A Prayer

Dear God,

I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know you God because I am in the way. Please help me push myself aside. 

Amen.  

- Flannery O'Connor, "A Prayer Journal"

P.S. -- Click here to read Annie Dillard's classic essay, "Total Eclipse" 

Charlottesville

A prayer in light of recent events in Charlottesville, VA

God of justice, who sees into the hearts of all,

    your Light outshines the feeble flicker of the torches of hatred

    your goodness is greater than evil,

    your love compels us to break the silence, to speak the truth

    and to confess our sin.

With the prophet Isaiah we cry out—

    “Woe is me, for I am lost!

     For I have unclean lips

     And dwell among a people of unclean lips.”

In the face of this continuing unraveling of the fabric of our common life

May our ears be closed to the ugly diatribes of racists and the weak excuses of the fearful

May we have ears to hear the stories of our neighbors of color

       the respect to wait and listen as each story is told in its own voice

May we find the courage to acknowledge our privilege

     and our complicity in the evils of racism,

     and not to cease our striving for equality until justice rolls down like waters.

Our shoulders are bowed beneath the weight of our sorrow,

Our hands reach out to grasp a justice that seems illusory

Our hearts cry for a peace that seems so far off.

Our voices are hoarse, thick with tears,

as we pray for a way forward for all of your children

A way beyond racism and violence and privilege

For the courage to change our selves and our land

For faith and action that can bind us together.

We pray for our neighbors in Charlottesville— a city set on a hill

   grateful for their solidarity and courage in the face of evil

For neighbors of every race, and people of all professions

  as they gathered this day to rebuke the powers of evil

 We pray for comfort for families that now grieve unbearable losses

  For individuals who are wounded and broken in body or spirit

May your Spirit rise with healing in its wings

    and bring strength and wholeness to each.

      

We pray for ourselves, that this hurt will not fade from our minds

    before our hearts are broken open with Your passion for justice, mercy and love.

 Show up among us in our cities, our neighbors, and our wary, worried hearts

A Stranger without privilege or place

A Justice beyond hope

A Peace that passes understanding--Emmanuel, God with us.

In the name of your broken and resurrected son Jesus, we pray.  Amen.

The Rev. Dr. Laurie A. Kraus, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

The Image of Love

James 2:8 talks about the "royal law," loving your neighbor as yourself.  In my sermon today, I (Blake) used the example of the Atlas Abbey of Tibhirine in Algeria, where seven monks were murdered during the Algerian Civil War.  Here is what one of the monks, Brother Luc, wrote to a friend before he died:

We can only exist as men if we willingly become the image of love, as manifested in Christ, who, though innocent, chose to suffer the fate of the unjust.

There is also powerful film based on these events called Of Gods & Men.  Watch the trailer below:

Listening & Doing

If everybody's talking, nobody's listening.  What's a Christian to do?  "Be quick to listen and slow to speak," James 1:19 says, that we might hear God and hear one another.  But how do we do that?  William Ury has some suggestions in this helpful TEDx talk.  Take a look:

Books on the Book of James

Interested in learning more about the book of James?  Check out one of these resources:

The Book of JAMES

We'll be studying the epistle of James at FPC starting June 11 and moving through the Summer.  (An epistle is a letter; in this case, it's James' letter to Jewish Christians scattered around Palestine.)  Here's the current schedule, always subject to change!

James Preaching & Study Schedule:

  • 6/11 - James 1:1-4
  • 6/18 - James 1:5-11
  • 6/25 - James 1:12-19a
  • 7/02 - James 1:19b-27
  • 7/09 - James 2:1-7
  • 7/16 - James 2:8-13
  • 7/23 - James 2:14-26
  • 7/30 - James 3:1-12
  • 8/06 - James 3:13-18
  • 8/13 - James 4:1-10
  • 8/20 - James 4:11-5:6
  • 8/27 - James 5:7-20

"Go and Make Disciples"

If we're going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit.  Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of "Little Jesuses" to follow him into the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry.  Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing kingdom of God. 

- Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church

Welcome to the New Blog!

Our church website has a great "blog" option, so occasionally I (Blake) will be posting notes, thoughts, and updates here for church-wide information and education.  I'll try to link it to Facebook, too, so folks can stay in loop.  Stay tuned.