Friday, October 30, 2009

All Saints

On Sunday, the church observes All Saints Day (also known as All Souls or All Hallows) Day. At All Saints, the church remembers all those who have gone before us in faith, and especially those who have died in the preceding year.

The word Hallowe'en is a contraction of All Hallows Evening, the night before All Saints Day. It was an Irish and Scots custom to place a candle in their western (sun-setting) window on the eve of All Hallows' to honor the departed. There has also been a folk belief that the souls of those who have died continue to roam the earth until All Saints Day, and from this comes the association of Halloween with ghost, witches, ghouls, gobblins, monsters.

Then on All Saints Day, we remember the new life that Christ has promised. At St. Matthews in Jersey City we will remember our loved ones who have died, writing their names in a memorial book. We will light yahrzeit candles and bring them one by one to the high altar, so that the memory of the blessed dead is a living presence among us. As we gather to share God's body and blood in bread and wine, we share in communion with all the saints. In the flickering flames of the memorial candles, we might see them gathered with us around God's holy table.

For all the saints, Lord, we offer prayer.

For those who have cleared and tilled the ground where we now harvest, and have preceded us in death, especially those we remember before you now:
Marian, Irene, Dennis, and [those dear to you]. May we hold their memory close and their example dear, and may we continue to commune with them at your holy table, where heaven meets earth and our need.
Lord have mercy.

For those saints living among us, the faithful witnesses who support us and who bear our burdens, and even more for those saints unknown to us and unrecognized by us, that we may be made one in the body of Christ, who is reconciling all humanity.
Christ have mercy.

For those saints yet to come, that when our mortal journey comes to an end, we may die in peace, knowing that Christ's saving witness is alive in the world, and future generations will know the love of Christ made visible in the people of God, faithful, struggling, redeemed.
Lord have mercy.

May all your people be one, and may we, sharing in Christ's holiness, be welcome at the great feast, now and eternally, through Jesus Christ, the holy One. Amen.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Prayer

God of wind and of rain, God of sunlight and shadow, ruler of seasons and turnings, nurture and sustain in us trust in thy goodness and confidence in thy loving faithfulness, that, as we are turned and tossed by changes beyond our control, we may always turn to thee and seek thy grace, trusting in the one who lives in us and gave himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Art by Liz Wright, "Determination, or Weathering the Storm."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Children and prayer

Prayer Corner - October, 2009

Our gospel readings lately have had Jesus involved with children. The gospels do not describe him teaching children to pray, as he did with his older disciples. But prayer is a natural desire of young people, just as it is with those of greater years. They, and we, long for One who will hear our inmost voice. And just as with other forms of speech, children benefit from examples, teaching, and practice.

There are at least three basic things adults can do to help children develop a prayer life. The first is to pray yourself, so that people – including children – can see that prayer is part of your life. Even better is praying together with the children in your life, holding hands as you pray, or they pray, or you say the same prayers together.

This leads naturally to the second basic way to help children with prayer. Teach them. Teach and repeat prayers they can use, and teach habits and times for prayer. The world’s prayer warriors most often began with simple prayers like “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest, let these thy gifts to us be blest” at dinner time and “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep” at bedtime.

Fortunate indeed is the one who in times of trouble can turn to “The Lord is my shepherd,” or “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” without having to think, because the prayer was planted deep in their soul when they were young.

And finally, there is one more crucial thing you can do to help children with prayer. Listen. When you understand something of what a child hopes, fears, loves and wants, then your prayers with them and for them will be deeply meaningful. Prayer will be a way for them to begin to know that their prayers do not go off into outer space, but are heard and held by a loving God. May that God lead you and all the little children in the ministry of prayer.

Lord Jesus be our holy guest,
our morning joy, our evening rest.
And with our daily bread impart
thy love and peace to every heart. Amen.