Saturday, March 31, 2018

What about my friend? (Ask a Pastor)

Dear Pastor-
I like to go to church on Easter. I can't get there all the time, but Easter means something to me. I also have a beloved who isn't really churchy. I feel torn between spending time with my beloved on Easter morning or going to church. What should I do? 
Sincerely-
A Few Times a Year is Better Than No Times.


Dear AFTAYIBTNT, 
Thank you for writing. I'm always glad to see you whenever you come. God sees you all the time. 
I appreciate your dilemma for Easter. I hear you saying that resurrection celebration is meaningful to you, but that the leisure time or the opportunity to start traditions with your beloved is also important. Both of those things are part of the Spirit's presence in your life. 
First, I encourage you to be true to yourself. Do not do something or make a choice, in the expectation that your beloved will reward the behavior or love you more. That kind of expectation isn't fair to anyone. 
If attending a service is important to you, own that reality. You are free to invite your beloved to join you, but your beloved is equally free to accept or decline the invitation without it being a reflection of how they truly feel about you. 
Neither of you is free to manipulate (overtly or covertly) the other with your emotions, coercion, or threats. 
If your beloved agrees, freely, to accompany you, know that you are not responsible for their experience. Other than giving some basic directions (hymnal use, stand/sit, where's the bathroom), their reaction to the service is not a reflection of their feelings about you. It may be about their own faith, doubts, experience, hope, or history. 
If your beloved declines to attend, accept their choice. Make a plan for what you would like to do together after you return from church. You will not be the only person in a service who loves someone who isn't there on Easter morning. That's okay. 
You can live a faithful and hopeful witness by doing what is important to you without resentment toward your beloved for their actions or resentment toward your faith for how it compels you. 
I hope to see you in one of our Easter services. If it turns out that resurrection joy is celebrated in your community through a breakfast you're hosting or a hike or something else, I hope to see you soon at a different service (Easter is a season). 
Peace, 
Pastor Julia

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday (3/30)

MARK 14:66-72 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.


Where have I denied Jesus? 

Have I dismissed cries for racial justice, arguing about bootstraps and the sweat of my own forebears? 

Have I yielded to the commercialization of life and the desecration of creation, sighing "That's just the way it is"? 

Have I hesitated to act because I was tired, frustrated, annoyed, or distracted? 

Have I acted, but without complete honesty, thereby painting a veneer of falsehood on the structure of a relationship, major or minor? 

Have I leaned hard on my own understanding and turned away from those whose life experience led them to different choices than my own? 

Have I been prideful about my finances, my abilities, my time, my physicality, my ideas, my belongings, or my religiosity? 

Have I closed myself to the stories of LGBTQ+ folk and the families, believing that marshes, dusk, and platypuses might not also have representation in the sexuality and identity spectrum? 

Have I taken in the news of the world and allowed myself to sink into despair, rather than praying for the strength to be God's witness in the place where I am? 

Have I gone through the motions, but called it living? 

Have I gone through the motions, but called it believing? 

Have I gone through the motions and stopped trusting that God is really present, active, and still speaking? 

When have I denied Jesus today? This hour? 



Oh, Peter, my brother! 


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday (3/29)

MARK 14:43-65 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; andhim there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
with
Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” All of them deserted him and fled.
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.
They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire.
Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.

When I read this section, I feel so much grief that I want to turn away from the text. I cannot change the story and I know what is coming, so instead, I would like to shut my eyes to it. It is the way to intellectual self-preservation, for me, to pull myself out of the story and just look at the details. If I stay with the "mind" questions- what's up with the naked guy, is that really blasphemy, why a kiss?- then I can pull away from the pain I feel in my body when I read this. 

When I say the pain I feel in my body, I don't mean like like daily aches and pains or the sharp acuteness of an injury. I mean, that as I read this story, my chest tightens, my eyes burn, and I feel an emotional wrenching that I would really prefer to stop. I don't like these sensations. If I escape "into my head", I am able to ignore the physical experience, but then I am not grappling with the whole body reality of this story. 

When I take a moment to engage the spiritual exercise of Jesuit Imaginative Prayer, I breathe myself into the story. I am so shocked at how many people are around me. I am surprised by how the feeling in the courtyard feels similar to the psychic energy in our own time of violence, power struggle, and helplessness within those watching who wish to act. I am overcome by the awareness that I cannot help Jesus. Simultaneously, I am washed with the knowledge that I can help someone else in the crowd. 

The story is around me, not just in front of me. Jesus' betrayal, trial, and desertion don't just affect him; they are having a powerful effect on others who are watching, who had hoped, whose breath is bated. 

Is this something that I do often- believe that I am watching Jesus, but failing to see where He is in the people around me? In the crowd, when I looked away from the spectacle, I saw people watching outside the courtyard. There were people who were excluded from society, deemed unclean. There were those who hoped for healing and those who just wanted be seen. There were those whose anger masked their hurt and those who were too hurt to care anymore. 

There was a time collapse for me in how similar the situation was to any crowd (in physical space or online) in contemporary life. 

Normally I would write my reflection questions here, but this spiritual exercise was very intense. Trying to write questions now would be putting an artificial stop to what I am feeling and thinking. I don't want to do that. I encourage you, in your own practice today, to pay attention to what arises within your body and your mind. Both parts matter because both parts make up who you are and the wholeness of you, whom God loves and has saved. 


God of peace, open 
My eyes to your beloved  
So that I might grow.

amen. 




Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Holy Wednesday (3/28)

MARK 14:32-42: They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words.  And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”



When I reflect on this passage, I am deeply moved by Jesus' honesty. It's not like I expect the Savior to be a liar, but so often we don't speak the whole truth to one another or to God. We attempt to deceive ourselves (and others), knowing deeply that God knows the truth of us (and still loves us). 

Jesus pours out his fear and grief in this prayer. Does he know exactly what is coming or is he speculating, combining his dread with what he has seen in the years of religious leaders' oppression and Roman occupation? He does not attempt to reframe what he is feeling with quick platitudes about how it will turn out okay or work for the best or even that the Father has not given the Son more than he can handle. He is stricken, scared, and alone. 

His friends do not fully understand his thoughts and feelings, in part because they do not fully comprehend who Jesus is and what he is about. I am grateful, grateful for Jesus' own sake, that the disciples are too tired and stressed to stay awake. It means they're too tired to be like Job's unhelpful friends or to tell Jesus that he's exaggerating or even to turn the narrative about them and their feelings. 

This section narrows its focus on Jesus and his current reality- that a huge sacrifice is coming and that in a fully human body, with human emotions and human logic, it is going to hurt in many and various ways. Is there another way? Any other way? 

How many times have I been in a time of pain, a dark night of the soul, the valley of the shadow of death and wanted out? I have tried bargain with God, tried to reframe and accept, attempted to stuff my feelings. It is the rare occasion that I have said, "Not what I want, but what You want." 

I confess that I have even, on occasion, told God what God wants. I have taken scripture in hand and said, "You have said THIS, now I claim it for my brother, my sister, my son, my husband, my parishioner, my home, my finances,..." That's not exactly submitting to God's will. 

Do I have it in me to imitate Christ in one of his most human moments? Can I be honest about what I feel with the God who already knows it? Can I yield to the mystery of Divine Will, trusting in the plan and future and keeping my eyes open for the forces that oppose God? Do I actually want the holy concession of having my spirit and flesh in alignment with the Spirit and the Word? 


Holy God, help me to be honest with you in my prayers. You wait patiently for me to stop my attempts at control. My heart is restless until it comes to a holy quiet in your peace. Amen.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Holy Tuesday (3/27/18)

MARK 14:16-31: So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he came with the twelve. And when they had taken their places and were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him one after another, “Surely, not I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.’
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though all become deserters, I will not.”  Jesus said to him, “Truly I tell you, this day, this very night, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said vehemently, “Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And all of them said the same.

In order to better understand what Jesus is saying here, I looked up the passage he quotes. Those quick lines about the shepherd and the sheep are from the 13th chapter of Zechariah. Therein, the Lord uses the prophet to warn against those who had dared to speak falsely in the Lord's name. These false prophets will be punished and many will hide and lie about their deeds. 
One assumes that the disciples would have been familiar with the texts that Jesus quotes. It is also reasonable to conclude that Mark's audience, the original hearers of this gospel, would have recognized that passage. What is harder to picture is how the original audience react to this quotation out of its context? 

Did they suck their teeth in a sharp intake of breath because, in their ears, Jesus is accusing the disciples of falsehood or mistaken predictions? 
Did they flush hot at the idea of Jesus' followers promising a faithfulness that they would not be able to keep of their own accord? 
Did they remain silent, withdrawn by the drama of their own community, and too hurt to be drawn into the drama of the story of the crucifixion and resurrection? 

It is very easy for us to slide into a binary way of thinking- a yes/no thought pattern. No, I would not desert you, Jesus. Yes, I will be faithful.

It's probably more honest to say, "I do not want to desert you, Jesus. I long to be faithful to you and your commands to the last. I find, however, that my fear/ lack of understanding/ desire for control/ impatience/ frustration keeps me from honoring you in word and deed to the fullness of my being." 
In a space of honesty, we are likely to find ourselves in deeper sympathy with Peter, the other apostles, and all who have heard this passage over the years of the written Word. We do not wish to be false prophets, deserters, or betrayers. Still, we often find ourselves among that company when we recount what we have done and left undone, said and left unsaid, given and held back. 

God of mercy, we confess with the Apostle Paul that we often do not do the good we wish to do. In fact, like a magnet, we are drawn to words and deeds that may not always be reflections of your light and love. Strengthen us to turn away from lives of falseness and to lean into the power of living in agreement with your Spirit and your Word. Amen. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Holy Monday (3/26/18)

MARK 14:1-15 It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”


While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, “Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me.  She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.


On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?”  So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

 There are two things on which I would like to reflect about this section of Mark 14. The first is about the concern regarding the cost of the nard and the second is about Judas' betrayal. It is easy to skim the Bible passage and assume that you know all the details.I encourage you to read the verses out loud to yourself and to ponder the details that both included and excluded. 

In Mark's version of the anointing woman story, Jesus is in the house of a man who has a type of skin disease characterized as leprosy. He's already in a place that may well have made his disciples uncomfortable. Why is Jesus in the house of this man who would have been considered unclean? Why are other people willing to eat in that place, breaking those rules, but then find this woman's action a bridge too far? 

This woman has a gift that she has likely saved for a long time. If it is not for her own burial, it is probably for someone in her family. Yet she sees Jesus and feels the strong urge of the Spirit to spend out what she has saved up on him. She makes a costly sacrifice of her nard and her pride to appear before the group of dining men and anoint Jesus for who she sees and perceives him to be. 

Many who witness this self-sacrificing act are aghast. Are they embarrassed to be seen in the house of a leper? Are they feeling guilty because they have hesitated to spend out for Jesus? Are they seeking to shame this woman for this specific action or for presumed actions in her past or present?

They are acting as gatekeepers- determining not only dinner party etiquette, but also other people's stewardship. The woman has not followed the proper "channels" for offerings, but has proven generous perhaps beyond what the others gathered are willing to do. Unable to sit with their own feelings of discomfort and uncertainty, they lash out at her and at Jesus for allowing her generous and sacramental act. 

What does gate-keeping look like in your life, your community, or your congregation? Are there unwritten expectations that people are shamed for not understanding? Is there a community hierarchy based on money, talents, or time in place? Are there excuses made (we could have done this for the poor, if s/he/they hadn't...)? Do you hold yourself back from the generosity to which you are called because of your own internal gate-keeping around fear, grief, worry, or habit? 

Secondly, as I read this out loud, I saw the end of the sentence about Judas: "in order to betray him to them." I thought about "to them". Judas is not the only betrayer. The complainers in the first part betrayed Jesus by rejecting not only what he had taught them about generosity, but also by not paying attention to what the Father and the Spirit had shown them about who Jesus was. 

Betrayal may not always be active, like Judas seeking out the chief priests. Betrayal can also be passive. When we sin by omission, staying quiet when we should speak, accepting the status quo rather than working for change, resigning ourselves to evil instead of forceful renunciation... these are betrayals of Jesus, denying his call, his claim, and his conversion of our hearts and minds. 

 

God of grace and hope, we give you thanks for your healing work that we celebrate in this Holy Week- work of forgiveness and resurrection. Open us to the Spirit's leading- away from our gate-keeping habits and into new ways of being your people in the world you love. Forgive us for our every day betrayals of your commands and guide us into the holy and whole living that is a life in imitation of Christ. We give thanks for your faithfulness as you revealed it to the whole world through Jesus, our Savior and Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Jesus and Stage 4 Faith

Scripture Passage: Matthew 15:21-28


            Most, if not all, 12-step recovery groups use the Serenity Prayer during a meeting. In many cases, the prayer is said at the beginning of the meeting and again at the end. “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is interesting that people who have hit a wall in their lives- in their addiction or relationship with an addicted person- implore God for these things. Within the prayer, there is no “if it is your will, Lord” or “Please, God” or even “If you do this, Almighty One, I will do…”
 
            That last phrase is particularly important. It is impossible to achieve a sense of serenity, that is God’s alone to grant, if you are still trying to control things in around you- including God. And many, many people try to control God with their behavior- if I pray in exactly the right way, if we complete our sacraments or sacramental rituals in exactly the right way, if we never miss a Sunday, or raise our children just right…. then God will reward us.

            If, in the back of our mind and heart, we retain the idea that God will deliver if we hold up our end of the bargain, we create a horrible distance between the Divine and ourselves, not to mention a terrible canyon between other people and ourselves. If God is simply waiting for us to act first, then God is passive. The God who made and kept promises to Sarah, Miriam, Mary, Martha, Lydia, Mary Magdalene, Eunice, and Lois is not passive.

            Since the nature of the Divine is eternal love (1 John), God does not (and has never) waited for any human 1) to move first and 2) to be able to fully uphold our end of any covenant. Grace alone makes God, God. Thus, it is only God who can grant serenity, courage, and wisdom for us to respond to the circumstances of our lives.

            Sometimes it is easier for us to grasp a concept if we consider it from a different angle. In Italian, the Serenity Prayer begins, Dio concedimi la serenit√©… God, concede to me… The use of the word “concede” versus “grant” helps us to have a better sense of what we are asking of our Creator. We are requesting a concession that is only God’s to give. I cannot ask another person to concede serenity to me. Even if I knew people who had serenity to spare, they wouldn’t be able to give it to me. Furthermore, when we ask God to concede something to us, we are acknowledging that the concession comes at God’s will, not ours and not in exchange for our good work.

            The Canaanite woman in today’s gospel reading is asking for a concession. She is pleading with Jesus for him to concede a miracle to her and to heal her daughter. And, much to our chagrin, Jesus seems in no hurry to grant that concession. Generations of pastors have tried to save Jesus from this moment, wanting to make it clear that he was teaching the disciples a lesson or otherwise purposeful in his initial rejection of this grieving Gentile. Those theologians, well-meaning and worried, want to control how Jesus appears and how you hear and see him and how he is perceived.

            If we are to accept both the full humanity and full divinity of Jesus, then it is neither our task nor within our capability to save Jesus from himself. The fully human Jesus had to develop in his faith, just as we do. The Jesus we see in today’s story is making the move from Stage 3 to Stage 4 faith. A person at Stage 3 faith has found peace in belonging to a group and within the group identity. They feel defined by responsibility to the group and zealous in committing to the norms and tasks of that group.

            A person in a congregation who is a Stage 3 believes strongly in the rules of the group and takes personal pride in policing those norms. The value of the symbols and rituals of the community, as well as correctly performing those things, define faith and faithfulness for the person at Stage 3.

            The person who is ready for Stage 4, however, finds a real tension. The majority of adults in this room and around the world are in either Stage 3 or 4 and, painfully, people in those two stages struggle to understand and empathize with one another, more than people in any other stage. At Stage 4, people have begun to realize their lack of control over the larger world. They see that they have not only tried to categorize people but also that they have attempted to box God in by their own definitions and expectations.

            Moving into Stage 4 can often feel like or actually be a crisis of faith. If in this dark night of the soul, we aren’t kind to ourselves or to others, we may feel as though we experience a loss of our faith. A healthy move into Stage 4 involves accepting that our relationship with God is about the direction of the relationship, not about specific answers to specific questions, A person into Stage 4 becomes more comfortable with mystery and a lack of certainty, as personal integrity in the lived faith journey.

            Within today’s gospel, Jesus is confronting what it would mean to extend the concession of healing to a Gentile woman who dares to ask it of him. Within himself, he has the divine power to grant her request, but he also has the human compulsion to continue to maintain the boundaries and right behavior that he has been taught his whole life. What would it mean to let that boundary become permeable, to lower his guard and consider that this woman may be as much a child of God as his own mother, siblings, and disciples are?

            The story happens quickly as we read it, but in my sanctified imagination, I can see it drawing out- long pauses on Jesus’ end as he reflects, the silent shock of the disciples, the frustration of the woman and her fear for her daughter. For people who are in Stage 3, a person who moves to Stage 4 and is grappling with ambiguity, the realization of the loss of control, and a release of some of the community rules and standards seems like a backslider, a person who cannot be considered faithful. To a person at Stage 4, the person who is still faithfully in Stage 3 seems too binary, too demanding of answers, and too sure of what they know. Both will have to learn to be peaceful together for the sake of the community and the work of following the Way of Christ.

            Thus, we find Jesus, the pioneer of our faith, moving into his own Stage 4- knowing his own power and connection with his Heavenly Parent and the Spirit, but also experiencing the human tension of needing to change his views, pressure to expand his thinking, and the reality of living with discomfort and mystery in pursuing the will of God. If we see that Jesus has the experience, do we think that we can or will avoid it? Should we try?

            When we approach God for concessions, serenity, courage, wisdom, healing, strength, relief, wholeness, it is important for us to be open to the deep truth that we cannot control how and when God will grant us these requests. The further into our faith development we go, the more we realize how little we control. Most of you may be thinking, “I’m already too aware of how little I control”. Coming to peace with that, my friends, is the reality of the mature faith of Stage 4. We cannot produce our own peace with that. It is something that we seek, as a concession, from God.

            Our friends and neighbors who have found themselves outside the church or organized religion or on the outs with their Creator are most often the people who were not able to make the move between 3 and 4 because leaning into the mystery of God feels like too much. Church splits most often happen when the people at 3 and the people at 4 cannot work together and one group disdains the other. When our spiritual practice focuses on doing and doing correctly (or thinking correctly), we miss the call of God to be human beings and we shut out the moments of stillness that would strengthen our trust in the holy.

            What is the concession you want to ask of God? Or concessions? Are you prepared to acknowledge that not only are they God’s alone to grant, but that truly they come about through God’s grace, not by any good work on your part? Are you prepared to sit, quietly, marinating in the mystery of resurrection, the Holy Spirit, and the presence of eternal Love? Are you willing, like Jesus, to be moved to consider that a person or group that you believed to be anathema is also beloved by God? Can you ask for and wait to receive God’s own peace?

            Dio, concedimi la serenit√† di accettare le cose che non posso cambiare, il coraggio di cambiare le cose che posso, e la saggezza per conoscere la differenza.

            God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Amen.