Archive for August, 2009

Hope in the Unseen

August 30, 2009

. . . But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Strengthen us O Lord that we might maintain hope for our future.  Hope for a future where there is peace at home and abroad; where moderation is valued more than excess; and hope outweighs fear.  Hope for a future where pursuing justice includes working to dismantle the inequalities that lead to anger and despair.  Hope for a future where all individuals have a real opportunity to develop and use the talents you have given. Hope for a future where all are fed, the sick are cared for, and contributing to the prosperity of the community is as valued by individual citizens as is the pursuit of personal wealth.  Help us each to see that, in the words of Jonathan Mitchel, it is “the work of every one, according to the compass of his capacity and opportunity, to seek the welfare of the place and people, where & among whom he lives”, and that “Love thy Neighbour, much more a whole Community, a multitude of thy Neighbours, is the Lord’s charge to everyone.” (from the sermon “Nehemiah on the Wall”, 1667).  Strengthen our faith to pursue even incremental change, knowing that over the course of a lifetime such changes can change the course of a nation. Give us the courage to move forward, and the will to persevere.  Strengthen us O Lord.


Courage to Govern

August 23, 2009

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Ps. 139: 23-24

Lord, renew our capacity to govern.  With more than one state in gridlock, factionalism promoted in the media as a national sport, and a public that is at turns fearful, angry, discouraged and uncomprehending, we need your help once again.

Your word has guided us many times before.  The 17th century preacher Jonathan Mitchel in an election sermon delivered in Boston on May 15, 1667 titled ‘Nehemiah on the Wall in Troublesome Times”, looked to the prophet Nehemiah as an example for those who govern — a leader who with fearlessness and fidelity, self-denial and compassion, prudence and piety, worked to promote and maintain the welfare of all the people.  Promoting and maintaining the welfare of the people, even in those early days of our history, was recognized to include pursuing “civil honesty”; promoting community prosperity by ensuring that all had access to the necessaries of life; and working “to quiet complaints and contentions, and to heal the dissatisfactions that arose among them”.  Good leaders, as Mitchell pointed out, do more than simply talk of the common good, they “put forth utmost and best endeavors to procure, promote and maintain it; to study it, and to speak for it; to act for it”.

Help us Lord find such leaders, and to encourage those we have.  And help us, as democratic citizens, find the courage to accept difficult realities, to confront special interests that seek to manipulate and control, and to try new paths. Give us the strength and discipline as a people to be studious, concerned and thoughtful about our common needs;  to control our fears, and to pursue compassion, patience,  and wisdom.

And help us yet again find our way through another troublesome time, and to emerge as a kinder, wiser people.

In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen

Mistrust Is Like A Cancer

August 16, 2009

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”  Pr. 31:9

Our mistrust is like a cancer – it grows rapidly, saps our energy, and metastasizes in unpredictable ways.  There are so many voices, so much information untethered to context, and so many predictions of doom that we look at each other with suspicion and freeze.  Our hope that the common good can break through our political web slowly fades.  Doubt creeps toward despair.  Yet we are not alone. You, Lord, are always with us, and with you all things are possible. (Mt. 19:26). Let not our fear and suspicion turn us from wisdom. With confidence and compassion let us focus on your commands to rescue those in need (Ps. 82:3-4); to speak up, judge fairly, and defend the rights of the poor (Pr. 13:12); to have compassion on the sick and to care for each other (Mt. 25: 36-40; Dt: 15:11).  Help us to reconcile our differences as we pursue our pledge of “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Encourage us, and guide us forward with your amazing grace, so that we might also say, in the words of the hymn, “through many trials, toils and snares, we have already come, ’twas grace that saw us through thus far and grace will see us home.”


Out of the Mud and the Mire

August 9, 2009

And in my dismay I said,  “All men are liars.” Ps 116:11

Lord, the concepts seemed so simple: reduce the costs that burden families and businesses large and small; preserve the patient’s choice of doctors while also providing a choice to those who would otherwise have none; and ensure that all have access to quality and affordable care. How did we move from broad agreement on improving our healthcare system to fears of euthanasia, shouting claques that prevent discussion and understanding, and a growing climate of distrust?

Let not our hope that change is possible give way to despair.  Let not the complexity of detail and our distrust of the drafters destroy our focus on a more just and equitable system.  Preserve our will to move forward. Protect us from those who see politics as a blood-sport, seeking a partisan kill. Help us to realize that “tyranny” may come in the form of those who, in order to preserve their own entrenched power, would exploit our fears and anger,  — those who resist the restraint and accountability that government oversight can provide.  Strengthen those who would lead us forward.  Let them free themselves from the chains of party power, media sarcasm, and fear of failure.  Give us compassion, strength to forgive,  and the courage to reach out in healing to those with whom we disagree.

Help us to be patient in our hope, O Lord.  Hear our cry and lift us “out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire”, set our feet on the rock of your promises, and guide us as we journey forward. Ps. 40:1-2


By Their Words You Shall Know Them

August 2, 2009

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Thank you Lord for our President’s willingness to start new conversations, to focus forward, to seek dialogue on principles rather than pushing positions, and to attempt to change the patterns of partisan bickering.  Help us to elect and to listen to others who are the type of leader identified by the apostle Paul — temperate, self-controlled, hospitable, able to teach, gentle and not quarrelsome, sincere and worthy of respect (1 Timothy 3:2-3, 8).  Let us not be misled by hateful words, threats, jibes, or appeals to fear.  Instead, help us to rid ourselves of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Peter 2:1); to learn not to repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but to live in harmony with each other (1 Peter 3:8-9).  Let us uphold your call of justice to the poor, and acknowledge the cause of the needy, and through honest and sincere dialogue, find the way forward to a more perfect union.