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1/17/21 The Second Sunday after the Epiphany: Commemoration of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jesus said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Jn.1.51

In Epiphany, the season of manifestation, we celebrate the scenes from Jesus’ life which show to us and to the world the glory of God which brings peace, forgiveness, and hope.  And today Jesus speaks of the ladder of God – the passage, the path, the way where God’s messengers bring God’s revelation.  In doing this Jesus alludes to himself as the point where heaven and earth meet, where creator and creation are reconciled, God is fully made manifest.  The outward and visible signs of the sacraments are ladderlike in their inward and spiritual graces which join us to God and one another.  And a reminder of our call to echo Phillip’s invitation to “Come and see” Jesus.   We celebrate today the life of the great Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. whose life was illuminated by God’s grace and power as he poured out his life in the pursuit of racial justice and equity. Refusing to bow before the broken governmental powers, he also refused to bow to all too easy temptation to fight the enemy on its own terms.  In his actions and some of his many words, here he echoes his Savior, who died on the ladder of the cross, opening the way of paradise to the thief and all others who turn to Him:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almighty God, by the hand of Moses your servant you led your people out of slavery, and made them free at last: Grant that your church, following the example of your prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of your love, and may strive to secure for all your children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1/10/21 The First Sunday after the Epiphany: Let there be Light

The reading from the opening of the book of Genesis today tells us that the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep when God created the heavens and earth:  God said “Let there be Light”.   And the chaos of the void was transformed by God into his beloved creation.

Mark’s gospel for today tells us of John the Baptist appearing in the wilderness – the raw, rough countryside filled with people whose lives were disordered and disfigured by sin, coming to be made new.  And as God’s sign in the chaos John washes them and points to the one who will bring the Spirit – Jesus.

Bringing order out of chaos is the eternal work of God in Christ Jesus. From “the Beginning”,  to the moments in every person’s life and in the life of the peoples of the world, when chaos and disorder find a hold, God is active and making a way to be make all things new and restored.  The disorder we see in our country and in the world today is rooted in the same primordial void over which the Spirit of God moved, as His Word – began to call into being a divine order.  Bringing order from chaos is the eternal work of the Church as well – We have all been re-ordered in baptism, as Jesus gave the sign offering himself to John for our sake – for our sins.  And like Jesus our identity is stamped as Beloved by God. As we celebrate this feast of His baptism today, may we recall the eternal possibility of renewal and restoration in our world and in our lives, made possible by our own baptisms, and open our lives again to the work God has done for us and the work God entrusts to us.

Creator God, we praise and worship you for your infinite power and love. We thank you that you have washed us clean and that you continue to inspire and refresh us with your presence. Remind us daily of our baptism in Christ and the ever present possibility of a fresh start and new beginning in Him day by day. Lord, in Your mercy, Hear Our Prayer.

 

1/3/21 The Second Sunday after Christmas Day: Another road

Today we celebrate the arrival of the wisemen bearing gifts for the child king Jesus. And as we begin the new year let’s take to heart the ending of their story: “ Having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.”

In the new year let us beware of simply returning to the stock answers of the self-aggrandizing worldly powers of “Herod”.  Now is the time to take “another road”.  As the wisemen found their way to the child-gift through perseverance and faith-bound divine guidance, that same perseverance blessed by receiving the gift of God’s blessing would guide them on the next leg of their journey.  Not returning, but taking another road.  The wisdom of giving – ourselves, our gifts, our being – is evident in the ancient story.  God is revealed to those who give.

12/25/20 The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ : Almost Secret

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

almost secret

place hard

to see

and find unexpected

or regarded

hiddenness revealed

God from the darkness

Too full, blind

Bethlehem be emptied

 by the stall –

shepherds with angel message find

the treasure

child and mother, patron there

low but highest,

peace and favor

for all who

before him bow

 

 

12/20 Fourth Sunday of Advent: God’s Strength

The messenger of God’s Strength -Gabriel – comes to Mary in today’s gospel with a greeting that troubles her before she even knows the news he brings.   The awareness of God’s favor, and having chosen her, is overwhelming.   And the news accompanying it, even more daunting.  But Her questions are answered and Her response, grace filled:  Here I am – let it be – according to your word, let it be.   Like Mary, we all have questions and each of us is chosen by God for a special purpose.  Advent is a time when we are reminded to quieten ourselves – to be at peace in that silent night, and pay heed to Gabriel’s message of strength that God has for us:  His strength and grace are sufficient for You – in whatever we’re facing – and more importantly in all that He’s calling You to do.
Father God, remove from our hearts all fear, skepticism and doubt.  Inspire us with greater faith, love and confidence in your goodness and your will to provide us with all that we need to do the work you have prepared for us.  Amen.

12/13 Third Sunday of Advent: semper Gaudete, sine intermissione orate, in omnibus gratias agite

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil. 1 Thess. 5

Gaudete is the Latin word for REJOICE! And this 3rd Sunday of Advent we anticipate the Holy Spirit restoring all things and making the Way clear in the Righteousness of Jesus the Anointed One.  In unity with the Diocese of New York we celebrate this Sunday as a Day to Offer God Thanks for the Abolition of Slavery and to Ask God’s Help in Assuring Always that Black Lives Matter.

Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people. He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us. He is the Savior of us all. O Lord, let your blessing come upon us as we rejoice in the hope of his return, giving thanks for the 13th Amendment and the end of chattel slavery in our nation. May He come quickly and not delay. We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

A Prayer of Thanksgiving from The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas

Almighty God of Moses and Hagar, Creator and Redeemer of us All: We come to you in thanksgiving for your liberating promise of justice where all your children will one day be free; We offer thanks for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment which brought an end of chattel slavery in this land; We offer thanks for the work of those abolitionists who fought tirelessly to end the sin of chattel slavery remembering especially the too often overlooked Black abolitionists such as Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Henry Highland Garnet, Sarah Parker Redmond, William Still, and Frederick Douglass;  Grant us, Loving God, forgiveness for our complicity with white supremacy and anti-blackness that gave rise to chattel slavery and continues its legacy in other forms;  Grant us, Liberating God, the moral wisdom, moral leadership, and moral courage to continue the work of freedom, until our world and society becomes a place free from the sins of white supremacy, anti-blackness or anything that would betray the justice that you promise all of your children. Help us, O God of the disinherited, to be church and thus to lead the way to a world free from the pleas for black lives to matter, because they will matter. Help us to never be content until that time when heaven has come to earth and all of your children are free to live into the fullness of their created potential. Amen. 

13th Amendment Commemoration Prayer from the Diocesan Reparations Comm.We thank you God, for bringing this nation through a devastating civil war, in which the enslavement of people of African heritage played a central role, and served as the catalyst to change hearts and minds in this country to prohibit chattel slavery and the dehumanization of a large faction of your people. We are particularly grateful to commemorate the passage of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was passed by Congress on the last day of January, 1865 and finally ratified in that same year in early December as the law in this country. We thank you for the tireless work of people from many nations towards justice, freedom, equity and opportunity for enslaved African-Americans from the inception of this evil institution to the present. We thank you for giving us courage to honestly face past injustices, grace to repent, and strength to keep on working through and committing to authentic demonstrations of permanent, transformative actions towards a time when all Black lives assuredly matter in this country and throughout your creation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

12/6 Second Sunday of Advent: ACTION

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”

The empty manger contrasts with the overloaded and full Bethlehem and reminds us of the one who came, and who is coming again.  John the baptizer fulfills the message of Isaiah – crying out with his warning to PREPARE.  As we celebrate the second Sunday in Advent we pray for the grace of God to join with the Shepherd King clearing the way to turn again and prepare for his return – knowing neither day nor hour, we wait for new heavens and a new earth and a new heart – God we offer our Bethlehems to you so that our manger hearts may be prepared and ready to receive You.  

11/29 First Sunday of Advent: HAPPY NEW YEAR !

O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter;  we are all the work of your hand.  Is 64 

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; * show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved. Ps 80 

“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.” Mk. 13 

Hopeful Waiting, Hopeful Watching, Hopeful Remembering 

Advent Reminds us:  We are the clay – not the potter