Monday Morning Offering: 6/25

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I offer you praise and thanks, Lord:
for the universe and all it holds;
for the planets, for Earth, 
my home in your vast world;
for the continent on which I live
and the nation I call home;
for this Bay State where I was born,
and for those who gave me life;
for the Church of Boston which I serve 
and my parish which I love;
for my friends who keep me going
and for the gift of faith within my heart
where mind and soul and life and loves are met 
and all made one in you... 

From the impenetrable reaches of the universe,
to the depths of my heart
your grace courses through my veins 
and through my nights and days 
giving life to who I am and all I do -
and for this I give you thanks and praise...

All I have, all I am and all I hope to be 
is pure gift: 
shaped by your hand, 
crafted in your wisdom
and offered for the taking...

My thoughts come and go
but not one passes through my mind and heart
without your knowing it...

My most secret desires are deeply hidden,
yet every one of them
is laid bare in the light of your eyes...

No pain, no hurt 
has ever touched my heart without touching, too,
your heart's love for me...

No burden has weighed upon my shoulders
that you've not reached to lift and help me carry...

No grief has ever pierced my soul 
without your gentle hand reaching 
to dress and close a wound I feared might never heal... 

I offer you my thanks and praise, 
Lord of the universe, my God,
for you bend low and tend to me
as a mother nurses the child in her arms,
as a father fends for his family,
as the lover gives ear to the needs of the beloved...

I offer you my thanks that your love and grace
have brought me safe thus far:
through times and troubles I thought I'd not survive,
through difficulties I thought would never be resolved,
through pain I thought I could not long endure, but did...

I praise you for the times when, with your help,
I've done what I thought I couldn't do
and survived what I thought to be
impassible, impossible...

Only by your grace, Lord, am I here today, 
in the place where I am,
trusting that this day's problems, too, 
are on your mind and in your heart and care... 

I praise you for this mystery, Lord:
that you, eternal God, 
have time and love to spare for me 
and care for me,
to share in my heart's struggles
as if they were your own...

Make me mindful, Lord, of others 
whose paths cross mine today:
if you have time for each of us
then certainly I have time
to care for those whose needs, like mine, 
rest upon your heart and in your hands... 

Receive my morning offering, Lord:
hear my prayer today, tonight
and through the week ahead...



Image source

Homily for Sunday, June 24 (Nativity of John the Baptist)
Scriptures for today's Mass 


Allow me a few personal disclaimers before I preach today.
- First, I almost never go to the movies and if I did go to the movies
it wouldn’t be to see anything like the just-released-this-week
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom
- Second, I don’t have cable, I actually have an antenna,
so I watch very little television
and if I did have cable I’d never watch anything on MTV!

So, I hope you will understand why, until a few days ago,
I had never heard of Chris Pratt and had no idea who he was.
I didn’t know he was a celebrity,
that he was the star of the TV comedy Parks and Recreation,
that he’s reportedly worth more than 30 million dollars,
that he’s been in two Jurassic Park movies (including the new one)
and that last week he received the Generation Award
at the annual MTV Movie and TV Awards ceremony last week.

I never heard of the guy and I bring him to your attention
because of the acceptance speech he gave at the MTV awards show.
In his speech he outlined what he calls his 9 Rules for Living.
Now, four of those rules were just for fun so I’ll skip over them
but the other five were just incredible.
Or rather, they were actually very credible! 
Here are those 5 rules.
And remember, he’s speaking to a young audience
on the stage of a Hollywood awards ceremony.

Chris Pratt’s rules:

1) You have a soul – be careful with it.

2) Doesn’t matter whatever it is.  Earn it.
It feels good and it’s good for your soul.

3) God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.
Believe that. I do.

4) Learn to pray – it’s easy and it’s so good for your soul.

5) Nobody is perfect.
People are going to tell you you’re perfect
just the way you are
- you’re not!
You are imperfect - and you always will be
but there is a powerful force that designed you that way,
and if you’re willing to accept that, you will have grace,
and grace is a gift.
And like the freedom that we enjoy in this country,
that grace was paid for with someone else’s blood.
Don’t forget that! Don’t take it for granted.

Well, whoever you are, Chris Pratt:
thank you for writing my homily this week!

You know, Chris Pratt doesn’t say anything here that I don’t say,
in one way or another, just about every weekend.
But this is me, in my vestments, in church at 8:00 on Sunday morning.
That was Chris Pratt, on a Hollywood stage at the MTV awards,
before an audience of folks I’d wager don’t often get up in time
for the church on Sunday mornings.
Who knows how many millions of young people have heard,
and will hear Chris Pratt say these things on YouTube, online?

Chris Pratt is a prophet.
He did what prophets do.
He shared with others, with courage and faith, he spoke to others,
what he believed God had put in his heart.
Sometimes we think that prophets are those who foretell the future.
That’s generally not what prophets in the bible did.
Scripture’s prophets speak very little about the future.
Rather, they name God in the present moment
for the sake of those who have forgotten or rejected God.

That’s what Chris Pratt did.
He spoke of God in the present moment in simple declarative sentences.
- You have a soul - be careful with it.
- Be of service - it’s good for your soul.
- God is real, God loves you, God wants the best for you: believe that.
- Pray: it’s good for your soul.
- You’re not perfect, you’re imperfect
and you stand in need of the gift of God’s grace.

Prophets name God in the present moment.
That’s what John the Baptist did.
That’s what Chris Pratt did.
And that’s what you and I are called to do, too.

If Chris Pratt could speak as he did at the MTV awards,
might you and I not speak the same words to family and friends,        
to neighbors and colleagues and classmates?
Short declarative sentences,
spoken with love and care, at just the right time.
Simple words, not sermons, not paragraphs but simple words:
- You have a soul - be careful with it.
- Be of service - it’s good for your soul.
- Pray: it’s good for your soul.
- God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.
Believe that.  I do.
- You’re not perfect, you’re imperfect just like the rest of us,
and the gift of God’s grace is waiting for you.

How powerful might any of those simple words be
at the end of a conversation with others who have shared
their fears and self-doubt, their worries and concerns,
their burdens and problems.
- You have a soul - be careful with it.
- Be of service - it’s good for your soul.
- Pray: it’s good for your soul.
- God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you.
Believe that.  I do.
- You’re not perfect, you’re imperfect just like the rest of us,
and the gift of God’s grace is waiting for you.

Chris Pratt asked us not to forget that the gift of God’s grace is ours
and that it was paid for with someone else’s blood.
May the Body and Blood of Christ, given for us on the Cross
and shared with us in the Bread and Cup of this table
deepen our faith and give us the courage to be prophets:
to speak and share with others the word of God,
the word already in our hearts,
the word that gathered us here today.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 


Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 6/24

Image source

My heart and soul,
   my arms and pockets are filled, Lord,
      with the people I pray for today...

You know who they are and what they need 
   and don't need me 
      to speak their names...

But there's something's sacred
   in saying aloud the names of those 
      who've asked for my prayers...

There's something holy 
   in whispering to you
      what they once whispered to me...

And there's something graced
   in simply remembering
      the prayer I saw in their eyes...
(Take some time to tell the Lord
   of those who've asked for your prayers...)
My heart and soul,
   my arms and pockets are filled, Lord,
      with the people I pray for today...

Hear every prayer I whisper, Lord,
   for all of those who've asked me
      to lift their names to you in prayer...


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments

Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 6/23

Photo by CP

Yesterday afternoon, on my daily walk,
I came across this rose peeking at me
over a white picket fence...

I wondered, Lord, how many millions of roses
might be in bloom right now
and how it came to pass that this creamy beauty
should take the time to catch my eye...

I suspect it's all your doing, Lord.
Clearly, you're the gardener, the artist
who brought this rose to life, to bloom,
once you'd planted it along a path
you knew I'd one day walk...

You knew you'd get my attention
with those velvet smooth pastel petals:
you knew you'd stop me in my tracks,
inviting me to ponder, to muse, to pray
and yes, to smell the roses...

I thought for a moment I might pick that rose
and take it home to a bud vase sitting empty
on the top shelf in my kitchen cabinet...

With just a little water
that bloom would last some days and nights
in my prayer room or by the chair on my porch,
keeping fresh the memory of an afternoon
when you spoke your love for me
and said it with roses...

I didn't pick that rose, Lord,
though it may have been your gift to me
it wasn't mine to own -
it belongs to those who planted the bush
and tended its growth...

And it belongs to any and all others
you might lead down this same street,
catching their eye, grabbing their attention, 
speaking your gracious love for them
and saying it with roses...

Thank you for my rose, Lord,
and for the prayer its fragrance stirred
within my soul...



Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 


Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 6/22

I was more than happy yesterday, Lord,
to welcome the equinox, the first day of summer,
the longest day of the year -
but then I realized that beginning today
the days get shorter - only incrementally,
but shorter nonetheless...

If I were a house plant, Lord,
the little care card in the pot would read:
"Enjoys direct sunlight!"

So the thought of shorter daylight
isn't a happy thought at all...

Maybe I need to remember
that beginning last December
the days have been lengthening - incrementally,
but getting longer every day nonetheless...

Time moves so slowly, Lord,
and time moves so quickly -
and much of the time I'm not sure
if it's moving fast or slow!

Like so many things in life, Lord,
the change in sunlight is gradual,
hardly noticeable, until I look back
and see how much has changed,
how much is changing
and how quickly -and- how slowly
come the changes in my life...

Help me not worry about the day's length
on just the second day of summer, Lord!

Help me take this summer
just one day at a time,
each warm, bright, gorgeous summer day
a gift from you...

So thank you, Lord,
for the gift of yet another summer
and for plenty of direct sunlight
shining down upon us
with the light and warmth and joy
that only you can give...



Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 6/21

Image source

In my part of the world, school's out and kids are beginning their summer vacation. I remember childhood summers that seemed to have no horizon: a time and place as close to heaven as any young heart might ever dream.  A child’s summer joy comes as a gift from God: a taste of timelessness, a promise of perpetual play, a season of sun and unending fun. Only God might offer such a gift!  But where have those childhood summers gone? Have we lost our hope in summer's promise? If we don't believe in summer, how will we believe in heaven where summer's joy must surely never end, where summer's timeless stillness calms with peace all other seasons' grief?

Let’s pause and pray…

Come summer with me, Lord,

come summer deep down in my soul…   
Restore my faith in summer’s time, 
in rest, in joy, in play, in you...
Summer in my heart, Lord, 
and dwell there as if the summertime would never end, 
as if all time were a child’s time, 
eternal time, 
when school is always out and joy is ever in...

Come summer with me, Lord,
come summer deep down in my soul…  
In these long-awaited days, Lord, 
slow me down and give me time for nothing to do
but to be with you 
and to know again that you're with me.   
Help me put the brakes 
to my merry-go-round-go-nowhere pace... 
Slow me down… 
Let any summer doldrums lull, calm and call me 
to a place of peace, of prayer, of meeting you again 
-- like bumping into an old friend, 
on the streets of my vacation...

Come summer with me, Lord,
come summer deep down in my soul…  
Help me relax, Lord, 
and find a peaceful place 
where I can meet you face to face.   
Remind me of the times you took your own rest, Lord: 
leaving the city and crowds behind, 
going out into the desert, up the mountain, 
across to the opposite shore 
and off by yourself or with just a few friends
to pray...

Come summer with me, Lord,

come summer deep down in my soul…   
Slow me down, Lord, 
and let the busyness that runs me 
and the work that runs me down 
settle to a pace that lets me be
just be with you in a friendly quiet shade
where my heart speaks to yours 
and yours to mine, where in the silence
I can hear your voice, your word...

Come summer with me, Lord,
come summer deep down in my soul…      
Even if my summer time is crowded with work and things to do, 
even if vacation time is short or not at all in sight, 
even if responsibilities burden as the summer's heat - even then...  
Come summer with me, Lord, 
come summer deep down in my soul each day:
as the sun comes up at morning,
as the stars shine bright by moon light,
as soft rains fall upon me - 
come summer with me, Lord, 
come summer with me 
deep down in my soul...

Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments


Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 6/19

Here's something I've learned over the years, Lord:
One Size Does NOT Fit All!

We come in so many shapes and sizes:
sometimes because there's such variety
in the people you created
(and that's awesome!)
and sometimes because of what we've done
with what you gave us to work with
(not always so awesome!)

We're all just so different:
that's true in clothing
and it's true in so many other ways, too, Lord.

You didn't give us human beings
a OSFA personality...

You didn't give us OSFA gifts and talents...

You didn't give us a OSFA intelligence
or imagination...

You didn't give us a OSFA place of birth
or family of origin, or set of childhood experiences,
or economic, social and educational opportunity...

You didn't give us a OSFA temperament, or insight,
or wisdom, or intuition...

We come in all physical shapes and forms, Lord,
and our inner workings vary just as much as
our height, weight, color and facial features...

The soul of everyone of us mirrors you, our Creator,
but each individual soul reflects you
in ways as unique as our fingerprints...

And yet you offer us, Lord
(each and every one of us)
you offer us a OSFA merciful love
large enough and deep enough to hold in its embrace
the whole history of the human race
(past, present and yet to come);
you offer us a OSFA merciful love
that tailors itself perfectly to each of us
with an intimacy beyond our deepest desires...

Forgive me, Lord,
when I have OSFA expectations of others
and especially when I'm tempted to believe and act
as if other people should fit themselves to me
and my finite understanding and expectations...

Teach me to love as you love, Lord,
with a love that stretches and expands to welcome,
to accommodate and to include others
by honoring the infinite ways
in which all your creatures mirror you, our Creator,
whose love is great enough, broad enough
and deep enough to hold in your heart
all the sons and daughters you call your own,
brothers and sisters to me
in Christ
whose Cross and heart are of a size divine,
one size
that fits us all...


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

Monday Morning Offering: 6/18

Image: George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

As you know, Lord,
I'm writing this on Sunday night,
sitting on my porch by some candle light
with a mild breeze brushing my bare arms
as your Spirit brushes my soul...

But the peace of the moment is burdened
by the rancor, anger and division
kindled by the daily news
and the plight of those who have no porch or home
where they might shelter and find rest...

The issues are neither as easy as
some would make them out to be
nor so complex
that they couldn't be resolved
without causing further hurt and harm...

I offer you this sad story, Lord,
and pray for your wisdom
to help those on all sides
work to find a way, a middle way,
respectful of the most vulnerable
and respectful of the laws and rights
of everyone involved...

I lift up our shameful name calling,
our hatred of people we've never met,
our prejudice in favor of our own stances,
our failure to listen to your word,
and our rush to judgment on issues
about which we might know next to nothing...

Give us your counsel, your wisdom, your insight, Lord...

Give us the strength we need
to stand firm for what we believe...

Give us a compassion for the truly poor
and an empathy to override our selfishness and greed...

Give us the will to act with courage
when we hear the cry of the poor...

Give us a respect for just laws, statutes that protect
both those whose tables overflow with feasting
and those who ask that we make room at ours
for them, their children and their needs...

Give us hearts fashioned after your heart, Lord:
hearts neither slow nor unafraid
to empty themselves out for those in need,
hearts ready to name the truth,
to stand by those who ask a share
of all we have...

Give us hearts ready to open wide 
to receive those with no place to go,
no home to call their own,
no food to give their children,
no strength to bear their burdens
and little hope beyond the welcome
we might, in your name, offer...

Lord, I'm offering you the mess we're in,
begging for you to pardon our sins
and to heal and mend anything and everything
that keeps us apart,
that keeps us from welcoming you
when you come knocking on our door
seeking a place in our hearts
and in our neighborhoods,
all brothers and sisters in your name...

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil
and graciously grant peace in our days
that by the help of your mercy,  
we may be always free from sin 
and safe from all distress, 
as we await the blessed hope 
and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ
who knocks on our doors
and on the doors of our hearts...

Make us just and generous,
compassionate and challenging
and faithful and fair
in all that we do... 

Receive our morning offering, Lord,
and open us to any and all the gifts
you might leave on our hearts' door steps
and at the borders of our nation's land...


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments