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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Proper 29 (RCL) The Reign of Christ

Teachers and preachers, feel free to use the meditation written below with a simple attribution. No further permission is required.

Jeremiah 23:1-6;Canticle 16 (Luke 1:68-79);Colossians 1:11-20;Luke 23:33-43

The title may not sound familiar -- The Reign of Christ. This Sunday, to my recollection, had been known as Christ the King Sunday, or even The Feast of Christ the King.

Pondering over the different titles the past few days, The Reign of Christ feels so right to me. Living in a country which has never had a King I would first have to grasp that altered reality. In theory that should be simple. There was a time when Kings did rule their own patch of the world. Most of the hymns describing Christ as King came from a time when Kings had the only say. All of these kingly hymns rang in my mind one after the other while I could recall only one which starts off the bat with the theme of the reign of Christ. Can anyone 'Name That Tune'? [wait] Yes! "Jesus shall reign where ere the sun shall its appointed journey run." Bingo!

The historical reality is, however, that no one king has ever ruled the world. Christianity has never had a corner on the world market. There have been thousands of kings who never believed in Christ. And although there have been amazing people spreading the Good News in Christ in wonderful ways across the globe, Christ's name has just as often been besmirched by atrocities committed by men during so-called Holy Wars. In that light, WHO would want Christ to reign over every thing?

[Speaking slowly, intentionally] Setting aside the mistakes of our fore bearers for just a moment, in this time, in this space, in this place, in our own minds and hearts, can we IMAGINE a world, even our country, our states, our counties and parishes, our cities, towns, villages, hamlets -- under the Reign of our Sovereign, Christ? [take an uncomfortably long pause here].

It is, I admit, hard for me to imagine this occurring on this side of life. So many people, so many obstacles -- all man made. That being said, I have been blessed to see glimpses of Christ on earth in just, honorable, loving people. Perhaps this is the way that Christ can reign -- by winning over hearts (one at a time) with a comprehensive plan of love, justice, order, equality, compassion, humility and transparent honesty.

With that in mind I CAN begin faintly to consider how my life would be changed so that both my inner being and my outer being were fully God's. If I handed over decisions and disputes, struggles and misunderstandings to God the just arbiter. I can imagine my frame would look a bit different if I were -- to my face -- commanded to treat my body as a temple. For sure and certain, THIS temple would have some renovations made to it!

It is particularly fitting to talk about the reign of Christ just before we start the new liturgical year when we, during Advent, will pave a way of hope and anticipation for the King to be born in our hearts once again.

Some dioceses throughout the land also consider this Sunday Recovery Sunday. A day when the church can give thanks for all those persons with addictions who have turned their lives, decisions, recollections, forgiveness, amendments and resolutions to God.

Perhaps those on the road to recovery after the bondage of addiction have, with joy, already had some insight into what the reign of Christ would look and feel like because they have turned themselves and their lives over to that Higher Power already...and continue to do so every day, one day at a time.

There is one way of imagining how life under the reign of Christ would be. We can behave as if it has already taken place. We don't have to wait for our neighbors or families or towns or counties/parishes, states, this or ANY nation adopts a righteous policy platform. We can just go about doing it. If enough of us are living our lives this may become a movement, a renewal, a mighty force that will challenge the status quo and need to be reckoned with. This reign of Christ could be accepted by all peoples, at least in principle, and established.

Until then, you've been given a spiritual seed of faith, hope and imagination to plant before the earth grows cold or the soil becomes hard. You can plant it and let it rest and grow below your consciousness. The time will come when the seed will pop forth from its shell and eventually bear fruit. In the meantime we may say expectantly Maranatha: Come, Lord Jesus; we await the Reign of Christ on Earth and in Heaven. Amen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

For the day AFTER Thanksgiving

'It's a good thing', to quote the omnipresent Martha Stewart, to give thanks to God on Thanksgiving. It is also important for our spiritual growth and personal awareness to give thanks every day.

May I suggest that you go to the two forms of Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer 1979 [The Seabury Press] found on pages 836 and 837 respectively. Use them on whatever basis may be appropriate. Print them out. Put one up in your cubicle, tuck one into your billfold. Read them daily before your day begins, mid-day when you may be a bit short of gratitude, before the end of the day to put things in perspective. The capacity for charity grows when we practice gratitude.

May this discipline encourage you to invest more in your Christian life and witness. May it assist you in deepening your personal, professional and incidental relationships with others. May it deepen your relationship with your God. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessing

I put this blessing out to be used for any among you who would like to use a written text rather than spontaneous prayer for this special occasion. May you, those next to you or near and dear to your heart, have a healthy, meaningful, fun and festive Thanksgiving. With my prayers for our Geranium Farmers far and wide, Joanna, deacon, The Geranium Farm, Thanksgiving 2007.


For this earth and your guidance to use its resources rightly, we pray;
Give us grateful hearts.
For the leaders of the world, this nation, our state, our community, we pray;
Give us grateful hearts.
For farmers, ranchers, growers, packers, processors and drivers, we pray;
Give us grateful hearts.
For our friends and loved ones present, absent from us or departed, we pray;
Give us grateful hearts.
For those who have prepared this feast for our partaking, we pray;
Give us grateful hearts.
For the homeless, helpless, poor, weak, jobless and our enemies, we pray;
Turn our gratitude into love and action.
And to you, Master of the Feast, Creator and Source of Abundance and Love,
we ask you to bless this food for our use and joy, strengthening us to
do Your will at all times in all places through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2007

One less chair at the Thanksgiving table

Recently I took an informal poll among some of my friends, colleagues and acquaintances. My question of the day was, WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY? I was somewhat surprised to find that Thanksgiving won, hands down. Thanksgiving is a holiday steeped in traditions. I use the plural because, as often as not, individuals have time-honored traditions from their childhood families; to which they add more layers of tradition with their created family or with personal practice.

In some families, where there is a rotating responsibility for hosting the meal and providing the main dishes, special dishes, silverware, family recipes or standard foods will be prepared a certain way. Where one family always has pearl onions in sauce, others will be transported at the very mention of sausage and herb dressing (stuffing) for the turkey or perhaps at the mention of the ham accompanied by baked yams with marshmallows. All of these ingredients blend to make a holiday.

Yet in many a home this Thanksgiving there will either be one less chair or an empty chair. This emptiness will come because of tragic reasons, because of painful reasons, because mundane reasons. Has your family suffered the loss of a loved one, whether an elder or a child or someone in the military? Has there been a severe misunderstanding in your family, leading to someone being un-invited or families not merging? Has someone been banned from your table when they revealed their life style, or does the missing chair represent their partner who has never received a welcome? Perhaps last year's celebration was reduced to a day of overindulgence at TV tables and a fight over the remote control...and Jesus, the Master of the feast was never invited.

There is time between now and Thursday to take steps so that there will be a full complement of chairs at your table on Thursday. Time for reconciliation. Time to invite a single or a widow from church to enjoy your hospitality. Time to look in your life to see those people who will have no table without you.

Perhaps, like my sister, you will choose to serve dinner in a local soup kitchen and serve meals or bus tables where everyone will find a table with a meal, warmth and a place of respect and dignity. However you spend this Thanksgiving, may you spend it in the present, with an open heart, without regret, with a wealth of gratitude and with God in the midst of you.

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