The great abolitionist and advocate to end slavery in the U.S., Frederick Douglas, was once punished for teaching fellow slaves to read and for setting up secret Sunday schools to share the liberating teachings of Jesus with the children of his people. St. Matthew's has a wonderful Sunday School that continues to share the Good News with our children, the news that they are loved by God - the news that no matter what challenge they face the Lord will stick with them and give them strength - the news that an informed faith is even more important to human development, happiness and freedom than all the toys at the mall - the news that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Not even slavery. Douglas once said, "If there is no struggle there is no progress." It's Monday and you can do it.
You are here
- "Jesus said, I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved, you also need to love one another." (John 13:31-35) I don't know how many of us can recite the 10 Commandments in order. Most of the time we're lucky if we can remember our phone numbers, but surely we can recall the one, single, new commandment of Jesus Christ. Of course we can. It's Sunday, the Lord's Day, so let's get out there and give it a try. Love one another as Jesus loved, the kind of love that puts the needs and joy of the other before your own, the kind of love that insists that we treat the people around us with appreciation, respect, fairness and compassion. Take the new commandment out for a spin this Sunday. You'll be the kind of Sunday driver that people will want to get behind.
- "Blessed are the people whose strength is in you! Whose hearts are set on the pilgrim's way." Psalm 84:4. Which way will you go today? Put your best foot forward. Use your moral compass for direction. Trust in that life affirming nudge from God every step of the way. But first, get up and brush your teeth. It's Saturday morning. Sunday worship tomorrow at 8 and 10 am.
- Friday mornings in the spring in New Hampshire promise blessings ahead. "Direct us, O Lord, in all our doings and with thy most gracious favor, and further us with your continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer pg. 832)
- Awaken to this new day immediately! What's the rush? In the church calendar today, April 25, is St. Mark's Day. St. Mark's gospel is the shortest of the four in the Bible but, like Red Sox second baseman Justin Pedroia, it packs a powerful punch. St. Mark uses the word immediately often in his book about the Good News of Jesus Christ. He does so advisedly, to encourage you to think in terms of NOT waiting until some other day, some other time to get on with love and honest effort, healing and hope. Now is the time. Awaken to immediacy. Your God is beside you to guide today. Go get 'em. Happy St. Mark's Day! "And immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida while He dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, Jesus went up on the mountain to pray." (Mark 6:45)
- "Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty. Amen." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer pg. 827) Bounty is the word. Right now God's amazing creation supports 7 billion people plus myriad animal and marine life. We humans, however, are growing at a rate that strains the earth's life affirming capacity. Too often we take far more than we give back. The prayer above asks for God to grant us wisdom and reverence as we move forward in history as a species while requesting a sense of reverence as we move ahead as a community of faith. Jesus called those who would follow Him 'the beloved community'. Awaken this morning to appreciate that you are counted among the beloved of God. Embrace also the healthy challenge of doing all you can to make sure those who will follow us will experience bounty and blessing as well. It is meet and right so to do.
- "Almighty and everlasting God, you have made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." (Episcopal Book of Common Prayer pg. 827) It is morning. This is the day God has made for us to find joy, courage, honest effort and relaxation in. One of the aspects of Episcopal/Anglican spirituality I love most is our embrace of reason and learning, science, music, drama, art and literature as valued resources for deepening our faith and understanding of life and of God. Many religions, political voices and even Christian denominations tend to mistrust, even reject the discoveries of modern science. Not so with Episcopalian Christians. As the prayer above suggests, we have an abiding trust that the more we seek and unlock answers through scientific method, the more expansive and informed will be our encounter and appreciation of God. Some say that knowledge is power. But knowledge can be more, it can be revelation too. Get interested in something today and learn more about it. Ask yourself how this might broaden your knowledge of or deepen your relationship to God.
- "A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives." (Wendell Barry) Today is the official International Earth Day! What a joy to know that care and reverence for the creation/ecological responsibility, is a world -wide value! Though our own political structure has been painfully slow in recognizing this, and even slower (if not backward the past 30 years) to act on this truth, more and more of we the people are doing more and more to clean up our own back yards and consumption habits while insisting that policies to protect the earth and its people get more traction. Devote a moment to simply stretching your limbs in the fresh air today, thinking fondly of the worldwide movement to save the earth and sustain its miraculous resources. For all God's gifts, give thanks today.
- "The Earth is the Lord's and All that Dwell Within" (I Corinthians) For centuries the Christian community has called Christ our morning star, the light of the world. Christians at their best have been referred to as 'children of the light'. On Earth Day and every other day our Native American relatives offer prayers with similar reverence: 'Blessed be God in the East, the first light,... the way of the Eagle and God's helpers.' How might you be God's helper this Earth Day? First off give thanks for everything! Next, enjoy the fruits of nature with care. Third, remember, 'Nature is party to all of our deals and decisions, and she has more votes and a longer memory.' (Wendell Barry) Be a child of the Light today, Earth Day.
- "With awe-filled wonder we sing praise with all creation: tree and bush, flower and plant, animals of the air, the land and the waters." The prayers cited the past two weeks have all been about encouraging the human spirit to connect more deeply with the natural order, God's creation, as a way to better connect with God. We are God's caretakers. All the resources in the world are given us to use carefully, not to exploit until we use everything up. Psalm 51 asks God to 'sustain us with a bountiful spirit'. Sustainability is a key word, the meaning of which points to ongoing, long term, perpetual well- being. Try treating the natural realm the way we ask God to care for us, long term, in perpetuity. It may make a difference in what you drive, what you eat, whose party platform you will support, whether you will recycle, (I am told that barely half of us in this part of N.H. recycle ... We can do better.)