Sunday, September 26, 2010

September 26, 2010 - Prayers of the People

Dear God in heaven,
We pray with gratitude and hope.
Thy Kingdom come … thy will be done.

You have given us a vision:
A world that is just and good.
And toward that end, O God, we join in the great procession of faith … a procession led by Christ.

Empower us, we pray, with your Holy Spirit.
Infect our hearts with the glory of the Risen Christ.
Flood our minds with his joy and his passion.
Direct our footsteps in his pathways.
Make us fearless in the face of the troubles and trials of the day.
Give us voice to speak the gospel.
To be positive and hopeful and kind.
To be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

We pray today for Soup Kitchens - those who serve and the hungry women and men who receive.
We pray today for Food Pantries - those who bag groceries and those who stock the shelves … and the clients who stand in line.

We pray for ourselves, LORD.
That we might work hard and faithfully, wherever we are … in the best of times and in the hardest of times.
Shouldering the burdens of life, and not complaining too much.
Doing our best, dear God, as best we can.
Looking upon others with kindness.
As you look upon us with mercy!

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Monday, September 13, 2010

September 12, 2010, Prayers of the People

O LORD our God, thank you!

Thank you for Covenant Presbyterian Church … and thank you for your Holy Spirit in this place …

Thank you for the life we have today … each one of us … whatever the burdens we must bear, we’re here, and it’s good to be alive.

Thank you for people who care … for people who see a new world and dedicate themselves to make it happen … for people who swing hammers and pound nails to build a new home for a needy family … for people who bag groceries by the ton for hungry people … for people ladling out rice and beans to the folks who live on the street … for Sunday School teachers and deacons, for musicians and elders … for every members of this community of faith … for every prayer said by them, for every kindly deed done by them, for every effort made to honor Christ in word and deed… O LORD, our God, we give thanks.

Bless us, we pray.
With the love of Christ.
That we, too, might dare to see a new day and give ourselves to the future.
That we, too, might pick up our cross and bear the burdens of faith.
That we, too, might apply ourselves to the best and the brightest of things … choosing the better angels of faith, hope and love.

In the name of our LORD Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done …

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Would Jesus Say? ... by Bob Orr

From my good friend and fine writer, Bob Orr ... written in reflection on the possible burning of a Quran at a Florida Church.

What Would Jesus Say?

The Jesus I know from the Gospels was a friend to all and demonstrated in his actions God's love and forgiveness to men and women especially the ones we would condemn and count as unworthy.   This Jesus calls us to live in community with one another.  Jesus was a Jew and his disciples were Jews.  As a  man of his time Jesus would have spoken  and understood Hebrew, Aramaic, and probably Greek.  Where he was born, grew to manhood and conducted his ministry  was a cultural stew and a cross roads of trade and beliefs. 

 The United States is a pluralistic nation made up of many religions - Christianity is one of them.  We pride ourselves in the freedom of worship.  It's one of our cherished values.   Just last week in my home town of Canton, MI we joined a Hindu community in celebrating the dedication of their new temple.  Their center can accommodate a thousand worshipers.  Down the road from where I live  is a Sikh temple where we visited a few months ago to better know our neighbors.  Dearborn, MI  (just 15 miles to our east) is home to the largest Arab community outside of the Mid East.  Islam is their religion.  We're all citizens of the United States, we're all neighbors and we all fly the same flag.  I don't appreciate hate speech, fear tactics, or race baiting.  When times are rough like they are now  we search for someone to blame.  This divides us and drives us apart.  We're weaker as a country as a result.  

What would Jesus say?  I think Jesus would cry over our fearful bickering with one another.  Jesus would meet hate with love.  Jesus would meet ignorance with knowledge.  Jesus would extend an open hand to the neighbor and not a clinched fist.  Jesus would speak a kind word and offer a generous embrace to the stranger and the different among us.  That's what I think Jesus would do.  --Bob Orr

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burning the Quran

September 8, 2010 - a note sent to the friends and members of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles

Dear Readers,

The proposed burning of a Quran by a small far-right evangelical church in Gainesville, Florida saddens me beyond words.

I have emailed the church asking them to consider how this will affect our soldiers in Afghanistan - there's no doubt that radical Muslims will see these radical "Christians" as representative of Christianity in America, even as we tend to see radical Muslims as representative of Islam.

Anyway, this is a reminder of what I have long called Christianity's underbelly.

Most of us rarely, if ever, encounter it, and chances are that anyone on this mailing is unlikely to meet it, except in these rare moments when bizarre antics and seething hatred reach the news. Though just a small group in Gainesville, I'm grateful for the news coverage, because there's a lot of this twisted christianity in the backwoods and suburbs of America, and it needs to be brought to the light of day.

There really isn't much we can do - though Gainesville police have denied the church a burning permit. We live in free land, but a "church" like this needs to be reminded that freedom isn't license, that freedom requires responsibility.

But with the breaking news of a hate crime in Thousand Oaks - Swastikas and hate messages ... we need to be clear - there's a lot of hatred out there, and some of it is found within the ranks of American Christianity.

The only antidote to such distortions of the faith is, first, our alertness to such things, then a solid knowledge of Christian history with a good and careful reading of Scripture.

In Christ, for Christ and with Christ,


Merciful God, I pray thee to grant me, if it please thee, ardor to desire thee, diligence to seek thee, wisdom to know thee and skill to speak to the glory of thy name. Amen (Thomas Aquinas)