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A Prayer

Hello Friends.  Here is last Sunday's sermon.

Today I would like to talk to you about prayer. I took a course two winters ago at Seabury Western Seminary called Praying shapes believing. It was taught by Bishop Frank Griswold. Many of you know that several years ago he was the Episcopal Church presiding bishop. He is a wonderful man and a person who is very easy to get to know.
We of course spent a lot of time talking about prayer. I think people have this very narrow definition of what prayer looks like. We see it as a person down on his knees, hands folded and head bowed who is silently or quietly petitioning God for something. That is prayer, there is no doubt. But, there are so many other ways to pray.

At convention we say a video of our brothers and sisters in Sudan praying. Music was playing, they were dancing with their hands raised up to the sky and they were making a joyful noise. They were praying and I am sure God was listening. 

I have studied the mystics on and off throughout the years and I would have to say I lean in that direction. There is a common thread in mysticism and it does not matter whether you are a Hndu, a Christian, a Buddhist or a Sufi. In the mystical state they all feel a nearness to God. They feel such a communion to God that they feel that God is embracing them. 

How do they do that. Who in this room would not want to feel embraced by God. I would have to say their way of praying is to stop talking at God and start listening. It is so simple that it is almost scary. I could talk about meditation a lot but I won't.

What about other kinds of prayer. We Episcopalians have the book of Common Prayer. We love the Book of Common Prayer. In it are prayers and services for just about everything. There is a service for ordaining a bishop in it and there is also a prayer for rain. You can ordain a bishop or...make it rain. There is even a chart that will show you what date Easter will fall on.

Some denominations are critical of those of us who read our prayers. They say it is just reading someone else's prayer. It may be but that does not make those prayers any less meaningful. When I read evening prayer and compline there is a prayer there that I always look forward to. It was written by Lancelot Andrews five hundred years ago and it still is so powerful to me. 

Song is another way to pray. Sometimes I can get so emotional moved by a hymn that I have to stop singing. I am sure you all have a favorite hymn that carries you away. 

Paul talks about prayer without ceasing in todays lesson. That is a very powerful way of prayer. It takes some practice but it can be so effective in keeping you focused on God.

The Jesus Prayer is often associated with this passage from Paul. It is “Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”.

I am sure that whatever way you pray, you are heard.
Fr.  Fred

A Wedding!

Last Saturday I had the honor and privilege to officiate at the wedding of Whitley Offenburger and Jason Kiger.  When Whitley spoke to me several months ago about doing the wedding I cautioned her that I had never done a wedding before and this would be my first one.  She laughed and said, "mine too!". 

I fussed over the wedding for weeks.  I must have gone through my sermon and the format a dozen times or more.  It of course was a wonderful wedding.  It took place at carpenter hall and the room was decorated for Christmas with lighted white trees and it made a beautiful backdrop for the service.  I believe it will be a wonderful marriage and I wish them the best.

Fr. Fred

Movie Stars and Inspiration

I was watching television with Sherry tonight and a documentary of a war hero, or maybe just a hero was playing.  He had endured so much in his 97 years that a book was written about him titled Unbroken.  Now a movie is being made with the same title and it is being directed by Angelina Jolie.  What got me off the couch and to the computer is something Angelina Jolie said.  She was being interviewed by Tom Brokaw and she was explaining to him why she was making this movie.  She said she wanted to do something important in her life.  She wanted to make a difference.

And I thought, "so do I"  I often feel that so much of my life is pretty much wasted.  In this whole vast expanse of eternity we are allowed a tiny blip on the screen of time.  I have so much talent, so much potential to make that difference in the lives of others and I choose to spend it on things that can only be considered trivial. 

I have been given a heavy reality wake up call lately regarding my mortality.  I have been diagnosed with MS and I need to use a cane to get around.  I think God is telling me that I better get serious about making a difference in the world if I am really serious about it. 

Angelina Jolie has no idea that she inspired me tonight.  She has no idea of the ripple effect that she created when she spoke in that interview.  I think very few of us know how much impact, both good and bad, we have on each other and how we do affect the world. 

I will stop rambling and go to bed.

Have a blessed Advent,
Fr. Fred