Sunday, April 20, 2014

Good Friday 2014

O all ye, who passe by, whose eyes and minde
To worldly things are sharp, but to me blinde;
To me, who took eyes that I might you finde:
     Was ever grief like mine?

The Princes of my people make a head
Against their Maker: they do wish me dead,
Who cannot wish, except I give them bread;
     Was ever grief like mine?

Without me each one, who doth now me brave,
Had to this day been an Egyptian slave.
They use that power against me, which I gave:
     Was ever grief like mine?

                         “The Sacrifice,” George Herbert

Monday, March 10, 2014

Eucharistic Prayer for Lent 2014 – Turning

This Lent St. Matthew's in Jersey City is using the theme of "Turning" as a key to the season. Using words from Ecclesiates, set by Pete Seeger, the congregation sings "Turn, turn, turn" before the service in a time for healing prayer. The concept is used in cards which serve both as devotional and publicity about Lent events.

Lent is a season of turning –
Turning from what is hurtful &
     towards what is healing
Turning from what is shattered &
     towards what is whole
Re-turning to the Lord
Wishing you a holy and blessed Lent.

The same theme is used throughout a eucharistic prayer written for the season.

Holy one, great God of judgment and mercy, we give thanks to you through your beloved son Jesus Christ.

From earliest days, you turned towards your creation, bringing light from the darkness, firm ground from the deep, life from the dust.

Adam and Eve turned from the garden to toil and struggle. Abraham and Sarah turned from a life of wandering to the land which you showed them. Your people Israel turned from captivity to cry unto you, and you delivered them. And in the wilderness Jesus turned away from the tempter, and towards his proclamation of the heavenly kingdom.

You ordained for everything a season, a time to break down, and a time to build up, a time to keep, and a time to put aside. Let this now be a time of healing, a time of justice, a time of reconciliation and peace.

On the night in which he turned to his friends even as they turned away, our Lord Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, Take; eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. In the same way he also took the cup after the supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them saying, Drink of it, all of you. This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Remembering, therefore, Christ’s turn towards the world, his journey to the cross, and his resurrection from the dead, we turn towards you in the gifts of bread and wine, signs of your mercy and balm for our souls.

     Amen. Come Lord Jesus.

Send now, we pray, your Holy Spirit, that these gifts may be healing and redemption for us and for your world, the turning towards a new day of righteousness.

     Amen. Come Holy Spirit.

And now, may all creation turn towards you, seeking your mercy and trusting in your Word, that we may share in your glory with all the saints in light.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

In the aftermath of violence

The destruction in Boston yesterday still causes one to reel in disbelief. But there are several creative things you can do in response.

1. Don't be afraid to feel your feelings of grief, anger, apprehension or whatever you are feeling. But limit your exposure to the news - don't let the horror come back to you all day on cable news or talk radio.

2. Do something good for yourself: call an old friend or a family member, go for a walk, choose something healthy today, even as simple as less caffeine and more water (helps with any stress).

3. Do something good for someone else: write a sympathy card, help a neighbor, donate money to a cause you care about.

Someone who commits an act of terror hopes to make you afraid, hopes to make you hide or lash out. Let it instead provoke acts of compassion and generosity. That's the way to win a different kind of battle than the ones terrorists are fighting. And that is actually what happens if you just remember to notice it. Notice not just the act of destruction, but the thousands of acts of kindness and care it evokes.

Peace be with you.

Monday, December 31, 2012

End of year reflection

A few days ago, the snow was falling and I paused for a brief walk through an old cemetery. An interstate highway runs by it, but it was quiet and unnoticed. Some of the headstones were decorated with small American flags, and many had small bronze stars denoting the deceased as veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic, fighting on the Union side during the American Civil War.

This year has seen a renewed focus on honoring our nation's military veterans, especially in providing some measure of services to help those who have been physically and emotionally wounded.

As this year ends, this nation has been at war for more than eleven years in Afghanistan. (By contrast, the U.S. waged the Civil War for four years, World War II for 3 2/3 years, and World War I less than two years.) Few anticipate the true the costs when the blood runs hot and war seems to be a national imperative. And as the soldiers die and are wounded, it becomes difficult to end a war whose justification now depends in part on "honoring their sacrifice," that the cause which killed and maimed must be pressed forward to victory.

Yet the justification for this war is long past. It is time. Time to honor the dead. Time to heal the wounded. And time to end the war.

May God bless and keep all those in military service, that they may be kept from harm and serve with humanity. May 2013 be a year when old wars and and new ones are not begun.

Photo: Paul Bellan-Boyer, December 26, 2012.