O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and blessed them: Give us grace to entrust
to your never-failing care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding: Deal graciously with all who grieve. Surround us with your love, that we may not be overwhelmed by our loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through
Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I don’t own a gun.
I’ve never even shot a gun.
So I understand that it’s relatively easy for me to say that we must address our laws surrounding the right to bear arms, gun safety, and gun responsibilities. Which is why I want to join in prayer and conversation with those of you who do own guns. Those of you for whom having laws changed may have a personal cost.
I write these words with the image of a woman with an Ash Wednesday cross on her forehead crying outside Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
I write this words after praying four times yesterday, with so many of you:
We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness, the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives.
Our self indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people.
Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work.
And we prayed: We confess to you, Lord.
Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done. For our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty.
And we prayed: Accept our repentance, Lord.
In January, when the first school shooting of the year occurred, it was my intent to post the names of those shot, and pray for by name not only the victims of gun violence but all the ones who thought that using a gun was the best answer to their broken and angry hearts.
I didn’t get around to it. Accept my repentance, Lord.
I believe that praying also requires my response in some way. I know that my actions may be God’s answer to prayer.
Accept my repentance, Lord, for every time I have not been your answer to prayer.
I am reminded of the words of the Daughters of the King:
I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?
Here’s where I begin today. Twenty two million children live in homes with at least one firearm (National Center for Health Statistics, 2000). There is a program called Be Smart for Kids that teaches ways for our homes to be safer for children and to reduce child gun deaths. I’ve contacted a member of our parish who is active in this ministry, and we will host a session at St. Mary’s.
As I learn the names of those killed and injured, I will list them on my blog and we can pray.
Today I pray for a name I do know: Nikolas Cruz, a sheep of God’s own fold, a lamb of God’s own flock, a sinner of God’s own redeeming.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
I should have known that today would be a different sort of day when my morning coffee was served by a man with a name tag reading, “Jesus.”
It so happens that this is one of those calendar days where I know exactly where I twenty-five years ago. Today, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, is the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. About this time twenty-five years ago I was on my way to John+ and Pam Bentley’s home for a pre-ordination dinner with the people I loved the most.
This morning, after getting delayed by a train on the way, I met a dear friend, who was present on that day, for breakfast. She greeted me wearing a red jacket, in honor of my ordination (red was the ordination color back in the olden days).
As I went to fill my cup of coffee, the man named Jesus came to refresh the urn, and it gave me great pause. My coffee was served today by Jesus as the sun rose outside Rao’s Bakery.
The day that has followed has been the most quotidian of days. What else should it be?
I knitted my daily prayer. My friend and I prayed Facebook Live morning prayers from our breakfast table. I stopped at the rectory to drop off some tiles and talked to the men who are rebuilding my home a second time in less than a year. I let the workers know I was praying for them everyday.
I sent financial documents to the diocese in order to be considered for a new curate next summer; I emailed another set of back up documents for a request for a Harvey flood grant from the diocese. I worked on finding a new Parish Administrator for St. Mary’s. I visited the bank to update paperwork for St. Mary’s accounts.
My lunch appointment had to be rescheduled because my friend had the flu. My appointment with my spiritual directee was rescheduled because it slipped off her calendar. I’m meeting tonight with a couple whose unborn baby has died.
I had a good chat with my mom. Sadly, she isn’t coming to the celebration of my ordination on Sunday at St. Mary’s. I’ve been thinking a lot about her and my dad, who died several years ago, because they were such an important part of my ordination journey; I’ll miss her on Sunday.
It’s been the most ordinary of days. Things planned. Things unplanned. Praying all the way and all the day.
That’s what it means to serve as a priest. Each day of twenty-five years.
Traveling small you can see large things.
This has been a small vacation. By small, I mean that once my friend and I made it to the Casa in Taos, we stopped.
In the past, when my friend and I travel, besides the miles it takes to arrive at our planned destination, there is so very much to see that most days are spent on lengthy road trips to fabulous places.
This trip we’ve settled in and have traveled no farther than fifteen miles. Staying small, I’ve experienced big things.
A frozen Rio Grande River
Farmer’s Market at Taos Pueblo
Tea and knitting
Home cooked diner with friends
Sangre de Christo sunsets
Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.
Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the Lord will shine upon you.
God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance.
Lift up your eyes and look all around: they are all gathered; they have come to you.
Your sons will come from far away, and your daughters on caregivers’ hips.
Then you will see and be radiant; your heart will tremble and open wide,
Your gates will be open continually; day and night they won’t close,
Violence will no longer resound throughout your land, nor devastation or destruction within your borders.
You will call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.
The sun will no longer be your light by day, nor will the moon shine for illumination by night.
The Lord will be your everlasting light; your God will be your glory.
Your sun will no longer set; your moon will no longer wane.
The Lord will be an everlasting light for you and your days of mourning will be ended.
From Isaiah 60 (CEB)
Good morning, God. This is your day….
My first prayers this morning were in front of the fire with my community across the miles through St. Mary’s twice each day Facebook live Daily Office, a ministry gift from the Harvey floods.
As Becca Stevens writes, Mercy is clearest in hindsight.
Today is an unscheduled day. Wide open with possibilities and invitations.
My friends back in home in Texas are having a rare snow day. Wide open with invitations and possibilities.
Wherever we are, until we gather again for prayers at day’s end, may we hold each possibility and invitation in our hands as God’s gift of Mercy.
I am your child. Please show me your way. AMEN
I’m sitting at my very favorite coffee spot in Santa Fe. I’m thankful I can walk with no pain again.
I’ve been healing from an ankle injury since before Thanksgiving. Nearly healed during Advent, I reinjured my ankle in a fall, and have been walking with a limp since.
Last week at the monastery, I took my first walk in nearly two months without pain. That first walk was Our Lady of Grace’s labyrinth. It was not lost on me that this first walk was a prayer.
Like many of us, I count my steps each day. Walking in pain, my step count rarely got over 5000 steps since November.
Yesterday between church and travel, I was what Fitbit calls an overachiever–over 13,000 steps. It was not lost on me that these many steps were made in the midst of serving at St. Mary’s and traveling to play and rest.
Today I begin my Epiphany walk in New Mexico. There is always a retreat aspect to my trips. This year I am walking through two important Epiphany anniversaries in my ordained ministry walk. Twenty years ago on the Feast of the Epiphany, I was installed as Rector of St. Mary’s. On January 25, I will celebrate twenty five years of ordained ministry as Priest.
When my friend and I arrived in Santa Fe last night, we were surprised to see the Plaza still lit with festive lights. Our expectation was that these lights were put up in Advent and would be removed after Christmas.
Christ to light the walk. In pain or not. Few steps or many. Thanks be to God.
I’m in snowy Indiana at the Indianapolis airport waiting for two friends’ delayed planes to arrive. Truth be told, in the midst of a very busy Advent, Christmas, and now Epiphany, it is good to have time for my body, soul, and spirit to catch up to one another.
I knit. I listen to Carrie Newcomer’s wonderful music. I think. I ponder.
I spent last week mainly in bed with a winter cold. Trying to stay away from folks in order to not share the gift, it was as good a place as any for me finally to complete my 2016 (I know, very delayed) taxes and submit the paperwork and documentation for the insurance claim for my personal belongings lost in the 2017 Harvey Flood. Drinking hot tea laced with lemon picked from a friend’s tree and eating soup made by another friend, I relived the Tax Day Flood (2016) and Harvey Floods (2017). No wonder I was abed!
Yet there was joy, too. With the sad and painful memories there was much care and love to recall, too. Having put off facing the pain of the two floods, I had also missed experiencing healing, compassion, and so many gifts.
I had not looked forward to this new year. This time last year I had hoped (as most of us had) that 2017 would be a better year. On first glance, it felt like another hard year. Who wants to do that again?
Although it all too often didn’t feel like it, in this wait in Indianapolis, I see how much 2017 was indeed a better year. Having flooded twice, moving and giving away and throwing away again and again, I find myself with a freedom I’ve never had in my life.
I’ve never been more certain who I am and what is most important to me.
Each relationship I have is a treasure. Each thing I own is valued.
I’ve never loved being rector of St. Mary’s more than I do today–I have a playfulness and joyfulness and creativity that I’ve never had. There is a depth to everything I see and do that would never have happened without 2016 and 2017.
This month I will celebrate twenty-five years of being a priest. And I feel like I’m only now discovering what that truly means.
It is not ordinary time.
And the darkness did not overcome it© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com)
This is the time of the year when some churches plan what’s called a “Blue Christmas” liturgy. This liturgy is a time for prayer and worship especially for those who are experiencing grief, loss, and suffering. The season of Advent and Christmas can be a particularly difficult time for these friends when the world puts on a jolly show, though too often this merriness is more false than true. Coming together and acknowledging this disharmony can be a comfort.
On this longest night of the year, a gift for all of us wherever we are today. Thank you, The Rev. Jan Richardson, for “serving us with the gift you have received,” (1 Peter 4.10) through art and written blessings.
Blessing for the Longest Night
All throughout these months
as the shadows
this blessing has been
It has practiced
walking in the dark,
with its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.
So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.
You will know
the moment of its
by your release
of the breath
you have held
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
in the company
of a friend.
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.
This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you will be walking
toward the dawn.
from The Cure for Sorrow
© Jan Richardson (janrichardson.com)
This is the devotional that came into my inbox as I settled into my room at the Portland Airport. I did not find this all that amusing, but I did find it thoughtful.
You see, after two delayed flights, I was on my way to Bend finally last night to be with Jonas when he woke up for his fifth birthday this morning. After we boarded the flight to Redmond, the pilot came out to apologize for the delay. They’d been behind all day because of the fires near Ventura. He had yet more disappointing news–a huge fog had engulfed the Redmond airport, and we were unlikely to be unable to land and would be diverted to Portland.
Needless to say, I spent most of the flight praying the please God please God please God prayer. I listened to my Brave Still playlist created after the second Houston flood. The songs are all about God being present when things don’t go as planned. Thinking about not being with Jonas when he woke up on his birthday filled me with sadness.
I’ve walked this walk with God long enough to know that prayers aren’t magic, but that God is always present.
So here I sit in the Portland airport the morning of Jonas’ birthday. I saw a beautiful sunrise as I boarded the shuttle to the airport from my unexpected sleeping place.
I’ve had the best flat white ever at the airport and a marionberry muffin besides.
And I remember.
Life is like the fog. We can only see a few feet in front of us. All we can do is put one foot in front of us and see what us revealed.
Though I am still hoping that the fog will lift, and I will be able to fly my diverted to PDX flight to RDM to see the grandboys today.