Sunday Prayer: Mercy and Love

O God our God,
MERCY be your name and
LOVE be your expression.

We want to put our best foot forward with you,
present our bravest face to you in prayer,
stand with courage on holy ground.
We want you to notice us,
to think well of us.

But if MERCY is your name and
if LOVE is your expression,

then at your altar we would exchange
our vanities for renewed humility:
here is our pride
to be replaced with your praise;
here is our claim to authority
in exchange for hopeless wonder;
here are our powers and privileges
to be unsettled by discomfort;
here is our patriotism in exchange
for interdependence;
here are our victories to be
replaced with dedicated service;
here too is our cynicism
in exchange for
an abundant spirit of grace.

Write MERCY on our hearts
and LOVE on our lives.

In your goodness, O God,
work out the healing of those who are sick
and spring forth a well of comfort
for those who mourn.
Do not be far
from those whose lives are at risk:
especially refugees and undocumented
travelers worldwide,
especially the imprisoned,
especially those whose churches
have been set ablaze,
especially the ones who are daily made
to feel unsafe due to racism.

Be just in your MERCY, O God,
and be swift with your LOVE.

O God our God,
MERCY be your name and
LOVE be your expression.
Amen and amen.

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Saturday Prayer

A prayer for Independence Day from the Gospel According to Nina Simone (song linked below).

 

Lord, in your mercy.

I wish I knew how
It would feel to be free
I wish I could break
All the chains holdin’ me
I wish I could say
All the things that I should say
Say ’em loud say ’em clear
For the whole ’round world to hear

I wish I could share
All the love that’s in my heart
Remove all the bows
That keep us apart
I wish you could know
What it means to be me
Then you’d see and agree
That every man should be free

I wish I could give
All I’m longin’ to give
I wish I could live like I’m longing to live
I wish I could do all the things that I can do
And though I’m way over due
I’d be startin’ a new

Well I wish I could be
Like a bird in the sky
How sweet it would be
If I found I could fly
Oh I’d soar to the sun
And look down at the sea

Then I’d sing ’cause I’d know yeah
And I’d sing ’cause I’d know yeah
And I’d sing ’cause I’d know

I’d know how it feels
I’d know how it feels to be free
Yeah, yeah I’d know how it feels
Yes, I’d know
I’d know how it feels, how it feels
To be free, oh lord

I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

Categories: Saturday Prayer | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

11th Hour Preacher Party: Welcoming Prophets

If you have ever preached in the congregation where you grew up, this Gospel lesson probably hung over your head as you prepared! Hopefully you were received more warmly than Jesus was at the synagogue in his hometown.

Today’s readings could take you in many different directions. How do we welcome prophets in our midst? How does our welcome influence the authority or power of the prophet? Where are we sent out into the world and for what purpose? What baggage do we bring with us and what do we leave behind?

Wearing Sandals Photo by Katya Ouchakof, 2012

Wearing Sandals
Photo by Katya Ouchakof, 2012

If you’re preaching on something other than the Gospel lesson, a whole host of additional topics arise! You could share the story of David as king, and what that meant for the people of Israel. Or explore the times when God’s people today are “impudent and stubborn” as they were in Ezekiel’s time. Or what it means to boast in weakness. Or reflect on the psalmist turning his/her eyes to God (123) or praising God in the temple (48). And if you’re really bold, you could preach on “the third heaven” that Paul writes about in 2 Corinthians!

Those of you in the USA might be feeling the need to recognize Independence Day in worship on Sunday. How does that fit in with your worship service and your preaching? There are plenty of other current affairs that might find their way into your preaching… legalization of same-sex marriage (nationally or denominationally), hate crimes and terrorism at home or abroad, the burning of black churches in the US South. What is calling you this week? Share your ideas below! I’m about to put the kettle on, so help yourself to a cup of tea. Happy writing!

You can find the RCL lessons here.
Get more ideas from this week’s Lectionary Leanings.

Categories: 11th Hour Preacher Party | Tags: , , , , | 45 Comments

Friday Prayer: Hope Haiku

Shots. Flames. Grief. Disunity.
Spirit soars, draws in, consoles.
Hope is not quenched yet.

Categories: Friday Prayer | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Friday Five: Joy

(A bit early for those of you who are ahead of me, timewise!)

A few days ago, a very smart RevGal (toast to Ann Kansfield!) put a post on her Facebook page asking her readers to share.

She said, “What’s the thing in your life that makes your heart sing? When do you feel most alive?”

I found answering this/these questions to be extremely evocative, and I invite you to join me. You don’t have to list just one thing, nor do you have to list five. But close your eyes, ponder a bit, and then share.

I purposely do not include an image with this Friday Five. Let your imagination go!

Do let us know in the comments if you play along, either right here or at your own blog.

Categories: Friday Five | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Meet-n-Greet–sisters of summer

Today is the first day of the “Hometown Fest” in the town where my church is located. And the first day of the “Lakeside Fest” in the town where I live. And I noticed on the train today that another town in between those two is setting up for their imaginatively named “fourth of July Fest.”

In other words, it’s festival season. The carnival rides are up, the sun is shining, the fair food is cooking, and the local bands are warming up.

And here on the blog, it’s a New Member Fest!

I invite you to hop around the different blog-booths and see what’s on offer from these great writers:

Melanie is a “recovering environmental lobbyist” currently working on a Masters of Writing at Johns Hopkins. She says “Writing has been spiritually and emotionally healing for me, and I enjoy encouraging others to explore writing as a path to serenity and personal freedom. I believe we’re put here to love and to learn from each other — I hope that my journey will be of some use to you, and I trust that your stories and comments will help me grow as well.”

Nurya‘s blog is called Churchwork…her journey has taken her from “none” to UU to Episcopalian. And yes, her name really is Nurya Love Parish, that’s not a ministerial nom de plume: “The name “Nurya” means “light of God” in Aramaic. It’s easy to pronounce: noor-yah. (Although I tend to answer to anything, including confused looks from people reading it for the first time.) “Love” is my mother’s maiden name. Once upon a time, her family owned Love’s Bakery. I acquired “Parish” when I married my husband. We like to share.”

Dianne is a Methodist provisional elder who lived and taught in New Orleans until Katrina, and then found her way through seminaries and into parish ministry. She has been recently appointed to work with the Conference on diversity and cross-cultural issues. Dianne also has an author blog that expands on her book Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage.

Elsa is a longtime ring member who has moved her website, along with her life, to a new home for a new purpose. Elsa is a UCC minister in New Jersey, an artist, and partner to a military officer. She invites us to explore possibilities with her: “My call into ministry began when my heart broke open after my mother’s death. Though it took me a long time to understand and an even longer time to say “yes” to what God imagined for me, I hope my learning curve will be a little faster as I follow my heart. As you read these words and the dreams I have for ministry, I hope and pray that we can find ways to say “yes” together.”

Nicole is a Presbyterian (USA) pastor in Atlanta. She is also a runner, a foodie, a world traveler, a basketball fan, and a cat owner. Her most recent post reflects on lessons of life and ministry learned on the golf course. (!)

 

Welcome, all! We are glad you’re here.

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It’s Gotta Change…how?

“Let’s work together to make this world

more like God’s dream

and less like our nightmare.”

– Episcopal Presiding Bishop-Elect Michael Curry

standing around the world

Oh, Friend!

We have had such a week. No matter who we are,

no matter how we believe

about the things that have happened in US government in the past days,

(SCOTUS, flags, pastors not self-immolating)

we can all say:

it has been a transmogrifying week.

And here’s the story as we look forward:

Black female pastors are being threatened in South Carolina

Black churches are being burned.

The KKK is sending out recruiting material in

California, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, and New York

(with a peppermint tucked in, to sweeten the message?)

FRIEND! We need to stand up, we need to do something

What? What? What?

Help us hear and heed the leaders who will rise up

Keep them in your protection and grace

Keep us all uncomfortable, keep us listening and marching and protecting

and asking, “how can we help you?”

“How can we build relationships?”

“How can we be your people in the world today?”

We know that you hear, and that you answer.

Together we say, Amen.

Categories: RevGalBlogPals | 3 Comments

Wednesday Festival from General Convention

I am an Episcopal Priest and Alternate Deputy at the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention. It is held every three years. We are in Salt Lake City this time. As I pray daily for our deputies and bishops, there are specific words I either ask God to help us avoid, or attributes I hope we embody. Looking through the list this week, I decided to utilize some of those same words to help me find the excellent writes I commend to you in this Wednesday Festival.

May all of us working in God’s Kingdom be endued with grace, fearlessness, & blooming where we are planted while refusing to be lukewarm. Amen.

Categories: Wednesday Festival | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary: “Is Not This The Carpenter?” Edition

The expectations of those around them are not high in this week’s lectionary readings – for David, for Paul or for Jesus.  And yet they persevere, even in the face of ridicule, taunts or threats of physical violence.   Where is God in this, and how do you bring the good news to your folks, whether the expectations of others are high or low?

Are you doing a David-centric series this summer? If so, let us know how today’s story of the taking of the city of Jerusalem fits into that series.

Paul, who says he just hates to boast, nonetheless finds a way to do so in today’s reading from Corinthians.

And Jesus, without honor in his own hometown, sends the disciples forth to spread the good news in other places.

For our US preachers, July 5 is the day after Independence Day.  How does a holiday weekend impact your attendance and planning?

Check out this week’s texts here, and let us know how things are going in the comments.

Categories: Revised Common Lectionary, Tuesday Lectionary Leanings | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

The Pastoral is Political: ‘If we go, they win’

Recent weeks have seen unspeakable horrors committed against innocents by people, it would seem, with a distorted ideology. First there was the terrible shooting at Mother Emannuel Church, then on Friday a beheading in France, a bomb in Kuwait at a Mosque and the gunning down of tourists on a Tunisian beach.

DSCF0053 The beach at Hammamet (my own photo)

It’s this last event I want to focus on. I love Tunisia. I have visited there many times and enjoyed wonderful down time with the family there. As a family we have very fond memories of our holidays there. We have friends there. And my heart is hurting for them. The actions of that gun man have potentially decimated the economy of the country. Tourism accounts for 15.2% of the country’s GDP, 473,000 people are employed in the tourism industry. Tunisia is a perfect place for a holiday: sunshine, beautiful beaches, friendly people….

P1020444The water park in Souse (my own photo)

This gunman may have killed western tourists but he may also have just brought his country and his fellow countrymen to their knees…over what? Some twisted view of Isalm? Some weird idea that he is standing up for what he believes in?

We must not allow the world to tar all Muslims with the same brush. Seifeddine Rezgui does not represent Islam. Reports indicate that the gunman was looking for western tourists. One news article showed a photo of a line of local people walking along the beach behind the gunman. These brave people were acting as a barricade to stop him continuing with his shooting spree. There are also stories of hotel staff doing all they could to help their guests get to safety.

I feel guilty. Earlier this year our friends and my hubby and I discussed going away for a week in the sun. I wanted to go back to see our friends in Tunisia, back to the wee hotel we have stayed in. But we opted for a week in Turkey instead. Why? Because of an earlier attack on tourists at the Bardo Museum in Tunis – a Museum we have visited. We had a lovely week in Turkey but I wish now we had gone to Tunisia to support our friends, because God knows they will need all the support they can get now.

P1060262 In the Medina at Hammamet (my own photo)

Standing up to extremists takes courage. But we cannot let them win. One tourist this week end who opted to stay put makes this point in direct simplicity. ‘if we go, they win.’ And many tourists have opted to stay and finish their holiday. God bless them.

It is estimated that the British death toll will reach thirty – that’s THIRTY. I know of one RevGal in Scotland who along with her congregation wept and mourned the loss of two of her church members yesterday. The ripples go wide from events like this.

Our world is in turmoil. My heart aches for those mourning and for the people of this wonderful country.

Categories: The Pastoral is Political | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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