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Propers for Lent 1: Year A

Preamble
I think of Lent as a time of unburdening our souls, our communities, our earth. Thus, this discipline begins with a daily reflection on how we can pay attention to the possibility of healing in these areas. For communal worship, we need to reflect on how our lives attach meaning to our shared devotions, and, conversely, how those shared devotions affect our Christian practice and reflection for the week.

Lent 1

Collect
Gracious God,
you share your divine life and freedom with us. Help us to choose the path of wisdom and kindness, that we may be your sign of true humanity. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Generous God,
the world is your garden. We offer these gifts from your abundance. May they become food for us and for all, as you bless us now. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Loving God,
you have put signs of your presence everywhere in the world. For those who come to this table and receive this sacrament, may they become aware of your grace within, becoming grace that is revealed to those who seek. Amen.

Prayers for use throughout Lent

Prayers of the People
Holy One, without you, the tasks before us leave us without purpose or power. In the light of Christ, together in the vast company of all saints, we lift up the places of our ministry.

 (silence)

For the indigenous people of the world, who struggle against the lingering, but potent effects of colonization. For the Churches’ work in reconciliation and solidarity; for signs of change, for increasing awareness and the light of truth, we pray.
Holy One, open our minds and hearts.

For all places of social hurt and harm; for an end to famine and poverty; for safety and protection of the children of the world; for an end to violence against women and all gender violence,
Holy One, open our minds and hearts.

For all who work for peace and healing, justice and restitution, remembering especially the work of (PWRDF, KAIROS, Melanie Delva, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, Doctors Without Borders, and local groups….)
Holy One, open our minds and hearts.

For our church of …, for our willingness to risk and learn and act for the sake of Christ calling. For our spiritual growth and for the faith growing amongst us,
Holy One, open our minds and hearts.

For those for whom we celebrate…,
and for those with whom we share concern…,
Holy One, open our minds and hearts.

Let us acknowledge those ways in which we recommit ourselves to the work of Christ by freeing ourselves for the work at hand.

(leads into Prayer of Confession)

Prayer of Confession
Maker of all,
judge of your people, we come before you in sorrow and shame for our actions as your people.
In the cause of justice, we have been silent, but we have acted to protect ourselves and secure our own ground.
In the work of compassion, we have grown cold but we have demanded fulfillment of our own needs.
On this day, may we begin again to serve you with integrity and to be the healing body of your Beloved in the world.
Forgive us and help us to forgive ourselves.
Heal us and help us to heal each other.
Teach us so that we might learn from each other.
Holy One, reconcile us to you that we may believe in the possibility of peace.
Amen.

Absolution
The Holy One calls us to return and be renewed in love. As we offer ourselves in humility and trust, let us also be open to healing and to be alive in the Spirit of liberation, in the name of the Trinity of love.
Amen.

Great Thanksgiving for Lent
(You may use sursum corda according to your tradition or the one provided.)

May you abide in the love of the Holy One.
We lift our hearts in trust.

The Spirit stirs us in awe and wonder.
We give our lives in love.

It is a gift to us to offer thanks and praise.
We exist within the sphere of God’s love and creation.

God our Creator, we offer our thanks as we greet each other around this table. We remember that you blessed human life with the Divine Presence in many traditions and with many names. But always it is in the ordinary signs of life that your Sacred Presence is revealed. In stinging sandstorms and in Arctic blizzards, your people have sought you, only to lose sight of you again. You call us in famine and in feast to recognize your abiding love that wills abundant life for all. At this time of pausing, teach us to choose the pathway of your Beloved and grant us what we need to follow Jesus.

At the time of Passover, your Beloved Jesus became the Christ in the world. We remember the gift of that life, the time when we learned the power of naming and challenging, the power of healing and solidarity. Jesus showed us how to see our community as one family, the lifeblood of the faith.

One night in Bethany, Jesus sat down with his family and friends. A woman prophet anointed him with oil to recognize the unique gift of his life. 

We remember this woman, the first witness to resurrection within this life.

Before his trial, while everyone was eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it. Then, beholding at his people, he said for them to receive the sign of the bread. Looking at them all, he said, “This, my body.”

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
For in the one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body.

Then Jesus took a cup of wine, and after giving thanks, he gave it to them and all of them drank from the one cup, like one family, one blood. And he said to them, “This, my blood which is offered for many.”

You are the vine; we are the branches, full of the sap of divine life.
May your joy abide in us so that we may be one family, offered for love of the world and chosen to bear the fruit of justice and peace-making.

And Jesus prayed to God, “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes, I bless myself, so that they too may be truly blessed. I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their words, that they all may be one.” (John 17:18-20)

May we all be one in purpose and many in inspiration.
May we all be one in compassion, although diverse in understanding.

Breaking of the Bread
In the desert, you feed us, By the well, you bless us.
At your table we are renewed

Blessing
May you experience the love of God healing you and showing you the beauty and strength with which you were made. May the Holy Trinity of Creation: Maker, Beloved, and restless Spirit cause you to hunger and thirst for fulfillment in peace and joy. Amen.

Propers for February 9th

Collect
Holy one,
across time and history, you call to us through your prophets. Your voice may be heard in the raging of the earth, the cries of the poor and the struggles of the oppressed, in the prayers of the followers of Jesus. May your voice embolden us and cause us to seek your will. May peace and creativity flourish as we learn to heal and thrive. Amen.

Litany for Peace
Blessed are you O Holy One. You are the point of beginning and ending. You hold all things together with your fierce compassion and your creative love. We give you thanks for our lives and for all that we cherish. We also thank you that we have been called into the great congregation of the saints, where your praises are sung in the oceans and through the forests. We pray now for wisdom to learn and to act with mercy and justice.

We pray for the governments and their leaders in every land. May cooperation become more  attractive than competition. May the need for peace override the lust for war and conquest.

Hear our contrite prayer.

We pray for the poor in every land. May their struggles be eased by our response to their needs. We remember especially….

We pray for the earth and all the living that inhabit this planet. May we find ways to appreciate your gift of life for all, from worm to whale, from primrose to giant cedar.

We pray for the indigenous people of every land, who are recovering from the ravages of colonialism and its ongoing pain, for all the wisdom they have retained. Hear our prayer.

We pray for those we love. For those who suffer in body or mind….

For those who approach the holy gate of death….
For those who love with danger in their work….
For those who are moving through a time of change….
Hear our prayer.

We offer you these prayers with hope in our hearts and good news on our lips.

In the mystery of the Trinity we pray.

Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God,
we bring these gifts to be blessed as the work of our hands, the hope in our hearts, and our faith in your loving presence in our lives. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Loving God,
as we have been fed with a living hope, so may we be nurture for our community. May all that we have received this day make us more aware of how we may follow Jesus and be his disciples. In his name, we pray. Amen.

Propers: February 16th to Ash Wednesday

Propers for February 16

Collect
Holy One,
from the beginning, you have made us to be free and to walk in peace with you. In our arrogance, we prefer the limits of human knowledge to a life lived in the wisdom of the Spirit. Jesus called us back to you through love in community, generosity to the needy, and hospitality to the stranger. Open our minds now to receive your message of liberty and safety for all people, and a planet filled with your healing grace. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Generous God,
who creates stars and planets, atoms and galaxies, we ask you to bless these gifts that we bring today. May they remind us that you love a humble and open heart, regardless of status or power. In Jesus name, who fed all who came to him, we pray. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
God of all,
who longs for communion with us, we open our hearts and our lives to peace and healing in community. We thank you for the gift of faith and for those places we find ourselves supported as we journey. Amen.

Propers for February 23: Transfiguration

Collect
God of mystery,
through the majesty of your earth, through the message of the prophets, and through the life and teachings of your Beloved, we come into your presence with hope and trust in your love. Your servant Moses covered his face to show his people true humility in the face of your grandeur. Jesus holds out his body broken in love for the poor and resurrected in defiance of human cruelty and sin. May we witness through all we say and do in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Gracious God,
we ask you to bless these gifts. Through your guidance and mercy, may they become nurture and hope for those we serve here and in the wider world. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
Loving Maker,
we give you thanks for our lives, for all who have and who continue to serve each other in Jesus’ name. May Christ be so transfigured in this place, that all who encounter us find peace and healing, through our joy and our love. Amen.

Propers for February 26: Ash Wednesday 

Collect
Gracious God,
we bring to you our fear and doubt. As Jesus cried out in the garden, so we cry out as we face the political and ecological struggles in our world. May we remember that we have been called into your service as beacons over a dark ocean, candles in windows everywhere, and hope in a despairing world. You made us from the dust of stars to be with you forever, so let us live in the light and promise of Christ who offered his whole life in love. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Loving God,
receive our prayers for the world and for ourselves. May these gifts that we bring for blessing, be tools in the work of reconciliation. Amen.

Prayer after Communion
God of the stranger,
the needy, the oppressed, and the downhearted, may this sacrament and these acts of worship and learning, transform our mission and bless our journey in your love. Amen.

Propers for February 2, 2020

The wisdom tradition can be traced back to Mesopotamia, from where so many ideas in Hebrew scripture originated. It can also be found in Egyptian, Hindu, Greek, and other religious traditions. Like the Great Commandment, it has an interfaith, intracultural, history. In our readings today, we can hear how significant Wisdom was for Judaism, as both Paul and the gospel writer employ it. Many theologians see Jesus the rabbi, as a Wisdom teacher.

Collect
Holy and wise are you O Holy One. As we praise and give thanks, May we learn to value justice beyond our present fears. May we seek transformation beyond the comfort of certainty. May compassion erase the boundaries that limit our growth in Christ. Let us pray in his name and for his sake. Amen

POP (This would go well with a one line sung refrain)
With awareness that you, O Holy One hear our searching hearts and minds, we pray to be signs and instruments of transformation.

We give thanks for all the blessings in life. For safety and comfort, for food and healing, for relationship with you and with each other, for life without end in a universe of possibility, we thank you.

For humans suffering everywhere: for refugees and victims of injustice, for women in their social, physical, and economic vulnerability; for people without money, or homes, or understanding; for those we love…………Enfold us all in your care.

For the earth and it’s creatures, let us act to end the abuse of land and sea. Let us stand with indigenous people everywhere who will help us save the earth with their ancient wisdom. On our sacrificial planet, let us treat all creatures with thanks for their lives that make our lives possible, bees and elephants, seeds and trees, all things green and blue, hard and soft, fierce and gentle.

For the governing of the nations, that the Spirit of Wisdom will sweep away the cruel and selfish and remind us that only compassion and reconciliation can deliver peace. May we use the instruments of politics and community service as we act with the passionate justice of our God.

As you receive our prayers, so may we hear your voice, calling us out of ourselves and into the eternal company of The Way of Jesus, for the sake of the world he loves. amen

Prayer over the Gifts
Loving God, we ask you to bless these gifts from our abundance of love, and comfort. May we use them in the works of justice and healing. Amen

Prayer after Communion
Gracious God, you have given minds to learn, hearts to be broken in compassion, and hands to heal. May your Spirit be carried with us as we travel through this week. In the name of the Trinity of love, we pray.

Blessing:
May the Creator of faith free our spirits to step beyond our history and culture. May the Wisdom of Jesus free us from superficial wealth to receive the spirit of generosity is relationship. May the Spirit of community hold us together beyond definition and in love.

Readings and propers for Candlemas 2020

Malachi 3:1-4
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the One whom you seek will suddenly come to the temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, indeed is coming, says the Holy One of hosts.

But who can endure the day of this coming, and who can stand this appearance? For it will be like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap;

The messenger of the covenant will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings in righteousness.

Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing as in the days of old and as in former years.

Psalm 84 (recommend sung version)
How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise. Se

Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob!

Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; he bestows favour and honour. No good thing does the LORD withhold from those who walk uprightly.

O LORD of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Hebrews 2:14-18
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”),
and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, (saying/ singing)( if the gospeller can sing, it would be good to insert the Nunc dimittis here in place of the spoken word.)
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed–and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

When the parents had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.

Collect
Gracious God, you give the aged hope, you startle those in their time of strength, and you bring power and possibility through the presence of the young. Grant our seniors wisdom, the workers of every generation, patience and openness to learning; and for all children, safety and shelter that their light may shine in the world. We pray in the name of Jesus, who brightens our lives with hope. Amen

Litany of Light
Gracious God, we remember Simeon and Anna. With them we rejoice in the light Jesus has brought into our lives. May this light also bless those who seek it, those who yearn for it, and those who return to it.

Today we pray for an end to violence, for the protection of all vulnerable creatures as well as humans. In the silence, remember……

We pray for the earth, giving thanks for the ground on which we walk, the beauty that surrounds us. May we learn again to walk gently, aware of the conditions and consequences of our actions. In the silence, remember…….

We hold those we love in the light of your peace, especially……….
In the love of the Creator, the light of Jesus, and the renewal of your Holy Spirit, we pray.

Prayer Over the Gifts
Loving God, everything that is is you, is blessed, is holy. Receive this fraction of the good gifts that we receive daily. May they contribute to the revelation of light and peace. Amen.

Prayer After Communion

Gracious God, together we are the holy hands and feet of Christ. Through this sacrament, we are renewed in the Light. May others be gladdened and find hope in all we do apart and together. Amen

Blessing
May you see the blessed light of Christ at each gate and pathway. May the beauty of hope and inspiration gladden your steps. May the joy of Simeon and Anna be stronger than your struggles, victorious over doubt, and gentle with you in the night times. In the name of the Maker of Light, the Revealer of Light, and the One who transforms by and into light. Amen

Propers for January 26, 2020

This week’s prayers are based on the idea that Zebulun (one of the twelve tribes of Israel) was associated with being entrepreneurial, especially in matters associated with the sea. Naphtali (also one of the twelve tribes) was known for his holiness and eloquence. In Isaiah 9:1-4, we find this curious phrase: “…in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” Galilee, while prosperous, was a cultural mix of Jews and gentiles, with the Nabateans on one border and the Samaritans on the other. The area was seen as inferior by the elite of Jerusalem.

Collect
O Holy One, we come from many places, many backgrounds, many stories. Gather us together in compassion, in the work of justice. Together, may we become the healers of the earth, the makers of peace. We pray in the name of Jesus, who calls us into community here and beyond the sea, the faithful of the nations. Amen.

POP
Holy and Loving God, in you there are no boundaries, no division. As we pray, remind us that in you, we are one, in body and spirit.

We give thanks for life, for this earth that both nurtures us and rages against our selfishness. Today, we lift up….

In solidarity with the other creatures, the land and the sea, we search for healing….
We remember all who suffer in body and spirit…. When one suffers, the community is wounded. When one rejoices, they bring healing to all.

We invite the repentance and renewal of religious institutions, that we may speak with your prophets and saints, remembering Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, the Dalai Lama, Murray Sinclair, Sarah Bessie and….

Holy One, May our hands be open in love; may our feet carry us even into difficult places in your name; may our lips speak only peace. May we serve in joyous humility and courageous actions.

POG
Gracious God, we give thanks for the bounty that we receive from you. May it strengthen our service and lighten the path of others. In the name of Jesus, the risen One. Amen.

PAC
Loving God, in community we find your Spirit of peace. May your living Word and your blessed sacrament keep us in the Way of salvation for all. Amen.

Funeral Homily for Bonnie Milliner

Last week, as we heard about Bonnies illness and death, I came back to that image, but it was changed in my mind because I was thinking instead about how music was deep in her soul. I imagined the notes as souls encircling our world, the way you see pictures of angels on Christmas cards. Let’s take a minute to imagine this: a ring of music around us celebrating life and the Maker of all. What note do you think Bonnie would be? Would she be part of sacred music or would she be in charge of musical theatre?

There are two things humans fear, silence and the unknown. You might say that you crave silence, but we live in a noisy world, and even at night, there are not just the natural sounds of the earth and the creatures, but also human banging and crashing around in factories, on highways. As a child, I would sometimes stay with one of my maritime aunties at her farm on the ocean. I was frightened of the nights because, without the moon, the darkness seemed absolute, and the silence was thunderous, except for the waves on the shore. Someone told me not to be afraid. What I was experiencing was eternity. It did not seem all that attractive then, but now I am at peace with the soft blanket of night, and faith that what I cannot hear, can still be heard by God at least and that every prayer in love, reaches out to embrace and heal.

Jesus models for us that his path is not the path of certainty or safe passage, but rather that his path requires us to face suffering and our fears, our insecurities. We often prefer the impassive version of Jesus because it is less challenging than the Jesus who weeps, and laughs, feasts and makes new and improbable friends. This Jesus goes to the cross, himself afraid and unsure, feeling abandoned and alone. Of course, he is not alone. He is tied to the Holy Spirit, the force of creativity and change. And he rises to show us that the unknown will become known in new and unimagined ways. He rises and all around his teaching, new prayer, new actions, new work springs up as if there had been a plan for it.

Resurrection is a process and like all meaningful process, it will be sacrificial. We will have to get out of the boat and swim. We will have to leave what we love behind until we rediscover it on a farther shore. This is I believe is an eternal process. The Maker of all has chosen tiny, flawed humans to be the messengers that, in God’s economy, nothing is lost, but also nothing is static. We follow Jesus, sometimes shakily, sometimes with confidence, but if we still our minds, we can hear Jesus calling to us that we are precious, we are beloved, we are held firmly in the heart and mind of the Holy One.

And now, we prepare ourselves to release Bonnie to her job in the celestial choir, and we open ourselves to wonder and hope, as we step into the next chapter of our stories. In those memories and in that history, Bonnie is present with you forever. She will certainly always be present in this church. She, as we say, has been born into a new and living hope.

The next time you see the stars twinkling above you, remember, a universe awash in music and creativity. Remember that your soul and your body are an essential part of this cosmic symphony. Let us give thanks for Bonnie’s life that has called us together this morning and for faith that that love holds us together forevermore.

Funeral Homily for Bill Taylor

Today we give thanks for Bill Taylor. He will be missed, but never forgotten. The legacy he has left for his family and community is woven into the fabric of his relationships. The last time I saw Bill, I was rushing through Guelph General. I heard someone call my name, and when I looked around, there was Bill at a volunteer table. 

As Christians, we understand that great love will always carry some grief with it. That grief is the healing balm for loss; it is the impetus to remember and to flesh out our memories.  It takes the time it takes, for grief and love to find a balance in our hearts. 

The Spirit of transformation is ever with us, changing us and adjusting our memories and our understanding of our relationship. I think that it is in our loneliness and in our awareness of suffering, that we are most like the holy one because that pain causes us to reach out to each other, to let ourselves be changed, to seek the meaning beyond the moment. In the beginning, God desires creatures who can learn and change, creatures built for an unfolding cosmos. As part of this creation, this body of holiness, we are invited to remember that we are not in fact alone, but have been created to be in relationship with everything else living.

And St. Paul says, how are the dead raised. We have some scientific observation to help us with this. We know that life is always changing. Rain falls and becomes rivers, lakes, oceans. Some of that water becomes us as we drink. If we wake up early enough by a body of water, we will see the mist rising into the morning. And the the mist will disappear, but not the constituent elements, those hydrogen and oxygen elements which will morph into another form. 

I think it helps us to remember that we are made in love and cannot be severed from God, even when we wriggle and fight. We are a part of all that is. Bill has not been lost, as some say, but rather rediscovered within God’s loving hands. He is as close as your memory and yet invisible to the touch. We want to hang on, but he is being immersed in God’s plan for him and for each of us.

Birth and death are two difficult doorways, but when we push through

Today we give thanks for Bill Taylor. He will be missed, but never forgotten. The legacy he has left for his family and community is woven into the fabric of his relationships. The last time I saw Bill, I was rushing through Guelph General. I heard someone call my name, and when I looked around, there was Bill at a volunteer table. 

As Christians, we understand that great love will always carry some grief with it. That grief is the healing balm for loss; it is the impetus to remember and to flesh out our memories.  It takes the time it takes, for grief and love to find a balance in our hearts. 

The Spirit of transformation is ever with us, changing us and adjusting our memories and our understanding of our relationship. I think that it is in our loneliness and in our awareness of suffering, that we are most like the holy one because that pain causes us to reach out to each other, to let ourselves be changed, to seek the meaning beyond the moment. In the beginning, God desires creatures who can learn and change, creatures built for an unfolding cosmos. As part of this creation, this body of holiness, we are invited to remember that we are not in fact alone, but have been created to be in relationship with everything else living.

And St. Paul says, how are the dead raised. We have some scientific observation to help us with this. We know that life is always changing. Rain falls and becomes rivers, lakes, oceans. Some of that water becomes us as we drink. If we wake up early enough by a body of water, we will see the mist rising into the morning. And the the mist will disappear, but not the constituent elements, those hydrogen and oxygen elements which will morph into another form. 

I think it helps us to remember that we are made in love and cannot be severed from God, even when we wriggle and fight. We are a part of all that is. Bill has not been lost, as some say, but rather rediscovered within God’s loving hands. He is as close as your memory and yet invisible to the touch. We want to hang on, but he is being immersed in God’s plan for him and for each of us.

Birth and death are two difficult doorways, but when we push through, how much bigger, more colourful, more challenging and amazing life looks. From a microscopic cell to a creature who can imagine universes, stars, butter tarts! Life is. Love is. Everything else is either a challenge or a gift on the journey.

So hold Bill close in your hearts, remember him with both tears and laughter and trust God that Bill is in good hands. And for you, remember, life is necessarily shared. Nothing is lost forever. Everything lives within the mind of God whose only promise to us is life.

 

Our Legacy

In Psalm 49:5-11, we read,

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?

Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life, there is no price one can give to God for it. For the ransom of life is costly, and can never be enough to keep us alive forever and never see the grave.

When we look at the wise, they die; fool and dolt perish together and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they named lands their own.

In the long view, humanity may be on the edge of extinction but the earth will probably recover from us and our frightening greed and lack of boundaries. I find that cold comfort and, like most of us, would like to imagine leaving as a legacy a world of peace and abundance for the generations to come.

Visiting the rubble of the great buildings of other cultures is instructive in the sense that if we are wise, we learn that everything changes, mutates from what it was to what it could be, or disappears for a time. If everyone dies, and all things change, where do we want to place ourselves in this pocket of the Now, of eternity? How then shall we live? 

A friend recently said how little interest they had in the disposition of their body after death since it belonged to the earth but their soul — something no one could touch — belonged to the stars. For those of us who are not victims of a particular society, yet without any individual power to transform our world, we still have our voices. We may not live in mansions, but we have voting options. For those who do have economic power and influence, how are you caring for the vulnerable, the victims? A child is leading the climate change movement. We can all stop to support and listen to the children who do not care about the GNP, who have no interest in how well the banks are doing. They care about survival. 

What legacy do we want to leave behind? Our empty mausoleums? Our rubble? Or do we want to be a part of the mass outcry to save this holy earth, all its creatures, even our children!

The psalmist is correct that we all die and our names blow away like the ashes of a bygone era. How we live with that depends on where we place our priorities. For me, the sacred nature of all life, the challenge and comfort of the spiritual life, the pain and joy of community has always held more value for me than money or status. In this one holy life, I have wanted to drink deeply from the well of knowledge, feel passionately about the issues that concern us all, forgive and be forgiven for trespasses I didn’t recognize at the time. 

Part of my faith says that resurrection is possible, that there is a balm in Gilead to heal us all. For those of us who follow Jesus, there must be commitment as well as hope, work with our prayers, and compassion that leads us to justice rather than judgement. 

When I die, I hope wildflowers and a maple tree spring up although they were not planted. I hope that I have brought more love and healing than pain and injustice. I do not need any rubble added to my life. I am happy to fade away. 

What do you want your legacy to be? Do you hope for rubble or something more eternal? I hope that we all live with such an appreciation of the sacred in our world that the strength of our prayer, and the strength of our voices and actions, help us to trust that the Holy is working with us to renew the face of the earth.

Neither a Rock nor a Scorpion


In Luke 11,: 1-13, there is a discussion about persistence and generosity. People are encouraged to be generous without being coaxed. But if they resist, then persistence is the tactic to use. In a world where getting a deal is a high priority in both buying and selling, it is difficult to prize relationship and generosity over indifference and greed. I was thinking about the inherent delusion of “owning” property, rather than caring for a part of the earth. No one truly owns the plots of the earth. We inhabit various places for a few decades and then we are gone from and back into the earth. We become what we had thought to enslave. In the meantime, the “deals” of the real estate market have benefitted some and set up barriers for others.

This axial time is critical for what life will look like in 50 years from now. I will be, as they say, pushing up daisies by then, but I hope the earth is still cool and not on fire. Our children are begging us to put our enormous influential and economic resources to the task of saving what we can of our planet. And we keep giving them rocks and scorpions.

The world is knocking at the door of the wealthy nations begging for crumbs and safe harbour for the children. When will the impulse of generosity overwhelm the cynicism of power and narcissism/patriotism? Jesus said that for anyone who harms the vulnerable, it would be better if a huge stone were tied around their neck and they were dropped into the depths of the sea. This saying haunts me as I am aware that my financial and social comfort is part of a collusion with oppression, regardless of my intent.

So what can we people privileged with comfort, education, family, community do? The first order is to recognize that others are paying our way: we do not deserve our bounty. Secondly, we need to pray with such a deep spirit of gratitude that generosity becomes our norm. Thirdly, we need to educate ourselves so that we know the difference between crumbs and bread, eggs and scorpions, charity and justice. We need to learn how to listen beyond our fears and defences, opening ourselves to the gift and sacrifice of humility, setting our sight on that frightening cross in the hope of resurrection of vision and faith.

And finally, we need to remember that we walk with Jesus, beyond the limitations of our churches and our traditions. In my garden, as I caress the the soil, the green growing things, an angel whispers in my ear, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” And when I simply cannot bear the violence, hatred and ignorance I see in the news, “ and the earth shall be full of the holiness of God, as the waters cover the sea.” Finally, when I despair and feel powerless, I remember that Jesus too felt abandoned, yet his death brought a taste of life that was new, born out of sacrifice and tears and suffering.

I think the future will be hard for all the children of the world, but perhaps by committing ourselves to loaves and fishes, eggs and freedom, safety and compassion, some of the suffering may be ameliorated. Maybe if we remember that we are the caretakers, not the owners of the earth, we will fall in love with its holiness again. Maybe, some of us will be redeemed, some of us forgiven, and all of us held in the embrace of Life and Holiness, in the Eden that we will then remember.