A prayer that survivors of loved ones lost to violence may become a tribute to their memory.
For Survivors of School Shootings
You who have endured this grievous loss, You who have mourned and lamented, Surely sorrow pierced your heart When murder raged, Staining your memory red with blood. Let love bind your wounds. Let tears sooth your soul. Let your life be a tribute To the memory of the lost.
Alden Solovy spreads joy and excitement for prayer. A liturgist and poet, his work has been used by people of many faiths throughout the world. He’s written more than 900 pieces of new liturgy, offering a fresh Jewish voice, challenging the boundaries between poetry, meditation, personal growth, storytelling, and prayer. He’s a teacher, a writing coach, and an award-winning essayist and journalist. Alden is the Liturgist-in-Residence at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. More about Alden.
Light is a universal metaphor for Divine energy, a symbol for holiness, truth, radiance, eminence, love. To pray is to summon Divine light into our lives. To bless is an attempt summon that light and then to bend it toward holy purpose, including consolation, joy and healing. Communion is the attempt to journey into the light of holiness, awe and wonder. And so, prayer is an act of summoning light. Blessing is an act of bending light. Communion is the act of entering light. More: Bending Light
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. Revelation 22:17
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Seventh Sunday After Easter (May 29, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
We listen to this text [Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21], not as passive receivers, but as active participants asked to be prepared to enter into the community. This is a call to ministry, not a ticketed invitation to sit in a stadium and watch a spectacle. It is a reminder that being a Christian assumes an active disposition and an attitude of grace-filled practice within the community of faith.
Paul “Skip” Johnson in Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 2
“Skip” Johnson is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia. His commentary on the reading from the Book of Revelation is featured in our handout for study in the week beginning May 29, 2022 (see link below).
Rather than predict the time of Christ’s return, Professor Johnson suggests that we are invited to be active with grace-filled practices, right here, right now. What practices come to mind for you as you await Christ’s return?
May you be strengthened to proclaim Jesus Christ ….
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for Ascension Day (May 26, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
Jerusha Matsen Neal an Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School writes, “Jesus’ ascension in Acts is no text of glory. It is a text that stands with those in countries far from home, those whose witness has been costly, and those who do not see “convincing proofs” (verse 3) of resurrection. It is, in fact, a passage about a community of faith that relinquishes the “proof” of Christ’s risen body for the “promise” of a Spirit (verses 4-5) coming.”
Ascension Day, for Acts’s disciples, looks more like trust in the face of uncertainty. It looks more like prayerful commitment and costly witness. It looks a lot like today.
Jerusha Matsen Neal
Called to trust in the face of uncertainty, how do you move to that place of trust? What is called forth in your heart? in your mind? in your will to do something?
During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” –Acts 16:9
Welcome. Our handout features the readings for the Sixth Sunday After Easter (May 22, 2022) in Year C of our Lectionary.
Lydia is prominent in the reading from Acts (Acts 16:9-15) shared on the Sixth Sunday after Easter in Year C (May 22, 2022). One commentary on this reading notes an important aspect of “biblical faith” …
In the biblical witness, visions from God are not the exception but the norm. Beginning with Adam and Eve and moving throughout the Scriptures to the Apocalypse at the end, God is demonstratively engaged with human affairs to catch our attention and transform us.
David C. Forney, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Clarksville, Tennessee in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C, vol. 2 (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009)
Paul trusted his vision. Do you trust that God is still gracing us with visions? Can you trust your visions? How have you come to trust the God who wants to “catch our attention and transform us”? What do you make of Paul’s experience since the vision and the conclusion seem to be different?
What does love smell like? What does hope smell like? What does resurrection smell like? On this fifth Sunday of Lent, as we draw closer to Jesus’s final week, and prepare to contemplate his suffering, we’re invited into a story of the senses. A story of love enacted in fragrance.
All four Gospels tell it — the story of a woman who kneels at Jesus’s feet, breaks an alabaster jar filled with priceless perfume, and dares to love Jesus in the flesh.
Consider Debie’s reflection on the embodiment of love provided by Mary of Bethany to you and me all these centuries later:
What happens between Jesus and Mary in this narrative happens skin to skin. Mary doesn’t need to use words; her yearning, her worship, her gratitude, and her love are enacted wholly through her body. Just as Jesus later breaks bread with his disciples, Mary breaks open the jar in her hands, allowing its contents to pour freely over Jesus’s feet. Just as Jesus later washes his disciples’ feet to demonstrate what radical love looks like, Mary expresses her love with her hands and her hair. Just as Jesus later offers up his broken body for the healing of all, Mary offers up a costly breaking in order to demonstrate her love for her Lord.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
Such a way as gives us breath;
Such a truth as ends all strife,
Such a life as killeth death.
These words are the first stanza of a poem by George Herbert (1593-1633). See the complete poem and a short essay about George Herbert on the Journey with Jesus website (one of my favorites sites for inspiration). The Episcopal Church remembers and commemorates George Herbert annually on February 27th.
Take a moment to simply listen …
Hymn 487 in (The Episcopal) Hymnal 1982
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath;
such a truth as ends all strife;
such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast;
such a feast as mends in length;
such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move;
such a love as none can part;
such a heart as joys in love.
Text: George Herbert
Music: The Call by Ralph Vaughn Williams
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Romans 10:12-13 NRSV
As we come to the end of the week that began on the First Sunday in Lent, Year C, March 6, 2022, we recall that the Church read from Paul’s letter to the Romans (Romans 10:8b-13, see also Galatians 3:28).
At our best we continue to live the wisdom of Paul, making no distinction that separates us who “call on the name of the Lord” rather we promote union in “one great fellowship of love.” In Christ there is no East or West we celebrate this kinship:
Hymn 529 in (The Episcopal) Hymnal 1982
In Christ there is no East or West,
in him no South or North,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.
Join hands, disciples of the faith,
whate'er your race may be!
Who serves my Father as his child
is surely kin to me.
In Christ now meet both East and West,
in him meet South and North,
all Christly souls are one in him,
throughout the whole wide earth.
Text: John Oxenham, 1852-1941 (alt.)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. … When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:1-2, 13 NRSV
On the First Sunday in Lent, Year C, March 6, 2022, the Church read the account of the Temptation of Jesus according to Luke (Luke 4:1-13). Lord who throughout these forty days is a hymn for the season of Lent and, really, for every season of our lives as we walk with Jesus.
Index Page of “words” offered by the SSJE Brothers
“Advent Birmingham is a diverse group of musicians who lead worship services in song on Sundays at Cathedral Church of The Advent in Birmingham, Alabama. They also write and record modern hymns of their own and set ancient Christian hymns and songs to modern settings.” (YouTube description) Here is their modern offering of this Lenten hymn:
I encourage you to read more about the “Queen of Ukraine” in Harris’ article. As she notes, “It is quite common for Christians, and even people of other faiths, to ask Mary to intercede on their behalf during hardship.” Let us pray.
When Jesus and his disciples were in the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked them “Who do they say the Son of man is?” Discussions and teachings followed “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking to him.” (Matt. 17:1-3)
In Transfiguration, Christ is in a white robe with outstretched arms and, as appropriate, is the central figure . In addition, Fra Angelico has placed him on a pedestal-like rock above everyone, and by design he is larger than the other figures. Christ is surrounded by a mandorla (a body halo) and his head is surrounded by a traditional cruciform halo.
In this painting, Moses and Elijah are each presented in bust form, not as full figures; Moses, on the left with light emanating from his forehead represents the law and Elijah on the right represents the prophets. [In some paintings of the Transfiguration, Moses is holding the Ten Commandments and a scroll is placed in the hands of Elijah.]
Below Moses, on the left, is the Virgin Mary with her hands crossed over her chest and to the right, below Elijah, is Saint Dominic. [In 1435 the Monastery of San Marcos was turned over to the Dominican order.] He is standing with hands together in a position of prayer. Dominic’s mother reported that she saw a star on his chest when he was born and sometimes (as here within his halo) he can be identified by a star placed above his head. Of course, Mary and Dominic were not present at the Transfiguration, but it is not unusual for artists to use creative license to include non-participating figures on the sidelines as observers of an important event. In the foreground are Peter, James, and John. They have just heard God’s voice say: “This is my son. Hear him” and “…they fell on their faces and were filled with awe.” (Matt. 17:5-6)
In 1407, Guido di Pietro joined the Dominican order in Fiesole, Italy (near Florence) and at his vows took the name Giovanni. Thus he became known as Friar Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole). Artist and historian, Giorgio Vasari, referred to him as Brother John the angelic one and today he is known simply as Fra Angelico. His life as an artist was devoted to the Church and at the monastery of San Marcos in Florence; he painted the walls of the cells (prayer and meditation rooms) with scenes from the life of Christ. Fra Angelico’s Transfiguration is in cell number six.
In Europe, during the early part of the fifteenth century, medieval art was still a presence, but the City of Florence was at the heart of the Renaissance. Fra Angelico was fully aware of the trend toward humanism that was influencing the art of his time. The changes that were taking place are reflected in his paintings.
The actual site of the Transfiguration is not known; accounts in the Gospels do not name a specific mountain. Mt. Tabor is the traditional site but Jesus and the disciples were in the district of Caesarea Philippi prior to the Transfiguration and the closest and highest mountain there is Mount Hermon. It is the highest mountain in Israel and this may have been the mountain noted in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.