God of unfailing Love,
We come before you on this day with thankful and joyous hearts because your love knows no bounds. No boundaries, limits, or obstacles—including those of our own making—can thwart your loving kindness from following us all the days of our lives.
Yet during this week, your story of passion mirrors to us how we have tested your love and spurned your compassion. You find no abiding place in those who welcome you in God’s name during this week; you are welcomed with short-lived praise and soon-aborted allegiance.
We kneel before you in awe of the Mystery of your faithfulness. We kneel before you with confession, acknowledging our complicity with friends and enemies alike who through the ages have disowned you through our words and actions. We kneel before you in gratitude, forever thankful that even during passion week your love held strong.
As we enter into Holy Week brace us with fortitude and gratitude and with the assurance that you are with us, world without end. Amen. Rev. Thomas Hall
I praise you this morning, God. You alone are worthy of worship and praise, and so I pause to again give you glory and honor for your love, your mercy and your unending grace.
Thank you for your unconditional love and acceptance. Thank you for the grace of Jesus the Christ and for the explosive power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for creating such a perfect world.
This morning I lift up all the victims of senseless violence. Be with the families of those recently killed in Paris, but be with those grieving families in other areas of the world, as well. families in Syria, in Yemen, in Uganda, in South Sudan, in Iraq , Afghanistan, and even here in the United States. Let every member of every family touched by violence feel your love and experience your peace that passes all understanding.
And Lord I would pray that you grant all your children that perfect love that casts out fear. Help us live as your children should live, unafraid of whatever life brings. We now live in an age of growing violence and terrorism. Grant us all the strength and blessing of faith and faithfulness that we might be beacons of hope and light in a world darkened by fear and hatred.
Allow each of us to live alive, fully sharing the love you have first given us. Help us to be agents of reconciliation in every relationship you have granted us. Empower us to speak love and peace in the face of fear, bigotry and hatred. Grant us the strength to be peacemakers in a world gone mad. And in the end, grant us the blessing of your eternal presence. Amen
Yesterday was a day I will long remember. I traveled from Yei to Morobo, a journey of 32 miles. The trip was uneventful, but took an hour and a quarter due to the condition of the road (which was actually one of the best in the area).
I traveled to Morobo to be the guest preacher at the Charismatic Episcopal Church of Morobo. I had been invited by Bishop Tom Kokanyi to bring the morning message.
I arrived to find the entire church waving tree branches and singing songs of welcome. We had a procession to the church where I was formally welcomed. Then I had refreshments with two Bishops and eight or nine clergy. That was followed with a brief time of prayer for the morning worship service.
As we walked toward the church Bishop Tom told me that there was no “20 minute rule” in this church. He said, “You preach your heart. You preach until God tells you stop.”
The church was packed and the worship was beautiful. It was spirited and full of joy and praise. After my sermon we had several periods of intense prayer. It was a powerful and moving experience. The service began about 11, and we concluded sometime after 2. It was a wonderful time of worship, and as the Bishop had told me, no one was watching the clock.
After the service I shared a delightful meal of Posho (a staple dish of finely ground maize boiled to a stiff grits-like consistency) roasted chicken and rice with the Bishop and a number of senior church leaders. The meal was followed with a meeting to discuss the work of the church in Morobo County, especially the Stop Poverty in South Sudan Program. Then we concluded with a tour of the farm and new cathedral under construction.
The ride back to Yei took a little longer than the ride to Morobo as it was raining. I arrived back at our compound sometime after 4pm. It had been a full day and I was exhausted. But it was a day of worship among bothers and sisters that truly love the Lord. It was a special day, a gift, one I will not soon forget.
Most gracious and loving God, I come to you this morning to give you praise and offer you my heartfelt thanks. I worship you and open myself to you again.
Grant me your wisdom today. Allow me to see those around me through the eyes of Jesus and to respond with both grace and compassion. Help me be a voice of peace and reconciliation amid the cacophony of mistrust, hatred and fear.
And most gracious Creator, guide me throughout this day and this week that I may always be in the center of your perfect will for my life. Help my heart to stay attuned to the still small voice of your Spirit, and give me the courage to not only listen but to obey.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit grant me the power to be a good and faithful follower throughout this week. Let me prove my discipleship by my every word and action. Help me to be faithful in all things, both great and small.
I give you all praise, worship and honor. Glory be to your Name, both now and forever. Amen
Holy God, you have made of one blood all nations that dwell upon earth. Look with mercy upon us, and drive away our evil passions of fear and hatred. Grant that united in good will we may live together in charity and joy, each in the praise of great achievements, in rivalry of good and beneficent deeds, and sharing in truthful and just dealings with one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
a prayer from Trinity Episcopal Church
If a person works only for himself he can perhaps be a famous scholar, a great wise man, a distinguished poet, but never a complete, genuinely great man. History calls those the greatest…who ennobled themselves by working for the universal. Experience praises as the most happy the one who makes most people happy. — Karl Marx
Man becomes great exactly in the degree to which he works for the welfare of his fellow men. — Mahatma Gandhi
Continuing the theme I began in yesterday’s post, I share these quotes from two powerful personalities, both of whom surprisingly share the same view on the subject. As different as these men were, both changed history, and both came to a common understanding that happiness and greatness cannot be separated.
True greatness comes from seeking the good of the other. One is “ennobled” according to Marx by focusing on the universal good.
As radically diverse as these two figures were, both understood that creating good for those around us, creating happiness in our larger community, is the true path to personal fulfillment.
Someone wrapped up in him or herself makes a terribly small package. At least that’s how the old saw goes.
Both Marx and Gandhi agree. Fulfillment, greatness and happiness all come from focusing on the welfare of those around us.
And in a world where 25,000 of our human family will die today from hunger, we all have abundant opportunities to achieve all three.
Again we come to your throne of grace, gracious Lord, recognizing that your presence is everywhere. This morning we bow before you in humble recognition of your power, your glory, and your everlasting love.
Be with us throughout this day. Make it truly a day of rest and worship. Help us to fully be engaged with pleasing you with our praise, our prayers and our service in your name.
Help us to intentionally seek out your presence in all we meet today, but especially in the face of the stranger, the homeless, the sick, and those trapped in destructive lifestyles. Help us to reflect your grace to those in need of a friend, a kind word, or even just a reassuring smile.
And with each person we meet today, help us remember to give you thanks for another opportunity to demonstrate the love, mercy and grace you have first shown us. Amen
“How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” — Shane Claiborne
Claiborne poses a really good question, doesn’t he? On Sunday morning we praise the name of Jesus. We glorify Him. We exalt Him. We openly declare our love for Him and call ourselves His followers, His disciples.
Yet, on Monday morning, on our way to work, we quickly take another sip of our Starbucks double-expresso latte as we avert our eyes from the raggedly dressed man holding the crudely lettered “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” cardboard sign. We struggle not to let him make eye contact.
The man is filthy. He smells. We can tell that even in the confines of our well -heated car.
Only yesterday we claimed we would follow this man to the cross. Today we shudder at the thought of having to look at him. Talking to him is out of the question.
Good questions call for good answers. What’s the good answer to Shane’s question?
“How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?”