Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/23

A month ago,
just four weeks ago today,
do I remember what then
bothered me? angered me?
ruled my day?  saddened me?   
worried me and brought me down?

Chances are,
I'll have to stop and think
and even then, 
I still might not remember 
what was happening -
just a month ago today...
So, help me keep today day in perspective, Lord:
today with all its problems, joys and sorrows,
its ups and downs, its worries...

Help me remember, Lord,
that whatever this day brings -
it, too, shall pass - and through it all  
you're ever at my side...   


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Pause or Prayer: SATURDAY 10/22

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I watch a leaf, falling from its branch,
   skittering here and there,
      dancing down the street
         on the wind's own whim and will...

I follow that one leaf:
   it dawdles and it pokes along and of a sudden,
      with surprising lift, it leaps - a jeté -
         sprung of a spirit my soul desires...

I am that leaf, Lord,
   skipping all about but sometimes stalled
      still upon a grassy path,
         keeping secrets I long to shout...
I am that leaf
   and your Spirit's breath beneath
      gives me flight and then, gently,
         sets me down to rest...

I am that leaf and without your breath
   I'd have no power
      to rise above what keeps me down,
         to fly beyond what holds me back...
I am that leaf, I cry to you
    "Lord,  lift me up,
        raise me out of sorrow's depths
           to joy I'll find in you alone...

When your power lifts me up
   let nothing weigh so heavy on my heart
      that I should fail and fall
         and miss your Spirit's wing...

I'm that leaf and you're the wind I need
   to breathe, to dance, to run, to play, 
      to live and make my way with grace
         along my lonely path...

In the quiet of my prayer 
   and with your Spirit's power
      lift me up and carry me
         to where you'd have me go today...

In the stillness help me see
   the days and ways you've carried me 
      when I've not guessed or known 
         the source of all my strength...

In my prayer, Lord, help me know
   your Spirit's been my life and hope
      when I have been that lonely leaf,
         fluttering and falling from its branch... 



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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 10/21

The first one arrived today, Lord,
with Halloween more than a week away
(not to mention a month till Thanksgiving)...

The first one, Lord, with more to follow -
I'm as sure of that as I am of your birthday
yet two months away...

The first one, Lord:
this season's first catalogue of
things I don't need,
things that my family and friends don't need,
things that will surely wear out
then be thrown into piles of all the things
that none of us need
but so many of us think we want...

A holiday catalogue of
things I don't need
yet, things that beguile ,
lure and seduce me
as sure as that fruit in the garden of Eden,
now photographed, catalogued
and hanging so low...

A catalogue of things I don't need
when at the same time, Lord,
there are so many things
I dearly, truly, deeply need:
things that I'll never find
in a catalogue, flyer or ad
for there's neither a price nor a discount
on things I really need...

I know I need love - your love, Lord -
and while I know that I have it
I'm often unmindful, distracted by
the bright and the shiny,
the new and improved,
the fastest, the biggest,
the smallest, the smartest,
the cleverly, beautifully wrapped
and the neatly presented on page after page
in catalogues brimming with
- things I don't need...

Don't let me fall for it this year, Lord!
Help me make a distinction between
the things that I need and don't need,
between things that I want but don't  really need,
between all that I already have
and the extras I surely could do without,
between all I treasure and hold as greater
than anything I will ever find
in catalogues
of things that I don't really need...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 10/20

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What a shame 
when the burdens and sorrows and the fears and worries 
of any given day
keep me from seeing, hearing, tasting,
touching, knowing and enjoying
the simple blessings and joys
that same day holds...

Though this day may have its problems, Lord,
however troubled and anxious I may be,
let nothing keep me from this day's peace,
its refreshment and delights,
from it's sweeter moments and hidden blessings:
from the simple peace your presence brings...



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Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 10/19

Kevin and Sanna 10/19/13
(In place of my usual Wednesday "Texting with God," I invite you to celebrate the third anniversary of this couple whose marriage I witnessed for the Church and about whose wedding I wrote this prayer the next day.)

Yesterday, Lord, the joy of a wedding,
Kevin's and Sanna's,
took me far from my worries
and far from all that haunts my heart...

For over an hour I rejoiced in their love,
in the promise and hope
of a bride and her groom blessed by your peace,
graced by your Spirit, united as one...

For an hour, Lord, your presence in them,
in their vows, in their kiss,
lifted my heart with most welcome delight...

You didn't free my soul of its cares
but you let me know, deeply:
whatever the burdens that weigh on my heart,
joy still comes to visit, to touch and uplift...

In "good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
all the days of our lives"
you offer us peace - even joy -
and the grace to accept it,
if just for an hour...

Open my eyes, my ears and my mind, Lord,
open my heart to what joy comes my way
and let me not miss, let go or forget
the gift of sweet joy when it stops by my door...


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/18

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Today's Pause for Prayer is very different:
a video, a TED talk...

Watch, listen - and be grateful...


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Monday Morning Offering: October 17

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!
Today my heart is filled with joy,
more joy than Mondays often bring!

For the joy of faith in you,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy your gracious Spirit brings,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of others' love,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of trusting you,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of new things just begun,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of resting in your arms,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of good and faithful friends,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of small surprises,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of just the simplest things,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of warm October days,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of days well spent,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of a good night's sleep,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy your grace affords me,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of word and promise kept,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy your mercy offers,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of starting over again,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of living one day at a time,
I praise you, Lord!

For the joy of giving thanks,
I praise you, Lord!

What might you add to this litany?

For the joy of............................
I praise you, Lord! 

For joy that calms my fears,
for joy that eases worries,
for joy that heals old wounds,
for joy that mends my heart,
for joy that feeds my faith,
for joy that brings me peace,
for the joy that trusts all shall be well,
I praise and thank you, Lord!

And for joy that has no words
I thank you, Lord,
and offer you this joyful song of praise:

Praise His Holy Name*
Keith Hampton (b.1957)

Sing till the power of the Lord come down.
Shout Hallelujah! Praise His Holy name!

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see.
Jesus, Jesus, how I love Thee! Shout Hallelujah!
Praise his Holy name!

Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free?
No, there's a cross for ev'ryone and there's a cross for me.
Jesus, Jesus, how I love Thee! Shout Hallelujah!
Praise His Holy Name!

Holy Jesus, praise his name!
Hallelujah! Praise His Holy Name!
Let us Praise His Name, Hallelujah, Lord!
Praise His Holy Name! Hallelujah Oh, oh-
Praise High Holy Name!
Praise Him!

*Syracuse University Singers


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Aaron and Hur spotting for Moses!

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Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

I’ve sometimes wondered if God looks forward
to the playoffs and the World Series
because when that time of year comes around,
there are fewer teams in the mix- 
and thus fewer fans storming heaven for victory -
so God’s decision about whose prayer to answer is that much easier!
(That’s IF you believe that God does, indeed,
have a hand in deciding who wins ball games...)
But then every 4 years that gets klutzed up by the presidential election
and right now God is overrun with prayers
for or against one candidate or another.

People ask me all the time to pray for them,
for members of their families, for their friends
and for particular needs.
And I do pray for them.
I lift up them with their loved ones in prayer to God,
like Aaron and Hur, in the first reading, lifted up Moses’ arms.

And I know that many of you pray for others, too,
lifting up in prayer the ones you love,
the ones whose own arms of prayer have grown weary.
And sometimes there comes a healing, a recovery, a reconciliation,
a job, or peace of mind.
But sometimes, in spite of Jesus saying the answer will come speedily
(that’s on his time, not ours)
sometimes the answer to our prayer seems not to come at all
or is not the answer we wanted,
or is so long in coming that we begin to think it never will.
And then we may be temped to think that God hasn’t heard us,
or has forgotten us, or is simply ignoring our prayer.
When that happens, some people give up on prayer -
and some even give up on God -
or at least give up on expecting God to answer as we want.

But my experience as a pastor tells me that most folks don’t give up.
Most of you don’t give up on prayer.
Most people continue to believe and to pray,
Most people do persevere in prayer,
seeking God’s help again the next time they're in need
whether their last prayer was answered as they hoped - or not.
Are we foolish in seeking again the help of God
who so often seems not to help?
No. We’re not foolish.
We’ve come to realize, to understand, to accept
that when we turn to God in prayer
- especially when our needs are most acute -
that the greatest benefit of prayer is the assurance
that we have a place to turn to, someone to go to,
especially when it seems there’s no place to turn
and no one to help us.

When we were children, we lifted our arms up to adults
to fix our broken toys, to put a band-aid on a skinned knee
and to mend our  broken hearts and shattered dreams.
There were times when mom or dad, or others,
did indeed fix what was broken.
And sometimes they could not.
But that didn’t keep us from going back to them again and again
with the next broken toy or bruised feelings
in need of fixing and healing  - and, most of all, comfort.
We kept going back to them because we knew
that even if our parents couldn’t fix what was broken,
they’d be there for us, and hold us,
and comfort us and grieve the brokenness with us
- especially in times when they couldn't make things better.

And so it is with God and us.
I don’t know why God, who could do anything and everything,
so often - doesn't.
But we need to remember that the purpose of prayer,
the purpose of all prayer,
is not to get what we want or even what we need,
much less to move or change God's mind.
Rather, the primary purpose of prayer
is to draw us into a closer relationship
with the One we pray to, with God.

We often hear parents say how they wish they could take away
their children’s hurt and brokenness and make it their own.
Jesus says –and did – the very same thing.
The Lord is no stranger to our brokenness and our pain
and, on the cross, he took all of our hurt on his shoulders
- and made it his own.
And in his moment of most acute need he cried out to God
who seemed to be abandoning him  – and no answer came.
At least no answer came until after Christ abandoned himself
to his Father’s will - and his Father’s arms.

The greater the need, the more painful the brokenness
and the more fervently we pray for the Lord’s help
the more we need to trust
that the one answer that will always come, without fail,
is God’s voice saying, like a loving mother, like a loving father,
“I’m here…  I won’t leave you...   I’m with you… always...”

God may not answer our prayer as we would like but without fail
he will be with us in and through our time of need.

The best gift prayer has to offer us
is not so much the granting of our desire
as it is the opportunity to grow in our relationship with God
not because God will always fix things for us,
but because he faithfully walks with us in our brokenness.

We are about to break the bread which the Lord will make his body,
broken for us that we might remember and know
that he is here…  that he is with us…
that he will not abandon us…

May Christ broken once for us on the Cross
and broken again for us here in the bread of this altar,
may Chris heal the brokenness we bring to his table today
and draw us deeper into his love.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/16

Today's Pause for Prayer is a simple Alleluia...

No matter how difficult today may seem,
no matter how low your spirits may be,
no matter how bleak the future appears,
take a moment to recall someone or something
you're grateful for...

Got it?

Now take a few minutes
with this instrumental version of Leonard Cohen's Alleluia
and praise God
for whomever, whatever you're grateful for...

And be at peace
with this simple Alleluia...


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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 10/15

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Persistence in prayer - that's the story in the scriptures this Sunday, the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Have you been persistent in your prayer?  And what has come of that?

The painting above features Joshua's victory over the Amalekites but the real force here isn't in Joshua's troops, it's in Moses' arms, supported by Aaron and Hur.  That's them up on the hill, out of the fray, in the background.  Want to read more about this in Exodus?  Check out this Sunday's readings and commentary on them here.  The day's gospel passage (Luke) is tame by comparison.  A judge is worn out with the persistent pleading of a widow in court.  Check the same link for the rest of the story.

Bringing children to church with you this weekend?  Help them prepare to hear the Word with some hints from this page.

But wait - there's more! Persistence won't let go in this weekend's scriptures.  Paul reminds Timothy "to be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient."

Whether "convenient or inconvenient," take some time to ponder and pray over these texts - read and listen for what the Lord is saying to you...


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