Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


(Photo of uprooted tree following Hurricane Sandy, Summit, NJ, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A Litany for the Aftermath of Severe Acts of Weather
by Maria L. Evans

Eternal God, you are the ground of all being.
Comfort those who find themselves on shaky ground
in the days following nature's devastating power.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

For those who have suffered loss of life as a result of nature's wrath,
we ask for the repose of their souls.
For those who grieve their loss and those injured,
we ask for your healing touch upon their hearts and in their lives.
For those who have returned to total or severe loss of property,
we ask for them to glimpse a glimmer of hope within disorienting devastation.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Author of creation, your handiwork reveals you continually make all things new.
Reveal the green and growing places that rise from the heart of tragedy;
Strength to rebuild,
Courage to be led into new directions,
and acceptance of what is gone forever.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of transformation, we also seek your presence in the hearts of those spared by this tragedy.
Grant them a generous spirit,
a willing heart,
and an open hand towards the displaced, the traumatized, and the fearful.
In the name of Jesus Christ, who preached that the first shall be last, and the last shall be first,
We humbly pray.


(Arial view of Hurricane Sandy, October 23, 2012, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A Litany for Those in the Path of Seasonal Storms
by Maria L. Evans

Sovereign God, you are master of the mighty wind and torrential rain,
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

All-knowing God, you know each boat on the stormy sea and each soul aboard it:  Mighty tanker, tiny tugboat, stately sailboat, and Coast Guard cutter.  Grant your peace to all who weather the tempest and strain to reach land or punch through the storm.  Especially be present with those whose life and work is to search for the lost and rescue the perishing at sea.
 In your mercy, hear our prayer.

All-perceiving God, stretch your hand upon those on land in the path of this storm, and those who have been affected by it: The displaced, the evacuated, and those who bring aid in times of peril--first responders, power and light crews, and disaster relief.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

Comforter God, shelter all who fear for their own lives or the lives of others during this storm.  Comfort especially those families with a loved one whose whereabouts are unknown.
In your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lord God, king of the universe, you are the God of deliverance; the God whose Son walked on water over the stormy seas; the God of the covenant of the rainbow.  Help us to take heart in the face of terror, stand firm in our faith in You in the cloud of unknowing, and carry us forward into rebuilding a future once the path of destruction has subsided.  In the name of your Son who commands the wind and the waves to do his will, we humbly pray.


("The Rich Young Man Went Away Sorrowful," by James Tissot, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Mark 10:17 - 31:

As he was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

It's a heavy Gospel this week, and I suspect a lot of people who are expected to be in the pulpit Sunday are wondering, "What am I supposed to do with this one?"

I can't even imagine what it must be like to preach this one to a well-heeled congregation...or a dirt poor one...especially during "stewardship season."  (I can just envision all the folks in the pews thinking, "Yeah, and he/she is gonna tell me, "Pledge it to the church!  Pffft.")

We really struggled with it in our Tuesday Text Study and Eucharist.  Worse yet, we hold our text study in the dining room of one of the local nursing homes.  The irony was not lost on me that we were discussing this whole "sell all that you have and give it to the poor" paradox in a place where many of the folks there ARE selling all that they have, so they'll be down to their last $999.99 to be eligible for Medicaid to pick up the tab on their nursing home.  They are spending all that they have so they will BE one of the poor, so they can get the care they need.

Actually, the text is a double paradox.  In that way Mark likes to string things together in pairs, we first experience the rich young man's sorrow at Jesus' reply to his question.  In his mind, eternal life seems nigh onto impossible.  In the second half of the text, we see Jesus once again having to put the slapdown on Peter:

Peter:  "But Jesus, we DID do that, we dropped everything and followed you.  You did notice that, right?"

Jesus:  "Yep, Peter, I did.  And you will be paid a hundredfold for that--in crap.  Trust me on this one.  

I thought about that in the context of my year-and-a-half long house remodeling.  I am now at the phase where I joke that I'm repatriating my house now.  I'm starting to move things back in, out of what I didn't toss or give away during the "gutting the house" phase that preceded this present phase.  As many of you know, I tossed and gave away quite a bit. But as I'm starting to put things in the proper storage spots in the closet and in the house, I am opening the packed boxes and throwing out the things I couldn't seem to do in the first round.  Every box I've opened, I've looked at at least one thing in each box where I went, "I can't keep all this, I've got to throw even more of this stuff out."  Lots of things that made the first cut are not making the second cut.

This activity has reminded me that we are NEVER finished when it comes to the process of "throwing out our crap."  There's always something more we can give up.  Just when we think we've done it right, we look around and go, "Well, really, that there thing can go, too."  Not only that, when we do get around to throwing those things out, and feeling good about it, someone always comes along and tells you what a dumb idea it was for you to throw it out.  "But you might NEED that!  You'll be sorry when you find that out."

What's intriguing about this story, I think, is that in some ways, what Jesus is saying is not meant to be taken literally (otherwise, we'd all be running around naked a la St. Francis renouncing his fine clothing in the middle of town)--yet, in some ways we are ABSOLUTELY supposed to take this story literally.  It's about choosing our relationship with God over our relationship with "stuff."

What Jesus is telling the rich young man, I believe, is, "If eternal life is all about checking off all the correct actions and good works, well, then, it's impossible for people to do it on their own.  Eternal life is not a scavenger hunt. Eternal life is about being in relationship with God and community in such a loving way that we would even give up the things that matter to us the most in order to sit in that state of love.  Are you ready to be open to the possibility you are asking to love God THAT much?"

Yet at the same time, he tells Peter and the disciples that someone who does choose to follow him are not going to be understood--AT ALL--by those closest to us.  

To truly live the Gospel is a dangerous and scandalous business, and comes with no guarantee other than being aware of the power of the love of God to the point you will always find something new to give away.  It means you'll want that love not just for yourself, but for others.  It means that for that deep a love, you'll agree to live in a world where the scrawny person gets to sit at the head of the table, the last one to the party gets to come home with the best participation gifts, and the kid whose last name starts with the letter Z gets to graduate first.  It means money and possessions will always get in the way when you least expect it, because money and possessions are the gold standard of our delusion of control. The world continually tells us, "If you have enough of that stuff, you will be okay.  You will be safe.  You will be content."

Of course, then we discover what any addict knows.  There's never enough.  We will always want more, and getting it is never as good as the first time we had it.  To live the Gospel is to accept we already have more than enough, no matter what, and it's enough to share with others.

What is lurking around the corner in each of our lives that puts us one step closer to living the scandalous Gospel lifestyle?



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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