A prayer for Heroic Service (BCP p. 839)
O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Thursday evening we gathered in the Chapel to pray together. With heavy hearts and weeping we brought our prayers to God in this historic place. While our prayers were an immediate lament over the gun violence of the past week, being together in this sacred space is a reminder that throughout time the faithful have cried out to God. War and turmoil, loss and sacrifice have marked the lives of all who come before us. This weekend we look back on Memorial Day and give thanks for those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy and the hopes we have for our country. I commend the prayer at the top of this reflection to you, from our Book of Common Prayer, as a resource for this weekend. Perhaps it can be a conversation starter with your children or grandchildren about the human costs of our freedom. This is one aspect of Memorial Day.
In recent times, Memorial Day weekend also marks the beginning of summer. Graduation for high school and college students, perhaps the first time for children to go to “sleep away” camp, the transition for some of us to our summer homes–those places of respite and rest, joy and family connections. We look forward to new seasons of learning at college, or in the next grade in school, or to babies added to our families, weddings, or simply the chance to breathe in summer air by the lake, by the sea, in the mountains.
So we have this “hinge moment” when we are invited to both look back and to look forward–Memorial Day weekend marks a time of gratitude and thanksgiving for all those who gave their lives AND it marks the beginning of summer–a season of hope and gratitude for new things in our lives. In the Church Calendar, the Feast of Pentecost (June 5) is a day when this invitation to live forward is before us! The disciples and many others receive the gift that Jesus promised…an Advocate, a Companion….to give life and breath, to enliven their ministries going forward, even as Jesus ascended into heaven to sit by God. Those Jesus followers may have been tempted to “look back” and to continue grieving for their friend Jesus; but Jesus had promised them a future with liveliness, encouragement, and wonder. He told them he would send the Holy Spirit to be with them as they moved forward in their lives and in their ministries. They would be transformed in unexpected ways, by the power of His Love and the presence of the Holy Spirit among them always. In the story from Acts a great wind blew through the place where they were gathered and a flame burned over the head of each person present that day. Wind and fire–the Holy Spirit was visible and lively, perhaps even dangerous!
Pentecost, the day and the long season over the summer, is always an invitation for us to be Renewed in the Spirit. We open our ears, our hands, our hearts to the breath and fire God has placed in us. How will you hear your call to serve in new ways? How will your faith be enlivened? How will we as a faith community hear the voices of newcomers, of the young families in our midst? How will we find new ways to understand and live out our baptismal promises? Liturgy helps us with these questions, reading and conversation help us with these questions, prayer helps us with these questions.
At Trinity Concord, this summer we will enter the Pentecost season of the Spirit, with prayers for renewal, as we move forward together. We will learn a new tune for the Holy, holy, holy (the Sanctus). We will proclaim in the Nicene Creed that God “became fully human” and think about what that means for all of us and for our collective salvation. We will focus on the presence of the Holy Spirit in our worship language, hearing Eucharistic Prayer G (from Common Worship Church of England) to spark our ears to take in the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection in fresh ways. We will conclude the service with a Commissioning for our work outside the doors of our beloved church building. And we will go forth rejoicing in the power of the Spirit to give us life and breath for our singing, our praying, our serving. Jesus promised a life-giving Spirit for his followers, and we are renewed when we seek it out for ourselves and in community.
We are also offering study and prayer opportunities with Spiritual Companions: Thomas Merton, Verna Dozier, Allan Hilton, and Rowan Williams. See the Spiritual Companions piece below for those opportunities to walk with spiritual guides. I pray that our discussions around these books, which offer a variety of ways to live and pray in the Spirit, will give you fresh breath and fire in this season.
If you have questions about the Pentecost season, liturgical intentions, our Spiritual Companion books and conversations please reach out. If you simply wish to talk and pray, your clergy are always happy to hear from you and to meet in person.