July 3, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Three years ago, I served as a ‘chaplain’ at the Gladstone’s Library in Wales during the month of July.  One of my responsibilities was to preside several times a week at the daily celebration of Eucharist.  That service typically drew as few as 5 and as many as a dozen or more attendees, depending largely on the program being offered at the Library at any given time. The chaplain position was open to an ordained clergy person of any denomination provided the person was theologically ‘open-minded’ and inclusive.  The only requirement was to follow the rubric (order of service)  of the Anglican Church in Wales. It is a rubric which differs from that of the Anglican Church of England. It was indeed a wonderful month for me.  One of the first official times I celebrated the Eucharist that summer happened to be on July 4th .
 
It is a singular experience to celebrate American Independence Day in Britain and it required some thought as I prepared for that day’s Eucharist. Though I was not expected to offer a sermon, I was expected to offer prayers appropriate for the day.  In the end, for the prayers of petition, I chose these words written by Sr. Joan Chittister. It seems to me they capture something of what I would pray for today as we gather here in Helena on the eve of Independence Day 2016.

                                                                                                                        Grace and peace, Marianne

 

Great God, who has told us

“Vengeance is mine,”

save us from ourselves,

save us from vengeance in our hearts

and the acid in our souls.

Save us from our desire to hurt

as we have been hurt,

to punish as we have been punished,

to terrorize as we have been terrorized.

 

Give us the strength it takes

to listen rather than to judge,

to trust rather than to fear,

to try again and again

to make peace even when peace eludes us.

 

We ask, O God, for the grace

to be our best selves.

We ask for the vision

to be builders of the human community

rather than its destroyers.

We ask for the humility as a people

to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.

We ask for the love it takes

to bequeath to the children of the world to come

more than the failures of our own making.

 

We ask for the love it takes

to care for all the peoples

of Afghanistan and Iraq, or Palestine and Israel

as well as for ourselves.

 

Give us depth of soul, O God,

to constrain our might,

to resist the temptation of power,

to refuse to attack the attackable,

to understand

that vengeance begets violence,

and to bring peace – not war – wherever we go.

 

For You, O God, have been merciful to us.

For You, O God, have been patient with us.

For You, O God, have been gracious to us.

 

And so may we be merciful

and patient

and gracious

and trusting

with these others whom you also love.

 

This we ask through Jesus,

the one without vengeance in his heart.

This we ask forever and ever. Amen!

               Sr. Joan Chittister, OP