Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pastoral Prayer, May 29, 2016

Pastoral Prayer
First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

To be the church of Jesus Christ, O God.
This is our prayer, this is our hope.
To let our light so shine, O God,
That others might see our good works and glorify your name.

To you, O God, we give the cares of life that besiege and beset every soul … anxiety about tomorrow … the distress of difficult relationships … employment and daily tasks … family life, in all of its myriad shapes and forms … trying to understand ourselves, O God, and why we are the way we are … health issues, dear God - our frailty, our mortality … the passing of time … our desires to love and be loved … our quest for purpose and value … the crushing question of why bad things happen … tears of bereavement and loss … the pain of regret, the demons of impatience and judgment … 

Be with us, we pray, O God, in all the turnings and tumult of life … be merciful to us, in our comings and our goings … in all things, O God, encourage our devotion to you, our love for one another, our faith in your providence … for we are yours, O God, bound with a love that will not cease, nor ever be broken … in this life, and in the life to come.

And so, we pray:

For the well-being of our nation … and for all the nations of the world.

For the economic engines of capital and commerce, to be wisely tuned to the needs of the planet, the needs of its people, and all of its creatures, great and small.

For people of faith, whatever their faith, dear LORD, to shun the ill-turned temptations of religion … temptations of power and domination … temptations driven by fear and ignorance … temptations that reside in all of us, O God, in the dark corners of mind and heart.

On this Memorial Day Weekend, O God, we remember the women and men of our nation who have fallen in war … something they didn’t expect, or want, and maybe even feared … but they faced the day, O LORD, and did their duty … and so we honor them in thought and prayer, and above all else, we honor them  with our sacred pledge to seek peace when and where we can, to hold in check our emotions when the drums of war are sounded, to be serious in our dedication to peace … to always see beyond the boundaries that nations draw, to behold your Kingdom, O God, a kingdom that dawns bright and fair … where the children are safe and war is no more.

Lead, kindly light, we pray … lead us anew to places of love and reason, strength and hope, wisdom and kindliness … lead us, we pray, to life centered in Christ … the truth that sets us free … a living faith, vibrant with courage and commitment … to be visionaries for the future, and in our time, O LORD, instruments of your peace. Amen!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Class of 1966 Reunion

Yesterday, at the Class of 1966 Reunion, I felt nothing but gratitude.
To have made it this far.
To know what I know.
To know what I don't.
To love the folks I love.
And to be loved of them.
Along the way, a lot of friends.
Friends for a bit of time.
Friends for all the years.
Friends forgotten.
Friendship renewed.
Couldn't recognize anyone.
But take a few moments and some chat.
It's the eyes that are the same.
And the smile.
And like wiping a fogged mirror.
Yesterday's image appears.
On the back of the program.
A list.
Of those no longer here.
It's sad, for sure.
My throat clinched.
At the Commencement,
We sang.
Several thousand of us sang.
"This Is My Father's World" ...
I choked a few times.
Thanks to Calvin College for putting it all together.
Not a beat was missed.
Choreographed with kindness.
Memories, laughter, and the steady beat of love.
And the gracious reminders of something divine.
We are not alone in this life.
Nor are we our own.
But we belong.
To a gracious God.
Now, and forevermore.
It's been a remarkable weekend.
Gratitude running deep.
Love all around.
Thanksgiving for what has been.
The courage to live, here and now.
Hope for what shall be.
And that's the way it is for me.
Of the Class of 1966.