Thursday, June 30, 2011

Saints Peter and Paul

June 29 is designated as the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul. You might think that this is one example of the Church having a sense of humor, for these two make an unlikely pair.

Two great pillars of the first century church, the New Testatment does not depict them in close union. Each is clearly gifted, each is committed to serving Christ - and each is just as clearly headstrong and stubborn.

According to Paul (in Galatians 2), Peter extended the hand of fellowship and affirmed Paul's ministry to the gentiles. Yet they clashed in Antioch over Peter's equivocation about breaking the boundaries between Jew and gentile.

It may well be that they had different visions for the Jesus-movement that would later grow into a Jewish-derived but non-Jewish "church." It may also be that two strong egos had a bit of rivalry.

Yet the church put them together at an early date, commemorating this as the date of their martyrdom. This is something they unambiguously shared. Tradition has them both dying in Rome, Paul beheaded, and Peter crucified upside down. Whatever their differences in life, whatever their arguments about the faith, their lives both bore witness to the truth they knew in Jesus Christ.
Stefaneschi Triptych, reverse.
Martyrdom of Saint Peter and Martyrdom of St. Paul.
(Central panel omitted.)

Holy God, your mercy is as boundless as your compassion for your people. Grant that, whatever our circumstances, we may know your reconciling love in this life and the next, and give witness to your saving power, known by Peter, Paul, and all the saints, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Love finds a way

ALBANY — Lawmakers voted late Friday to legalize same-sex marriage, making New York the largest state where gay and lesbian couples will be able to wed, and giving the national gay-rights movement new momentum from the state where it was born ["Gay Marriage Approved by N.Y. Senate", June 24, 2011, by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro].


Ecclesiastes is known for his preaching that "for everything there is a season." And yes, there is a season to marry. Hallelujah!

Yet Ecclesiastes also wrote: Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has already been, in the ages before us." Ecclesiastes 1:10. The desire, the need, the hope to join two lives together has been a God-given blessing to humankind since our earliest days. People have always sought to live together in love. In every age, people have found a way.

Today, thank God, we have removed another obstacle. It is always just to live together in love.
 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

God from the first days, we give you thanks for your awesome work of genesis: light from darkness, a world from wasteland, life from emptiness.

But we are puzzled over your tri-unity. We can understand One. On our better days, we can work with Two. But Three is beyond us. Whenever three are gathered, sooner or later we find two lording it over one.

Yet in your life is hope: three in one, undivided, ever-loving, never-ending, where creation and redemption and sustenance are woven together and the life of God transforms the life of the world.

Lead us, deliver us, renew us, Father-Son-Spirit, that our life may be ever more in your image, holy, holy, holy, one God, our source, our end, our all-in-all.
Amen.

 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prayer at Pentecost

A rush of wind and tongues afire is your gift to us, moving us beyond what is familiar, beyond our clans, beyond what we thought we knew.

Holy Spirit, inspire us anew, breathe your divine power into our lives and our churches, that we may drink deeply of your love for the world, and be emboldened by your passion for redemption.

Grant that we, made new in Christ, be reformed and reshaped and reborn in justice, in righteousness, in praise, and in peace, for the sake of the world and by the love of Christ. Amen.

"Holy Spirit Coming" by He Qi.