Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace, July 27, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[July 27, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’  A new meditation will be posted each week. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.

July 27, 2020: Prayer into action

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Earlier this week, I was preparing a very brief meditation for a kind of public service announcement on prayer in the time of pandemic. And as I was preparing, something dawned on me that I wanted to share with you. There are two instances and there may be others to be sure, in both the Hebrew scriptures and in the New Testament where you see prayer linked directly with action.

One example is found in First Kings where the prophet Elijah is fleeing for his life. He, in Chapter 19, says he ends up at a cave near Mount Horeb, which is Mount Sinai in other places. And there for 40 days, he’s in prayer, fasting and struggling. And after that time of prayer, when he kind of senses what God wants him to do, he then goes out and leads a reformation in Israel that was really significant.

His prayer led him to action. You see the same kind of pattern in Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, he’s praying about what he should do. And that leads him to make the decision to give his life, to show what love looks like for the cause and way of love. But it’s that prayer that leads to action. It occurred to me that in this time of pandemic, it may be helpful to remember that our prayer can lead to actions. We can’t do all the things that we used to do, but we can do some things. We can pray, pray for all of the conditions and all of the situations that we are aware of in our world, and that we are aware of because of this pandemic, but also take some action. There are ways we can support causes that help people in this time.

There are ways that we can support ministries that are helpful, but there’s some simple ways. We can keep social distance. That’s a way of action. It’s an act of prayer. We can pay attention to public health officials and their guidance, that’s an action. And we can wear, of course, these. We can wear these face masks. And so I was trying to think of what is a prayer that combines prayer and action in the Book of Common Prayer? And I found it, there are many, but this one stands out.

It’s the prayer of St. Francis:

Lord make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is discord, union. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Pray and do what you can.

God love you. God bless you and keep the faith.

Habits of Grace – The Growing Edge

Habits of Grace, July 7, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[July 7, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted each week. These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.
July 7, 2020: The growing edge
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The 4th of July weekend has just concluded and a new week has begun, but the titanic struggles of the old world continue. The struggles to face painful truths of our racial past, the struggles to find ways to fashion a new future, the struggles for racial justice and human equality and true human reconciliation. Even in the midst of these struggles, we still face a pandemic that is worldwide. Now the United States itself is gravely threatened and affected by COVID-19. And even in the midst of all of that, we enter a season of electioneering, campaigning, a presidential election that could well be a profoundly polarizing and divisive election for our country.

In this time, I remember the words of Howard Thurman, who I often go back to. Dr. Thurman was one of the founders of probably the first interracial and interreligious church in the United States in San Francisco, back in the forties and fifties. He was the author of Jesus and the Disinherited. He was one of the people who went and met Mahatma Gandhi in the 1940s, and brought back his teachings of non-violent social change that influenced an entire civil rights movement. He was quietly, if you will, the spiritual director of many of the leaders of the civil rights movement. Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, Martin King, many others went quietly to Howard Thurman to talk, to reflect, to pray. He wrote this in one of his meditations about times of great transition and turmoil:

Look well to the growing edge. All around us, worlds are dying and new worlds are being born. All around us, life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such as the growing edge. It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed. The upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason. A source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of a child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!

God love you. God bless you. And may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Habits of Grace

Habits of Grace, June 16, 2020: An invitation for you, from Presiding Bishop Curry

[June 16, 2020] As we learn how to adjust our lives given the reality of the coronavirus and the request to do our part to slow its spread by practicing social distancing, I invite you to join me each week to take a moment to cultivate a ‘habit of grace.’ A new meditation will be posted each week.These meditations can be watched at any time by clicking here.
June 16, 2020: In this month of June
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During this month of June, we find ourselves in the midst of great titanic struggles, hardships, and difficulties. When important things are at stake, when the lives of God’s children, and the life of the world in many respects is at stake. Even as I speak, protestors march through our streets, protesting the way we have been. Protesting for the way we could be. Black Lives Matter, protesting in our city streets that we might learn to live the ways of justice, and mercy that reflects the heart of God’s love. And even as I speak, this month of June is Pride Month when our LGBTQ siblings remember and recall, and continue their struggle for equality and mutual respect, and human dignity in our society, in our church and throughout the world.

And even as I speak, the COVID-19 pandemic continues in strange and unanticipated ways, but it continues. This is the month of June. These are some hard times. Hard times for all, but really hard times for so many. Sometimes it’s helpful to go back and look how others navigated hard times. I went and picked up a small book. There’s a book of sermons by Harry Emerson Fosdick. It was published in the mid 1940s, in 1944 I believe. It was a collection of sermons that he preached as the pastor of Riverside Church in New York City, during the Second World War when the entire world was in an apocalyptic struggle between good and evil. One of the sermons he titled, “In such a time as this, no dry-as-dust religion will do.”

He pleaded with people of God to draw closer to God for strength and energy. To live lives of love, of faith, of hope. In that same period of time, he composed the hymn that’s found in many of our hymnals, and I would offer it for us this week in this month of June.

God of grace and God of glory,
on thy people pour thy power;
crown thy ancient churches’ story,
bring her bud to glorious flower.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the facing of this hour . . .

Save us from weak resignation
to the evils we deplore;
let the gift of thy salvation
be our glory evermore.
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
serving thee whom we adore.

(Harry Emerson Fosdick, 1930)

God love you. God bless you. May God hold us all in those Almighty hands of love.

Reference: “No Dry as Dust Religion Will Do,” A Great Time to Be Alive: Sermons on Christianity in War Time, Harpers & Brothers, 1944

Second Sunday after Pentecost

Joe’s sermon is on our Facebook page video of the Sunday worship service. His sermon begins at 25.31.

Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)

Jesus went about all

cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”]

 

The Gospel: Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)

Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. [Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”]