Hope, Prayers, Hiking & Communion: All appropriate responses to the sorrow of this past week. Prayer undergirds all that we do. Here's a Prayer for us and for Las Vegas, courtesy of Washington National Cathedral:
Almighty God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we pray, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; comfort the injured and all whose lives have been forever changed by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. Grant to the slain, eternal rest with you, and may all who mourn know the consolation of your love.
We also pray for an end to gun violence in our land that our homes, schools and neighborhoods may become places of safety for all. All this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
There's been quite a bit of talk about the expression, "... our thoughts and prayers are with you." Here's what I believe. I believe that Archbishop William Temple was speaking the truth when he said, "prayer adds to the sum total of love in the world." I also believe the truth of the Church's ancient maxim, that "praying shapes believing," and that what we believe shapes how we live and what we do. Authentic prayer leads to steadfast concern for the well-being of others, which leads to caring action.
In this light, I see the daytime ECW's sponsored workshop, "Bottles of Hope," as enacted prayer. The workshop will be Saturday, October 7, from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to make two polymer clay bottles -- one to keep and one to send to a cancer patient with a message of hope. There is no charge, but check with Diane Link about availability.
Also on Saturday, two of our neighboring congregations, St. George Church and the Shoreline Vineyard Church (they meet on Sundays in the Greene Community Center), will be offering Healing Prayers on the Green, between Noon and 2 p.m. If you would like a couple of people to pray with you for healing of a wound you bear (physical, emotional, spiritual ...), there'll be several kind people available to do so.
Our Worship on Sunday will begin a bit differently. For "... times of national anxiety, or ... of disaster," the Prayer Book provides "The Supplication" p. 154. These are surely such times; so, after a silent procession, we will pray The Supplication together. Then, instead of an upbeat Hymn of Praise, we will continue with a more somber Kyrie, "Lord, have mercy," at 10 a.m., and the full traditional text of Psalm 95, the Venite, at 8 a.m. Elsewhere, the Prayer Book counsels us to pray, "Give us grace to lay seriously to heart, the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions." I hope our prayers will help us do that.
On Monday, we are invited to join a South Central Region Walking Eucharist in East Rock Park. With parking in the Eli Whitney Museum lot, the walk and worship will begin at the covered bridge at 3 p.m., and continue on moderate-easy trails. The hike and Eucharist will be led by our South Central Region Missionary Rachel Field+, and Zion Church's (North Branford) Lucy LaRocca+
On Thursday, I was honored to attend the New Haven premiere of "The Sultan & the Saint," a documentary about a little known, weeks-long encounter between the Sultan of Egypt and St. Francis of Assisi. The Sultan's papers have only recently been translated into English, and by one of the documentaries sources; so, we now have access to his appreciation of St. Francis. Franciscan historians show how this encounter also shaped Francis's writings on prayer and the order which bears his name. Unfortunately, St. Francis died five years later, convinced his efforts ended in failure, but the encounter actually contributed to ending the Crusades.
The Sultan & the Saint will be shown on PBS on December 26 (Don't worry, I'll remind you!) The producers encourage viewing parties. Perhaps we could have one here? To see the trailer, and learn more, please click here. Seeing this documentary was a hopeful moment for me in a somber week.
May God's love and mystery continue to enfold us all,
p.s. The sad plight of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands remained in the news this week. The latest updates from Episcopal Relief and Development can be found here. Please consider contributing to relief efforts here.
We feature various authors from around our parish, commenting on topics of interest to our community. Enjoy! Comment if you are so moved!