Pray for Peace

June 4, 2017

“Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation, united in religion, but He intended to test you in what He has given you; so race to all that is good.”                                         – Holy Quran 48th verse of chapter 5

 

Islamic Scholar Scott Alexander shared this verse with us when he was a guest speaker at St. John’s on May 13th.  An audience member had commented about his experience sharing worship with Islamic and Jewish communities and observed, “We are more alike in our beliefs than we are different.”  Alexander then quoted the Quran verse above – which inspired further discussion.  Is it possible to respect each other’s differences and allow each person to follow their own path?  And then, how do we “race to all that is good” or as different translations have it, “compete with each other in righteousness” or “vie one with another in good works” ?

Alexander was challenging us to examine our reaction to the concept of “different.”  Can we look at real or perceived differences and let go of the need to argue, to alienate, or to force changes?  He brought up the idea of language: baby animals are born able to communicate, but, for humans, several years pass before babies can speak the language of their parents and community.  That hard-won gift of language unites us as a community and gives us identity, but diversity of language around the world divides us, emphasizing our differences.  How can I get to know you and love you if I cannot understand what you are saying?  Can I see (and hear) that you are different and open my heart to you?

Inspired by these ideas, we move towards Pentecost Sunday: a celebration of the Holy Spirit, in wind and fire, granting the disciples the ability to pass on God’s message of love without the barrier of language.

So join us this Sunday in a flurry of wind and symbolic flames and sing with gusto in a multitude of languages the beautifully simple song “Dona Nobis Pacem” that translates into a heartfelt “Grant Us Peace.”

And…. don’t forget to wear RED! (We didn’t!)

 

Christian Civic Engagement

Christians are called to participate in the kingdom of God by working for peace, justice and the common good. These organizations act politically, motivated by faith. Get involved!

The Episcopal Public Policy Network (part of The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations located in Washington, DC) is a grassroots network of Episcopalians across the country dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal Covenant call to “strive for justice and peace” through the active ministry of public policy advocacy. advocacy.episcopalchurch.org

Believe Outloud works for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in our families, our churches and our communities. believeoutloud.com

Faith in Public Life advances faith as a powerful force for justice, compassion and the common good. faithinpubliclife.org

All Our Children is a national network of people of faith who are exploring, forming, and leading community partnerships between congregations and public schools. Through these partnerships, AOC is part of a growing movement to create meaningful improvements in the quality and equity of public education. allourchildren.org

Faithful America: Love thy neighbor. No exceptions. faithfulamerica.org

Interfaith Power & Light is a religious response to global warming. interfaithpowerandlight.org

Groundswell inspires faithful action to heal and repair the world. Powered by Auburn Theological Seminary. action.groundswell-mvmt.org

Darwin Day 2017

Don’t miss this annual international celebration of Charles Darwin!

On Saturday, February 11 we welcome the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, past Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, to speak on the topic “Science and Faith a Bishop/Biologist Embraces Both.” The evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. with primordial soup and a selection of songs celebrating science. A lecture and curated discussion will follow. jefferts-schori-ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori is the former Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. She was the first woman elected as a primate in the Anglican Communion. Katharine holds a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, an M.S. and Ph.D. in oceanography from Oregon State University, an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees. She is also an active, instrument-rated pilot.

We are open for prayer today

Reflection on the killing at Emanuel AME Church

It was hard to wake up to the news of the church shooting in Charleston this morning. One more notch on the list of dangerous things to do when black. It is tempting to give in to the belief that good has departed from the world, that nothing we do changes anything, that sin has won. I was reminded today that we can’t think or plan or research or analyze our way out of sin. We must act, commit acts of love, speak words of justice, live lives that change the world.

Today I also received the news that a new baby came into this world last night, June 17 at 9:11 p.m. We have been keeping his parents in our prayers in these last months of anticipation and hope, and now he is here! We rejoice with his parents in this gift. He is a beloved child of God, who will bring belovedness into our world. We know this because of the faith of his parents and the hope of our Christian community.

Sin and blessings are the realities of our world, and we believe in a God who promises that blessings will outweigh and outmaneuver sin and evil. We believe this even when we walk through the valleys of the shadow of death. In times of great joy we remember our call to act for, create, and claim those blessings, not just for ourselves, but for every human being, every living creature, and the earth itself. I am thankful for your witness to this promise and this work, and for baby Longbrake, another player on Team Love.

I offer two reflections for you, the first from scripture, the second from Bishop Lee, as he prepares for the General Convention and his witness as part of Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

May God Bless and keep you, now and always,

Kara +

Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24

God did not make death,

And he does not delight in the death of the living.

For he created all things so that they might exist;

the generative forces of the world are wholesome,

and there is no destructive poison in them,

and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.

For righteousness is immortal.

 

God created us for incorruption,

and made us in the image of his own eternity,

but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,

and those who belong to his company experience it.

 

Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence: An Invitation from Bishop Lee
This is a link to Bishop Lee’s letter which was issued on Wednesday, just before the shooting.

Where is God?

broken statue

 

A Reflection by Joshua Longbrake from his blog.

 

What must I do to get your attention? To get you to speak up? Do I need to pray multiple times a day in a certain position, bowing on my knees or standing on my head? Do I need to go to a specific location? Or are there actions I need to take? Tell me what to do to get you to speak.

Or maybe I don’t need to do anything except listen and look and wait and see.

I was chatting amongst empty pews with Kara, our priest, and Kate and Jason. I preached yesterday (audio here), asking the question Where is God?and pointing out places where the gospel of John speaks to the same question over and over again with audacity and creativity. The question is personal, one I’ve been churning out daily during Lent.

While the four of us were talking after the service there was a sudden roar like thunder from the sacristy (a little room off to the side of the sanctuary). At first I thought the innards of the large organ had collapsed, giant pipes that are built into the wall and which continue through the walls and into a back corner of sacristy. We ran up the center aisle, passed the altar and into that tiny room to see both what had happened and to make sure no one was hurt.

Shelves had collapsed under the weight of what look like giant candlestick holders as large as my arm and made out of thick brass. They had fallen onto a glass table that subsequently shattered. On one of the shelves was also a statue of the virgin Mary holding a baby Jesus.

Kate said, “You asked the question, ‘Where is God?’ and now you’ve found him in the form of this broken baby Jesus. You should probably take him and Mary home.” Kara laughed and nodded and I wondered about signs and the idea of God’s playfulness and the possibility of me making meaning out of events that could be simply chance — but I like to believe the former.

– Joshua Longbrake 9 Mar 2015