Prayers for Santa Fe, Texas

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

Søren Kierkegaard


(Julie Cook / 2018)

I was a high school art teacher for 31 years.

I loved my kids and I struggled with my kids.

The gifted,
the complicated,
the defiant,
the quiet,
the creative,
the difficult,
the angry,
the arrogant,
the athletic,
the popular,
the shy,
the academic,
the immature,
the kind,
the thoughtful,
the thoughtless,
the selfish,
the forgotten,
the struggler,
the spoiled,
the average,
the happy,
the sad,
the hard to crack…

My heart aches for Santa Fe High School and her entire community.
For those who have loved ones who will not be coming home at the end
of this school year.

Once again we are a nation wrapped in our shock, our sorrow, and our grief.

There are no clear-cut answers or explanations.
Anger, resentment, hate, indifference, intolerance, evil…
these are not simple issues.
Issues with no apparent clear-cut single solution …

Yet before we point our fingers, rile in our righteous indignation,
demand change or drown in our own emotionalism…
let us remember the families who are hurting…
families who are going through the unimaginable weight of unspeakable loss.

Let us mourn with them and for them.
As their arms ache to hold those they love just one more time.

May we ask a God, who is far greater than ourselves, to help us find our way.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord;
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live;
and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

I know that my Redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;
and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God;
whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold,
and not as a stranger.

For none of us liveth to himself,
and no man dieth to himself.
For if we live, we live unto the Lord.
and if we die, we die unto the Lord.
Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord;
even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors.
The Book of Common Prayer
Burial of the Dead, Rite I

say it like it is

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once.
It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time.
Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

Corrie ten Boom


(My local peter cottontail hiding amongst the grass / Julie Cook / 2018)

Yesterday while scrolling through my reader of blogs that I subscribe to, I came upon the
latest offering by Elihu over on Elihu’s Corner—
‘If you worry about it, You can pray about it’
(full post here:https://elihuscorner.com/2018/05/16/if-you-worry-about-it-you-can-pray-about-it/)

It was a personal reflection about worry— to be more specific, a worry verbalized by
her youngest daughter.
Elihu reminded us that no matter how insignificant a worry may be,
it is always important enough to offer it up to God—
Offering it up to God no matter how small or insignificant that worry may seem outwardly
to others.
Because as we all know, our worries are our worries and it matters not what anyone else
may think…because that worry is ours and therefore it is significant…
no matter what others may try telling us.

But it wasn’t so much the notion about praying or actually petitioning God over a
concern that stood out to me as I certainly already understood that and have always done that.
I know that there are all sort of prayers with one of the biggest being a prayer
of petition.

In the Book of Common Prayer, that ancient Anglican book of instruction dating
to 1549, the following direction precedes the various forms of
petitionary prayers:
The Prayers of the People
Prayer is offered with intercession for

The Universal Church, its members, and its mission
The Nation and all in authority
The welfare of the world
The concerns of the local community
Those who suffer and those in any trouble
The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)

Any of the forms which follow may be used.

Adaptations or insertions suitable to the occasion may be made.

Any of the forms may be conformed to the language of the Rite being
used.

A bar in the margin indicates petitions which may be omitted.

The Celebrant may introduce the Prayers with a sentence of invitation
related to the occasion, or the season, or the Proper of the Day.

So I certainly grew up understanding the act of putting things before God while
imploring His aid and assistance…
however here, in Elihu’s posting, I had that “aha moment”…
that sudden realization that the act of coming before God with my worries goes well beyond
petitionary prayer… so much so that I’ve now figured out, a peaceful knowing now deep in my bones,
that it’s certainly ok and even perfectly fine to simply let God know, ‘hey, I’m worried’
simple as that…
“I’m worried”

No long drawn out wording of the best way to present a situation before God…
no tendency to lean toward to the begging, the yearning all accented by a
growing and heightened sense of panic…

No formal “dear Lord hear my prayers” is necessary as I would have normally proceeded to
fill in the blank with whatever it was I was offering up…
but rather the revelation here was that, just like I might confide to a close friend or
confident the heaviness of a real concern or worry over some issue or over someone,
here I could simply do the same in the same simple language that I would use with any friend…
with that friend just happening to be my loving Father.

“God, I’m just worried…”

A pretty simple statement I might share with a friend…
A pretty simple prayer I can share with Abba…as in Father…
all because He already knows.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with
thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Might a new day be dawning????

“When the church redefines sin and eliminates repentance,
it can no longer offer the good news of eternal salvation from sin in Jesus;
the church no longer remains distinctly Christian;
it is no longer salt and light in the world,”

(excerpt from the Southwark Declaration nailed to a Cathedral door)


(recent Southwark Declaration grievances nailed to the doors of Rochester Cathedral)

And so it has begun…

And I for one rejoice!!!

Almost 500 years to the day, over the course of the past 48 hours,
a band of “back to the Bible” disgruntled, dare we say it, Orthodox Anglicans
have followed in the footsteps of Luther and set about nailing,
or in most cases tacking or taping, a two page document of grievances
to the doors of Anglican Cathedrals across the UK.

The document is known as the Southwark Declaration named for the
Diocese of Southwark in which the original letter was composed.

According to an article in PJ Media written by Tyler O’Neil…
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, anonymous evangelical Anglicans posted
a 95 Theses-style complaint on the doors of five British cathedrals.
The first complaints went up on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting
of the 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany,
and the documents pinned to the doors referenced Luther in calling for the Church of England to follow the Bible on LGBT issues.

“500 years ago Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to a church door in Germany,”
one document reads.
“He did it because the church had become corrupt.
Today a Declaration is being fixed to a cathedral door here in England because the Established Church in our land is becoming corrupt.”

“The Church of England claims it has not changed its doctrine but its practice
on the ground has already changed: clergy are adopting lifestyles which are not
biblical and teaching that such lifestyles are holy in the sight of God,”
the document explained.
“This revisionism is causing a crisis not only in Southwark Diocese but across
the whole of the Church of England.”

You can read the full article here:
https://pjmedia.com/faith/anglicans-pin-95-theses-style-complaint-on-lgbt-issues-to-doors-of-5-uk-cathedrals/

The Vicar of St. James’ Church of Westgate-On-Sea, The Reverend Stephen Rae, has
opted not to remain anonymous but rather has publicly admitted to nailing the
document to the doors of Canterbury Cathedral….the Cathedral at the very heart of Anglicanism and the Church of England.

“It is with great sadness that I posted the Southwark Declaration in Canterbury
Cathedral,”
Reverend Stephen Rae, vicar of St. James’ Church, Westgate-On-Sea,
told PJ Media in a statement.
“This building that stands sentinel over the Church of England has been a symbol of Anglican leadership with, perhaps, the greatest global reach for centuries.”

“Now it has become synonymous with abdication and dereliction of duty;
it stands accused as a distracted and negligent parent that has abandoned
its children,”
Rae added.
He quoted Ephesians, noting that the apostle Paul called “the faithful
under-shepherd” to “guard the flock against the wolves that would seek to
enter the fold.”

Citing the ordination oath the Church of England, Rae added,
“We are not merely to assert biblical truth.
We who have been entrusted with the precious gospel that speaks life into the
hearts of wretched sinners are also called to drive away anything that would lead the flock away and into judgment.”

“God never calls his people to innovate in matters of first importance,”
the vicar concluded.
“If a leader of the church does this, he has misunderstood his calling.
We are to hold out the radically inclusive gospel that leads to repentance and faith. Playing fast and loose with what God really meant when he said what he said never
turns out well.”

The Southwark Declaration

As clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Southwark:

We affirm the divine inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and their supreme authority
in all matters of faith and conduct.

We affirm with Canon A5 that ‘the doctrine of the Church of England
is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers
and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures.’’

We affirm, with Article XX, that ‘it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any
thing that is contrary to God’s Word written.’

We affirm the teaching of Scripture (Genesis 2.24, Mark 10. 7, Matthew 19.5),
the Book of Common Prayer, and Canon B30 (‘Of Holy Matrimony’)
that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life.

We affirm it is the one God-ordained context for sexual intercourse.

We affirm resolution 1.10 on human sexuality of the Lambeth Conference (1998).

We call upon all the Bishops, Archdeacons, and the senior staff of the Diocese,
alongside all clergy and licensed lay ministers, to affirm these truths,
live by them, and to teach in accordance with them.

We call upon the Bishops to appoint to positions of teaching authority
only those who hold to these truths in good conscience.

“Where leaders refuse to repent and submit themselves to the Word of God, the Lord raises up new leadership for His church and new structures: just as He did through Martin Luther 500 years ago.”
(closing excerpt from the “nailed up” Anglican Southwark Declaration)

More on all of this tomorrow but for now, let us allow all of this to sink in…
slowly…
as we pray for the brave vicar and others who are speaking up,
stepping up and letting it be known that the Gospel of Jesus Christ
and the Word of God will stand…despite man’s attempt to alter it or change it
to suit his or her desires….

when feeling insignificantly small

“If you once realize that to-morrow,
if not to-day, you will die and nothing will be left of you,
everything becomes insignificant!”

Leo Tolstoy


(a lone little sanderling eyes both sea and beach / Julie Cook / 2017)

The morning reading began with a portion of Psalm 119.

Incline my heart to your decrees and not to unjust gain.
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless, give me life in your ways…

Psalm 119:37

The reading was actually verses 33-40 but it was verse 37 that actually reached
out and grabbed me by both shoulders.
It shook me so hard and fast that it caused me to reread what I had just read twice!

I grabbed a pen.

I underlined.

I digested.

And then I felt a sense of a galactic knowingness…an invisible nod from a great
and distant Source that approvingly found satisfaction in the
“by jove, I believe she’s got it” moment of knowing.

I think it was the part about “turning my eyes from watching what is worthless….
give me [rather] life in YOUR ways….”
(with accent and brackets being mine…).

Turn…me…from…worthless…to…You….

in a nutshell!

Maybe it’s because that’s what I’ve been doing all these many months.
I’ve been watching this whole global and national situation as if being some sort
of innocent bystander.
Someone who is watching madness unfold yet is either being held hostage or is
helpless to do anything of any real significance to stop the madness.
As both society and culture…careen out of control.

And then there came the readings closing prayer….

Grant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly;
and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away,
to hold fast to those that shall endure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Collect for the Sunday closest to Sept 23rd, Book of Common Prayer

As in let me not be anxious, fretful, depressed, overwhelmed, sad, frustrated
about earthly things…BUT [rather] love things heavenly…hold fast to that which will endure—that being Jesus Christ who lives and reigns along with the Holy Spirt
and the One True God…for ever and ever…

And whereas I have at time felt very much like a small insignificant David standing in the shadow of an overwhelming Goliath….as the world and her ills have appeared more than challenging, more than daunting, more than overwhelming…
as I add to that my own more seemingly insignificant yet equally comsumming
issues of life, God has spoken…
He has not forgotten as He remains consistent and steadfast…
Nothing is too great or too overwhelming for a great and Awesome God…

And the people were heard to say AMEN!

How do we remember

“Well I won’t back down
No I won’t back down
You can stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down”

Tom Petty

dscn4315
(my son’s 7th grade school picture shortly following 9/11–
the kids all made the small flag pin he has pinned to his shirt—we still have the pin)

How is it that we remember?
How do we mark those important moments in life?
How do we best remember them–both good and bad?

From the perspective of a parent, it is most likely by our children.
how old they were…
where they were…
what they were doing…

My son was in the 7th grade that fateful September day.
It was a warm Georgia, clear blue sky, kind of day.

With razor sharp precision,
we remember exactly where and when,
on those earth shattering days when tragedy strikes…
as life suddenly stands still.

Life stopped in time,
that New York, clear blue sky, fateful Septemeber day.

Life stopped in time,
that warm Pennsylvania September Tuesday morning.

Life stopped in time,
that typical September Tuesday morning in Washington D.C.

For thousands of Americans that September day,
life simply ceased.

Stopping forever for…
young and old,
male and female,
Black,
White,
Latino,
Asian…

For stopping and ceasing does not bother to discriminate nor separate.

Parents were suddenly gone.
Brothers were suddenly gone.
Grandparents were suddenly gone.
Sisters were suddenly gone.
Mothers,
Fathers,
Friends,
Husbands,
Wives,
Children
all suddenly gone.

With the breaking news…
those of us who were parents,
suddenly felt an innate urge to run and find our children.

It mattered not that they were at school, day care or with sitters
and that we were at work, or at school, or on business trips….
We wanted our children.

We wanted to run to them,
gathering them in our arms…
Wanting, needing, yearning to…
see them,
touch them,
hold them…
holding them close and tight in our arms—
reassuring ourselves that our small world was…
still safe,
still real,
still whole…

For thousands of Americans that clear blue sky Tuesday September 11th morning…
their worlds were broken…
forever…
for both those who were gone and for those who remained….

And the fact that those holes still remain in the hearts of those who survived…
or remain in those who simply remained,
left to carry on without those who they loved and still long to hold close…
that is something the rest of us must always remember…

Show us your mercy, O Lord;
And grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness;
Let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world;
For only in you can we live in safety.
Lord, keep this nation under your care;
And guide us in the way of justice and truth.
Let your way be known upon earth;
Your saving health among all nations.
Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten;
Nor the hope of the poor be taken away.
Create in us clean hearts, O God;
And sustain us by your Holy Spirit.

Book of Common Prayer 1979

when it’s raining, you can bet it’ll be pouring

“Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life:
the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast.
The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

1 Peter 5:8-9

DSCN1044
(drying umbrellas, Killarney Park Hotel / Julie Cook / 2015

“When you cannot use your sword you may take to the weapon of all-prayer.
Your powder may be damp, your bow-string may be relaxed,
but the weapon of all-prayer need never be out of order.”

― Charles Haddon Spurgeon

There will days when it is best to have an umbrella at the ready…
And I’m not talking about being ready for the ever looming showers of Spring….

Our ancient adversary, the Prince of Darkness,
relishes raining assaults upon the heads of all Believers.
He does so to nonbelievers as well,
it’s just that they don’t realize what it is…but I digress.
Yet it is to the faithful who are the prime recipients…as Satan loathes all believers.

I am obviously living through a downpour at the current moment….
but I take courage.

I have always known that when God’s hand is clearly active, those times in our lives when His work is most evident and we are drawing ever closer, Satan will be relentless to severe any and all ties that bind—as He is most irritated by our drawing close and ever closer to our Lord.

It is at such times when we find ourselves victims of such never ending attacks,
that we must not be dismayed…
We mustn’t allow ourselves to be overcome by the relentless struggles and assaults…

Although that is so much easier said than done…

It is at such trying times that we must remain vigilant as well as tethered
to our faith…

To be vigilant in prayer.

Calling upon the name of the Savior…

Jesus Christ, Son of God…have mercy…

HELP…

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and
prayers, and dispose the way of thy servants towards the
attainment of everlasting salvation; that, among all the
changes and chances of this mortal life, they may ever be
defended by thy gracious and ready help; through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

Amen

(prayer, Book of Common Prayer)

Thanksgiving prayer

DSCN2197
(a pair of wild turkeys alert and hiding out in a mountain field / Cades Cove, TN / The Great Smokey Mountains National Park / Julie Cook / 2015)

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

(prayer of Thanksgiving /
The Book of Common Prayer / The Episcopal Church)