is normatively formed on the basis of a romantic relationship between adults. Our evolving expectation is that marriage is a partnership of equals.

Jesus’s teachings here deal with two groups of vulnerable people, people who were often overlooked in both law and in society. As Jesus’s citation of Genesis reminds us, there is something fundamental at stake: God’s intention at the beginning of creation is that we should recognize our dependence upon one another, and our dependence on God. Jesus is teaching that law and custom often can be applied to the benefit of the powerful at the expense of the vulnerable. 

Sometimes marriages need to end, especially if there is cruelty, emotional or physical abuse, or even stone-cold indifference involved. But I am convinced that this week’s gospel also related to last week’s gospel in a significant way. 


Last week I talked to you all about a “covenant of salt,” and about the challenge of being salt in the world as disciples of Jesus. Jesus again reminds us in this reading the importance of our covenants with each other, and the mutual dependence that is required in our relationships. People, no matter who they are, are not disposable. Our promises to and relationships with each other should not be treated as disposable, either.

We live in a time when the voices and presence of “the little ones” among us are ever more marginalized. We live in a culture that trumpets independence as the highest virtue, often to the detriment of our common bonds of decency, amity, consideration, and neighborliness. We live in a time when people angrily assert their individual rights, even if that right endangers others, but rarely mention the responsibilities, the decency, and concern for the common good that make a society one of ethics as well as law. 


The problem with this false gospel of independence is that it leaves the vulnerable as disposable, as less-than. It makes dependence and need a personal failing rather than part of what makes us human. And this was the false doctrine, this hardness of heart, that Jesus is teaching about in our gospel today.


Hardness of heart is one of the greatest sins in our world today, too. Disdain for others who are vulnerable or who are different from us is applauded, held up as an example of “survival of the fittest.” The “little ones” of today whom we are called to welcome are the same ones that often are the most overlooked in our society.

But get this—they are also the ones Jesus spent the most time with, healing them, embracing them, forgiving them, and welcoming them, to the disgust of those same religious purists.

The differently-abled,
the mentally ill,
the poor,
the homeless,
outcasts,
notorious sinners,
women who were alone in the world,
women who had suffered abuse or rejection,
the hungry,
the unclean,
the diseased,
children,
oppressed and despised minority groups like Samaritans—these are the people whom Jesus challenges his disciples not only to not overlook but to welcome as being just as beloved of God as we ourselves are. For it is that radical welcome and celebration of mutual dependence that is the foundation of the kingdom of God.

Do we welcome everyone, even those “little ones,” and appreciate them for who they are, or do we only pursue relationships that we think will be advantageous to us?

Do we place expectations on people that they just can’t meet, and when they don’t meet them, do we justify their expulsion or exclusion rather than examine our own hardness of heart?

Do we give of ourselves and what we value to build each other up, and to enable the building up of God’s kingdom?

Do we give of ourselves and what we value to witness to God’s abundance within our lives—abundant grace, abundant mercy, abundant love that calls us into being from the moment of our birth to beyond the end of our earthly lives?


For that is the witness of real welcome that communities of faith are called to do and embody in the world. And make no mistake—it is a radical statement against the abandonment and exploitation that is at the heart of the throw-away culture Jesus was criticizing then that still exists today. Our interdependence is a gift from God.

The kingdom of God is a generous kingdom of welcome and mutual dependence that demonstrates the love at the heart of relationship. It is this love and goodness that God imbedded in the very act of creation.

The kingdom of God tenderly recognizes the worth and value of our relationships with each other and with God as being foundational to who we all are, great or little, as beloveds in God’s sight.

Amen.

Preached at the 505 on October 6, and at 8:00 and 10:15 am on October 7, at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville, MO.

Readings:
Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Psalm 26
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
Mark 10:2-16


Notes/Sources:
I am indebted to Dr. Karoline Lewis's essay "Dependence Needs," September 22, 2015, at Dear Working Preacher, at http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?post=3697.

Images: 
1) Jesus and the Children, by Michael D. O'Brien.
2) Fieldstone "Giraffe House," so named because the random pattern of the fieldstone caulked with white resembles the markings of a giraffe.
3) "The Marriage of the Virgin," by Raphael, ca 1504.
4) Graph for the "Way of Love" from the Episcopal Church.
5) Stone Heart and Ezekiel quotation, unknown.
6) "Diversity."

Prayer 2080: Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost



Maker of the Universe,
Architect of Creation,
by your hand and wisdom you created us for communion,
to live in community with You and one another.
Engrave your covenant of love upon our hearts,
O God of Grace and Glory,
that we may celebrate our interdependence with all creation.
Help us live by the higher law of integrity and compassion,
welcoming the kingdom of God
by welcoming and treasuring the little ones among us.
By your healing hand, O Savior,
guide us into right pathways always,
that we may live as witnesses to your gospel
for all to see,
and in seeing, believe.
Holy One, You walk alongside us
in our need and in our joy:
shine the light of your peace
on those we now name.

Amen.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Prayer 2079


As the morning breezes murmur their praise,
harmonizing with branch and leaf,
let us rise to give thanks to our Creator.
Holy One, accept our prayers and praises
as we lift our hearts to You.

Beloved Savior, may we turn to you anew
as you call us to the abundant table of your fellowship;
may we be clothed by your gospel of justice
and work diligently
to lay the foundation of the Beloved Community.

Come, Holy Spirit, extend your light and truth,
that we may be enlightened and sanctified
to walk with integrity
and bear the gospel within our lives.
Lord Jesus, Shepherd of Our Souls,
enfold us within the embrace of your blessing,
and tenderly draw near to those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Prayer 2078: Confession and Lament


In silence and stillness,
we bow before you, O God.
In your compassion, O Merciful One,
accept our our prayers and intercessions
as we lay our cares and confessions at your feet.

We pray for our waywardness and hardness of heart
that blinds us to the wounds of others;
may we be pierced by the empathy that Jesus exemplifies
as we seek to work reconciliation in his name.

We pray that we may see that the little one in faith
whom we are called to welcome
may be the person who makes us uncomfortable;
may we examine our discomfort
as a call to growth.

May we denounce those who mock the torment of others,
who define suffering as justice,
or degrade the vulnerable;
for peace and honor cannot be built
on a foundation of pain.

We pray that we may have the courage to stand with the oppressed,
to overcome hatred and contempt
with love's power and goodness, Lord Christ.

By the power of the Holy Spirit,
stretch forth your healing hand over us,
and over all for whom we pray, O Savior.

Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Prayer, day 2077: On the Feast of St. Francis


Our God and our All,
we place ourselves within the bounds of your peace,
and give You thanks for your lovingkindness.
Let your light shine in our hearts
like Brother Sun and Sister Moon and all the stars
 that we may walk in peace and joy.
You have placed our feet upon Mother Earth,
who sustains us and provides us our food:
may we honor and tend her in love.
As we pass through this day, your gift,
may we be gentle and forgiving to all,
praising You, O God,
in all that we are, do, and say.
Enlighten our minds,
that we may act from a perfect charity,
and sing forth your praises always.
You are love and peace, Lord Christ:
draw into your embrace
all those whom we remember before you as we pray.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Prayer 2076


Most Merciful God,
we rise to greet this day You have made,
hearing the praise song of creation testify to your glory.
May we echo that praise in every moment,
from our rising to our resting,
and bear witness to your Love.
We thank You for your manifold blessings,
especially your fellowship of saints and companions
who guide us in wisdom.
Set our feet firmly
in the paths of peace and compassion,
O Holy One,
and help us to love unreservedly as Jesus taught us.
May your Spirit descend upon us like a cloud,
that our tongues may tell out your wonders, O Earth-maker.
God of Compassion,
bend near to all who seek You,
and envelop all who call upon You with hope.

Amen.

Photo: When we visited St. Lucia in 2013, I awoke in the hammock on the front porch of our cabin at Ti Kaye to find little birds all around me, which gave me a great sense of wonder and joy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Prayer, day 2075: On the Beatitudes


O God, You bless us in every moment,
and uphold us by the strength of your Love:
hear our prayer, for our hope is in You. 

Bless those who work as your servants,

for they have fixed their hearts upon salvation in each moment.
Bless those who are gentle and kind,

for they draw others to You through their witness.
Bless those who hunger for a just society,

for they seek to build the kingdom of God.
Bless those who demonstrate mercy and forgiveness,

for they live out a life of Love and Charity.
Bless those who are innocent and childlike,

for their hearts are always open to You.
Bless those who spread peace in their wake,

for they call us to live as better people and children of your household.
Bless those who suffer for their faith,

for their resolve will never be shaken.
Bless those who cry out to You,

for they know that God will comfort them in their needs.

Amen.
476

Monday, October 1, 2018

Prayer 2074



Almighty God, we give you thanks,
and rise to study your commandments,
remembering always your lovingkindness.
Make us kind, wise, and welcoming,
and lead us to open wide our hearts
and gather the little ones to you, Blessed Savior.
As a fisherman casts his net into the sea,
so let your gospel draw in all who seek you.
Bless us and keep us in your mercy, O Lord,
that we may ever seek to knit ourselves together in love.
Spread the wings of your protection, O Holy One,
over all who are in any need or trouble,
especially these beloveds for whom we pray.

Amen.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Being Salt: Sermon for Proper 21 B


Once upon a time there was a foolish king who had three beautiful daughters. He decided to ask each of them one day how much they loved him.

“Oh, Father,” the first daughter, who was known for her greed, exclaimed, “you are dearer to me than gold!” This answer pleased the king, and he kissed her and ordered that she be given a beautiful gold necklace. Happily, she skipped away.

“Oh Father!” the second daughter, who was known for her vanity, exclaimed, “you are dearer to me than the finest silk!” This answer also pleased the king, and he kissed her and ordered that she be given a beautiful embroidered silk gown. Happily, she too skipped away.

“Oh Father!” the third and youngest daughter, who was known for her wisdom, exclaimed, “you are dearer to me than salt!” This answer enraged the king. “You compare your love for me to a common rock, ugly and worthless!” He turned to the guards. “Take her away from my sight, and let her be a servant in the kitchen, so she can be with her precious salt all the time!” the king thundered, and his guards took her, gave her serving rags, and assigned her a room in the dungeon near the cellars with the other servants. The other servants felt great pity for her, and yet they dared not help her.

The king then proclaimed a great feast for his other two daughters. The servants, including the princess, scurried back and forth from the cellars to the kitchens, preparing all kinds of sumptuous foods. The cook herself, a kindly woman, also came down and supervised the servants in selecting the vegetables and meats from the cellars. The princess had an idea. She told the cook her plan and the cook agreed.

The king, his other two daughters, and his guests had gathered in the great hall above, and were eagerly anticipating a magnificent feast. The first daughter was wearing her fine gold necklace, and the second daughter preened in her magnificent silk gown. The two older sisters demanded that their sister be dressed as a maid and be forced to wait upon them.

Dish after dish of steaming vegetables and fine meats were set before the revelers. Eagerly, the king heaped his plate high, and tasted the first dish. A look of astonishment passed over his face. He then tried each of the other dishes, and then angrily shoved the plate aside. “Bring me the cook!” he thundered.

The cook was hustled into the great hall. “What is the meaning of this?” the king shouted. “This food is terrible!” “Your majesty banished your daughter to the dungeon, and stripped her of her rightful place in your household, and I was afraid you would do the same to me. So I carefully prepared the food without any salt to save myself.”

The king stood, open-mouthed. He then tasted the food, and it was completely bland and tasteless. The king’s third daughter, dressed in her maid’s uniform, came and knelt before him. “Father, I said that you were dearer to me than salt, because salt is necessary for life, for flavor. That is how much I love you.”

And the king, realizing his mistake, embraced his daughter and asked her forgiveness, which she promptly gave, for she did love her father. He placed his crown upon her head, his signet ring upon her finger, his robe upon her shoulders, and made her his heir, realizing her wisdom. It’s funny the things we take for granted, the folk wisdom we forget.

As I was thinking about salt this week, I found that there were versions of this folk tale from all over the world, everywhere from India to Italy to Germany. Although we take it for granted, salt has played a crucial role in world history. 



In the ancient world, salt was such a valuable commodity that Roman soldiers were paid in salt, which is where we get the word “salary” to this day. A man in love was called “salax” which means to be “salted.”


German brides had their shoes salted in ancient times as a hope for children, because salt was associated with fertility. Entire trading empires rose and fell, and wars were fought over salt, which was thought to be rare. One form of salt, saltpeter, is a necessary ingredient in making gunpowder, as the Chinese discovered.


In the Hebrew scriptures, salt was a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and the Israelites, and salt was mixed into the offerings as a sign of the covenant, as noted in Leviticus 2:13. In Numbers 18:19, when God is setting Aaron and his descendants aside as priests, God gives them the right to all the offerings given to God forever, saying, “All the holy offerings that the Israelites present to the Lord I have given to you, together with your sons and daughters, as a perpetual due; it is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord for you and your descendants as well.” 

This may be because salt is a preservative beyond compare—which is why the ancient Egyptians preserved bodies with a special salt called natron. Salt is a symbol for purity, as anyone who has a blue cylinder of Morton’s salt may know.

Salt endures. Dissolve salt in water, and if you boil the water, the salt will be the residue in the pan after all the water has evaporated.

The body, both human and animal, needs salt, which is necessary for the correct functioning of our cells, and a healthy adult human body on average has just a bit more than a half pound of salt as part of its composition. Some people swear by the health effects of lamps made from pink Himalayan salt. Trader Joe’s sells a gift box of seven different exotic salts: Kalahari Desert salt, Hawai’ian Black Lava salt, Hawai’ian red salt, Inca Sun salt, Blue Persian salt, Himalayan Pink salt, and South African Oak smoked, and that ignores the trendy kosher salt and sea salt. (1)

In our gospel today, Jesus compares his disciples to salt. “Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Coming on the heels of his warning about not being a stumbling block for anyone, especially the innocent, what he’s saying here is that we are tasked with preserving each other, with building each other up, in valuing the dignity and worth of every person. We are not called to destroy each other, attack each other, or exploit each other for our own perceived gain.

In Matthew 5:13, Jesus makes a similar point when he tells his disciples, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot,” and then he continues that we are to be the light of the world.

Salt and light. Preservation and enlightenment, or wisdom. How can we be salt in the world? In the midst of the division, hatred, and violence that characterizes so much of our world, we are called to care for each other, look out for each other, accept each other as we are, as brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to work through love to lift up each other, and turn aside from all inside of us that would hurt someone else, no matter how we might justify that by our own fears or discomfort.


We live together as members of a community of Christians and out in the world by our own covenant of salt: to care for each other, to give of ourselves to each other because we recognize that together we are stronger, and divided we are weaker than we would be together. This is a foundation of discipleship.

That’s an important consideration as we prepare for our dedicated stewardship campaign, as well. The money we offer, we offer to God, but what we are really offering is ourselves, just as salt was mixed into all the offerings in the ancient Hebrew system of sacrifice. Our giving empowers us to be the disciples we long to be in the world. It's how we communicate who we are in a world of scarcity.

Sacrifice is too often interpreted in our culture by its negative connotation: something that hurts to give. But sacrifice has another, more important meaning: it makes holy. It purifies. It dedicates. It preserves and hallows. It brings peace rather than pain. It builds up community rather than sets us at competition with one another, and empowers us as a community in our mission to the world.

May we have salt in ourselves, and be salt to each other—steadfast, preserving, life-giving.

Amen.


Readings:
Esther 7:1-6, 9-10, 9:20-22
Psalm 124
James 5:13-20
Mark 9:38-50

Notes:
1) I am indebted for the idea for the fable and for the facts about salt in world history to Mark Kurlansky, author of Salt: A World History, pp. 1-8


Preached at the 505 on September 29, and at 8:00 and 10:15 pm at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Ellisville.


Prayer 2073: Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost


Most Merciful God,
we gather around your altar
to worship and give you thanks,
praising your wondrous love.
Help us, Lord Jesus,
always to remember your call to community and grace
 formed in the name of Christ
and bearing your truth,
that we be generous and compassionate with each other,
loving each other as you love us.
Knit us together as one,
dedicated to your covenant of hope and mercy,
that we may never be a stumbling block to any
and be welcoming to all who seek our fellowship.
By the power of the Holy Spirit,
make us salt in the world, Blessed Jesus,
a holy offering and a priestly people
embodying your gospel with integrity.
Press the seal of your blessing
upon all who seek you, O God,
and especially on those we now name.

Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Prayer 2072: Michaelmas (St. Michael and All Angels)


Almighty God, Ruler of the Universe,
we join with the heavenly chorus of angels and archangels
singing eternal praise to your Name.
Stars and galaxies ring out with the melody of creation;
celestial hymns proclaim your glory, O Creator.
Holy One, teach us also to witness to your glory at all times,
to bear glad tidings of hope into darkness,
to carry your message of compassion and peace
to the ends of the earth and the edges of our lives.
Make us, like Michael,
the defenders of creation, O God,
and protectors of all in danger or distress.
Give your angels charge over all who call upon You,
all who work, or watch, or weep this day,
those who are ill or suffering,
especially those for whom we pray.

Amen.

Gabriel (Jibrail) in Islamic art.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Prayer 2071: A Prayer for Integrity


Most Merciful God,
set your seal upon our hearts,
that they may be filled with your truth
and animated by your gospel of hope.

Teach us to walk with integrity and honesty,
and strengthen us to defend the defenseless among us,
living into your commandments, O God,
in spirit, word, and deed.

Blessed Savior, place your healing hands upon our lives,
and give us the courage to live into your grace,
carrying your Name into the world
as witnesses to your compassion and justice.

Spirit of the Living God,
draw us into your light,
and gather us into your embrace,
placing your blessing over those for whom we pray.

Amen.