Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/27

Image source

Every year the soldiers of the Third United States Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") take part in the ceremony called Flags In. Just before Memorial Day, each grave in Arlington National Cemetery is decorated with a small American flag. The flags remain in place until the conclusion of the Memorial Day Weekend when they are all removed. It is the only time during the year when American flags are permitted at all grave sites in the Cemetery. 

Here are two prayers for Memorial Day.  One from my friend Alden Solovy's fine page, To Bend Light and one of my own.

To the Soldier, To the Veteran

These things I do not know:

The sound of a bullet.
The power of a blast.
The blood of a comrade.
The depth of your wound.
The terror at midnight.
The dread at dawn.
Your fear or your pain.

These things I know:

The sound of your honor.
The power of your courage.
The blood of your wound.
The depth of your strength.
The terror that binds you.
The dread that remains.
Your dignity and your valor.

For these things we pray:

The sound of your laughter.
The power of your voice.
The blood of your yearning.
The depth of your healing.
The joy that frees you.
The hope that remains.
Your wholeness and your love.

- by Alden Solovy at ToBendLight

Memorial Day Prayer

In the quiet sanctuaries of our own hearts,
let each of us name and call on the One whose power over us

is great and gentle, firm and forgiving, holy and healing...

You who created us,

who sustain us,

who call us to live in peace,

hear our prayer today.

Hear our prayer for all who have died,

whose hearts and hopes are known to you alone…

Hear our prayer
for those who put the welfare of others ahead of their own

and give us hearts as generous as theirs…

Hear our prayer for those who gave their lives in the service of others,

and accept the gift of their sacrifice…

Help us to shape and make a world

where we will lay down the arms of war

and turn our swords into ploughshares 
for a harvest of justice and peace…

Comfort those who grieve the loss of their loved ones

and let your healing be the hope in our hearts...

Hear our prayer today

and in your mercy answer us

in the name of all that is holy.



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Pause for Prayer: SATURDAY 5/26

Yesterday's warmth, yesterday's heat
gently toasted my skin and seeped layers deeper 
into my body, into my bones - indeed, into my soul -
in just the way I need God's grace to touch me
to wrap me, to permeate my existence
with the life, the love I crave but fail 
to find the words to imagine or describe it...

Because of this I love the changing of the seasons:
the blessed, welcome climate change of God's grace 
in nature,
in the world
and in me...


Every Season
by Nicole Nordeman

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer...

And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn...

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter...

And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring...


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 5/25

we're all champions of human rights
on a global scale
but we often deny a fair hearing
and the right to a good reputation
to a coworker or neighbor
by our side and next door...

We're all for transparency
in the government and work place
but in our families and at school,
in town and at work,
we hide the truth of what we think
and scheme and plot
in nasty, petty ways...

We want peace now,
we pray for peace now
while we wage little wars
and betray one another
to protect our space,
our line in the sand, drawn
to keep others out
and ourselves safe inside...

We preach your love, Lord,
we teach and proclaim it
we give our lives to it,
yet still, so often, we fail to love those
who share in our work, the work of the gospel,
the word of your mercy and love...

Forgive us, Lord,
help us fight for what's right
and first for the rights of others...

Make us transparent in our words and deeds,
that all might see what's in our hearts
and on seeing, find cause to rejoice...

Make us peacemakers, Lord,
laying down the arms
of our childish tantrums,
and surrendering, as grownups,
to what's honest, mature and fair...

Make us one, Lord,
make us whole,
lest divided, alone,
we abandon your work...

Unite us, Lord,
we who share one faith,
who share in your work,
who profess our belief
that you're our brother:
so sisters and brothers are we,
one and all,
in the peace of your holy life-giving name...



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Pause for Prayer: THURSDAY 5/24

Yesterday was the perfect day for it, Lord:
some morning clouds gave way
   to a warm, sunny afternoon in May -
   and it was my day off!

It was the perfect day to;
   wash my car  sand clean out the trunk,
   to stow away gloves and ice scrapers,
   to gather up the Christmas CD's,
   to make room for my beach chair
      and throw a towel and some sunscreen
         in a big canvas bag...

It was the perfect day to
   vacuum the floor mats,
   organize the glove box,
   sort everything stored behind my visors,
and clean the dash and all around
   with handy, pre-moitened Armorall  wipes...

It was the perfect day to
   take my clean car for a spin,
   all windows open, all the way down,
   Vivaldi's Four Seasons, spring of course,
      cranked up on my CD player...

Last fall and winter's grime and trash
   are cleaned and put way, Lord,
and it's such a good feeling
   on such a great day!

So now, Lord,
   help me do for myself,
   for my heart and soul,
a little spring cleaning -
   or maybe a lot!

Help me sort through and trash
   what I no longer need,
cleaning deep, everywhere,
   underneath and behind...

Help me brush and polish
  what's dusty and dull,
wiping clean to a shine
    what's been let go too long...

Help me walk into spring,
   my heart opened wide,
with the song of your presence
   full voiced in my soul,
giving glory and praise
   to your holy name...



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About that wedding on Saturday...

 A few days before the royal nuptials I posted on FaceBook that I had “little to no interest” in the wedding.  Many FB friends agreed, many disagreed.  The stronger responses came after the wedding, with many commenting on Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon on love.  Since then I’ve watched the whole wedding on YouTube with particular focus on the sermon.

Curry preached a strong and compelling sermon on love with a fervor I suspect was at least a little constrained by the occasion and setting.  Still, there was there was no room left to doubt the bishop’s personal faith and convictions - his sermon was a blend of testimony and proclamation, delivered with inviting warmth. 

One commenter on my post wrote that the “wedding was a great home run for bringing God back into marriage.”  It’s on this very point, however, that I would critique the sermon.  Speaking powerfully about love, the preacher made little connection with either marriage in general or the one being celebrated at the moment.  Listeners might draw lines connecting the sermon’s message with the celebration but little if any attention was paid to marriage as a sacrament of the very love being proclaimed.

One could not fault Curry for offering a potent message on the power of God’s love in our lives but I found myself waiting for him to help us see the union of the bride and groom as an icon, a living image of that love that binds us, the Church, as Christ’s spouse.

It will be interesting to see in what ways the royal ceremony influences the couples who approach their local parish to celebrate their weddings.  I was disheartened to see the ultimate expression of what I refer to as the “marginalized groom” approach to the entrance rite where, though two people are getting married, procession spotlights one and leaves the other in the margins. In fact, it’s not *her* day - it‘s *theirs.*

Will we be getting requests from engaged couples to program “Stand By Me” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odZ9GVuyfkc) as a musical selection for the ceremony?  It appears that Ben King’s song had earlier roots as a hymn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjro77BlcW8) but I doubt that’s the version brides and grooms will be asking for. On the other hand, it would be wonderful at weddings to hear royal couple’s choice of John Rutter’s “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yUfpgV8ZvI).

But, for the record, I love all things Rutter!

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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 5/22

Of all I have, Lord,
all's a gift from you,
from your heart and hand
into mine...

My being, my life,
my heart and my soul,
my mind and best thoughts
- all your gifts to me...

My family and friends,
my dwelling and food,
my liberty and freedom
- all your gifts to me...

My talents and skills,
my dreams and ideas,
my work and achievements
- all your gifts to me...

My faith and my trust,
my passion and love,
my joy and my strength
- all your gifts to me...

My desire for truth,
my hunger for peace,
my thirst for deep joy
- all your gifts to me...

Nothing I have is all my own
for all's on loan from you to me:
given to me to give away,
to share with any and all in need...

Of all I have, Lord,
all's a gift -
from your heart and hand
into mine...

For all I've been given
I thank you, Lord,
and for all I have I praise you now,
Giver of all good gifts...


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Monday Morning Offering: 5/21

Coffee in the Morning by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

When it comes to some things, Lord,
I'm so slow to learn!

At my age, after all these years,
you'd think I would have figured out,
would have accepted the reality,
that no amount of worry or fear on my part
will change the things that trouble and disturb me....

In fact, worry and fear about this or that
only add to my anxiety about things in general!

And I know all the clever things they say about worry:

Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair:
it gives you something to do
but it doesn't get you anywhere...

Worrying doesn't take away
tomorrow's troubles,
it takes away
today's peace...

Most of the things you worry about
never end up happening...

Worrying is using your imagination
to create something you don't want...

You can't change yesterday
but you can ruin today
by worrying about tomorrow...

will never change
the outcome...

And you said it best of all, Lord:
"Don't worry about your life.
Which of you by worrying 
can add a single hour to your life's span?
If even something small is beyond your power,
why do you worry about the rest?  
Oh you of little faith! Stop worrying!"
(see Luke 12)

You counsel me not to worry, Lord,
and instead to entrust all my burdens,
my troubles and my fears
into your hands, into your care...

Of course I have to take responsibility
for what I can do and what I can change 
but worry about even these things
bears no extra fruit...

So this morning I offer you, Lord, 
all my worries and fears
- and yes, even that one!

I place my worries in your hands,
all the while praying that all shall be well,
that all shall be well,
that all manner of things shall be well...

And I offer another prayer this morning, Lord:
when disappointment comes my way,
when things don't go as I had hoped,
when the answer to my plea
is not what I had prayed for,
then give me strength
to accept what I cannot change
and to trust that in all things
and at all times,
you are by my side,
you have my back,
you lead and guide me,
you will, at last, bring me peace...

Today, Lord, give me the peace and relief,
the comfort and consolation,
the serenity
of really and truly letting go into your hands 
at least some of my worry and fear...

Help me trust that your love,
having brought me safe thus far,
will safely bring me home...



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Homily for Pentecost 2018

Homily for Pentecost Sunday 2018
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

So, what do you think was going on in Galatia?
I mean: what was happening that occasioned St. Paul
to write to them about: 
immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery and hatred;
rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of anger and selfishness,
dissension, factions, envy, drinking bouts and orgies - and the like! 
How ‘bout those Galatians!

Or was St. Paul simply trying to mark out clearly the two sides
in that internal tug-of-war we all experience
in different ways and at different times in our lives?
St. Paul’s dirty laundry list here might not generally describe our lives,
but we all know the inner struggle that’s ours
when we’re tempted by: 
false gods and superstitions,
over-indulgence, immorality, lust and impurity;
hatred and anger and discord;
selfishness and rivalry, jealousy and envy - and the like! 
And all of those things in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds
and in what we’ve done and in what we’ve failed to do.

All of these are temptations all of us face
and they’re temptations that usually look more attractive
before the fact than in hindsight.

And if you’re thinking that list doesn’t really apply to you,
then measure yourself against the standard of the other side
of that internal tug-of-war.
Measure yourself against the standard of the Holy Spirit.
I may not be altogether accurately characterized
by Paul’s list of nastiness,
but am I better described and known as: 
loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous,
faithful, gentle and always in self-control? 
Am I better known
by the movement of God’s Spirit within me?

If we’re honest, I’ll bet that most of us find ourselves
not at either extreme but rather,
somewhere in the middle, somewhere in between.
There are two sides in this internal tug-of-war
and the question for the Christian is this:
which side do I want to be on?
And for the Christian,
 “somewhere in the middle, somewhere in between,”
is not a sufficient answer.

Jesus asks more of us than that
and gives us the gifts of the Holy Spirit
to help us choose the better side, and those gifts are: 
wisdom           understanding right judgment 
courage           knowledge       reverence 
and wonder  and awe in God’s presence: 
all gifts we receive to help us make the better choice 
- in all our thoughts, all our words and all our deeds.

But sometimes, even often, these are gifts we’ve never opened.

Imagine that this box is filled with the Spirit’s gifts
and left on the doorsteps of our minds, our hearts and our lives.

Imagine that this box contains everything I need
to choose the better side,
to make the right decisions in that internal, spiritual tug-of-war.

So that when I'm being selfish and foolish,
I can pray to be filled with the gift of wisdom...
And when I'm confused and confounded,
I can pray for the gift of understanding...

And when I have choices to make,
especially the hard choices
of morality and purity, of truth and love, of selflessness,
I can pray for the gift of right judgment...

And when I find it hard to say and to do what I know is right,
I can pray for the strength of my convictions,
for the gift of courage…

And when I realize how much I don't know
about my relationship with God,
I can pray to be filled with the gift of knowledge...

And when I see that I only pray selfishly, when I want something,
I can pray for the gift of humble reverence...

And when I think or act as I’m the center of the universe,
I can pray for gift of standing humbly before God and all creation…

There’s a box of gifts like this in the heart of everyone here
and that box of the Spirit’s gifts is waiting to be opened
and the gifts inside used, enjoyed and shared.

Which of these seven gifts are you most in need of?
And if you think you need two or three of those -
if you’re like me, you think you need all seven and that’s ok
because all seven are the gifts we’ve been given.

In the spiritual tug-of-war inside each of us,
God calls us to the Spirit’s side.
No Christian - no Christian - is called to a mediocre faith,
a faith somewhere in the middle, in between.
Each of us is called to excellence
and each of us is given the Spirit’s grace and gifts
to help us choose the better part, to choose to strive to be: 
loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful and gentle, 
not the servants of our temptations but always, with God’s help,
surrendering control of our hearts to the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit’s gifts are fed and nourished
every time we come to the Lord’s Table to share in the Eucharist.

Pray with me that the gift of Christ’s life,
given once for us on the Cross
and offered to us now at this altar,
that the gift of Christ’s life open the gifts of the Spirit within us
and help us, always, to choose the life of grace.

The Holy Spirit is always nudging us, prompting us
to open and use the gifts that are ours.
Ever time, every time we feel the Spirit moving in our hearts,
every time we feel the Spirit moving in our hearts,
let us pray
to follow where the Spirit leads.

Every Time I Feel the Spirit!

Every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.
Yes, every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.

1 Up on the mountain, when my Lord spoke,
out of God's mouth came fire and smoke.
Looked all around me, it looked so fine,
till I asked my Lord if all was mine.

2 Jordan River, chilly and cold,
it chills the body but not the soul.
There is but one train upon this track;
it runs to heaven and then right back.


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 5/20

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit...
-- Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11 

These lilies belong to the family Gloriosa   
and strike me as nature's bow to Pentecost Sunday.

Today's Pause for Prayer follows the photographs.


Those tongues of fire,
descending on Jesus' disciples,
did not singe or scorch or burn
but rather, anointed your chosen
to be faithful to you
and to your gospel...

In the same way, Lord,
infuse me, send your Spirit upon me,
and bless, anoint, charge me
to be faithful to you and to your gospel...

And because of my weaknesses, Lord,
let this same Spirit heal and strengthen me,
inspire and counsel me
with the courage and wisdom I need
to be faithful to you and to your gospel...

Come, Holy Spirit of Jesus risen,
and fill my heart
with the fire of your presence...

Lord, send forth your Holy Spirit
to heal and recreate me
that I might be faithful to you and your gospel...

Send forth your Spirit, Lord,
and you shall renew the face of the earth...




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