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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, April 21, 2007

Review/Survey of the series : The Twelve Steps and Lent

Several readers have contacted me directly about my reflections on The Twelve Steps and Lent. All that wrote me had constructive comments and there was a question raised by one writer whether a quiet day or retreat might be given around Step 4 (Moral inventory).

Barbara has agreed that it area of our spiritual growth is a good one and that I should proceed. It would certainly help me in planning such a quiet day or retreat in this area if I could get your responses on two questions: Whether YOU would be interested in: 1) a quiet day on one of the steps, or 2) a retreat on several of the steps over a weekend.

I would be presenting either offering. Having gone through both CoDA and OA I believe I am familiarr with both the literature and the process of "worrking" the steps in a program. Please be assured that your confidentiality will be upheld by myself and that it will be imperative for anyone responding or attending to respect every individual and their anonymity.

Please indicate your preference (for 1 or 2 above) by aadding a comment to this entry - indicating only your initials and location). If you wish to ellaborate, please send your comments and reply to . Getting an idea of where-all you live will assist me in determining possible locations for the quiet day and//or retreat.

Even if you simply want to post your comments on the series (or other topics, issues, liturgies you would like covered here at MOLC), post a comment here below (and allow a day for clearance) or write to my Farm e-mail address.

May the Risen Lord enfold you in His joy and everlasting love. DJ.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hear Our Prayer, O Lord

It wasn't that long ago, Ash Wednesday. Nor was Good Friday.

On each occasion, we looked at our own mortality, frailty, vulnerability, lack of faith and lack of compassion for those who are imprisoned, murdered, less fortunate, grieving.

In a world and time when both nations and individuals more easily take up guns rather than attempt to convey their discrepancies by speaking and being heard, when the bullet or mine of preference does not necessarily kill as effectively as it can maim and shatter bodies and lives, when semi automatic weapons are easily bought - not as collectors items but as killing machines..... we are driven to our knees in prayer, supplication, grief and confusion.

From the service for Ash Wednesday:

We confess to you, Lord, our negligence in prayer and worship and our failure to commend he faith that is in us, We confess to you, Lord.

Accept ourrepentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, Accept our repentance, Lord.

From the service for Good Friday:

Let us pray for all who suffer and are afflicted in body or in mind:
For the hungry and the homeless, the destitute and the oppressed
For the sick, the wounded, and the crippled
For those in loneliness, fear and anguish
For those who face temptation, doubt and despair
For the sorrowful and bereaved
For prisoners and captives and those in mortal danger
That God in his mercy will comfort and relieve them, and grant them the knowledge of his love, and stir up in us the will and patience to minister to their needs

Gracious God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer: Let the cry of those in misery and need come to you, that they may find your mercy present with them in all their afflictions; and givee us, we pray, the strength to serve them for the sake of him who suffered for us, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In these days of trouble - from without, from within - we find ourselves asking a question that is not answered easily: WHY? Why the guns? Why them? Why me? Why do we turn to retaliation so naturally? Why do we consider murder as an option for ending disputes - either real or imagined? Why do we make war? Why have we let this go on? Why can't we find a way to end the insanity of killing? Why are so many people in jail? Why can't we find a better way? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, why can't we embrace peace?

Our questions hang in the air while somewhere, either across the other side of the fence, across the street, across the town, across the state, across the continent, across the ocean or half way across the world, someone else is in the process of killing another human life.

There are mental illnesses that strip the mind of reason, care, liability, responsibility, respect for any form of life. There are situations which push us to the limits of reason and beyond.

There are also individuals who - in the name of financial gain alone - willingly, intentionally, illegally procure and sell weapons which were manufactured with a single intent: to maim and/or kill as many human beings as possible. They were not produced for the sole purpose of 'self defense' - or for hunting wildlife animals which will provide food, shelter, clothing and a heat source for indigeonous peoples.

We live in a world populated by nations whose budget for "defense" outweighs their spending for education and health care. Our national priorities are in direct opposition to the Divine imperative: Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself.

We, as Christians, have an obligation to pray.... we also have an obligation to one another to show respect and love. Pray. Pray individually and in groups. Let us join together to deter and eventually eliminate the existance of these lethal weapons.

Let not our hearts be hardened, yet let our intellect be strengthend.

We extend our hearts in sympathy to those who have been killed and to the families whose lives have been inexorably changed. May you find some comfort in the solidarity and assistance we offer you in your grief.

Psalm 102: 1-2

Lord, hear our prayer, and let our cry come before you,
Hide not your face from us in the day of our trouble.
Incline your ear to us; when we call, make haste to answer us.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

P.E.S. (Post Easter Syndrome)

This one goes out to church goers as well as clergy and church staff alike (and might sound like one of those dreadfull infomercials that flood the LATE night -and are now filtering into our less-than-prime daytime hours).......

Are you suffering from P.E.S. (Post Easter Syndrome)?

Was your soul a bit tired this past Sunday? You are not alone. Statistically, this past Sunday is when even some of the 'regulars' are ir-regular. We have gone through a whirlwind week of emotion, preparations, meditations, writing, thinking and soul searching and busy, busy, busy, busy, business for anyone connected with Adult Ed, Church School and ..... absolutely not the last or least...... the acolytes, choir and altar guild.

There were more costume/decoration changes in that 8 day cycle that would put anyone in an over-the-top Broadway musical to shame. Switching emotional gears for the music - from provocatively heart-wrenching to out and out joyful is pulling a rabbit out of a hat (NOT the easter bunny). Going through the paces of having extra people moving all about the sactuary, special pitchers and bowls and thuribles, crosses with and without draping and flowers and trips up and down the aisles makes the MC of any acolyte group like a drill sargaent (but much more charitable, of course).

Yes, we're all tired.

At the end of it all - beyond feeling as if you slept at the church for a solid week - how DO you feel?

Beyond the curtailed list of services to attend or prepare for, beyond the physical change, beyond recovering all of the unfound easter eggs (plastic, me thinks)...... if something has changed as a result of your Lenten discipline and Easter revival, how has it - in the greater scheme of things - affected you?

Where are you on your earthly spiritual journey? What will you take forward from this recent experience and incorporate in to your day-to-day conversation with God and your interaction with others?

Don't punish yourself for wanting to slow down the pace.... the activity we tend to pack into observance of our major liturgical seasons (Advent/Christmas, Lent/Easter) is nearly too much for anyone to bear.

So I encourage you to relax a bit. Take a bit of time for your recouperation! That's not to suggest that you neglect getting those things your soul needs.... but you might choose to go to a shorter service or a different time slot.

While the Ascension and Pentecost don't have the same build up - time and energywise - they are still part of the pre-Pentecost season of green, green and more green...... so do put some extra prayer there.

Enjoy the remainder of Eastertide, however you may spend it. I do hope that some grains of thought planted during the muted days of Lent will flourish in you - even now - as you prepare to collect the Easter lillies from church and plant them in your yard for next year. Peace be with all of you. DJ

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