GUEST BLOG: Gifts for Children of Incarcerated Parents

GUEST BLOG by Margaret Mackie-Ciancio

The summer has flown by, the leaves are turning already and pumpkin-flavored everything is filling the displays!  Soon, too soon, the holiday season will be upon us and we already feel unready. So, before we plunge into the whirl of the Season of Giving, with decorations, party preparations, family visits, recipe hunting and gift shopping, let us take a breath. What are the holidays supposed to be about? What do we want them to be about? We can orient ourselves now, early, so that we remember our priorities and retain the deeper meaning that gives the true sense of fulfillment to our celebrations.

Our families and friends need and deserve our attention at this time, and it's a joy to offer it. But if we want to go deeper, we might consider that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and that everyone is our neighbor. There are many neglected, troubled, poor and lonely; we don't have to look far to find them. Our local prisons are full of just such people, and their families on the outside are suffering, too.

The ChIPs (Children of Incarcerated Persons) program cements tenuous connections between parents or grandparents inside and families outside by bringing Christmas to both. Prisoners choose gifts for the children in their lives from a multitude of toys and games sorted by age and sex of the child. The gift they choose is wrapped for them, and they are allowed to present that gift in person when the family visits. The child receives tangible proof that this loved one hasn't forgotten him/her. The prisoners get to see that their families still care and still need them. Not only does the exchange make Christmas fleetingly brighter for everyone, it also has a lasting effect in fostering the family bond -- a connection so very necessary when the prisoners serve their time and are released. They knowthey still have a place to go, and the families knows they care enough to want to come home.

Here’s what you can do:

You may drop off gifts or monetary donations at your church.  The delegates to the Diocesan Convention will bring your gifts to the Convention on November 4th where they will be transported to St. Paul’s School for sorting.  The dates for sorting are tentatively set for early November.  (Call 432 7679 or 867 4590 for more informationor email maggie.ciancio@gmail.com)

There are many other ways you can help:

1.     You can purchase a gift directly or contribute $25 (Note we are asking for a little more this year).  If you decide to make a monetary donation, please make out your check to the Diocese of New Hampshire with ChIPS written on the memo line of the check.

2.     You can volunteer to collect gifts and serve as your parish’s contact.

3.     You can help sort the gifts at St. Paul’s School.

4.     You can help with wrapping of the gifts at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men in Concord.  (The date for wrapping has not yet been set but is usually in early December.)

5.     You can collect note cards for use in the prison.

For more information, or if you wish to volunteer, please contact me, Margaret Mackie-Ciancio, at 603 432-7679 (home) or 867 4590 (cell) or at maggie.ciancio@gmail.com. 

We group gifts according the following age groups:  birth to 1; ages 2 to 4; ages 5 to 7; ages 8-11; and ages 12-15

Gifts should not exceed $25 (original retail value).

One $25 gift is preferable to five $5 gifts as it is difficult to group items together to equal a $25 gift.

If you don’t want to purchase a $25 gift, any monetary donation will be gladly accepted. 

Books are a separate category and our goal is to provide each child with a gift and a book.  (both hard cover and paperback books are appropriate)

If you purchase a gift that requires batteries, please purchase those as well and attach them to the gift.  It’s so discouraging to receive a gift with no batteries.

Consider buying a gift that would be appropriate for both boys and girls such as balls or board games. 

Don’t forget the older children.  It is often easier to buy gifts for younger children.  There is always a shortage of gifts for older children.

No used items, homemade items, or gift cards can be accepted. 

The following items are NOT acceptable: jewelry, balloons, crayons, play dough, glue.  bubbles, make up, long sticks, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or paint brushes, glass items, clothing, sharp tools or toy weapons of any kind.

Thank you!

 

GUEST BLOG: Preaching Climate Justice

GUEST BLOG by The REV. ANDREW K. BARNETT

The Rev. Andrew K. Barnett serves as Bishop’s Chair for Environmental Studies and Food Justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, and pianist with Theodicy Jazz Collective.

NOTE: The Theodicy Jazz Collective will be performing at St. Paul's School on October 19th at 4pm!

Strolling About Genesis

Imagine strolling about creation with those first lucky few. God makes nothing into something, and it is very good. Look around! Squint at the sun governing the blue sky day. God gives us the sun and it fuels the earth. Enjoy the giant trees, unfurling emerald leaves in the wispy clouds. This is the charity of sunshine and plants, and God says they are very good.

Feel the rich, dark soil, tickling your toes, cushioning your feet. Scoop up a handful and drizzle it between your hands – you just brushed 1,000 living things. They root around underground, turning old bodies into new soil, breathing new life into the garden. This is dry land, and God says it is very good.

Listen – can you hear the sweet water gurgling past mossy stones? Follow the stream as it splashes over a waterfall into a bubbly blue lake. Cup your hands for a refreshing drink. Dive into the lake – be soothed as the water glides over your skin – head to toe! Open your eyes and watch beaver, fish and bugs frolic amid watery sunbeams. Swim across the lake, rest on a smooth sun-warmed rock and trace the river that carries sweet water to the ocean. Smell the salty sea breeze, glimpse the shoals of fish gorging on the river’s nutrient buffet. Watch the dolphins, otters and whales chomp the smaller fish. This is water and life, and God says they are good.

Take a deep breath. [Pause. Breathe.] Taste the crystal air as it runs over your tongue. The oxygen in that air came from land plants and billions of tiny ocean creatures who breathe our atmosphere into being. Wide eyed, speechless with gratitude, we listen to God’s instructions for creation care:

“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:28, 31).

Dominion? Really?

Now, God had options for that opening phrase to all of humanity. In these first breathless words, God welcomes us to earth and teaches creation care. As Genesis gives us sovereignty over creation, a close reading of that word “dominion” – Radvah in Hebrew – teaches us to care for “this fragile earth, our island home” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 370).

Radvah implies “care-giving, even nurturing,” the very antithesis of exploitation (“New Interpreter’s Bible: Genesis”, Abingdon, 1994). It’s fascinating to watch the way people used this word Radvah in non-biblical literature. They often used it to describe a beloved king. Sure, the king could rule with an iron fist, hoard the food, waste the water and forget about the next 100 years. But those kings tended to lose their heads in revolutions.

Through this word Radvah, Genesis calls humanity to treat creation the way God cares for us: with love and wisdom, with care, with stewardship for the long haul.

Dear people of God, the truth is that we are spoiling our beautiful home. That great dome in the midst of the waters has a fever from too much fire. We need to preach about climate change because it epitomizes our ravaging of creation. And we need to preach climate justice because God calls us to tell a new story.

What Kind of Story Shall We Tell?

Hear Jesus’ summary of the Law:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40).

Hear the prophetic words of former Secretary-General Kofi Anan: “The impact of climate change will fall disproportionately on the world’s poorest countries,” and the poorest communities bear the brunt of the pain.

Now is our time to act on climate change. On a hot and crowded planet, we can no longer talk responsibly of loving our neighbor until we fight with all we have for a stable climate and for a just society.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells all the gathered nations, “I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, and sick.” The truth is that climate change affects every single one of those issues. And Jesus isn’t just talking to individuals.

In Matthew 25, Christ the King addresses all the gathered nations, panta ta ethne in Greek. Scientists tell us that we are on the brink of disaster, and tinkering at the margins will be too little, too late. A new light bulb here, a few seawalls there? No. The time has come to rebuild the way that all the gathered nations conduct our business. We love our neighbors – or not – each time we decide how to heat, cool, travel, ship and farm.

As we seek to love and serve Christ in all persons, may we also come to know Christ in the vital links between climate change and hunger, thirst, refugees, sickness and “the least of these,” who are all members of God’s family.

Preaching Climate Justice

I offer these thoughts as a general primer on climate change preaching. I hope that they will be received, not as advice from an expert, but rather as discoveries from personal experience.

First, as with all preaching and worship, the telos of our work is prayer. Through the Holy Spirit, our sermons help people to deepen their faith and to grow in their walk with Jesus Christ. Another way to say this is, “Preach the gospel and keep the sermon about Jesus.” By the way, that’s not hard to do when we preach about climate change. Any responsible treatment of the summary of the Law, “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself,” necessarily engages global climate stewardship. Carbon emitted from my car will circle the globe in about 26 days, and remain in the oceans and atmosphere for centuries, wreaking more havoc on poor countries in the global south than on the rich countries responsible for the vast majority of climate pollution. And within poor countries, the most impoverished communities will feel the most pain. How would Jesus respond to this raging injustice? What does God call us to say and do in this unprecedented time?

Second, climate change is a gospel issue, one that we must reclaim from the political rancor of our day. It is a political artifact that climate change makes for fightin’ words in America’s halls of power. With the exception of Russia, this is not true in the other advanced economies of the world. No serious statesman in Europe, for example, would stand on the parliamentary floor and question the science of human-caused climate change, much less pass a resolution declaring it a hoax in the middle of the hottest year on record. Yet these things have recently taken place in the United States. It is time for us to change the conversation. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican issue, a squabble to pit red states against blue. Climate change is a moral issue, a threat that faces all humanity, whatever our political allegiances, and we can address this crisis effectively only if we do so together. Cynical efforts to divide us will only squander precious time that we will later wish we had spent cutting pollution and growing healthy communities.

Consider naming the political tension around this issue, and reframing it during the sermon. The preacher might say something like, “I understand this is a divisive topic in today’s media landscape, and it may be hard for us to discuss this together. But I believe we have the courage to bring our faith to this conversation. May we all grow in the dialogue we are about to share.” It can also be helpful to send a draft of the sermon to a more conservative member of the congregation for pastoral feedback. We all need a way to pray together, and it is important to talk about this as a moral issue rather than simply a political one.

Third, climate change is a gospel issue because climate change is a justice issue, affecting poor people first, hardest, and longest. “First” because low-income countries and communities tend to have less warning about extreme weather events, and many of the poorest countries are located in the global south, where climate consequences such as drought, floods, famine and storms are already causing pain. “Hardest” because poor folks often live on cheap land, whose value is reduced because of vulnerability to disaster. For example, property values in New Orleans correspond to elevation, with much of the city below sea level. The lower the land, the cheaper the house, and the more likely that a family will be flooded. “Longest” because poor communities typically lack the resources to rebuild, and when donations come in, the money doesn’t always go to the intended recipients. These injustices are compounded by the fact that rich countries are responsible for most of the global climate’s high levels of greenhouse gas pollution, and poor countries suffer the brunt of the ensuing disasters. The gospel of Jesus Christ can bring compassion and urgency to this conversation on food, water, land and health – and just, loving communities.

Fourth, we can name specific regional consequences of climate change with scientific accuracy and without exaggeration. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changepublishes regular peer-reviewed articles on climate impacts, as do the United States Environmental Protection AgencyYale Project on Climate Change Communication and others. These trusted resources can help preachers stay abreast of the most recent science.

Here’s an example of a peer-reviewed fact that would make compelling sermon material. The United Nations Refugee Agency predicts that climate change will lead to tens of millions of refugees by 2050. The migration of desperately poor people presents a challenge that few countries have met with compassion.

Fifth, we can craft beautiful prayers, songs, liturgy and symbols that honor creation. Think of how many Christian sacraments involve the stuff of earth: bread and wine at Holy Communion, oil for anointing, clear water for baptism, the wood of the cross, flowers on the altar, dust at the grave, and more. Rituals connect us with the transcendent. As we enter a period of increasing loss and instability, we will need more than ever the solace and wisdom that come from rituals that center us in the love of God.

Finally, we can start where we are, with what we know and what we have. When we build local climate solutions that are small enough to manage and big enough to matter, we mobilize pockets of willingness, catalyze local know-how and crack open a window of opportunity. Good things happen.

Parks and bike lanes get built, community gardens get planted, solar panels get installed, strong laws get passed, new markets emerge. Praying shapes believing, but so does action. God has work for us to do.

The work has begun already. God is already at work in our communities, inspiring countless people to search for ways to build a more just and sustainable society. Let’s join that mission – and help to lead it. And even if we have all kinds fears and concerns, let’s look for reasons to start anyway!

I’ve never done this before! Start anyway.

This could be hard! Start anyway.

What if we make mistakes? Start anyway.

I’m too busy and I don’t have enough volunteers! Start anyway.

How will we pay for it? Start anyway.

Who’s gonna lead the committee? Start anyway.

Who will be on the committee? Start anyway.

Should we even have a committee? Start anyway.

It’s not that those questions are irrelevant. We do need to address them. But we can answer them as we go along. Let’s dare to be like the early Christians. Like them, let’s live God’s new story, and see what possibilities emerge – “like wheat that springeth green” (Hymn #204). Let’s find out together what new relationships will grow, what new capacity for love will emerge and what God has in store for us.

The time has come for bold leadership. We follow Jesus, who led boldly and even gave his life. Tables might get turned, and the mighty might tumble, but we follow an even mightier God who stared down Pharaoh and led Israel out of Egypt.

Announcing the dawn of a new age is risky. But that’s what Jesus did. And what we, too, must do. God says, tell a new story. God says, live a new story. For the sake of our children and theirs, a new movement is building. May the incarnate God grant us courage to transform the course of history.

— The Rev. Andrew K. Barnett serves as Bishop’s Chair for Environmental Studies and Food Justice in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, and pianist with Theodicy Jazz Collective.

Bishop Hirschfeld's Sermon from 9/13/17 Ordination

Bishop A. Robert Hirschfeld

Eve of the Holy Cross; September 13, 2017

Diaconal Ordination of Sandi Albom, Shawn LaFrance, Charles Nichols

Texts: Philippians 2:5-11

            John 12:31-36b

We gather tonight to ordain three new deacons of the Church on the Feast of the Holy Cross. Charlie, Sandi, Shawn, you have each travelled the way of the cross to this moment in your lives when you stand ready and eager to dedicate your lives to service in the name of the Crucified Jesus and his Risen Body, the Church. From now on, I hope that whenever September 14th comes around, you will pause in your prayers and reflect on this new anniversary on your personal calendar. What will Holy Cross Day mean for you and your ministry as a deacon, as a servant of Jesus, his church and his world? How might the observance of the day, and your being ordained on this day, shape or inform your diaconate and your ministry as deacon? 

A little investigation into the meaning of this feast would be helpful. Some history that I will quote from a commentary on the Book of Common Prayer. [1]

This feast is known as "The Exaltation of the Holy Cross" in the Eastern church and in missals and sacramentaries of the Western church, and it is known as "The Triumph of the Cross" in the Roman Catholic Church. It was one of the 12 great feasts in the Byzantine liturgy. The 1979 BCP is the first American Prayer Book to include Holy Cross Day.”

Historically, the feast has been associated with the dedication on Sept. 14, 335, of a complex of buildings built by the Emperor Constantine (c. 285-337) in Jerusalem on the sites of the crucifixion and Christ's tomb.

Constantine's mother, Helena (c. 255- c. 330), supervised the construction of the shrine, and a relic believed to be the cross was discovered during the work of excavation.  [I believe that the church of the Holy Sepulchre in the center of the Old City in Jerusalem contains some of the remains of the building that had been destroyed, rebuild, destroyed, and rebuilt by centuries of conflict among the three Abraham faiths over the centuries].

 

Mythologies around the True Cross abound. The artist Pierro della Fransceco in the apse of the Church of St. Francis in Arrezzo, Italy has a series of frescos that tell the story of Tree of Life--you know, the other tree in the Garden of Eden--that had become the source of the wood for the Cross on which our Lord was crucified.  So, there’s a kind of magical power around the idea of the true cross, not unrelated to the magical power of the Indiana Jones movies about the Arc of the Covenant or the Holy Chalice, the Holy Grail.

All this is to say that there is a layer of meaning about the cross that has little to do with what actually happened on the cross, which was, let’s be honest, a bloody execution motivated by religious insecurity and at the hands of a thin-skinned and anxious empire.

Remember, it was Constantine, a non-Christian, who before a battle against a competing Emperor in the year 312 was told in a vision that if his army bore the symbol of the chi-rho, a form of the cross on their shield, they would be victorious.  They wore the cross, Constantine won the battle at the Milvian Bridge. Constantine converted to Christianity, making it the state religion, and in very short order, Christians were no longer a persecuted minority in the Roman Empire, but enjoyed a place of privilege in government, society, and the economy.  Thus Christendom, the era when the marriage between Christianity and the presumption of worldly power, military might, and privilege was born.  As was stated, in some places, today is known not as Holy Cross Day, but the feast of the Triumph of the Cross, the triumph of a Christianity that, having once been oppressed, then becomes aligned with, and an agent of, the oppressor.

Which is not, praise God, what we are celebrating tonight. What we celebrate tonight is a triumph of a much more lasting, eternally enduring, utterly more liberating.  Because, brothers and sisters, Christendom is dead. Indeed, there are many in our culture, nationally, locally, and even in the Church, who grieve and kick against the notion that Christians should accept their status as being on the margins of a society, and who insist that Church needs to reclaim its former entitled and privileged place in society.  Many reject or bristle at the notion of a Church that identifies with the weak, the oppressed, the homeless, the unarmed, the diseased, the rejected, the addicted. And yet, these are precisely the qualities of being human that were lifted up. By Jesus. In his body.  On the hard wood of the cross.

In “by this sign we conquer,” it is not a triumph of military or political power that we celebrate, but the power of weakness, of utter surrender, of vulnerability. Of self-emptying through which the Lordship of Christ springs and brings light, as Jesus says tonight, in the darkness. These are the realities of our frail existence that make the cross we bear indeed, true.  And they are the qualities that the devoted follower of Jesus Christ is called to accept, embrace, and see as the means of our salvation. As an ancient prayer goes, “Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.”  As deacons, you are called to proclaim, remind, and even annoy the Church (including your bishop!) with the message of the True Cross, that path of solidarity with humanity, both broken and beautiful, as none other than the way to the renewal of Christ’s Church. A story of that way to God through the human comes to mind.

Years ago, my oldest son and I had a chance to visit friends in Southern California. It was the week after Easter, and, after a long cold snowy winter in Western Mass, we were looking forward to seeing sun and ocean and to cast off our wet New England wool for a bathing suit and running shorts and t-shirts. On the boardwalk along the beach, we saw roller-bladers with ear plugs, sunglasses. Everyone seemed so fit, sculpted, glamorous, very wealthy, healthy, bronzed, enhanced. On a run along the board walk, I turned to Willie and said, “Toto, we are not in the land of Emily Dickinson anymore.”  It was Sunday morning, and the only reference I saw of Jesus were small gold crosses on tanned men doing their bench presses on Muscle Beach.

We turned to run on the beach itself.  Then in the distance I saw something in the mist of the surf.  An assembly was gathering. I saw a huge white banner flapping in the sea breeze.  As we ran closer I began to make out that people were coming together around the banner which was staked next to a small amplifier speaker and a man with a microphone sitting on the sand.  “Come on in, friends,” he said in a gentle voice.  I looked around and there were people coming who seemed as sleek and groomed as though they were from Hollywood. Others were pushing what must have been stolen shopping carts, their wheels getting clogged in the beach sand. Every shade of skin was there: there were Anglos, Latino, black, Asian, native American, men, women, transgendered, gay, straight. Old, wrinkled, gray-bearded, teenager and middle-aged. Some seemed to be carrying the worn torn soiled sleeping bags they’ve lived in near the pier.  All were there.  The whole span of humanity. “What is this?” I wondered.

And then the man with the microphone shouted, “Good Morning everybody. My name is Jorge, and I am an Addict and it’s a beautiful day!”

And the hundred or so gathering…they were still coming onto the beach, shouted back, “Hi, Jorge!” 

And I looked again what was flapping in the breeze. It was a large, huge, white flag.  A white flag. The symbol of surrender!  We had stumbled upon what I would later learn was the largest twelve step meeting in California.  Outside. Every Sunday. Under the sign of the white flag that could just as easily meant to those gathered…“by this sign conquer.”

It could have been the cross, but for many of us, the cross is a symbol of privilege, of religious domination, of anything but surrender. I have spoken to Jews and Muslims who have been the victims of persecution or ridicule in the name of the Church who really get nervous around proud displays of the Cross.  This is part of our heritage, too.

But I wonder what would our church look like if we see the sign of the cross with the same joy, sense of liberation, serenity, purpose and fellowship as did all those on the beach who gathered to admit their powerlessness, their limitations, and, putting aside all need to keep up appearances, sat in the dirt with each other and asked for their God to get them through just one more day.

That’s what the Holy Cross means for me.  Another story, that I think you probably have your own version of, and if you don’t yet, you will as a deacon.  Last Sunday I walked out of a Church where I believed I, as their bishop, helped. At least I did no harm.  I was feeling relieved, exhilarated, even gratified in my work and role.  I was walking to my car parked on the street and I could hear a Jeep coming down the road.  Not wanting to open the door and get side swept, I waited for it to pass.  And just as it did, the passenger chose that exact moment to flick his cigarette butt right at me.  So much for my happy, triumphant Sunday.  Again, if you haven’t had an experience like that yet, you will as a deacon.  The collar invites these events, sometimes.

My blood began to boil, as I thought to offer another sign to the Jeep as it revved past me. But then, by God’s grace, and only by God’s grace, I chose to breathe, and even smile, and to pray. I waved.  This is where we are now.  Post Christendom. Post Constantine, relying solely on the Christ who had much worse thrown at him and who answered ridicule, hatred, and insults with love, prayer, forgiveness, prayer. This is the way God calls us.  This is, sometimes, the way of the cross.  Pray. And there is a power in that that stems from more than any accomplishment, any worldly or ecclesiastic success we might enjoy. The power that comes from the love of God who chose love over retaliation and humiliation over domination. I don’t know if my smile or my prayer accomplished anything beyond letting my sadness and anger dissipate, or anything beyond sending a ripple of peace and light into a sin-darkened road.  Just a ripple, and that may have been the most significant thing that I could have done that whole day. Pray and lift up our humanity to God. 

So, on this day, let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who,

though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God

as something to be exploited,

but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,

being born in human likeness, And being found in human form

he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.

Therefore, God also highly exalted him.

May your service as deacons be the means by which you carry the awful and beautiful cross of Jesus, and may God supply you with sufficient joy and grace in following the way he leads, that you may find true life and peace in your service.  Thank you for saying yes to this calling.  AMEN.

 

[1] https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/holy-cross-day

A Message from Episcopal Relief and Development

Thank you for holding us in your prayers as we and our partners continue to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities. Please know that we continue to pray for you also as we work together to heal a hurting world!

Her's how you can help following recent natural disasters:

•   Prayers.

•   Information about Hurricane Harvey.

•   Information about Hurricane Irma.

•   Donate to the Hurricane Relief Fund.

•   Ready to Serve a database of volunteers, ready and willing to respond in the event of a disaster.

•   Download Bulletin Inserts.

 

Culture, Creation and Reconciliation: Bishops in the Jesus Movement

More than 125 bishops of the Episcopal Church will gather in Fairbanks, Alaska to pray, bless the land, visit missions, and discuss the business of the church at the House of Bishops September 21 – 26.

Hosted by Diocese of Alaska Bishop Mark Lattime, this meeting marks the first time the Episcopal bishops have gathered in Alaska for a meeting.

"The Diocese of Alaska is overwhelmed with gratitude and joy to be hosting the HOB,” Bishop Lattime said. “It is a gift to all of us in Alaska to have the Bishops of the Episcopal Church, and their spouses, to come and walk with us; become part of our stewardship story of earth, water, and sky; and to join us in blessing this Great Land. "

The theme of the meeting is Culture, Creation and Reconciliation: Bishops in the Jesus Movement. 

The House of Bishops meeting will be based at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks.  However, the members of the House of Bishops and spouses will be boarding buses and planes to visiting churches in a wide area of Alaska, praying with the people, and blessing the land.   Among the locations to be visited are the Morris Thompson Cultural Center; St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Nenana; St. Jude’s, North Pole; and St. Matthew’s, Fairbanks.

Prayers in Times of Disaster

As we continue to see images of the aftermath of hurricanes and wildfires and earthquakes, in our country and around the world, please consider these prayers for times of disaster.

Prayers in Time of Disaster

On the Occasion of a Disaster

Compassionate God… Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen

— Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (Church Publishing: New York), page 733

in Tagalog

A Prayer for First Responders

Blessed are you, Lord, God of mercy, who through your Son gave us a marvelous example of charity and the great commandment of love for one another. Send down your blessings on these your servants, who so generously devote themselves to helping others. Grant them courage when they are afraid, wisdom when they must make quick decisions, strength when they are weary, and compassion in all their work. When the alarm sounds and they are called to aid both friend and stranger, let them faithfully serve you in their neighbor. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

— Adapted from the Book of Blessings, #587, by Diana Macalintal


Prayer for Preparedness and Response 

O God, our times are in your hand.  In the midst of uncertainty lead us by your never-failing grace as we seek to be agents of healing and hope.  Walk with us through difficult times; watch over us in danger; and give to us a spirit of love and compassion for those who suffer and mourn.  And finally remind us that you have promised never to leave us so that even in the valley of the shadow of death your love may be felt, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

— The Rev. Lyndon Harris, from the Episcopal Diocese of New York disaster preparedness plan
 

For a Person in Trouble or Bereavement

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom our prayers are offered. Remember him, O Lord, in mercy, nourish his soul with patience, comfort him with a sense of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon him, and give him peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, page 831

Evening Prayer II

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen. 

Book of Common Prayer, page 124
 

Prayer for Haiti 2014

O blessed Lord, whose own death shook the earth, be with our sisters and brothers in Haiti as they begin their fifth year of recovery from the earthquakes of 2010. Continue to lead them on their path of healing and restoration, and guide all of us who walk along with them. May they perceive your love and mercy in the partnerships they build with the members of your body, and may they know your mercy as they minister one to another. In your blessed name we pray. Amen.

Prayer for Peace 

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
 

In Times of Conflict

O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Book of Common Prayer, page 824 

Prayer for Refugees

Dear Lord,

You know what it means to be a refugee. You also lost all and perhaps remembered how you came to be hungry and naked, thirsty and cold, prisoners in a camp or prisoners in our own minds. They even took your cloak and you had nothing left, except some people who came by to quench your thirst, to give you a blanket and to help carry your burden.

Lord Jesus, for God's sake, let us be those people who bring comfort, food and water, and an encouraging word. And may we then hear the words softly spoken: "insofar as you did it unto these people who are the least of my brothers, you did it unto me.  Go in peace!"

By Brother Andrew L. de Carpentier, Jordan

Prayer for Crisis in South Sudan

Most merciful God, whose peace surpasses all understanding, protect your children in South Sudan as they struggle for safety amid political unrest; guide them as they seek basic sustenance; and bless them as they forge a new path. Be with our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as they respond to the crisis around them, so that their hearts and minds will be guarded to carry on the work of your son Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, in whose name we pray. Amen. 

A Prayer for Episcopal Relief and Development

A Prayer for Episcopal Relief & Development

Loving and merciful God, you bestow your grace on all of your children: Remember our sisters and brothers throughout the world who, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, strengthen communities, empower the poor, nourish the hungry, restore the sick and uplift those affected by disaster; and uphold Episcopal Relief & Development for the next seventy-five years, so that your Kingdom might be known to all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Prayers of the People

A bidding prayer for an end to global poverty and instability. Based on the United Nations Millennium Development Goalsprovided by the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations.
 

Brothers and sisters in Christ: Before he was crucified, our Savior Jesus Christ promised to draw to himself all things whether in heaven or on earth. Let us pray, therefore, that the peace accomplished through the Cross of Christ may be realized in our own world and our own relationships. Let us pray for the Church and the world God so loves, for peace among all nations, and for the reconciliation of all people and all things in the Name of Christ.

Silence

Almighty God, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have the grace to take up our cross and follow him in pursuit of your work of reconciliation in the world. God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the poor, hungry, and neglected all over the world, that their cries for daily bread may inspire works of compassion and mercy among those to whom much has been given.

Silence

Almighty and most merciful God, you command us to offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted; Grant that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart; that, following in the steps of your blessed Son, we may give of ourselves in the service of others until poverty and hunger cease in all the world, and all things are reconciled in the reign of Christ. God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for schools and centers of learning throughout the world, for those who lack access to basic education, and for the light of knowledge to blossom and shine in the lives of all God’s people.

Silence

Eternal God, the author and source of all knowledge and Truth: bless all who seek to learn and those who teach them, and inspire us to break down barriers that withhold education from your children; that, enlightened with the bright beams of Wisdom, all may be equipped to seek the blessings of liberty, justice, and peace. God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for an end to the divisions and inequalities that scar God’s creation, particularly the barriers to freedom faced by Godユs children throughout the world because of gender; that all who have been formed in God’s image might have equality in pursuit of the blessings of creation.

Silence

O God, in whom there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free: Unite the wills of all people, that the walls which divide us and limit equality among your children may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; so that all may live together in justice, harmony, and peace.God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the health of women, children and families around the world, especially for an end to maternal and child mortality, that in building healthy families, all God’s people may be empowered to strengthen their communities and repair the breaches which divide nations and peoples.

Silence

Almighty and ever-living God, giver of life and love, and Sanctifier of all families: Protect the health and safety of all women in childbirth and the children whom they bear, and inspire your people to work for an end to the deadly conditions which fuel maternal and child mortality throughout the world; that, in building strong and healthy families and communities, all may be strengthened to do your will on earth until the day when you gather us into one heavenly family. God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for an end to pandemic disease throughout the world, particularly the scourges of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis; that plagues of death may no longer fuel poverty, destabilize nations, and inhibit reconciliation and restoration throughout the world.

Silence

God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of all who suffer: Grant your saving health to all who are afflicted by disease throughout the world. Bless the labors of all who minister to the sick, and unite the wills of nations and peoples in seeking an end to the pandemics of our age; that sickness may be turned to health, sorrow turned to joy, and mourning turned to praise of your Holy Name.God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for an end to the waste and desecration of God’s creation, for access to the fruits of creation to be shared equally among all people, and for communities and nations to find sustenance in the fruits of the earth and the water God has given us.

Silence

Almighty God, you created the world and gave it into our care so that, in obedience to you, we might serve all people: Inspire us to use the riches of creation with wisdom, and to ensure that their blessings are shared by all; that, trusting in your bounty, all people may be empowered to seek freedom from poverty, famine, and oppression.God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer. 

Let us pray for all nations and people who already enjoy the abundance of creation and the blessings of prosperity, that their hearts may be lifted up to the needs of the poor and afflicted, and partnerships between rich and poor for the reconciliation of the world may flourish and grow.

Silence

Merciful God, you have bestowed upon us gifts beyond our imagining and have reminded us that all that we have belongs to you alone and is merely held in trust by human hands: we give you thanks for those moments of reconciliation and grace we see in our world, of wrongs that are made right, knowing that in your love all things are possible. Inspire in our nation, its leaders and people a spirit of greater sacrifice and devotion in the use of our treasures for the reconciliation of your world; that, in forsaking wealth and giving up ourselves to walk in the way of the Cross, we may find it to be none other than the way of life and peace. God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Let us pray for the departed, particularly those who have died as a result of poverty, hunger, disease, violence, or hardness of the human heart;

Silence

Almighty God, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ rose from the tomb and destroyed forever the bondage of sin and death: We commend to your mercy all your departed servants, particularly those who have died as a result of the brokenness of our world; and we pray that we, too, may share with [the Blessed Virgin Mary, ______ and] all the saints in the joy of your heavenly reign.God of love, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

The Celebrant adds a concluding Collect: Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered together and reconciled under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever.

Amen.

Prayers for Women

Equal Partners

Grant, O God, that all
may recognize women
as equal partners in
creation and prophesy.
By the grace of the Holy Spirit,
empower women
at home,
at work,
in government, and
in the hierarchies of
churches,
temples,
mosques,
synagogues, and
all other places of worship.
Provide safety and protection, 
O Gracious Divinity,
and inspire just laws
against all forms
of violence against women.


We ask this through Christ our Savior, Amen.
 

— Lifting Women's Voices - Prayers to Change the World, Chris Knight, New York City, United States

 

MDG Prayers of the People

We pray for the one billion people who live on less than one US dollar per day and for each child of God who dies every 3½ seconds from hunger.  
Lead us eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for the more than 100 million children who are not in school this day.
Lead us to achieve universal primary education for all children.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for women who because of their gender never realize their full potential.
Lead us to promote gender equality and empower women.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those precious children under the age of five who die every 3 seconds due to disease caused by unclean water, sanitation and poor nutrition.
Lead us to reduce child mortality.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for the more than 500,000 women who die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
Lead us to improve maternal health.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for those who die each day from preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Lead us to combat these diseases.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for our environment. Make us good stewards of your creation so that all of your children may lead productive and fruitful lives.
Lead us to ensure environmental sustainability.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

We pray for a fair trading system, increased international aid and debt relief for developing countries so that all peoples may realize their dreams and their potential.
Lead us to create a global partnership for development.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer

 

Winter is Coming: Fall Checklist for Parishes from Church Insurance

Church Insurance is encouraging all parishes to consider a Fall Checklist of needed repairs and projects before winter is upon us. You might think that you can put off preparation for winter — but it makes sense to do an inspection now while the temperature is milder. If you find something that needs to be repaired or replaced, you won’t have to battle inclement weather to do it.

After completing your inspection, remember to write and share a report that shows which tasks were accomplished and which are scheduled to be performed at a later date.

Here is a checklist to help you evaluate what needs to be done:

OUTSIDE

  1. Take a walk, make notes, and initiate plans for repair and clean-up:
    • a. Where do you need to clear up leaves or other items on the ground?
    • b. What repair work might be needed on parking areas, walkways, stairways, handrails, fences, and playgrounds?
    • c. What about debris on the roof, in gutters, downspouts, and flashing? Are any of these areas in need of repair?*
    • d. Is there any damage on outside walls or windows?*
    • e. Where might water collect to form ice? Be especially mindful of areas used as walkways to prevent slip-and-falls.
  2. Make a plan for when you’ll last use gardening equipment—and have it serviced before you store it along with other items for the winter.
  3. As you put away mild weather items, take out your cold weather supplies, like doormats, so people can stamp off snow and ice from their shoes before entering the building.

INSIDE

  1. Arrange to service or replace fire extinguishers.
  2. Check heating installations, plumbing, and insulation for needed repairs to prevent occurrences like freezing. Remember, maintenance saves money.
  3. Inspect window seals and weather stripping on doors. Replace problem areas.
  4. Check lighting for proper functioning; repair or replace fixtures and change burnt-out bulbs.

*Use binoculars to inspect the roof and other high areas. That way, you won’t have to climb ladders.

For more information on Church Insurance, visit their website: https://www.cpg.org/administrators/insurance/

EPPN: Pray, Fast, Act for Food Insecurity

GUEST BLOG from the Episcopal Public Policy Network:

This month we urge prayer, fasting and action to protect funding for school meals and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps. Pray, Fast and Act each month on the 21st.

On September 21, Join The EPPN and the presiding bishops of The Episcopal Church and The ELCA as we:


PRAY for our nation's elected leaders to stand with those who struggle to receive their daily bread.

"Give us openness of soul and courageous, willing hearts to be with our sisters and brothers who are hungry and in pain. We ask for your intercession on behalf of every person hungry for earthly food and hungry for the taste of the Spirit of God. We give thanks that we can be part of that intercession." -from Sharing Abundance, Episcopal Relief and Development
FAST to call attention in our own minds and actions to the plight of hungry children in our nation.

Share on social media using #PrayFastAct and @TheEPPN. On the 21st post a picture of a dinner place setting with the reason you are fasting this month.

ACT by urging our elected representatives to support strong funding for school meals and SNAP.

Prepare yourself for action on the 21st by reading the Office of Government Relation's one-pager on School Meals and Snap Funding.

New UTO Coordinator Announced

The Rt. Rev. Bishop Hirschfeld has appointed Anne Hall of St. Andrews in New London to be the new United Thank Offering coordinator for the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. Anne will be learning more about UTO in preparation for Convention. If you have any questions for her, you can generally reach her at Diocesan House on Tuesdays from 9 am to 1 pm or you can email her at annehall@tds.net.

We are grateful for the longtime service of Marge Burke, of Holy Cross in Weare, in this ministry.

Welcome New Clergy

 

This summer has brought a harvest of new clergy to New Hampshire. Please welcome the following clergy who have recently joined the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire:


The Rev. Nathaniel Bourne, Curate at St. John's Portsmouth, from the Diocese of Western North Carolina. He will be ordained to the priesthood on September 9 at 11 am at St. John's.

The Rev. Joshua Hill, Chaplain at the Holderness School, from the Diocese of Eastern Tennessee.

The Rev. Kate Siberine, Curate at Church of the Good Shepherd in Nashua, from the Diocese of Chicago. Married to the Rev. Zachary Harmon.

The Rev. Zachary Harmon, Vicar, St. Christopher's in Hampstead, from the Diocese of Oregon. Married to the Rev. Kate Siberine.

The Rev. Reed Loy, Rector, St. Andrew's in Hopkinton, canonically resident in New Hampshire, but returning after two years of serving in the Portland, Maine area.

The Rev. Jane Hague, Associate at St. Thomas in Hanover, from the Diocese of Washinton. She will be beginning at the end of September.