Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holy Family -27 December 2009 -Luke 2:41-52

I’ve always liked a wonderful one-liner from Mark Twain where he says that when he was 15 he thought his father was the dumbest man in the world, and when he turned 20 he was amazed how much the old man had learned in five years! That says something about the subjective element of our perception, that we see sometimes only what we look for. I’ve worked as a spiritual director and pastoral carer over the years, and so much of that work is simply listening, opening space so that people who see things clearly in black and white might , take a break and a deep breath to go beyond black and white thinking, be introduced to a wider spectrum of colors, shades of transparency and translucency, to shapes of encounters and ideas that they hadn’t looked for, relations with realities and relatives they perhaps hadn’t seen before, start to stretch out into where new possibilities.

When people have a chance to talk about their lives without immediate judgment to consider where they are and what they might wish to do with the degree of compassion and clarity, sometimes new things come into being, new options, new ways to be in love. Good books do as well, meditation is helpful there, and one of the reasons I love movies is that they can take you beyond words, using music color, visions, as well as irony, understatement and sometimes humor, to help you see things anew.

The Gospel of Luke, in his travel through the life of Jesus, will be doing something similar. I mentioned several weeks ago how Luke balances the characters in his narrative: old and young, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Greek. It might not be in an exaggeration to say there is a rhythm, almost dancing quality, in this gospel. He keeps you moving and he keeps you balancing with being slightly off balance as you move forward.

So let’s look at today’s Gospel where we fast-forward to Jesus at 12, traveling with his parents and larger family to a festival in Jerusalem. He becomes separated, lost and is found in the temple after three days “listening and questioning the teachers” there.

“And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.”
Then we go up close for a dialogue between mother and child:
“why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them

I would imagine somebody was thinking oh dear, here comes Adolescence!

“But he goes home with them and is obedient, and his mother treasures these things and Jesus increases in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.”

Let me note that in another translation the word “treasures” is “ponders.” I found that defined as “sustained and inconclusive thinking.” and there’s something to be said for that, for not having easy answers, conclusive thinking. But it’s not easy. I have never been a literalist in matters of Scripture but I often wanted clear-cut answers: what is the right way to go at this crossroad, what is the right ethical action for the situation, what is God calling me to do in my life and ministry at the present moment? All big questions!

But what I find when I look at the breadth of Scripture and tradition, and when I let myself take a breath of spirit, to breathe with God, is that the Scripture and tradition that Jesus shares with us, walks through with us in the glory of God the father, doesn’t have easy answers to these questions. What I do find instead is an assurance that the way of Jesus, the way of God, is a way in which we “live and move and have our being.” And that’s more than a simple answer, to a difficult question, it is more like an answer you can live into, as a pilgrim, to be on the way with hope and faith and love. And that goes back to Mary’s pondering.

It also relates to Paul’s wonderful words and letters to the Collisions, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patients. Bear with one another... Forgive one another... Clothe yourself with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

That makes our journey with Scripture into the life of Jesus less of a quest to find the right answer, less of a quiz for which we are graded; and more of a yoga, a pilgrimage, even perhaps a dance, where we partner with God in moving into and through the midst of the intricacies and the particular case of the rhythms of our lives, living and moving and having our being.

Somebody once said, “You have to know what the rules are so that you can know when to make exceptions.” That needs to be carefully handled, but there’s a great deal of truth there. I remember a number of tennis lessons as a boy learning to groove my stroke and where to put my feet and how to bring my arm back so that I could finally be free to move into each unique moment of contact with the ball, in individual real-time rallies and matches, being both grounded and centered, but free to move in every moment of the game as it happened.

When I came to Australia, and lived in the community at St. Peter’s Eastern Hill, I learned more about cooking. In the first stage I stayed close to the recipe book; measuring according to directions and following the list of ingredients. Then after a while I became freer to add and subtract varying according to the seasons and what was available in the marketplace and how many people were showing up. Any relationship, whether with a skill or a place or a person becomes freer, paradoxically, when it is better known: more choices and options actions and motions come to be when we know more where we are, who we’re with, what we can creatively do, in the places where we work and love, where we live and move and have our being.

The poet Rilke once wrote, “Do not look so hard for the answers, first learn to love the questions, for the point is to love everything now; and then the answers will come on their own one day in the future.” I might have misquoted that a bit, but the sense is right. Life is not an examination to be graded, is not a task to be endured (though times of testing do come), but is a day to day walk with the Lord in the spirit in the midst of God’s creation and within the intricacies of our own lives. We are here to live our lives with God, joyfully, creatively, making life more livable and holy for ourselves and others, relating and redeeming as we can, calling things to greater meaning and participation in God, linking the all embracing love of God with all that is living in our everyday lives: family and work, poetry and politics, sadness and joy, birth adolescence and adulthood aging and death. The places where we live and move and have our being, where we find God and where God finds us.

The Gospel of Luke is a worthy companion on this road: the way of Jesus, in the breath and the light of the Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Sermon, Beechworth

Christ Church
Christmas Day 2009
Luke 2: 1-20

The Revd Robert Whalley

The story I just read from the Gospel of Luke is a very strange one, though it is probably a story you’ve heard many times before; maybe memory connects it to other services in church buildings, connects to to old music and stained glass, or to family dinners, and times of joy or maybe frustration and dread; or maybe the story connects certain movies, either biblical spectaculars or family disaster-comedy ending with reunions in snowy villages with happy resolutions, starring Bing Crosby or Macauley Culkin, generally not in the same film, generally fiction.

But I would like to go back to that original story and retell it in a way that emphasizes its original strangeness the shock of the encounter, the journey, the discovery, and the moment of choosing where we might go from here.

The other background piece to what I’m about to say has to do with strange phenomena called “senior memory”. When I leave my glasses, when I enter a room and forget why, when I begin a sentence and pause, there seems to be more open space than it used to be. So I’m trying to be more methodical with memory.

There’s a wonderful book by Jonathan Spence called, “The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci” about a sixteenth century Jesuit priest who went to China with a memory method where you visualize rooms inside your head. A memory palace: where each cabinet or picture, each chair or table in the palace holds the story of something you hold dear. That needs to be seen as part of the story I am going to retell.

So just imagine that all this is taking place inside your head. You’re spending the day minding your thoughts, watching your concerns, keeping busy shepherding the various constituencies that are part of your daily existence: whether that has to do with your job or family, parents partners or children; has to do with money, health, power or poetry; love, life or death: all those concerns wandering like sheep over the meadows and mountains of your mind (And I apologize if this sounds like a 1970s song).

Then something new happens. You are surprised by a message that comes from someplace you have never considered before. The word we translate as angel originally simply meant meant “messenger;” so pretend that a messenger (maybe several, or even lots of them) arrives on the scene and you have this intuition, insight, that they are coming from someplace that is both deeper, higher, larger than the world you usually inhabit. And they tell you something new: that there is a new way of being, of living, becoming, in the world, and you need to leave aside your taken for granted everyday concerns and attend to this new possibility. These messengers may have wings, they may be in space suits, they may be dressed in an unremarkable manner; but it is their message which matters, which surprises you into taking a new step in moving towards a new discovery of how to be in the world, of how to be who you are.

So you leave your flocks, those habitual concerns, and let them take care of themselves for a little while, and you follow this promising message to an incongruous destination and find yourself witnessing something that is absolutely newborn.

No birth happens in a vacuum. This one has been nurtured and mothered in the midst of surprise and miracle, there is a husbanding hope and help alongside, and all the animals of every day life are there as well. This all makes sense to the way you see the world: odd, but not too unusual. Yet there is something completely newborn in the middle of it. Something you never thought you’d see.

Any baby is a surprise. They all used to look like Winston Churchill, and even now they seem to bring a message from another place, they’re not quite with us yet. And this baby is like that, except more so.

An English theologian from the 1950s talked about something called “God-shaped events”: assume for the moment that the word “God” might mean something concerning holiness, justice, compassion, connectedness, truth, love. And sometimes we can see small packages containing those events or transactions carried, acted out in the life of others, as well as in our own lives.
Actually I would be surprised if there were anyone in this room today who had not been at least once amazed by some surprise of caring, a “God-shaped” event they have received from another person; an unexpected gift, a quality of presence, a reaching out in love.

And it is as if this baby, in this stable that seems surprisingly unstable, both carries and is carried by that deepest current of love. It is as if the child is both a wide window into and a window, a vista, in which a depth and height and breadth, of caring is face to face with you. If the earlier messengers spoke a word of hope and holiness, then this infant is a symphony, is Technicolor and 3-D and special effects beyond belief, and in looking at this child you see yourself and the world you thought you lived in, anew.

And this is all happening inside your head. Except that your head seems to be open to something bigger than itself, bigger than what you usually think of as the world, and you have this strange perception, call it a hope, that this is bigger than you know, that the baby may be the truth of how we are related to the center of everything, to the edge of everything, to everything and everyone we know. And it has to do with love, being born in love, traveling in love, making mistakes and failing miserably, and rising up again to begin again in the name of love.

So if that is the case, then this baby, this new beginning, isn’t just happening in your head. It’s happening in the world you live in day to day, in the world of history, institutions, expectations, culture, here and now as well is there and then. And you look around at this church and the people gathered, at the old books, the strange robes, the stained glass and see a tradition and community gathered in the hope that this is at the heart of reality.

A wise man once said, “Look at everything, look at anything, until it surprises you, until it tells you something you don’t know.” I’d say this: look at the story: Luke, Joseph, Mary, Bethlehem, the shepherd and the angels, as well as the tradition, and the hope of this place, and the hope you carry in your own heart; and see if this perception, tradition, community gathered over time and space can offer you a way to deepen your daily experience of connectedness and compassion and caring for yourself and your neighbor and the stranger too.

Then go back to your daily concerns, shepherding them in your everyday fields, but remembering the Angels as well, the newborn truth, remember the possibility of compassion and connectedness, that it all may be true.

In the name of Christ. Amen

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advent 2, Christ Church, Beechworth

A few weeks ago, talking of Celtic Spirituality, I quoted a favorite prayer by an Irish poet who asks Christ to... “Keep our eyes heavenward and our pity fresh lest we grow hard,” and this season, this Advent moving us to the birth of Jesus, works well for all that. Advent is a stretching time; the lessons we hear in this season, the voices of the prophets, apocalyptic visions, mixtures of mystery and promise, all work to “keep our eyes heavenward and our pity fresh” as we wait for the wondrous child who comes to make our world newborn, stretching us out to Christmas and beyond into a new world of relationship with God in the life of Christ.

The season of Advent begins, and the seasons of the whole church year provide, a way to travel with Christ and the church into the very height and breadth and depth of what it means to be a human being in company with God. For our own journey, learning to live in the light of God’s love, which we see in the birth and growth, life, the teaching and healing, the death and resurrection of Jesus; all this can be joined in the church’s journey from Advent through Christmas to Epiphany, from Lent to Good Friday through Easter and on to Pentecost.

We sing, “Advent tells us Christ is near,” and our own Advent can come with a yearning to be closer of God, with an surprising urge to take ourselves more seriously, to an awareness that God is closer to us than we know, that God has gifted us (and this needs to be carefully said) with a kind of personal presence, a Christmas present in our souls. So that the birth of Jesus, might mean taking the chance that in the very centre of each of us there is a very specific and unique aspect of God’s love and focus and presence to be found, to be born. And we receive this gift as we accept the unique configuration of talents and trials and likes, dislikes, of who we are and who we are to be, in sharing the gifts of our own unique calling and identity.

So if each one of us carries a present from God, then letting God love the world through our unique love takes us to the Epiphany, the place where God’s light shines through, shows through, the ministry of our life: this means being where we are, living where we are, loving life as we can: simply sharing the journey wholeheartedly, telling our good news in God’s good light.

That good news means hard work, because every light throws a shadow; and to walk that walk, to take on Jesus’ truth (which is the truth about our own destiny, our own true face as well as the ultimate truth, the deepest face of our neighbor), we have to will to let God’s bright light shine on the darker aspects of our own life and the life of the world around us. We have to learn to look at all things - in us and around us - with two questions: What is this to love? Where does this live in truth? And some things simply don’t live in love or truth. They fade out and burn away in that bright light, as they should, because they aren’t really real. So sometimes our growing “enlightenment,” our willing participation to live in God’s light and truth, can burn, can hurt like hell.

I remember walking though a park in San Francisco some years ago and seeing a sign on a fence built to keep people from walking across a newly seeded hillside. It said, "Short Cuts Cause Erosion!" I take that as a four-word definition of sin: a history of people taking shortcuts across other peoples lives, across geography, history, politics, sexuality, ethics, economics and religion too. So to decide not to take shortcuts in living life with Jesus and his friends means wrestling with whatever problems, predicaments, manifestations of evil, "demons", come your way; whether from your own history or that of your people, your culture. This is often the next stop on the journey, the desert of Lent, not an easy place to be.

For Lent is the times when the sky gets dark and the shadows go long, a place where we can learn to meet and treat these demons and pains and questions as ways to God. Surprisingly often, even as if they were questions from God, ways and places that can lead us to live closer to the almighty love. It is not an easy road, honoring and caring for the pain of the world, in ourselves and in others, by witnessing the places where God’s love and God’s beloved are crucified, damaged, done to death to this very day. It takes effort and time, and it can hurt terribly - it made Jesus weep – for it takes us inevitably to the middle of Good Friday, the day when hope will die.

But by the gift of God and san always surprising grace we live through that Good Friday, that death-time, into a new certainty of life, an experience of Easter that somehow transcends death, comes from beyond ourselves, opens us into a continuing and deeper participation in God’s creativity, where we can sharpen up both our questions and our hope, can live larger into the answers.

So living life in the light of the resurrection calls for a new kind of language of passion and understanding, calls us to learn new words for God’s love and mercy, majesty and intimacy, calls us to be a new word for God, speaking to people and in places where that word might not otherwise be heard. And in that place we can come to our own Pentecost, where God’s spirit speaks loud in the witness of our daily lives. It will not always last, but we will remember.

But how can we live with life this large? Partly, I think, in mystery, through prayer, and as a willing part of a living community that is committed to share the journey over the years, through numerous seasons of bloom and drought, from Advent through Advent and Easter to Easter; a community where we can tell the stories, say the prayers, eat and drink in light of God’s recreation in the world as companions, “bread-sharers;” taking it one moment at a time with very small steps. And with a seasonal, but always growing hope that the end of the day, the end of the journey, the end of life itself, may be found in love.

John the Baptist, The Apostle Paul and Timothy, this coming Christ; all bright lights, bright stars that cross the skies, keeping our pity fresh and our eyes heavenward, giving us good news that comes from a long way away, good news that will come very close.

Listen to Paul’s writings:

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the Gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ

Advent is here; a time to turn around to be renewed in hope, that we may be awake and alert, watching, in the joyful task of responding to the love of God which we come to know in the whole life of Christ. It is time to begin again.

Friday, December 04, 2009

And here's a pic!

A sermon to be shared...

Ordination of Robert Whalley to the Diaconate. Wangaratta. 4.12.09
Ps 15 Gal. 6:7-10 Mt 13:47-52
Again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind.

At weddings, I usually begin by saying that John and Jenny have already made their commitment to each other and that what they are doing today is making that commitment public, before family and friends and before God, asking for both God’s blessing on their relationship and the support of family and friends in their journey ahead as man and wife.

Robert has long since committed himself to Christian ministry and stands before us today an experienced teacher and preacher of God’s word, a wise practitioner in spiritual direction, prayer and meditation and - as a former chaplain to tertiary institutions - experienced in counseling and pastoral care. For quite some time, Robert has sought to have his baptismal ministry newly “ordered”; that is, to respond to and to test a calling to ordained ministry, with the visible authority and specific responsibilities it carries. The Church, in its turn, has found Robert both suited to, and fit for, the office of Deacon. Like the man and woman who have already made their commitment to each other, Robert is today asking for the support of us all in the household of faith and for the gift of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands by the Bishop: an outward and visible sign of the grace of Holy Orders, in which Robert’s Christian discipleship continues, and under which his ministry as a baptized person is from henceforth re-expressed.

Today, the Anglican Church celebrates the witness of Nicholas Ferrar, founder of the religious household at Little Gidding, that tiny community of family and friends who in 1626 in rural Cambridgeshire dedicated themselves to a life of daily prayer and service to others. Though the community barely lasted 20 years, so profound was the sanctity of their Christian lifestyle that Little Gidding is still today one of those ‘thin places’ spoken of in Celtic spirituality where two worlds meet, holy places where one might encounter God as Moses encountered God on Mt Sinai, a place indeed immortalized by T.S.Eliot in the last of his 4 Quartets as a place where “prayer has been valid.” The liturgical guide to Lesser Feasts says of Nicholas Ferrar, rather summarily, that after his business collapsed “he took deacon’s orders and retired to the country!” What actually went on at Little Gidding was Christ’s mission to the world in microcosm - a daily round of prayer issuing in service to others - concern for the spiritual and physical needs of the local people and the education of their children.

In whatever arena - province or hamlet - the Church’s ministry to the world is a response to God’s love as revealed to us in Jesus, a response to Christ expressed in service to others, to work for the good of all as Paul says in today’s Epistle. Paul’s concept of Christian love in action is the renewal of all individual lives and, as such, he sees the whole world as our parish. The kingdom of Heaven is offered to all. It is” like a net” says Jesus “that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind.” - all sorts and conditions. And implicit in Christ’s saying is that all alike need that which is offered so that - as expressed in the Collect for Christ the King - all the “people of the earth, divided and enslaved by sin, may be freed and brought together under his gentle and loving rule.” This is the work of Christ to bring health and healing, meaning and hope to all humankind; the work of the Church, “the only institution” William Temple reminds us, “that exists for the benefit of those who don’t belong to it.”

All Christians are by their baptism engaged in Christ’s ministry to the world, but those ordained into the Church catholic’s threefold order have a special responsibility because they serve a public and representative function. As representative of the Church in society the office carries enormous responsibility and accountability; and as representative of Christ, as an alter Christus invested with Christ’s power to heal, cleanse, and renew - powers given to the disciples - the sacred office of the ordained minister is one of immense privilege.

I referred earlier to thin places’ spoken of in Celtic spirituality. John Pritchard has described priests as ‘thin’ people in whom may be sensed a world beyond, where God is, where people can be made to feel “at home’ with God. Or to put it another way, to use the words of Jesus’ wonderful invitation to those who would come unto him, where people may find rest for their souls.

In describing his visit to the shrine of St Simon Stylites in the Syrian desert, Christopher Moody noticed on the plains below the shrine numerous hostels set up to welcome pilgrims and comments he suddenly became aware of the close association between pilgrims, travel and hospitality. First, the huge variety of people drawn to the shrine, fish of every kind; and as they approached that which they sought - nearness to God - places to stop and find rest, hostels wherein to find shelter, comfort, something of God’s hospitality.

The Anglican Tradition has it that ministry is primarily pastoral - designed to attract people into the love of God, to bear the grief's and carry the sorrows of God’s people, heal the broken spirit and bind up their wounds, bring Christ’s healing and deliverance to a broken, harassed and helpless world. The Need is universal; the response by the Church of Jesus Christ is to all God’s people, to fish of every kind, even if that response is sometimes met with by indifference, hostility, and rejection: As the poet R.S.Thomas writes: The Priest picks his way through the parish / Eyes watch him, from the windows, the farms/ Hearts wanting him to come near/ The flesh rejects him! But the sacred ministry - even in the context of this increasingly secular and agnostic society - still has the power to attract, to heal, cleanse and to renew lives, to offer people God’s hospitality, a place where two worlds meet.

In ministry to the sick and dying we see it again and again. One old chap in Cabrini’s Palliative Care Hospital said to me recently, “I’m C of E, Padre, but my wife and I never go to church. To be honest, I’ve never really understood it!” We avoid talk of God, but he tells me his story over and over, always accepts God’s Blessing and weeps at the touch of my hand on his brow.

A colleague told me of a man who declared he was an atheist and had no need of a supreme being. The Chaplain replied she wasn’t so sure about a supreme being either! But in the course of several conversations, in which Jack Spong proved to be of common interest, the fellow one day remarked, half jokingly, he no longer minded the crucifix in his room. When the Chaplain took her leave for the weekend and obviously couldn’t offer a Blessing to an atheist, she light-heartedly suggested instead a peck on the cheek. “Oh, please” he responded. Quite unexpectedly, the man died that night.

The person in Holy Orders is widely perceived as a God-person, an alter Christus, as someone with Christ’s power to offer rest, comfort, encouragement, mercy and forgiveness, the love and hospitality of God, proximity to the shrine, nearness to God, a place where two worlds meet.

There is, however, nothing special about any of us called to be ordained. It is a sobering reminder that we are no better than anyone when every day we come in contact with people of greater faith and virtue. And it’s encouraging to note that the first disciples, chosen, commissioned and sent out by Jesus, were fragile human beings like us.

Rob, may you continue to delight in your vocation as a servant of Christ, and may your ordination this morning mark for you a wonderful beginning in a new kind of ministry. May you rejoice and pray without ceasing to the one who has called you to this service, and in all circumstances give thanks - for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

Stephen Miles

A Prayer to God the Father on the Vigil of Pentecost

Today, Father, this blue sky lauds you. The delicate green and orange flowers of the tulip poplar tree praise you. The distant blue hills praise you together with the sweet-smelling air that is full of brilliant light. The bickering flycatchers praise you together with the lowing cattle and the quails that whistle over there. I too, Father, praise you, with all these my brothers, and they all give voice to my own heart and to my own silence. We are all one silence and a diversity of voices.

You have made us together, you have made us one and many, you have placed me here in the midst as witness, as awareness, and as joy. Here I am. In mew the world is present and you are present. I am a link in the chain of light and of presence. You have made me a kind of centre, but a centre that is nowhere. And yet I am “here,” let us say I am “here” under these trees, not others.

For a long time I was in darkness and in sorrow, and I suppose my confusion was my own fault. No doubt my own will has been the root of my sorrow, and I regret it merciful father, but I do not regret it because this formula is acceptable as an official answer to all problems. I know I have sinned, but the sin is not to be found in any list. Perhaps I have looked to hard at all the lists to find out what my sin was and I did not know that it was precisely the sin of looking at all the lists when you were telling me that this was useless. My “sin” is not on the list, and is perhaps not even a sin. In any case I cannot know what it is, and doubtless there is nothing there anyway.

Whatever may have been my particular stupidity, the prayers of your friends and my own prayers have somehow been answered and I am here, in this solitude, before you, and I am glad because you see me here. For it here, I think, that you want to see me, and I am seen by you. My being here is a response you have asked of me, to something I have not clearly heard. But I have responded, and I am content: there is little to know about it at present.

Here you ask of me nothing else than to be content that I am your Child and your Friend. Which simply means to accept your friendship because it is your friendship and your Fatherhood because I am your son. This friendship is Son-ship and is Spirit. You have called me here to be repeatedly born in the Spirit as your son. Repeatedly born in light, in knowledge, in unknowing, in faith, in awareness, in gratitude, in poverty, in presence and in praise.

If I have any choice to make, it is to live here and perhaps die here. But in any case it is not the living or the dying that matter, but speaking your name with confidence in this light, in this unvisited place: to speak your name of “Father” just by being here as “son” in the Spirit and the Light which you have given , and which are no unearthly light but simply this plain June day, with its shining fields, its tulip trees, the pines, the woods, the clouds and the flowers everywhere.

To be here with the silence of Sonship in my heart is to be a centre in which all things converge upon you. That is surely enough for the time being.

Therefore Father, I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn from it the word of your peace and the word of your mercy and the word of your gentleness to the world: and that through me perhaps your word of peace may make itself heard where it has not been possible for anyone to hear it for a long time.

To study truth here and learn here to suffer for truth.

The Light itself, and the contentment and the Spirit, these are enough.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Two Prayers from the American Prayer Book

Back from retreat, settling down to sleep and trying not to get in the way of what's happening tomorrow. The retreat was very good, now I just need to listen and pray, not necessarily in that order.

These two prayers in the American BCP have always meant a lot to me, especially tonight.

The FIrst one really hit me my first semester at CDSP in 1980 and still speaks to me:

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look 
favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred 
mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry 
out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world 
see and know that things which were being cast down are being 
raised up, and things which had grown old are being made 
new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection 
by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus 
Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity 
of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Then yesterday I remembered this prayer. I kept a copy of it around for years and used it as part of daily devotions during a short period when I had a disciplined intercessory prayer routine. I found out later that it was written by William Temple.

A Prayer of Self-Dedication

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord 
and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.