Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 11/27

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The day after Thanksgiving...

Forgive us, Lord, 

for yesterday's over-indulgence
and teach us at the same time 
not to waste what's ours in abundance
or hoard the goods 
that others need so much...

And as we plan and shop for Christmas
make us grateful first for all we have
and mindful, then, of others' needs
and generous in the ways we open up
our hearts and wallets to the poor...

Help us find the deeper meaning 
in the days that lie ahead:
what is holy, healing, helpful,
and what makes us truly happy,
in the gift you are for us...


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A short homily for Thanksgiving

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Because I believe:
   that God is with me 24/7/365…
   that God watches with care every step I take…
   that God hears every prayer I offer…
   that God wants nothing for me
      apart from all that is good…
   that God’s grace and mercy are inexhaustible…

And because I know:
   how lazy and foolish I can be…
   how inattentive and self-centered I can be…
   how I fail to respond to God’s love, that I sin…
   there’s so much about God that I cannot know…

Because of all of this, I’m sure:
   that I often miss many of the gifts God gives me…
   that I leave many of God’s gifts undiscovered, unopened…
   that God often gives me what I need
      but not packaged as I expected or hoped
      and so I don’t see it and I don’t find it…
   that I often don’t know what I need
      so I fail to find it when it comes…

I believe that besides all I’m thankful for
   on this Thanksgiving Day,
there are countless gifts and blessings from God
   that have totally escaped my attention…

Perhaps the same is true for all of us.
In fact, I believe the same is true for all of us.

So this Thanksgiving morning,
   let’s thank God for the gifts and blessings
      we’ve have failed to find and open….

Let’s pray that we learn to look, to search every day,
   with prayerful hope and expectation,
      for the many gifts God so generously gives…

And especially let us open our hearts this morning
   to the greatest gift God has ever given:
      the gift of Jesus, our Lord and Brother,
      in his Body and Blood, 
      in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.


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A Blogging Pastor's Thanksgiving Day Prayer

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Today I thank God
for the gift of faith:
   that strength, power and source within
   showing me the way,
   guiding me in the dark,
   giving me light for finding the truth
   making sure my unsteady step
   and offering hope in troubled times...

Today I thank God
for the gift of the Church:
   that wounded, rag-tag, joyful company
   of sinners and saints
   whose faith is our strength,
   and binds us together in Christ...

Today I thank God
for the people around me,
beside, behind and before me:
   who gave me life,
   who shaped my life;
   who bring me joy today
   and hope to face tomorrow...

Today I thank God for the simple tools
I've been given for doing his work:
   wonder, wits, wisdom, words and witness -
   though not always in that order!

Today I thank God for you, my readers:
   aliased, named or anonymous,
   commenting, "liking," sharing or silent;
you're solidly more than half of a work
that brings me more joy than you know...

For being there, reading and commenting,
for "liking," sharing and forwarding,
for coming back again and again:
I thank my God for you!

May God bless you and yours this day!

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Pause for Prayer: THANKSGIVING

In between rushing about the kitchen, setting the table, greeting guests, traveling to visit family and friends, watching the game and crashing on the sofa - we all need to pause and pray on this day for giving thanks...  This post includes a grace before dinner, a prayer by an empty chair, a midday prayer for Thanksgiving and a prayer for later in the afternoon...

Grace Before Thanksgiving Day Dinner

Saying Grace - Norman Rockwell

Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation!   

Through your goodness we have so much
for which to give you thanks and praise...

Make us grateful for all you've given us;
may our desire for more not blind us to all we have...

Make us grateful for all who love us;
may no grudge or anger keep us distant
from family and friends, neighbors and colleagues... 

Make us grateful for those who are with us;
may no grief isolate us from their loving embrace...

Make us grateful for the good work we have done:
may our mistakes and failures not weigh us down
or blind us to your mercy... 

Make us grateful for the freedom we enjoy;
may we never take it for granted...

Make us grateful for the peace we find in you;
let no other cause or victory take its place...

Make us grateful for our dreams;
let no disappointment keep us from hope... 

Make us grateful for our faith in you;
let no doubt cloud our trusting in your love...

Make us grateful for the meal we are about to share
and mindful of any and all who have so much less... 

Nourish and strengthen us
to change what keeps so many hungry
while others, like us, have more than we need...

Give us grateful hearts, O God, to praise and thank you:
in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,
in plenty and in want, in sorrow and in joy...

This is the day you have made, O Lord:
let us be glad and rejoice in it
and give you thanks and praise! 


 Praying with an empty chair at the table...

A Prayer at an Empty Chair 

This Thanksgiving, Lord, 
there’ll be an empty chair at our table,
an ache in our hearts
and tears on our cheeks...

We might shield others from our grief
but we can't hide it from you...

We pray for  (name your loved ones) 
whose loving presence we'll miss 
at this homecoming time...

Help us remember and tell again 
the stories that knit us as one
with the ones we miss so much...

Open our hearts to joyful memories 
of the love we shared
with those who've gone before us...

Let the bonds you forged so deep in our hearts
grow stronger yet 
in remembering those who've left our side... 

Help us pray and trust that those we miss
have a home in your heart
and a place at your table forever
and that one day we'll be one with them
once again...

Teach us to lean on you and on one another
for the strength we need 
to walk through these difficult days...

Open our eyes and our hearts 
to the healing, the warmth
and the peace of your presence...

Give us quiet moments with you in prayer,
with our memories and loss,
with our thoughts and tears...

Be with us to console us 
and hold us in your arms
as you hold the ones we miss...

Even in our grief, Lord,
this is the day that you have made:
help us be glad in the peace you've promised,
the peace we pray you share 
with those who've gone before us...

For ourselves, Lord,
and for all who find the holidays to be a difficult time,
we make this prayer...


A Midday Prayer on Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving Day...

Today I thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith:
that strength, power and source within
showing me the way,
guiding me in the dark,
making sure my faltering step,
giving light for finding truth
and hope for living gracefully
through trials and troubled times...

Today I thank you, Lord,  
for the gift of your Church:
that wounded, rag-tag, joyful company of saints and sinners
whose faith is my strength, binding us all together,
brothers and sisters in you and in your love...

Today I thank you, Lord, for all the people around me
and those behind me and before me:
the ones who've helped to make me the person I've become;
those who've loved me in ways too many to know or to imagine;
those who've loved me when I've failed to love them in return;
those who've pardoned and forgiven me with mercy and with grace;
those who've shared their joy with me, who fill my heart with peace
and who help me trust and know with hope
that you are ever by my side...

And today I thank you, Lord,
for all the people I have yet to meet
but will...

Today I thank you, Lord, for the mystery of your presence:
in everyone I know and meet;
in the simplest and most ordinary moments of each day;
and in the stillness, in the quiet
of the time I spend with you in prayer...

Today I praise and thank you, Lord,
for you are my God
from whom all blessings flow...


A poem for later on Thanksgiving Day

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From a friend who's a teacher, singer and poet, a reflection to share at the end of Thanksgiving Day...
This is the fifth year I've posted John's poem Thanksgiving and this year I'm pleased to add a video with John reading his own work and playing the background music. 


I am surprised sometimes
by the suddenness of November:
beauty abruptly shed
to a common nakedness--
grasses deadened
by hoarfrost,
persistent memories
of people I've lost.

It is left to those of us
dressed in the hard
barky skin of experience
to insist on a decorum
that rises to the greatness
of a true Thanksgiving.

This is not a game
against a badly scheduled team,
an uneven match on an uneven pitch.

This is Life.
This is Life.
This is Life.

Not politely mumbled phrases,
murmured with a practiced and meticulous earnestness.

Thanksgiving was born a breech-birth,
a screaming appreciation for being alive--
for not being one of the many
who didn't make it--
who couldn't moil through
another hardscrabble year
on tubers and scarce fowl.

Thanksgiving is for being you.
There are no thanks without you.

You are the power of hopeful promise;
you are the balky soil turning upon itself;
you are bursting forth in your experience.

You are not the person next to you--
not an image or an expectation.
You are the infinite and eternal you--
blessed, and loved, and consoled
by the utter commonness
and community of our souls.

We cry and we're held.
We love and we hold.

We are the harvest of God,
constantly renewed,
constantly awakened
to a new thanksgiving.
- John Fitzsimmons


Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 11/24

Thanksgiving's just a few days away, Lord,
and I want to be ready on Thursday
to thank you for all I have,
for all you've given me,
for what I have in abundance...

I want to remember the ways
you've helped me since Thanksgiving,
just last year...
Help me remember, Lord,
when your strength, not mine,
got me through the really hard times...

Help me remember
how, in your love,
you never left me alone...

Help me remember
your gift of your mercy
each time I strayed from your grace...

Help me remember
how each time I prayed
you were there to listen, to hear me...

Help me remember
the times I moved on
past things I thought I’d never survive...

Help me remember
you stayed by my side
when it seemed no one else was there...

Help me remember
each one who loved me:
family and friends at work and at school…

Help me remember
who protected and served me,
whose names I don't even know...

Help me remember
the most basic gifts:
food, water, warm clothing, a place to live...

Help me remember and be grateful for,
my vision, my hearing, my sense of touch
and all the good things I smell and taste…

Help me remember
the clean air I breathe,
the beauty I see and the music I hear...

Help me remember
the freedom that's mine
in the nation I call my home...

Help me remember
what I take for granted:
open my eyes to what I’ve missed...

Help me remember
the gifts I've forgotten
and the folks I've forgotten to thank...

Help me remember how all good gifts
come from your hand,
from your heart to mine,
to be shared...

Help me remember
and never forget
how many the reasons
I have for thanksgiving...

Help me remember, Lord,
help me remember,
lest I forget...



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Monday Morning Offering: 11/23

Coffee in the Morning

Good morning, good God!

This Thanksgiving week is a special time
to do what we should do always and everywhere:
- give you thanks and praise!

So this morning, Lord,
I offer you thanks for all the people I so often take for granted:
those who serve me in a hundred, quiet ways each day;
those who work with me, around me and near me;
those who so often make my life easier and my work lighter;
those whose work so often makes my work fruitful...

And I thank you for those who stand ready to protect me
in the town where I live and at posts far away;
I thank you for those who keep me safe
and those who safeguard my freedom and liberty...

I thank you for those whose work brings
food from farms,
delight from poetry,
love in songs
joy in the arts;
news from the world,
truth from prayer,
meals from kitchens
and knowledge from a million different sources...

I thank you for those who deliver heat, light
and clean water to my home;
those who keep my home, my church
and my town the beautiful places they are;
those who bring the mail to my door;
those who deliver all the comforts I take for granted...

I thank you for all the people
who fill my mornings, days and evenings
with their smiles, their friendship,
their company and conversation...

I offer you thanks for the beauty of the world around me:
the light of the sun, the moon and the stars;
the pull of ocean tides, the depths of lakes,
the flow of streams, the ripples of ponds;
the colors of nature, birds on the wing,
fields of fruit and flowers,
vegetables in garden rows
- and every square inch of Cape Cod...

I thank you for my faith, my trust, my hope in you;
I thank you for my ministry and the people I serve;
I thank you for the message of the gospel I preach
and the history of salvation
inherited from Israel, your chosen...

I thank you for the beauty of worship,
the depths of your Word,
the lyrics of the psalms,
the grace of the sacraments
and the life that is ours
through faith in you...

Make me truly and more deeply grateful, Lord,
for all you have given me
and for gifts I have yet to find, open and discover...

I thank you, Lord,
for all things bright and beautiful
and for all things bruised and broken:
let me find in everything
and in everyone around me
a trace of your presence,
the fingerprint of your grace,
the signature of your artistry...

Indeed, Lord, help me
always and everywhere
to offer you thanks and praise
for every good gift
that comes from your hand...



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Homily for November 22

Image: Stone Temple Pilots' album Plush

Homily for Christ the King
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Has anyone here not heard, not thought about,
not been part of conversations in the past week
about the status of refugees, national security and terrorism?
The arguments and positions on both sides are fierce
and as usual, the greater truth is not likely to be found
in the extremes of either side.

If you think we can turn to the scriptures and church teaching
to show us how a Christian ought to respond to these issues:
you’re correct– we can.

The scriptures and church teaching
(and the pope so many love so much)
all point to opening our hearts, our borders and our resources
to those who are in flight,
terror having driven them to flee their native land, their culture,
their homes and their possessions.

Of course neither the scriptures, nor church teaching,
nor the pope    
counsel indiscriminate acceptance of immigrants,
particularly in these times.

But the message is simple and it is clear
and has been our tradition for over 2,000 years: 
we are to “feed the hungry, clothe the naked
and welcome the stranger.”  (Mt 25)

But on this feast of Christ the King
my purpose is not to persuade you
one way or another on current events.
My task as preacher is, as it always is, to help us look at Jesus,
to listen to his words and to integrate his message in our lives.

In the gospel today we find Jesus on trial,
questioned by the Roman governor, Pilate.
Jesus deftly handles Pilate’s interrogation,
never giving him a direct answer to his questions.

But he’s not trying to evade the truth here.
He just has no time for the object of the governor’s questions.
In fact he has no time for Pilate’s authority or for whatever “truth”
his questions might be intended to reveal.

Rather, Jesus summons the witness of a truth unknown to Pilate.
He calls on an authority that makes of the governor’s dominion
a puny meaningless jurisdiction, indeed.

As he does in all his teaching, in all his parables,
Jesus is drawing us, his followers,
to look at life from a perspective
that turns our reality upside-down and inside-out.
This is Jesus who taught us:

• “You’ve heard it said,
'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I tell you: Love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you.”  (Mt 5:43)

And he said in another place:
• “Fear is useless; what is needed is trust." (Lk 8:50, Mk 5:36)

And in another place Jesus said:
• “I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves;
so be as shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves.” (Mt 10:16)
(Too many of us get only one half or the other of that statement!)

And in yet another place Jesus says:
• “You have heard that it was said,
 ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.”  (Mt 5:38)

These are the words, the teaching,  the truth
of the one we claim today as our King.
So what are we to do with such words, such truth, on any day,
let alone in these particular days of danger, threat and tension
all around the world?

First, we need to wrestle with Jesus’ teaching, with his truth.
We need to take it seriously and then work to understand
how his words, his truth, impact our lives and our decisions today.

Some will choose to reject Christ’s teachings outright:
rejecting them as dated, pious, simplistic and unrealistic.
But those who claim Jesus as Lord simply do not have the freedom
to dismiss Jesus’ words out-of-hand.

We who claim Christ as our King are bound to allow his words
to upset us, to turn us around,
to make us look at life and life’s problems
from his point of view, in the light of his law of love
and from the depths of his merciful heart.

• When Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king,
this is the kind of crown Pilate had in mind:
a crown of power and prestige...

• When Jesus replied that his dominion was one of truth,
he anticipated another kind of crown:
a crown of service and self-sacrifice...

Which crown will we choose?
Which crown will we claim?
If we choose this one we’ll end up not as kings,
but as the court jester.

And Jesus said:
 “For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

On this feast of Christ the King, then,
our task is to listen to the Lord’s voice
and to wrestle with the truth of his words in our lives.
This isn’t an easy task in any age
and it’s certainly a difficult and demanding one in our own times.

No simple quoting of scripture will supply a complete answer
to the problem of terrorism in the world today.
But neither can faithful Christians form an opinion on the matter
without seriously wrestling with and integrating
the word and truth of Jesus into the stand they take.

The Cross whose shadow falls on our table and our prayer
is crowned not only with thorns
but crowned with the suffering of Christ’s heart,
a heart that opens wide to welcome in the whole of humanity,
for all time, without discrimination or distinction.

Pray with me at this same table that we listen to our King’s voice,
to his words and to his truth,
and move to open our hearts to one another - and to all -
even as his heart is open for us.


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