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December 14, 2015 · 11:44

Helen

imageMy late wife, Helen, was master of the pithy one-liner.

when she was going through her first sessions of chemotherapy, following radical surgery, on our way out of the Infirmary, a lovely and sincere Church of Scotland ministerial colleague bumped into us and said “We’re all praying for you”. (which was a marvellous thing to do).  My dear wife, who hadn’t met this guy and hadn’t a clue who he was, simply replied, “How nice”

asking a friend how her son had done in his “Higher” exams, the lady replied, “He failed them all”. But added “He has passed his driving test though!”

herself:  “How clever.  Much more important”

after attending the first service, after we were married, at the church where I was a probationer assistant, the usual”know-it-all” member – in this case a Mrs Swanston – came up to her with that smug look of those who are beholden of the truth – and said “Well, what do you think of our Church of Scotland services?”

Helen who was VERY English and had a staunch Church of England mother replied, “a bit dull”

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June 24, 2013 · 09:40

Questions

Some questions…..

Why do doctors and lawyers call what they do practice?

Why is abbreviation such a long word?

Why is it that when you’re driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on your radio?

Why is a boxing ring square?

What was the best thing before sliced bread?

How did a fool and his money get together in the first place?

There are indeed a lot of things in this life that we just really don’t understand.

But let me take it to a deeper and more disturbing level. For example, we don’t really understand disease.  Why is a youngster perfectly healthy for 13 years of his life… and then suddenly just happens to be in a place where he suddenly encounters some germ or bacteria that invades his body and destroys it? This happens in meningitis cases.

And we don’t understand accidents.  They are so random and indiscriminate. You start out a day that is like any other day… and then something happens in a matter of seconds… and life is forever different.  You can never go back beyond that accident.

On and on we could go with our list… of things we don’t really understand.

Why is there so much pain in our world? Why do good people suffer? Why do we hurt one another? Why can’t people get along? And why do some of the best prayers seem to go unanswered?

Now, all of these difficult questions prompt us to raise yet another crucial question: What can we count on from God?  When we face the troubles of the world, the heartaches of life, the tough challenges of this existence… what can we count on from God?

Christ tells a parable – a rather strange parable. It involves two people: an unjust arrogant judge and a humble but persistent woman.  The judge ignores her at first, but finally grants her justice because she is so persistent.  She won’t give up and she won’t go away… so eventually he gives in and comes through for her.

Now that’s the parable. Jesus then makes his point and he frames it in the form of a question.

He says, if an unjust judge gives this woman justice how much more will God bring about justice for his chosen ones?

A loving God hears our struggles, hears our cries of help and then responds to them.

WE CAN COUNT ON GOD TO BE WITH US WHEN WE ARE HURTING.

A tragedy left the man homeless, widowed and fatherless. Fire had swept through his house, and all was lost. It took some time for the full weigh of the loss to descend, and when it did, he was nearly crushed.

Like Job in the O.T. he would not be comforted…When the gift of shock was lifted, anger, resentment filled every waking thought.

God had not been fair to him God had not protected his family. He had not come to him with a special visitation to explain the “why” and the “what next”.The greatest temptation was to add to his losses by forfeiting his faith.

He felt justified. No one would fault him. Some might even support him. He prayed angrily now, daring god to hurt him further, challenging him if you like.

He prayed angrily, but he prayed, and God could handle it….The anguish continued to mount until one afternoon he uttered a cry so forcefully, it could only be described as a scream. No word was spoken, just a loud angry scream against the forces of heaven and hell, as if to say, “I’ve hurt all I can, and I’ve paid my dues for love…. Help me.”….

The silence that followed was quieter than silence. A peace was evident for the first time in months.

He believed, at last, that God was caring for those he lost. That God was caring for Him. that God could handle his honest anger, his honest emotions

And God can handle all our pent up emotions, feelings, denials. He is with us in our hurt and our pain.

And, although our questions may not be answered, we can come to know him as the one who always listens, always cares.

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9/11 – A Liturgy for Sept. 11 (Prayers of the People and a Litany of the Dead)

September 7, 2012 By  

The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is Tuesday, and for those remembering that day, I wanted to offer a few prayers I wrote last year, as well as a visual prayer meditation. I hope you will find them challenging, moving and meaningful.

The Prayers 

Today, we pray with the remembrance of tragedy in our minds, with sorrow in our hearts, with longing in our souls. Together, let us pray for the victims of terrorism, war and violence everywhere.

In your great mercy, Grant them the peace that the world has denied them.

For the men and women who answered their nations’ calls to serve:

For soldiers, firefighters, police officers and all public servants, Protect them by your grace and bring them whole, out of harms’ way, into the safety of warm homes.

For the innocent lives caught in the crossfire, who have died, been maimed and lost both home and homeland.

For those that mourn, weep and live in fear amidst wars they do night fight, grant them comfort from sadness, protection in danger and the relief of daily bread and basic necessities of human life as they rebuild their lives.

For the families and individuals broken by the physical and psychological effects war, violence and terrorism

For those suffering from long separation, fragmented relationships, missing limbs and mental illness, grant them the strength and aid they need to be complete, at peace and restored to life.

For the children who have been made orphans, the women who have been made widows, the men who have been made widowers and the parents who have buried children.

For those that weep this day and forever for their departed loved ones, transform mourning into dancing and surround them with a great cloud of witnesses for comfort and support.

For the young who have never known a time when America was not at war, with them or with others.

For those taught to fragment the human family into categories of “us” and “them,” for those raised to justify animosity towards others by believing that God hates those that would harm them or disagree with them, have mercy on them through the revelation of your divine, all-encompassing love.

For all the men, women and children who have lost the ability to forgive.

For “us” and “them” in every war, teach all, as you have commanded, to forgive seventy times seven, even those that would cause us and our loved ones harm.

O God, who made us in your image, who comforts and weeps with us, create in us holy spirits that respond to pain with compassion, enlarge our hearts so that we may weave hope from the torn fabric of tragedies, grant us strength and courage to offer forgiveness to all as you have so graciously forgiven us. In our pain, may we not forge swords, but ploughshares. In tragedy, may we not despair, but, through your Spirit, create good news, hope and peace for a broken world. In the name of your son, our Savior, who has commanded us to forgive in the infinity of his love for us. Amen.

A Litany for the Dead

For the 3,000 innocent victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks: for the passengers on  American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the North World Trade Center Tower, on United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the South World Trade CenterTower, on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, and on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in a field, and for all those who died in the cataclysmic destruction wrought by the attacks.

Let your perpetual light shine upon them and bring them into your eternal rest so that we may feast with them at your eternal banquet table.

For the 19 hijackers who commandeered the four airplanes and turned them into instruments of hate and destruction, for Mohamed Atta, Waleed al-Shehri, Wail al-Shehri, Abdulaziz al-Omari, Satam al-Suqami, Marwan al-Shehhi, Fayez Banihammad, Mohand al-Shehri, Ahmed-Ghamdi, Hamza al-Ghamdi, Hani Hanjour, Khalid al-Mihdhar, Majed Moqed, Nawaf al-Hazmi, Salem al-Hazmi, Ziad Jarrah, Ahmed al-Haznawi, Ahmed al-Nami and Saeed al-Ghamdi.

Forgive them, as you have forgiven us, seventy times seven and bring them into your eternal rest so that we may feast with them at your eternal banquet table.

For the firefighters, police officers, chaplains and military personnel who have fought and died protecting others, especially (include names of those known by the congregation and their families):

Let your perpetual light shine upon them and bring them into your eternal rest so that we may feast with them at your eternal banquet table.

For the members of the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist networks, who seek to harm others and repress the human spirit. We pray for the repose of the soul of Osama bin Laden.

Forgive them, as you have forgiven us, seventy times seven and bring them into your eternal rest so that we may feast with them at your eternal banquet table.

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Prayers

The Meenister’s Log

  • Bob Dylan: 
     
    Father of night, Father of day,
    Father, who taketh the darkness away,
    Father, who teacheth the bird to fly,
    Builder of rainbows up in the sky,
    Father of loneliness and pain,
    Father of love and Father of rain.

    Father of day, Father of night,
    Father of black, Father of white,
    Father, who builds the mountain so high,
    Who shapeth the cloud up in the sky,
    Father of time, Father of dreams,
    Father, who turneth the rivers and streams.

    Father of grain, Father of wheat,
    Father of cold and Father of heat,
    Father of air and Father of trees,
    Who dwells in our hearts and our memories,
    Father of minutes, Father of days,
    Father of whom we most solemnly praise.

  • Reinhold Niebuhr

    God, give us grace to accept with serenity
    the things that cannot be changed,
    Courage to change the things
    which should be changed,
    and the Wisdom to distinguish
    the one from the other.
    Living one day at a time,
    Enjoying one moment at a time,
    Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
    Taking, as Jesus did,
    This sinful world as it is,
    Not as I would have it,
    Trusting that You will make all things right,
    If I surrender to Your will,
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next

  • A Prayer in Spring  – Robert Frost

    Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
    And give us not to think so far away
    As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
    All simply in the springing of the year.

    Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
    Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
    And make us happy in the happy bees,
    The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

    And make us happy in the darting bird
    That suddenly above the bees is heard,
    The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
    And off a blossom in mind air stands still.

    For this is love and nothing else is love,
    The which it is reserved for God above
    To sanctify to what far ends He will,
    But which it only needs that we fulfil.

  • Show Me The Suffering – Cesar Chavez
    Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
    So I will know my people’s plight.
    Free me to pray for others;
    For you are present in every person.
    Help me take responsiblity for my own life;
    So that I can feel free at last.
    Grant me courage to serve others;
    For in service there is true life.
    Give me honesty and patience;
    So that I can work with other workers.
    Bring forth song and celebration;
    So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
    Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
    So that we will never tire of the struggle.
    Let us remember those who have died for justice;
    For they have given us life.
    Help us love even those who hate us;
    So we can change the world.
  • In The Garden of the Lord  –  Helen Keller
    The word of God came unto me,
    Sitting alone among the multitudes;
    And my blind eyes were touched with light.
    And there was laid upon my lips a flame of fire.

    I laugh and shout for life is good,
    Though my feet are set in silent ways.
    In merry mood I leave the crowd
    To walk in my garden. Ever as I walk
    I gather fruits and flowers in my hands.
    And with joyful heart I bless the sun
    That kindles all the place with radiant life.
    I run with playful winds that blow after the scent.
    Of rose and Jessamine in eddying whirls.
    At last I come where tall lilies grow,
    Where the lilies pray, I kneel upon the ground;
    I have strayed into the holy temple of the Lord

  • Simple Gifts – Joseph Bracket

    ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
    ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
    And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
    When true simplicity is gain’d,
    To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
    To turn, turn will be our delight
    ‘Till by turning, turning we come round right.

  • Love and Hate – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    The sole thing I hate is Hate;
    For hate is death; and Love is life,
    A peace a splendor from above;
    And Hate, a never ending strife,
    A smoke, a blackness from the abyss
    Where unclean spirits coil and hiss!
    Love is the Holy Ghost within;
    Hate the unpardonable sin!
    Who preaches otherwise than this
    Betrays his Master with a Kiss!

  • Prayer at Dawn  – Christopher Columbus

    Blessed be the light of day
    And the Holy Cross, we say;
    And the Lord of the Verity
    And the Holy Trinity.
    Blessed be th’ immortal soul
    And the Lord who keeps it whole,
    Blessed be the light of day
    And He who sends the night away.

 

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