Tag Archives: forgiveness

Connect: At the Table

We finished our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together,” on World Communion Sunday. Christians have connected through since the early days when the earliest followers of Jesus followed his command to remember him at the table.

World Communion Sunday began in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, pastored by Dr. Hugh Thomson Kerr. It was adopted by the US Presbyterian Church in 1936 and then by the Federal Council of Churches (now the National Council of Churches) in 1940. And has been celebrated throughout ecumenical circles ever since.

In some ways, every time we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion is world communion Sunday. No church celebrates alone, every hour of every day the sacrament is being shared. It does connect us across ethnic, religious, denominational, age, gender and every other line one can imagine.

The color of our block this week was yellow, the color of hope, of new ideas and thoughts. Eighty years ago, World Communion Sunday was a new idea. The idea represents the hope and leans into the prayer of Jesus, “that they may all be one.”

The sermon itself focused on the lectionary passage from Luke 17 and the expectation of Jesus that we forgive and we do the work of faith every day. You can find the worship service or the sermon itself here.

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Year of Gratitude April: Week 3

The cold winter has created a beautiful spring. I have never seen the flowers in my yard or in my neighborhood more abundant or beautiful. Recently I have been “so over winter,” so it seems has the spring flowers.

On my walk this morning I was greeted by this very cheery woodpecker

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Can you see it? Right in the middle of the picture. The lilacs across the sidewalk were full and the smell was heavenly!

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In my own yard, my iris are so full of blooms and my wisteria as well.

So as I continue my year of gratitude and particularly this month of finding my growing edges, I am grateful for Holy Week. Today is the last day before the Triduum (the 3 Holy Days of Thursday, Friday and Saturday) before Easter.

Today is known as “Spy Wednesday.” So named, because traditionally this is the day we remember Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. Two years ago I blogged this reflection on this day.  In it, I quoted Leonard Sweet who had written, “there is a sliver of Judas in all of us.”

That phrase haunts me. Holy Week is a reminder to take stock of how how I betray Jesus in word and deed. As I look at the flowers from my walk this morning, I am reminded of the sweetness and beauty of the grace of God. The flowers shown don’t just pop up, but must be tended and watered and the season just right. Yet they are always there, whether they are blooming or not. God’s grace is like that, always there. Whether I turn away or don’t pay attention, God is still there.

So today I am grateful for the traditions of Holy Week. Tomorrow evening I will gather with the good people at First United Methodist Church, there will be prayer stations, foot washing, holy communion and a meal around tables. On Friday we will gather to hear remember those last hours of Jesus’ life and word and music. On Saturday, I will wait. As the people have waited generation upon generation. I will write a thank you note or several to all those people that make Lent a special time.

And I will rise early, Easter morning……for darkness can not stop the light, hatred can not stop love, evil can not stop God on the move. My betrayals and my failings can not keep Jesus in the tomb….After the long night…..morning will dawn….

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Courageous Faith: As We Forgive Others

Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we do as Christians, in my opinion. I am not talking about the easy things to forgive, forgetting an event, or doing something that is annoying. I am talking about the deep hurts and aches that occur within relationships and in our lives. Those hurts that takes days and weeks and often months and years to “get over” and “work through.”

Today’s scripture and the Lord’s prayer take seriously the phrase that we are forgiven to the extent we are able to forgive. Today’s worship service looked at the second part of the Lord’s Prayer phrase on forgiveness: “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” For me, this may be the hardest part of following Jesus: to forgive as I have been forgiven. Today’s worship service can be found here.

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Courageous Faith: Forgive Us

As we gathered today, it was an absolutely gorgeous day in Wichita. I walked up while it was still dark, it was a bit muggy, the birds were singing and it was warm. Springlike. Now I know the temperature will dropping again this week, but it was a lovely morning.

Today we continued our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer. The phrase for today was “forgive us our sins, trespasses, debts.” I suspect if we are all honest, we don’t want to admit that we need forgiveness and it certainly not something culturally we focus on. No wants wants to admit they have made a mistake or our wrong. The truth is, we all make mistakes and we all sin. We need forgiveness. Our altar looked like this:

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We celebrated holy communion at all our services today. We are a forgiven people loved and graced by God. You can find our entire worship service here.

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Reflecting on Saint Patrick

I really like this day. If I am Irish, it is only a little bit. I don’t particularly like corned beef and cabbage (although I haven’t had a reuben sandwich I didn’t like.) I am not into green beer or beer at all, or Irish whiskey (my sister did introduce me to Jameson’s and ginger ale with a twist of lime which is pretty tasty.) So, obviously I am not in it for the food or the drink.

This morning, Andrew and I “wogged” (combination of walking and jogging) the 9th annual Saint Patrick’s day 5K.

29250264_10156480625594274_6703938178002190336_nThis year the charity was the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. We did the race 7 years ago and signed up last year, but were unable to participate because I was presiding at a funeral. It was colder than I liked but it always feels good to finish and keeps me moving by signing up rather than sitting all the time!

This day tends to be centered around too much drinking and partying, which is not something Patrick would have appreciated or encouraged. Still, people wear green, do silly things and celebrate a saint who might actually shock them.

I find myself fascinated by St. Patrick. There is not much known definitively about Saint Patrick. He was active in Ireland in the fifth century. He didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland (as legend tells), but maybe with God’s grace he drove the snakes out of his own heart. In reading his Confessions I am drawn to his struggles, his lack of education, his ache of “not getting it right.” He was accused and humiliated for something he had done as boy, and he received a call to go to Ireland, which he did not want to do. There is some evidence that he disliked the Irish (and why wouldn’t he since they had kidnapped and enslaved him) and then his heart was changed and he grew to love the people he served in Ireland.

What I appreciate most about the story that is known, is that Patrick having been kidnapped from home as a teenager, forced into slavery, embraced faith. He ran away, went home, offered himself to God and ended up back among those who had abused him. The link to his “Confessions” above is only a few pages long and in reading it, his lack of education, his struggles with the powers that be and his passion for his ministry that finally includes the people of Ireland is moving.

In our current world, we embrace hatred and xenophobia like a badge of honor. We nurse hurts and spew bitterness and resentment all over social media. Now, in the last few years, we can become viral immediately with just 140 characters. Just think what St. Patrick could have done before he finished writing his confessions, BEFORE his heart had been moved from hating those who kidnapped and enslaved him to embracing his calling, his mission and a new found love for that same people.

In the middle of Lent, it seems to me that is what the “kin(g)dom of God” is all about: enough love to overcome hate, enough grace to overcome bitterness, enough forgiveness to overcome resentment. God can drive out the snakes of hatred, of prejudice against those who are not like us, of resentment of those who have wounded us and hurt us and instead bring the grace and forgiveness and mercy to the most broken of hearts.

A prayer, attributed to St. Patrick is one of my favorites. You can find a beautiful sung version

I Arise Today

A portion of that prayer I share:

I bind to myself today
The power of Heaven,
The light of the sun,
The brightness of the moon,
The splendour of fire,
The flashing of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of sea,
The stability of earth,
The compactness of rocks.
 
I bind to myself today
God’s Power to guide me,
God’s Might to uphold me,
God’s Wisdom to teach me,
God’s Eye to watch over me,
God’s Ear to hear me,
God’s Word to give me speech,
God’s Hand to guide me,
God’s Way to lie before me,
God’s Shield to shelter me,
God’s Host to secure me,
+ + + + + + +
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left,
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + 
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
 
I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of an invocation of the Trinity,
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.

On this day, I am grateful for the One who is on my right, my left, before me and behind me. I am grateful that the legacy of St. Patrick is one of grace, of forgiveness and of a changed heart. Today, I bind myself to the One who guides, who leads, who creates and calls me to love as I have been loved. May I see Christ in all I meet, for I am graced to serve.

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