Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PCPC Blessings Book 2014

Excerpts from PCPC Blessings Book

The following are a few samples from PCPC Blessings Book:

Here is a sampling for those who may not have a “blessing” as a part of their
family heritage (and maybe for some who want to add a new one):

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad. Amen.

Bless us, O Lord, and these your gifts which we are about to receive from your goodness, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above, then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all God’s love. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed. Amen.

For health and strength and daily food, we praise your name, O Lord. Amen.

Give us grateful hearts, O God, for all your mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God is great and good.

John DeBevoise
Prayers reprinted from Book of Common Worship


The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the courage to face the things I can change, the serenity to accept those things that I cannot and the wisdom to always know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr is the undisputed author of the Serenity Prayer. He is quoted in a 1950 interview regarding the origins of the prayer, saying in a humble manner:
“..the prayer may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don’t think so. I honestly do believe I wrote it myself.”

Although  the version printed above has come to be associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, Niebuhr had a longer version that was published 
dating from the 1930’s. Here is the longer version of the Serenity Prayer from Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.


Bill Wallof's Prayer out of Egypt

Lord Jesus, our Emmanuel Savior,you were born this happy morning. You came bringing light and life into our darkness. You came to your own people but they could find no room for you in their houses or hearts.
Before you were a few days old your family became refugees fleeing before Herod’s brutal  paranoia. The Prince of Peace was hailed with violent rejection.
You walked the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea healing the sick, teaching the truth about your Father. You celebrated God’s grace with people the Temple found unclean. Those in religious authority called you a drunkard and a glutton.
Ultimately, out of obedience, you allowed yourself to be edged out of this world on a cross alone and misunderstood.
No wonder you have a special place in your heart for the poor and the vulnerable. You were one of them. Today we see you in the faces of the least among men.
We pray for the world you love so. We pray that your presence be with those who this night will bring fear, not joy; for soldiers at war, for children who go to bed hungry and for parents who find themselves helpless to provide, for people whose lives have been shattered by economic forces beyond their control, for the sick in mind and body.
We pray for those souls who are hungry for something better than what this world can provide, for people who feel they need to be in control because of some past hurt or because they have never learned to trust. Teach us all how to trust and grant us faith that is genuine and never arrogant or exclusive. You know O Lord that we all stand in need of your mercy.
So tonight we pray for your presence. May your Spirit hover over this world of such great need. Sustain us by resurrection power that brings forth life out of death. May your manger and your cross draw us closer to you that we might find peace for our souls.
We pray our prayers in the name of the one who came that we might have life in all its abundance, Jesus Christ our Lord whose birth we celebrate
Tonight. Amen

A Prayer for Christmas Eve from Bill Wallof,  Dean of the Chapel Emeritus

Irish Blessings

May there always be work for your hands to do.
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your window pane.
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.


God's Gift of Prayer

Prayer is God’s Christmas gift to his people. It is a gift in that it is meant to be beneficial to the one who seeks God in prayer. Historically, prayer has provided clarity in times of confusion, energy to those who are exhausted and sanity when life turns insane. Prayer brings us closer to God’s intent for our lives. No wonder Paul writes, “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ.” Note that prayer is much more than asking God for something (petition). It is an avenue for joy and thanksgiving.
Yet it seems to me that for many people, prayer is experienced as “spiritual burden”, something we “should” do but don’t find time to get around to it. It becomes a matter of “law” rather than “grace”. It is characteristic of sin that we turn God’s gracious gifts into burden. What is intended to bring life only increases our guilt. Think of what humankind has managed to do with other divine gifts: the environment, human sexuality, nuclear energy, etc. You make your own list. What God intends for our benefit we distort by our sin.
Martin Luther helps me when I find myself “too busy” to pray. He wrote, “I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.” Do you begin to see? Prayer is a natural part of our lives that is intended to renew and refuel us for the tasks ahead. Without prayer we will find ourselves running on empty and eventually coming to a stop or crashing. No wonder we find Jesus constantly in prayer as he sought to minister in Galillee and Judea.
Prayer not only energizes us for the tasks ahead, it also renews our minds, bodies and spirits. Something like a vacation, prayer gives us a necessary break. Have you ever thought of praying as a vacation in your day?
I would suggest that one’s prayer life can also provide for “play” or “fun” in the most profound sense of the words. It is a time to dance with God in praise and thanksgiving. I have been accused of being deadly serious about prayer. I plead guilty. Part of my “growing up” is learning how to play, to be light hearted, to have fun….Prayer provides a context for the experience of joy.
This Christmas season may we enjoy God and his gift of prayer. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come.”    -   Bill Wallof

'John's Prayer for the Homeless

Let us remember to pray for each other, pray for our homes, and pray for all those who have no place to call home.
“Dear God, thank you for this house and the home you have built here. Thank you for the dinner table, the beds we tucked our children in, the yard that was mowed and the kitchen floor mopped.
Thank you, God, for your love which has filled life with the laughter and tears, scrapes and bruises, meals and embraces shared under this roof.
We are blessed to have lived here. Comfort those people who have no house and must endure hardships we have never known. Keep them safe and secure in the shelter of your care. Amen.
May God bless your home.
         -Reverend John DeBevoise

                Jesus on the subject of Prayer
Matthew 6:5-15
And when you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On Dying Well

Some of us live well. Those who live well are often said to “have it all together”. That includes planning their lives down to the smallest details. It may even mean planning for funeral arrangements well in advance of their own deaths. My parents were often amused by the “big surprise” my grandfather gave them. He was so excited he called them both to the phone and announced he had purchased adjoining burial plots for the four of them together. Of course, simply because you may plan your own funeral, doesn’t necessarily mean you have got it all together. It could signify that you are a super control freak.
But even those of us who are skeptical can envy the organizational skills of others who may find it to be a good and positive thing to plan on dying well. If nothing else, one can truly say that it’s the only time we can envision where for once, all of our cares and woes will truly be behind us.
To that end, we can all learn to die well. Something that inspires me about the art of planning a funeral is the choice of hymns. It can say a lot about the person who can vary the assortment which usually includes a dutiful version of “Amazing Grace”. Amazing Grace is beautiful, no question. But there are so many other great and inspiring hymns that can uplift the souls of those left behind. For instance, “When Morning Gilds the Skies” is full of such flowing and evocative images. When Morning Gilds the Skies, My heart awakening cries, May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or even the old chestnut, In the Garden. I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses, And…he…walks with me, and he talks with me, and he tells me I am His own, and the joy we share, as we tarry there, none other, has ever known…
Then there’s “Joyful, Joyful we adore thee” and “Ode to Joy”.These are the type of uplifting and spiritual hymns that to my way of thinking should be the baseline for all services. Of course, we can also give our loved ones a much-needed laugh as one of my friends did at the end of his funeral service. We left the chapel with the song, “Drop Kick me Jesus, through the Goal Posts of Life” ringing in our ears.
I believe the old adage that "Funerals are for the Living, not the dead”, is correct.  In some respects, we may give our loved ones the final element of comfort in the joy of Christian Living as we celebrate the lives we have led, and the love we have shared. That is the point that Jesus was making. Love conquers all, even death in the end.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bless Them All

In regard to the current crisis in the Middle East, I’m reminded of an old song I heard in a movie with Robert Ryan. I believe the film was called, “Marine Raiders” and featured this song where they stood around a piano and sang, “Bless Them All”. It went something like this:

Bless 'em all,
Bless 'em all.
The long and the short and the tall,

Bless all those Sergeants and WO1's,
Bless all those
Corporals and their blinkin'/bleedin' sons,
Cos' we're saying goodbye to 'em all.
And back to their
Billets they crawl,
You'll get no promotion this side of the ocean,
So cheer up my lads bless 'em all
The song stuck with me. It comes to mind repeatedly when I see and hear the sad news emanating from Gaza. Both sides are hurting and are caught in a cycle of violence and mis-understanding and hatred. We are hearing stories of one side pitted against the other.
God would not be willing to take sides, and neither should we. But rather simply say, “Bless Them All, bless them all, the Long and the Short and the Tall” I am hoping and praying for the violence to end sooner rather than later. I pray for cooler heads to prevail to forge a lasting peace for the people who live their lives in this troubled region.
God, I am grateful to live in a place where rockets and bombs are not a part of my everyday existence. Please make us mindful of those who do not live in a peaceful land. Give them hope that soon they too may live in a settled and peaceful environment. In Christ’s Name, Amen