Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Morning Offering: LABOR DAY 2014

Image: George Mendoza


Good morning, good God!

This Labor Day, Lord,
I'm grateful for the world you created
and that I, too, am the work of your hands:
you formed my inmost being, 

you knit me in my mother's womb...*

How can it be that you took the time,
before time was,
to imagine my being,
to consider even for a moment
that I would exist:
to conceive of me
before I was conceived?

And then from the love of two,
you made, you fashioned me 

in your own image and in theirs
and gave me a soul you'd given no other
and breathed in me
the spirit, the breath of your own life...

How great are your works, O Lord,
and how grateful am I
that this life of mine
is truly the work of your hands...

Who am I that you should be mindful of me,
care for me and love me?
Yet you have crowned me with glory and honor:
your love, my crown,
your mercy, my glory,
your grace, my honor...

Without you, Lord, I am nothing;
without you,
I am not...

You created me, Lord,
and now I,
the work of your hands,
offer you
the work of my hands,
knowing that all that I have
was first your gift to me...

Every good thought of mine,
every imagined word, 

every work I dream,
every gift I offer
is the work of your Spirit within me -
and yet you are pleased
when I lift up to you a gift
that was always yours to begin with...

On this Labor Day, Lord, I offer my work
and pray you'll accept it and know
that I'm humbled that my hands share in your work
and your hands share in mine...

And I pray for those who have no work
and for those whose work's too much to bear:
lift up the jobless, Lord 

and lighten the load of the weary...

Make me mindful, Lord,
of the ways you move in my life
through the work of all whose paths cross mine...

Good God of Monday mornings
and of every labored day,
I praise you for the work you began in me
and pray you bring it to fulfillment...

 *Psalm 139


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Homily for August 31

Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

“You duped me, Lord, and I let myself be duped!”
So says Jeremiah to the Lord…

DUPE is quite a word:  it means to deceive, trick, hoodwink, swindle,
defraud, cheat, delude, double-cross, mislead or fool someone.

Ugly, nasty business – all of it.

So, was this Jeremiah’s fate?  Did the Lord DUPE him?
There’s certainly no doubt that Jeremiah felt duped:
he felt the Lord had used him and then abandoned him
to the mocking reproach and derision of those around him.

But, would the Lord deceive or double-cross anyone
let alone someone who’d been faithful in doing what the Lord asked?
No.  The Lord is not a con artist.
There is no duplicity in the Lord.  There is only truth.

But the truth is, we never know the whole of the Lord’s truth
-- certainly not all at once.
We know the truth partially, as we live it and discern it.
And, as it unfolds, the truth will often discomfort us.

Haven’t all of us, at one time or another, felt that we’ve been duped?
And of course, sometimes, we have been duped!
There are people in our lives who have deliberately misled us,
deceived us and defrauded us.

Ugly, nasty business – all of it.

But there are also times when we’ve felt duped,
especially in relationships with others:
times when the unfolding truth of our experience
has brought us to situations we never expected to face
and to places we never expected to visit.

It’s especially when the truth lands us in unanticipated circumstances,
in unforeseen difficulty,
it’s then when we’re most likely to feel duped -
cheated of what we imagined to be rightfully ours.

• This happens in our relationships in our families
when our parents or our spouse or our siblings or our children
hurt or disappoint us, when they don’t come through for us -
as they had promised, as we had expected,
as we had hoped -- as we had prayed for.

• And this happens in the church when what we took for granted     
is shown to be tragically lacking, unjust or dishonest
as the church’s humanity unfolds before us in all its brokenness. 

• And, as it happened with Jeremiah so it often happens with us:
the slowly unfolding experience of our lives
reveals more and more of what the Lord’s truth asks of us
and where it’s leading us – ready or not.

Like Jeremiah we have our own ideas about how life should unfold,
particularly if we’re in a relationship with God.
We are sometimes surprised that even in our faithfulness,
things don’t unfold, things don’t go just as we had expected,
just as we had hoped – just as we had prayed for.

And that brings us to the heart of the matter:
to Jeremiah’s heart, to the Lord’s heart and to our hearts.

This passage from Jeremiah 
is less about his disappointment in the Lord,
and much more about the revival of God’s love  in his life 
--  in spite of how things turned out.

Remember Jeremiah’s words: My fidelity to the Lord
 “has brought me derision and reproach all the day.
I say to myself,
 ‘I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more!’
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.”

Jeremiah, though feeling duped by the Lord,
knows the fire of God’s love still burning within him.
And he surrenders to that love and the Lord.

And don’t we do the same?

• Do we not continue to love even those who have failed or hurt us,
even those we feel have duped us?

• Are we not even now worshipping in the faith of a church
whose humanity and frailty have angered and disappointed us,
sometimes leaving us feeling duped?

• And how many times in the course of our lives have we come to see,
when feeling duped:
that God’s way is not always my way;
God’s plan, not always my plan;
that God’s wisdom is always greater than my own;
and God’s truth is always unfolding in my life
-- in ways I cant yet imagine or anticipate?

In the gospel here, Peter tries to shield the Lord,
from the uncomfortable truth unfolding in Jesus' life:
Jesus is going to suffer and he’s going to die.
When Peter tries to deny this truth, Jesus rebukes him
and he points to the utter, stark truth of the Cross.

On the night before he died on that Cross, Jesus prayed in the garden,
“Father – let his cup of suffering pass me by,
but your will, your truth, not mine, be done.”

And hanging on the Cross, just before he breathed his last,
Jesus cried out, 
“Why have you abandoned me?”
(You duped me, O God, and I let myself be duped.)

But the Father had not duped the Son, had not abandoned Jesus.
The unfolding truth of God’s love would be revealed     
in Jesus rising from the dead.

Every time we make a friend, every time we fall in love,
every we time we fail
and every time we turn to God in faith and prayer,
we open ourselves to an unfolding truth,
the whole of which is yet unknown to us: 
it is yet to be revealed.

Every time we render ourselves vulnerable 
to the love of God and others,
the unfolding truth of our experience
will bring us to situations we didn’t expect to face
and to places we never expected to visit.

But we will never be duped by the Lord.
In the Lord there is mystery, but never duplicity.
In the Lord there is wisdom, but no chicanery.
In the Lord there is the fullness of truth which unfolds
and is revealed to each of us not all at once, by only day by day.

And in the truth of our lives 
is the mystery and the wisdom of the Cross,
in whose shadow we pray this morning.

In the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist
may the Lord come into our hearts as he did into Jeremiah’s.
May we be warmed by the fire of his love within us
and, with Jeremiah, surrender, once more,
to the Lord who is the truth of our lives.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/31

O God, creator of the world,
of sun and moon and stars,
you chose to fashion us as your own,
your handiwork of love...

Indeed, we are your hands’ own work
and yet into our hands
you give the care
of every living thing..

In more ways than we can count
our work builds up
- or tears apart- what came
as gift from you...

Keep us faithful in preserving
all you’ve given
lest we harm the smallest part
of all you’ve made...

Give us good and honest work to do
and rest at each day’s end.
Let a just and fair day’s wage be paid
for a good day’s work well done...

Give us work that nurtures and sustains
the ones who serve and those they serve.
Let those who labor work in peace,
in freedom, without fear...

Give those in need a job to do
and to the tired well earned rest.
Let all our toil and labor, Lord,
give glory to your name...



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Friday, August 29, 2014

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 8/30

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You know what I need most, Lord, and how you plan to help me,
while I see what I want - and need your help to know my needs...

When you offer me your outstretched hand (I trust and know you will),
help me reach for it and yield to all the help that's yours to give...

Let me seek the things I truly need and not just what I want:
help me see how much I need you, Lord, and want but what I need...


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 8/29

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You know all my pet peeves, Lord,
and probably some I've yet to discover...

You know the little things that others do
that tick me off, light my fuse
and push my buttons...

You know the things that irritate and aggravate,
exasperate, infuriate and agitate
- me -
as if I were the center of the universe
whom all should handle with kid gloves
- especially when it comes to things,
the little things,
that grate on me and my way of doing things,
my way of saying things,
my way of wanting things to go...

My pet peeves, Lord: my bugbears,
my personal vexations, my petty hang-ups,
and my obsessions reveal me as self-centered,
demanding, proud, conceited;
they make me overbearing, smug and pompous...

So, help me see my pet peeves, all of them,
for what they often are: arrogant presumptions
about how the world would be
had it been made as I would have it...

Make me humble, Lord, and modest,
accepting of my neighbors' faults
respectful of their ways of doing things and saying things,
the little things, that differ from my own...

Relieve me of the notion that my way's always best,
that my first thought is brilliant,
that my way is the only way,
that I am always right...

Let no small matters come between
my neighbor and myself
for when they do, then clearly, Lord,
they come twixt you and me...


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Word for the Weekend: August 31

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Long weekend ahead! Labor Day is upon us and it's a holiday. But there is no holiday from worshiping the Lord so it's time to open up the scriptures and begin to prepare to hear them on this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The scriptures and background material on them can be found right here.   Got kids? We can' leave them out as we prepare for worship. Look here for materials to help your young ones get ready to hear the Word.

• Ever felt you've been duped by God? So did the prophet Jeremiah - and he says so in this Sunday's first lesson.

• St. Paul, writing to the Romans and to us, urges us not to conform ourselves to the present age... tough words - and tougher to understand in each succeeding age.

• Do you find yourself carrying a cross? Jesus has something to say about that in the gospel for this Sunday.

These are strong words: do a little bible study on your own and get ready to hear them!


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 8/28

Lord, you have so many titles
and just as many mighty names:
Shepherd, King, Prince of Peace,
Son of God, Emmanuel,
Redeemer, Savior, Bread of Life...

But today, in prayer, I call on you,
I praise you and I name you:
Doorman of my soul...

Doorman of my freedom:
you open doors to let me out
from where I'm trapped, confused,
closed in, confined and stuck...

Doorman of serenity: 
you open doors to let me in
to where I long to be,
to make my home, to live in peace...

Doorman of my hope:
you open all the doors that open
on tomorrow and to dreams
I've had and held so long...

Doorman of my soul:
you open doors within
to open up my heart to you
and others all around me...

You are my Doorman, Lord:
you're always there to open yet another door
to faith, to hope, to love
and to tomorrow...

But often I'm too lazy, Lord, 
too cautious, tired and timid,
too angry, jealous and stubborn to walk in
where you've opened one more door...

And you know, Lord, as I do
exactly where that leaves me
when I stand before an open door
and fail to cross its threshold...

This past week, as always
you opened many doors for me
and two times now, by coming in,
I found a peace I had forgotten,
a joy I hadn't hoped for
and calm within my soul...

So today, in prayer, I give you thanks,
I call on you and name you
the Doorman of my soul...

Be the Doorman of my heart, Lord,
and keep opening the doors
to what I need, what brings me peace,
to what I dream of, hope and pray for...

So, give me grace and strength, Lord,
and the wisdom I desire
to enter where you open,
O Doorman of my life...


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pause for Prayer: WEDNESDAY 8/27

Psalm 23


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On a warm August evening

Image source


Late August night,
I'm dozing in bed —

crickets sturdily cheeping —
elm nodding its head —

suddenly, flare!
glaring swath —

star, plummeting —
singed path.

If only some giant
had tossed that huge ball

through galaxy air —
if it hadn't fallen

and snuffed itself out
blazing along its arc,

but lay safe, nestled
in a glove in the dark

(a fireproof mitt:
thick clouds, congealed) —

the fielder pivoting
at the edge of the field. . .

- by Elise Partridge in the collection, Fielder's Choice


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/26

All day today, Lord,
and through the night ahead,
you'll be with me to sustain me:
you'll be the air I breathe
and depend upon for life...

I might not see you with my eyes,
I might not hear you speak aloud
but I'll trust that you are with me,
that I walk within your presence,
that your word is there to guide me,
that I draw upon your Spirit's help
with every breath I take...

All day today, Lord,
and through the night ahead,
we'll be going it together,
you and I...

Let me not forget you're with me,
no matter what I fear,
I'm never all alone, Lord,
and together we will make it,
you and I...

Through this day
and through the night, Lord,
together we will make it,
you and I...


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