A Veterans Day Prayer. 2013

Today — November 11 — is Veterans Day in the United States — or Armistice Day in Europe.

The idea behind Veterans Day is to have a day when we can think about the sacrifices paid by the many men and women who have served in the Armed Forces.

On this Veterans Day, I offer up a prayer from the tradition of the Presbyterian Church for those serving — and I add have served — in the military:

Righteous God, you rule the nations.

Guard brave men and women who risk themselves in battle for their country.

Give them compassion for enemies who also fight for patriotic causes.

Keep our sons and daughters from hate that hardens, or from score-keeping with human lives.

Though they must be at war, let them live for peace, as eager for agreement as for victory.

Encourage them as they encourage one another, and never let hard duty separate them
from loyalty to your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, Amen.

Daily Reflection from Northumbria.11/3/13

The daily meditation from Mprnng Prayer of The Northumbria Community comes from Rowan Williams:

The Cry to God as ‘Father’ in the New Testament is not a calm acknowledgement
of a universal truth about God’s abstract fatherhood. It is the Child’s cry
out of a nightmare.

It is the cry of outrage,fear, shrinking away,when faced with the horror of the ‘world’
– yet not simply or exclusively protest, but trust as well.

‘Abba Father’ all things are possible to Thee …

Let us continue to cry out to God while following God and doing God’s will in the world!

A Needed Prayer

I found this prayer in the Mission Yearbook For Prayer And Study today and knew that I needed it — and needed to share it with others.

May God bless you:
With a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
With holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people
With the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hands to comfort them and transform their pain into joy
With enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you can, with God’s grace, do what others claim cannot be done.


What Would Calvin Do?

I pray that all who live n the US who are eligible to vote today will do so, and I pray that all Christians will pray before they cast their ballots. As a Presbyterian, I belong to what is called the Reformed Tradition. Started by reformers like John Calvin, the Reformed tradition stresses God’s sovereignty over all things, but our responsibility to pray for God’s will to be done in the world and act on what we feel God is leading us to do as we strive to make the world more like the Kingdom of God.

How does that translate into actions such as voting?

Here’s a reflection from the Presbyterian Mission Yearbook For Prayer And Study for today that may help answer that question:

During debates over regulating cigarette smoking, a tobacco executive attending worship for the first time asked the pastor if someone from his conglomerate would be welcome. The pastor asked, “Do you think you are that much worse a sinner than these other worshipers and me?” Both smiled, distinguishing corporate policy from personal identity and affirming space for different outlooks in that church.

Today’s lectionary passages focus on judgment executed and judgment deferred, good themes for Election Day. In Luke 13, Jesus points to natural and human-caused disasters to ask if those who suffered were worse than their neighbors. Both kinds of disaster should prompt repentance – not something most elected officials do in public. It is often easier to judge others and vote against them than it is to consider the nature of a good society and one’s responsibilities in it. At our best, like that tobacco executive, we acknowledge our own interests, dreams, and resentments influence our decisions, but they are not the whole of us. Many organizations opposing shared sacrifice spend more on political contributions than taxes, but conscience puts the survival of future generations ahead of the concerns of today’s powerful.

The Reformed approach is almost always to seek to reform, not abolish the state. The purpose of the state is more than shared defense. The magistrate or government, in Calvin’s view, is “ordained of God” not only to be an “avenger unto wrath,” but “a minister of God for those doing good unto praise” (Institutes IV, 20, 4). As the report to the 174th General Assembly (1962), “Relations Between Church and State,” terms it, “The civil ruler is a co-worker with the ministry of the church for the accomplishment of the divine purpose . . . the magistracy fundamentally exists, in short, not because humans are wicked but because God is gracious.”

– Rev. Christian T. Iosso, coordinator, Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, General Assembly Mission Council

So — what would Calvin do? What I pray every Chrisitan in America will do — pray and vote.

Memorial Day.09

Memorial Day.

A holiday for many. I’m working on odds and ends at the Church office today but for some it’s a day off. However you spend your day today, remember the reason for today. Many have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy as Americans — and many continue to give their lives so that we and others can continue to enjoy freedom.

On Memorial Day I always remember a poem I learned in the fifth grade — John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

You can read the story of the poem here.

As we remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and especially this year those who continue to fight for freedom, I offer this prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we think of how they have followed in the footsteps of your son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Please hold our service men and women in your strong arms. Cover them with your sheltering grace and presence as they stand in the gap for our protection.

We also remember the families of our troops, and ask for your unique blessings to fill their homes and your peace, provision and strength to fill their lives.

May the members of our armed forces be filled with courage to face each day and may they trust in the Lord’s mighty power to accomplish each task. Let our military brothers and sisters feel our love and support.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Reflections on Holy Week: Friday

Jesus On The Cross During Holy Week I am posting some reflections on the events of this week and what they mean for us.

On Friday of Holy Week — Good Friday — Jesus was crucified for our sins (Matthew 27:1-66, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 23:1-56, John 19:1-42.)

Take some time today to reflect on what Christ did for you.
Take time today to thank God for the salvation you have through Christ.

As a prayer for Good Friday, I offer the following — A
Responsive Prayer On Christ’s Passion — from The Book Of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church, USA

Our Redeemer suffered death,
Was buried and rose again for our sake.
With love let us adore him, aware of our needs.

Christ our teacher,
for us you were obedient, even unto death:

Teach us to obey God’s will in all things.

Christ our life,
by dying on the cross
you destroyed the power of evil and death:

Enable us to die with you, and rise with you in glory.
Christ our strength, you were despised,
And humiliated as a common criminal:

Teach us the humility by which you saved the world.

Christ our salvation,
you gave your life out of love for us:

Help us to love one another.

Christ our savior,
on the cross you embraced all time
with your outstretched arms:

Gather all the scattered children of God into your realm

Jesus, Lamb of God,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, bearer of our sins,

have mercy on us.

Jesus, redeemer of the world,

grant us peace.

Refelctions On Holy Week: Thursday (Part 3)

Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane A third event of Thursday of Holy Week was Jesus’ praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Jesus prayed that He would not have to die on the cross — and yet at the end He accepted God’s will. (Matthew 26:31-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46).

If you have ever seen the movie “The Passion Of The Christ“, you will remember the first scenes at Gethsemane and the Devil trying to persuade Jesus to abandon God’s plan — but Jesus resisting. It’s a very powerful rendition of this powerful event.

Jesus accepted and followed God’s will for Him — even though it meant suffering and death.

O God — Strengthen me when I am tempted to abandon Your will for my life, so that I may follow You. Amen.

Reflections on Holy Week: Thursday (Part 2)

the last supper As Christians go through Hoy Week I am posting some thoughts on events that occurred this week.

Thursday of Holy Week is the day Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Communion

As He gathered with His disciples the night before His crucifixion, Jesus took the bread and the cup from the Jewish Seder Meal they were celebrating and gave the bread and cup new meaning (Matthew 26:26-30, Mark 14:22-26, Luke 22:14-20).

This is my body — broken for you
This is my blood — shed for you

It does not matter how many times I say these words or celebrate the Sacrament — these words still give me goose bumps.

Lord — Help me to always remember what You have done for me — and always reach out to others with Your love. Amen.

Reflections on Holy Week: Thursday (Part 1)

Jesus washing feet As Christians go through Holy Week, I am posting some thoughts about events that took place during the week.

One thing that occurred Thursday of Holy Week — also known as Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday.

It was on this day that Jesus gave the disciples the “new commandment” — to love one another (John 13:34). (The Latin word for “commandment” is mandatum — thus the English word “maundy”).

Jesus gave this new commandment while washing the disciples feet (John 13:1-17, John 13:31-38). This action of washing the feet of the disciples shows the humility and servant nature of Christ — an attitude that does not come naturally for me, and that I need strength to work on.

I will post about several other events that occurred on Thursday, but for now think about your attitude of service and commitment to Christ.

Lord — on this day when you showed Your humility and attitude of service, strengthen me so I may serve You and others better, and be better obedient to Your mandate to love one another. Amen.

Reflections on Holy Week: Wednesday

rich young rulerAs Christians go through Holy Week, I am offering some reflections on the week and some of the events that occurred.

One event that may have occurred on Wednesday of Holy Week is the discussion of whether to pay taxes to the emperor or not (Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26).

The religious leaders were wanting to trap Jesus — trying to see if they could catch Him saying something that would either offend the Romans or that would make the Jews mad. His response showed a great truth that cuts to the heart of where our allegiance lies.

“Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s,
and to God the things that are God’s.”

In other words, give to the earthly powers that things that are theirs — but to God the things that are His.

What things belong to an earthly power?
Our allegiance — our love — taxes — what we owe for the things we are provided.

What things belong to God?
Well — everything!
Our ultimate love — allegiance — what we owe God for what He has provided us.

Lord — Help me to give to my country what is it’s due — but to give to You my ultimate devotion and love. Amen.