Prayer of St. Francis

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Today, I feel we just need to stop and pray for our world and ourselves this Prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Grace and Peace
Steve

May We All Be One

Steve & Shirley

Steve & Shirley

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” – Isaiah 11:1

A friend of mine and her young daughter were walking in a shopping mall when the child suddenly stopped, took a panoramic look around and said, “Look, Mom, we are in a forest of people.”

Her daughter is right. People ARE like trees in a forest. Each with roots: some that run shallow, some that delve deep. Each with branches: some gnarled, some reaching, some drooping. Some are tall and majestic, like the giant redwoods of California. Some are gorgeous like the cedars of Lebanon.

Each with blemishes; each with hue. All turning toward the sun. All with a thick exterior covering vulnerabilities with varying degrees of success. Some snapped in half by failing to bend with the wind. Some with lives cut short like the stump of Jesse.

If I were to draw but a single line to illustrate where we are separate from the rest of creation, I would not know where to place it. Instead, I listen to the counsel of a child and I see the tree in me, and the me in tree, and the me in we, and the we in me.

I begin to pray to the God of ALL creation that we may all be one, but I pause to ponder if, perhaps, we already are, but just don’t know it… yet.

Dear God of all, from what is left of me, may there sprout forth the fruit of what is best of me, and may it blessed be, until I find rest in thee. Amen.

Grace and Peace

Steve

STOP THE SENSELESS VIOLENCE

Steve & Shirley

Steve & Shirley

“O Lord God to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!  Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud.  Lord, how long will the wicked triumph?” – Psalm 94:1-3 (NKJV)

People of faith are quite varied in our responses as to how the United States should respond to the atrocities of chemical weapons unleashed on the people of Syria, allegedly under the direction of President Bashad al-Assad.

Some feel strongly that the mass murder in Syria warrants some type of military retaliation, on the part of the U.S. and her allies, that would at least weaken the capacity for any future use of chemical weaponry against citizens.  Others believe that anything short of a full commitment to a regime change in Syria will not make much of a difference.  Still others contend that as horrendous as the tragedy in Syria is, the United States cannot afford to entangle itself in another foreign conflict, given the urgent problems we face at home with our staggering economy, unsustainable energy, educational dysfunctions and health care confrontations.

Whether the issue at hand is atrocity in Syria or genocide in Rwanda or slaughter in the Sudan, there is one moral principle that should guide all of our moral responses.  It is the conviction that vengeance does not belong within the purview of human action.  Vengeance is a designated function that God reserves exclusively for God’s self.

This certainly does not mean that people of faith are to take no responsibly for the execution of justice in the world.  It does mean that whatever actions we take to combat and correct socio-political evil must always be tempered with a profound sense of humility and prayer – recognizing that we too are flawed agents operating in a much broader Providential process to deliver freedom and justice for all.

We must certainly win some victories on the way to God’s ultimate vengeance.  But let us not use any moral victory or moral cause as a license to assume ultimate vindication.  The vengeance of God is what keeps people of faith engaged but not arrogant – both in America and in Syria and all around the globe.

Dear God, Please help us to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you, our God, in and through Jesus.  Amen.

PS: I have been at the VA most of the day and not sure what is happening at the Washington Navy Yard. However, it looks like several people have been kill and others wounded. May we, of all faiths, come together to pray that we are not going to be part of killing innocent people – no matter where they are from, what they believe, what uniform they wear, or language they speak. Let’s stop the SENSELESS VIOLENCE.

I Can Only Imagine

Steve & Shirley

Steve & Shirley

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,  just as [God] knows me and I know[God]. And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason [God] loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again . . . .”  Many [said] . . . “He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?”  Others were saying, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” from John 10:11-21

A rabbi told that a town with two Jews would need three synagogues: The one I go to; The one you go to; and one neither one of us would be caught dead in. Christians are much the same. But Jesus’ prophetic words assure us that someday, God’s people will ALL be one – within and across faith groups.

Jesus clearly does not have uniformity or immediacy in mind as he prophetically and with certainty says he WILL gather “other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I MUST bring them also. . . There WILL be one flock, one shepherd.” We don’t know how this will happen any more than we know how cancer, AIDS, or other scientific mysteries will be solved, but like each of these, God will use people like you and me in the process.

People in Jesus’ day were as divided about Jesus’ prophecy as we are today . . . mosques or no mosques; synagogues or no synagogues; churches or no churches; gay marriage or no gay marriage; ways to worship, receive communion, or baptize. And yet, we act as if God, knowledge, or love itself is something we can own, limit, control or divide. But the day will come when our blindness will be healed and all who seek to love God with all their heart, soul and mind and their neighbors as themselves will be one, even in the midst of difference.

Imagine the excitement of those whose eyes Jesus opened who began their day having never seen or expected to see a sunset, the twinkle in a child’s eye, or a shooting star, but went to bed having seen them all. Now imagine embracing Jesus’ promise as we celebrate who we are and what we believe today. Imagine expecting God to open our eyes to see beyond current limits of our languages, metaphors, and borders. Imagine the pure joy of having seen and revealed a new path to peace . . . and then closing our eyes at the last, having seen God’s creation power at work – making all things and people brand new, at any age. Imagine!

Gracious and loving God: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see You, I want to love You and love all my neighbors as myself.  We love You. Help us love You more, in and through Jesus. Amen.

Grace and Peace

Steve

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