I went out to till the garden. I ran the tiller over the hard soil, mixing in compost and manure. At the end I saw rich dark loose earth ready for seeds and plantlings.
I was satisfied with my work but had to realize that the work wasn’t done. It wasn’t done for the rest of the season: the planting, watering, weeding, harvesting, canning and eating were still yet to come.
Even though the work was incomplete but it was enough for the day. Even though the work wasn’t perfect, even if it was only good, then I could take rest in it being good enough for the day.
Let us pray.
Almighty God, in whom no work is perfect except your work and in whom no word is final except your Word: we offer you our work today, imperfect and incomplete. Take this offering from us, limited as it is, and give us rest and peace to serve you for one more day. Amen.
Our bodies produce one quart of saliva every day. Unconsciously, we swallow it without a problem. But, if someone brought us a glass of our own saliva to drink, we’d find it tough to swallow.
Externalizing is the process of getting an idea out of our internal world and looking at it from the outside. Doing this is hard because we must set aside our own logic, motivations and ambitions. We also must have the courage to take something close to us and dare to see it in a way that makes it harder to swallow.
For this reason we turn to God in prayer, as God alone, by definition, is external to all of us and our vested points of view.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Spirit, help us acknowledge the limited horizons of our vision and give us the gift of courage to see all things from your elevated, ineffable, external vantage. Amen.
Almighty God, our creator and our redeemer. When you created us as human beings you gave us minds to reason and to reflect; you gave us hearts for compassion, and kindness, and understanding. We confess to you that all too often we neglect the gifts of heart and mind when we succumb to fear, and to pressures from others, and to sloganeering. And so we ask that you restore us to cast off fear and take on courage, and to use our minds and hearts as the gift you intended them to be. And seeing in one another that we are all frail human beings, succumb to the same fears and pressures and, yet, aspiring to be the noble stuff for which you have created us to be. And seeing each other in this way, strengthen us to work for the service of your people, created, here in New Hampshire, together. Amen.
There are two refrains in parish ministry that you all can relate to. The first is, “Nice sermon, Father.” That one comes with a good handshake and is either from someone who doesn’t know what to say to a priest or is from someone who wants something from me.
The second is, “What are you thinking, Father?” Recently I was pulled into a pew after Sunday services and thoroughly dressed down by a parishioner who didn’t like how I taught the youth Confirmation class.
Unfortunately, both harsh criticism and ingratiating praise come your way and may way because they work on us so well. Because our egos are manipulated by the tiniest of words, we must set aside time to clear our minds and listen only to God for a moment.
Let us pray.
Holy Spirit, sweep out our minds of the loose dirt of praise and criticism, not that we be true to ourselves but keep our selves true to your wisdom, your word and your Love. Amen.