Saturday, February 16, 2013

Praying the News

February 16, 2013

In our prayers, we thank God for the wonders of creation, pray for those parts of creation that need repair and healing because of our carelessness, and ask for the wisdom, will, and courage to preserve and protect the biosphere that makes human life both possible and rich.

Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth you made us fellow workers in your creation: 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; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect For the Conservation of Natural Resources (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 827)

Please pray for:

Relief from the ongoing drought on the Great Plains.  This week’s US Drought Monitor report shows some improvement in this part of the country, but as their map shows, most of Nebraska remains in extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Coupling prayers for seasonable weather with prayers of repentance for our part in creating the greater issue of climate change might help us find our way forward.

The Arctic sea ice and eyes to see and minds to understand the significance of the loss of ice. The UK’s Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) has confirmed earlier estimates of a collapse of the sea ice in the Arctic. Total sea ice volume in the Arctic is one-fifth what it was in 1980. Analyst Andy Lee Robinson has put the data in graphic form that shows the spiraling collapse of the sea ice:


 People in Washington, DC, for Sunday’s Forward on Climate rally. Thousands of people are expected to rally in Washington tomorrow to ask President Obama to lead on addressing climate change, beginning with denying a permit to complete the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Several Nebraskans will be part of this, carrying with them our concerns about the this pipeline that would cross Nebraska. Pray for protection as they travel and rally, for peaceful hearts and effective voices, and for wise leadership from our President and other leaders; and offer prayers of thanksgiving for these people willing to speak with their voices and their presence at this gathering.

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer In Times of Conflict (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 824)

O God, our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer For the Future of the Human Race (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 828)

As we pray for others, we might also pray for our own hearts to be open so we can see the needs in the world around us and gladly respond to those needs:

O heavenly Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that, rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for Joy in God’s Creation (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 814)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Keeping Lent

The Presiding Bishop’s Lent message for 2013 encourages us “to pray, to fast, to act in solidarity with those who go without. Learn more, give alms, share what you have. Be conscious about what you eat.”

Awareness of worldwide hunger and how addressing that is tied together with our own spiritual healing is the theme of Episcopal Relief and Development’s Lenten meditations. The meditations are available as daily e-mails or in booklet form.

Awareness of what we eat, of how it is produced, packaged, and transported is intertwined with all sorts of environmental issues, and hunger around the world is exacerbated by the increase in extreme weather events resulting from climate change.

The Gospel teaches that the way we treat those in the greatest need is the way we treat Christ; our relationship with Christ is tied to our relationship with the hungry, the poor, and all those who are marginalized.  And even the most perfunctory Lenten disciplines – meatless Fridays or giving up sweets – are taken on with some sort of awareness of a relationship between our spiritual well-being and what we eat.

We are spiritually healthy when we are in good relationship with God, one another, and God’s creation. Being conscious about what we eat – or being intentional about just about any part of life – helps us become more aware of the web of connections in which we live. That awareness helps us see that when we desire to grow in our relationship in Christ, we can’t approach life as if our daily decisions affected no one but ourselves. That’s why stewardship, including environmental stewardship, is an essential piece of discipleship.

Robert Herrick wrote “To Keep a True Lent” in the 17th century, but the core idea of the poem is very much in keeping with what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Episcopal Relief and Development say to us as we begin Lent in 2013.

by Robert Herrick

Is this a fast, to keep
                The larder lean ?
                            And clean
From fat of veals and sheep ?

Is it to quit the dish
                Of flesh, yet still
                            To fill
The platter high with fish ?

Is it to fast an hour,
                Or ragg’d to go,
                            Or show
A downcast look and sour ?

No ;  ‘tis a fast to dole
                Thy sheaf of wheat,
                            And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
                From old debate
                            And hate ;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent ;
                To starve thy sin,
                            Not bin ;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.