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St. Thomas' Episcopal Church
315 Lindsey Street • Reidsville, N.C.

Youth Mission Trip 2007
Spiritual Program

Sunday |  Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Sunday Evening  

The Promises of God


Isaiah 42: 1- 9

1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people,  a light to the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. 9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.


The gift of a promise


What a marvelous thing a promise is! When a person makes a promise, she reaches out into an unpredictable future and makes one thing predictable: she will be there even when being there costs her more than she wants to pay. When a person makes a promise, he stretches himself out into circumstances that no one can control and controls at least one thing: he will be there no matter what the circumstances turn out to be. With one simple word of promise, a person creates an island of certainty in a sea of uncertainty. 

Yes, somewhere people still make and keep promises. They choose not to quit when the going gets rough because they promised once to see it through. They stick to lost causes. They hold on to a love grown cold. They stay with people who have become pains in the neck. They still dare to make promises and care enough to keep the promises they make. I want to say to you that if you have a team you will not desert, if you have people you will not forsake, if you have causes you will not abandon, then you are like God.  God�s promises have a special name�we call them covenants.                                                                  A covenant is a pact, an agreement between equals and sometimes,  unequals.   In a covenant, each party agrees to terms that will be of mutual benefit. The making of covenants calls for mutual aid and assistance, partnership, accountability, and shared rewards and joys.  God made many covenants with Israel while they wandered in the wilderness because the people broke them often. As children of God, man failed to be faithful to God or to show mercy to each other�and despite this betrayal, God�s mercy and grace was extended to give them another chance. Each time they broke their covenants, God remained true to each agreement that He had made.   Through the eons, God�s promises have included a position of dominion, a guarantee of mercy, a community and guaranteed inheritance, a plan for justice, a home of rich abundance, and through the death of His son, Jesus, the gift of atonement. In return, man�s part of the agreement is (to) :


love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with   all your mind.' 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a           second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  (Matthew 22:   37-39)


As the week proceeds, we will be talking about God�s promises even as we actively seek to honor His commandment to love one another as Christ loved us�in what we say and in what we do. 


Let us pray:

Lord, we are ready.  We are here in this place to be your servants.  We all desperately want to please you, both those of us who have done this before and those of us who are new at this mission.  We enter this week looking to receive nothing in return from those we will serve.  We hope to love without conditions as your Son taught us, knowing that we may be the only �Jesus� that some of these people will ever see.  Help us to walk in your ways and to the glory of your name, in Your name we pray.  Amen.




Monday Morning

The promise of Dominion

A reading from Genesis 1:26-31

26Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth,  and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;  male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and 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."                    29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so.                                                                            31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


He Did It for You


Why did God do it?  A shack would have sufficed, but He gave us a mansion.  Did He have to give the birds song and the mountains a peak?  Was He required to put stripes on the zebra and a hump on the camel?  Would we have known the difference if He had made the sunsets gray instead of orange?. . .Why wrap up creation in such splendor?  Why go to such trouble to give such gifts?

Why do YOU?  You do the same.  I�ve seen you searching for a gift.  I�ve seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles.  I�m not talking about the obligatory gifts.  I�m not describing the last minute purchase of drugstore perfume on the way to the birthday party.  I�m talking about that extra-special person and that extra-special gift. . .Why do you do it?  You do it so the eyes will pop.  You do it so the heart will stop.  You do it to hear those words of disbelief, �You did this for me?�

That�s why you do it.  And that is why God did it.  Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way.  Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, �do you like it?  I did it just for you.�


from The Great House of God by Max Lucado



Monday Lunch Meditation


Listen to these words from the Catechism (The Book of Common Prayer)


God the Father


Q. What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?

A.   We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.


Q. What does this mean?

A. This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of             a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.


Q. What does this mean about our place in the universe?

A.   It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God�s purposes.


Q. What does this mean about human life?

A.   It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.


Q. How was this revelation handed down to us?

A.   This revelation was handed down to us through a community created by a covenant with God.


The Miriam Parable

Once there was a peasant girl named Miriam who lived in a small village. Her widowed mother had spent much time instructing the girl about the proper way to behave and taught Miriam right from wrong. The summer of her twelfth year, Miriam's family became quite destitute. A region-wide drought caused the family's garden plot to wilt, then die. There would be no vegetables to put up and savored through the cold months ahead. Food became very difficult to find.

At first, Miriam missed the taste of fresh corn and carrots. Then she craved them. Each day Miriam had to venture further from home to find water for her family's needs and every day she desired what she had always taken for granted. Then the day came when Miriam discovered an artesian well. Water gushed forth, providing fresh, clean, cold water from deep under the ground. She followed the stream as it flowed from the well and discovered a beautiful garden filled with sweet corn, potatoes, carrots and cabbage and a generous variety of vegetables more numerous than she had ever seen. She could almost taste a fresh pot of homemade stew made from the abundance of these beautiful plants. The longer she looked at the garden, the more she desired the crops.

After entertaining the idea for far too long, Miriam hurriedly loaded her apron with as many vegetables as she could carry and then she returned the way she came, glancing furtively behind her, knowing she had stolen - knowing that what she had done was wrong.

"Where did you get those vegetables?" A man's voice startled Miriam.

"I uh," she stammered, "I found them."

"In the middle of a drought?" The man queried. "I think not," he challenged gently.

Miriam wrestled with defiance, then anger, followed by a rather feeble attempt at justifying her act of thievery. In the end she could do no less than admit that she had indeed stolen the garden produce.

"I knew that you took my vegetables," the man stated.

"Your vegetables," Miriam blustered.

"`Tis true. I have worked hard all summer growing these crops and I had grand plans for them," the man added significantly.

"I am so ashamed," Miriam replied bowing her head.

The man was warmed by Miriam's act of contrition. "I am willing to extend to you either mercy or grace. Which is your desire?" The man asked.

"Are they not the same thing, sir?" Miriam asked.

"Indeed not, my lady," the man replied.

"Then please explain what mercy provides?" she asked.

"If I were to grant mercy, you would be completely forgiven for taking my vegetables," the man replied.
"Then this is what I most desire," the young girl said relieved.

"Perhaps this is true, yet you will hear the matter of grace," the man insisted, "Should I extend grace, you would be invited to come and gather any vegetables from my garden that you like at any time you like. It would be as if you were a member of my family with all the rights of a daughter."

Miriam marveled at the gifts offered to her. She knew that she did not deserve the man's kindness and yet she longed in equal measure for both mercy and grace.

"Sir, I do not deserve either mercy or grace. For I deserve a punishment and am in no way deserving of the rights of a family member. Still, I could not leave with a pure heart without an equal measure of both," Miriam said with a tear gleaming in her eye.

The man smiled broadly and replied, "My dear child, you shall indeed have both - Mercy and Grace. For in my mercy I will not exact a punishment that is justly deserved and in my grace I will give to you what can never be earned."







Monday Evening


A reading from the Psalter


8   Domine, Dominus noster


1   O Lord our Governor, *

    how exalted is your Name in all the world!


2   Out of the mouths of infants and children *

    your majesty is praised above the heavens.


3   You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *

    to quell the enemy and the avenger.


4   When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *

    the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,


5   What is man that you should be mindful of him? *

    the son of man that you should seek him out?


6   You have made him but little lower than the angels; *

    you adorn him with glory and honor;


7   You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *

    you put all things under his feet:


8   All sheep and oxen, *

    even the wild beasts of the field,


9   The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *

    and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.


10  O Lord our Governor, *

    how exalted is your Name in all the world!


Monday evening story

�In the Beginning�  from Tell Me the Story by Max Lucado


The Father was dreaming.  I could see it in His eye--the sparkle.  It was there again. 

�What is it you see, my King?�

He didn�t turn, but kept His gaze fixed on the great emptiness-the massive, boundless, unending space.  The more He looked, the more His eyes would dance.  I knew He saw something.

I looked in the same direction.  I leaned forward and stared intently.  All I saw was emptiness.  All I ever saw was emptiness.

I hadn�t seen the sphere that He had pulled out of the sky.  �Where was that?�  I asked, as He began molding it in His hands.

�It was there, �He replied, looking outward.  I looked and saw nothing.  When I turned, He was smiling.  He knew a seraph�s vision was too limited.

The same thing happened with the water.  �Where did this come from?  I asked, touching the strange substance.

�I saw it, Michael�.  He chuckled as He filled an ocean from His palm.  �And when I saw it, I made it.  I saw it near the stars.�

          �The what?�

          �The stars.�  Out into the void, He reached.  When He pulled back His hand, He kept it closed as if to entice me to lean forward.  I did.  And just as my face was near, He opened His hand.  A burst of light escaped, and I looked up just in time to see it illuminate His face, too.  Once again, He was smiling.

          �Watch how they sparkle,� He reveled.  And with a flip of His wrist, the palmful of diamonds soared into the blackness until they found their destiny, and they were hung. 

          �Won�t the children love them?� the Maker said as together as we watched the twinkling begin. 

          I still wasn�t sure what or who these children were, but I knew they occupied a place in the Dream like nothing else.  Ever since the Dream started, the Father spoke often of these children--what they would be like, how they would respond. 

          I remember once, the Father held the sphere in one hand and motioned to me with the other.  �Come.  See what the children will see.�  He then put His fingers to His lips and blew gently.  Off His fingertips floated tiny whiffs of white cotton balls of fluff.

          �What do they do?�  I asked as the train of puffs sailed toward the globe. 

          �Oh, Michael,� He boomed with excitement, �they do everything.  They give shade.  They give rain.  But most of all, My children can watch them pass and if they look closely, they will see Me.�

          That was the way He thought about everything.  All the Dream was for the children.  And in all the Dream was the Father.  With a waterfall, He said, �I made it small so they could run in and out.�  With the dandelion: �This is just the right size for the children to blow.� and the rivers in the canyon: �They can sit right here and watch the water race into the valley.�

          �But where are the children?� I once asked, looking into the same place from whence had come the rest of the Dream.

          �Oh, not out there,� responded the Artist.  There was urgency in His voice as He repeated, �Not out there.�

          But that is all the Father said.  And that�s all I asked.

          With the coming of the creatures, I almost forgot.  We laughed so much as He made them.  Each one was special.  The tiny wing for the mosquito.  The honk so unlike any other sound for the goose.  The shell for the turtle.  The darting eyes of the owl.

          He even let me decorate a few.  I put violet in the butterfly wings, and He loved my idea to stretch the elephant�s nose.

          What fun it was as the heavens gave birth to fowl and fish, reptile and rodent!  No more had the little ones scurried off His palm than the giant ones appeared.  He grabbed the giraffe and stretched its neck, and He put a whole in the whale�s head (�so it will come to the surface to breath and the children will see it.�)

          �What will we call them all?� I asked. 

          �I will leave that up to the children.�

          The children�I had almost forgotten.  But He hadn�t.  As the last winged creature left His fingers, He turned and looked at me and I knew. 

          �It�s time?�

          �Yes, it�s time.�

          I expected to see His eyes dance again.  But they didn�t.  I anticipated eagerness.  But He didn�t begin.  For a long period, He sat looking out into the void�longer than normal.

          �Do You see the children?�

          �No.  They are not to be found out there.�

          �Then what do You see?�

          �I see their deeds.�

          He spoke softly.  The joy was gone from His voice. 

          �What? What is it? What is it You see?�

          Perhaps it was because He thought I needed to know.  Or maybe because He needed someone else to know.  I�m not sure why, but He did what He had never done.  He let me see.  As if the sky were a curtain, He took it and pulled it back.

          Before I could see it, I could smell it.  The stench stung my eyes.  �It�s greed you smell,� He explained.  �A love for foolish, empty things.�

          I started to turn away.  But my King didn�t, so I didn�t I looked again.

          It was so dark�a darkness unlike the starless sky�a blackness like the void.  This darkness moved.  It crept.  It shadowed and swayed.  It was a living soot.  He knew my thoughts and spoke. 

          His words were slow and spaced.  �They will put it out.�


          �They will destroy that which makes them Mine.�

          It was then that I saw it the first time.  He reached into Himself�deep into His own self and pulled it out.  A flame.  A shining circle.

          It glowed brilliantly in His palm.  Much brighter than the constellations He had spread about or the sun He�d ignited.

          �This is . . .� I began.

          �This is part of Me,�  He finished and added what I couldn�t have imagined.  �And out of Me, I will make My children.�

          For the first time I saw.  I saw why children were so treasured.  I saw the uniqueness in them.  They bore His light�the universe He created, the children He fathered. 

          �But the darkness?� I had to ask.  �Why?�

          �Just as I chose, so must they choose.  Else they won�t be Mine.�

          Just then His face lifted.  His eyes brightened, �But they won�t all forget Me.  Look.�

          Into tomorrow I gazed.  At first I saw nothing.  Just swarthy darkness billowing.  But then, as I searched, I saw.  First, only one, then a cluster, then more�lights, they were.  Flickers of candles, weakened but not lost in the blackness.  Like the stars He had cast against the black heavens, these flames flickered in a sable sea.

          �It�s My children.� There was pride in His voice.  �My children remember.�

          The look on His face, I cannot forget.  His eyes had sparkled when He suspended the planets in space;  His cheeks had danced as He heard the cat purr.  I had seen His face alive before�but not like now.  For at this moment�when He saw those who were His seeking Him�He celebrated.  His countenance exploded with joy.  His head flew back, and laughter shook the stars.

          �My children, My children, My children,� were His only words.  And then, He paused, wiped the tears from His face, and pledged a promise for all of Heaven to hear. 

          �You haven�t forgotten me; I won�t forget you.�

          Then He turned to me. �To the work, Michael; we�ve much to do.  We must make the Dream come true.�

          And I thought making the animals was a delight.  �No two will be alike, He vowed as He began reaching into Himself for balls of light.  �Some big, some small.  Some timid, some bold. Some with big ears, some with little.�  And off His palm they came.  Generation chosen.  Destination determined.  Each with a different thread of character or shape of body.

          But each with a bit of Him�a light within.

          And He even let me help.  �Look what I made, Father,� I told him.  �I call them freckles.  Let me show You how they work.�

          And He smiled.


TANGIBLE:  A TRICK BIRTHDAY CANDLE (the light that won�t go out)


Tuesday morning 

The promise of Mercy


Morning Meditation

A reading from Genesis 9: 7-17

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it."

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.  11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

12 God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."


�Rain� from

One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick.

Suddenly, my daughter, Aspen, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. "Dad, I'm thinking of something."

This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while, and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

"What are you thinking?" I asked.

"The rain!" she began, "is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away."

After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. "That's really good, Aspen."

Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked... "Do you notice how the rainwater keeps on coming? What does that tell you?"

Aspen didn't hesitate one moment with her answer:

"We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us." I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on.

In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain.


Let us pray:

There is no sound like rain, God.  Rain on  a roof, rain on the ground, rain on the trees, it�s all good.  There is a sense of newness in the water, God.  There is a sense of second chances.  You send the rain to care for the planet.  It brings new life and new hope.  The rain brings relief.  We need these things, too, God.  We need new life.  We need hope.  God, we need relief!  But there is joy in the water.  There is joy in the drenching feeling of playing in the rain.  There is peace in the sound and smell of it.  Wash away all that covers us, God.  Our mistakes cling to us like dirt.  Make us new, God.  Thank you for rain, second chances, and the newness of life around us.  Amen. 


Tuesday Lunch time meditation


This morning�s scripture has its beginning a few chapters before.  It has its beginning in God�s anger and frustration.  The days of creation, in which God delighted and called good are but a few chapters old.  But already, in so short a time, his creation has so angered and disappointed him that He is sorry He ever made us and so annoyed that He decides to wipe us off the face of the earth.  This is a profoundly disturbing portrait of God.  In human terms we would say that God was out of control, that he had lost it, that he had, perhaps, gone ballistic.  On the other hand, this may be some of the best evidence there is that we are created in God�s image.  Have you ever felt a nearly uncontrollable rage toward another person or a situation?  I would suppose only a few of us have never experienced a murderous rage, often at someone we loved not long before.  In this example of God�s rage and the covenant of its aftermath, we find a roadmap for mercy and reconciliation with which we hopefully can identify. 


In today�s passage, we encounter a different emotion of God.  The rains have ceased.  The waters have receded.  The land is once again visible.  And the

God we meet here is a contrite and apologetic God.  In his promise, he offers a �do-over�, a second chance, a new way of being.  In his promise, God now promises to never destroy the earth or its inhabitants again, no matter how wicked they are, no matter how angry they make him.  Imagine the scene.  The waters of the flood have slowly receded.  The air is still filled with misty vapors.  The clouds have finally begun to break.  The rain has abated to just light sun showers.  And there is a rainbow in the sky. 

          But why did God use the rainbow as a sign of this new covenant with creation?  Was it the lovely colors?  Probably not.  Was it that the rainbow is associated with rain, and so it�s an appropriate symbol for what God has promised never to do again?  That�s possible, but it isn�t a very persuasive symbol if that�s the reason.  God could have picked the dove which returned to the ark with the green twig or the bright sun, symbolizing no more floods. There are many things that would have worked as well as the rainbow if God was just looking for a memento from the ending of the flood.

          One imagines God looking down at the flooded earth where every creature save those in the ark had drowned, and asking himself: �What have I done?� And so God has set a reminder in place.  God has selected the rainbow as the symbol of this new way of being because when God is about to do something He will regret, the first cloudbursts of his rage will put the rainbow in the sky to remind him to stop before it is too late.  So, we see that God�s intentions have changed enormously, even if God�s fiery passion has not.  In the end, the story of Noah and the flood is really a story of the birth of God�s mercy, and a roadmap for change and reconciliation for his creation.




Tuesday night meditation




We usually see the rainbow as an arc in the sky.  Sometimes, we might even see a half-circle stretching from the land, up into the sky, then back to the land.  If the weather doesn�t cooperate to give us the requisite moisture, we can �create� our own rainbows by spraying a fine mist into the air.  If you are sitting in the right place in relationship to the light, you can see the rainbow start on one side of you and come down on the other side of you �you will be sitting in the middle of a rainbow.

In ideal circumstances, where clouds or buildings are not in the way, the rainbow may actually be a circle.  Such rainbows are rarely observed in nature; but occasionally, the elements conspire to give us that perfect design�at the base of a waterfall, or looking into the clouds or fogbank with strong light source from behind the observer.  Such a rainbow is given a special name�it is called a glory�and the observer will often see in the rainbow an image of his own shadow if he is in perfect alignment with the light behind him. 

A monk, living in an ancient high mountain monastery walks in meditation with several of his brothers.  As they saunter along the narrow, cloud enshrouded trail in silence, the lead monk stops abruptly and peers toward the summit beyond.  There on the cloud bank before him, he sees his shadow, encircled by a halo!  His spirit soars. Has he found enlightenment?  Has God chosen him for glory?  As he looks back on his fellow monks, each has a smile of serenity, for each sees a halo around his head alone.   This phenomenon created by the play of light on moisture and the monk (or his shadow) within the circle of reflected light is also called a glory.  Something similar was often observed by fighter pilots during WWII�and such pilots came to understand that if their target was in a glory, that they were safe and could not be seen, because they were in the sun and could not be distinguished by their opponent.    

Rainbows and glories are beautiful. Even our scientific understanding of them does not detract from their beauty.  Isaac Newton showed, in his famous experiment, that white light is a mixture of colors, which can be separated into an infinite number of colors, each bleeding into the other. Rainbows are spectra produced by the light being refracted by spherical drops of water instead of triangular prisms. If we face a rainbow, then the sun is always behind us�and so we should remember: 

As we face a rainbow, the Son is always behind us and we are encircled in His glory.   Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and will be forever.  Amen.


Wednesday morning

The promise of Community/ Inheritance


A reading from Genesis 15:1-6

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." 2 But Abram said, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"  3 And Abram said, "You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir." 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir." 5 He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.

His Name Is Bill

His name is Bill. He has wild hair, wears a T-shirt with holes in it, jeans and no shoes. This was literally his wardrobe for his entire four years of college. He is brilliant. Kind of esoteric and very, very bright. He became a Christian while attending college.
Across the street from the campus is a well-dressed, conservative church. They want to develop a ministry to the students, but are not sure how to go about it. One day Bill decides to go there. He walks in with no shoes, jeans, his T-shirt, and wild hair. The service has already started and so Bill starts down the aisle looking for a seat.
The church is completely packed and he can't find a seat. By now people are looking a bit uncomfortable, but no one says anything. Bill gets closer, closer, and closer to the pulpit and when he realizes there are no seats, he just squats down right on the carpet. (Although perfectly acceptable behavior at a college fellowship, trust me, this had never happened in this church!) By now the people are really uptight, and the tension in the air is thick.
About this time, the minister realizes that from way at the back of the church, a deacon is slowly making his way toward Bill. Now the deacon is in his eighties, has silver-gray hair, a three-piece suit, and a pocket watch. The deacon is a godly man, very elegant, very dignified, very courtly.  He walks with a cane and as he starts walking toward this boy, everyone is saying to themselves, you can't blame him for what he's going to do. How can you expect a man of his age and of his background to understand some college kid on the floor?
It takes a long time for the man to reach the boy. The church is very silent except for the clicking of the man's cane. All eyes are focused on him. You can't even hear anyone breathing. The people are thinking, the minister can't even preach the sermon until the deacon does what he has to do. Then they watch, as this elderly deacon drops his cane on the floor. With great difficulty he lowers himself and sits down next to Bill to worship with him so he won't be alone. Everyone chokes up with emotion.
The minister gains control and says: "What I'm about to preach, you won't remember. What you just saw, you will never forget. 


Wednesday lunch meditation

The Lonely Ember by Dr. John MacArthur                                         A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going.

After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and "dead as a doornail."

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday."



A Prayer of St. Chrysostom


Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one

accord to make our common supplication unto thee, and

hast promised through thy well‑beloved Son that when two

or three are gathered together in his Name thou wilt be in the

midst of them:  Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions

of thy servants as may be best for us; granting us in this

world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life

everlasting.  Amen.


Wednesday evening

A reading from Galatians 6: 2- 10


2 Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill F41 the law of Christ. 3 For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves. 4 All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbor's work, will become a cause for pride. 5 For all must carry their own loads. 6 Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher. 7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. 8 If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. 10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.

Lesson from The Geese

It is early November. The air is crisp and clear.  We are out sitting on our deck with our dog. Suddenly we become aware of a raucous noise overhead. The dog begins to bark. We look up. In the clear blue sky we see several V-shaped flight formations of Canada Geese on their way south, to escape the northern Canadian winters. We watch for a while, until our dog grows restless.

Okay. We�ve seen this before. It happens twice a year, in the spring and in the fall, so you pay no further attention. But wait! Take a better look. Stand and observe for a while. Ever wonder why they fly in such precise formation? Ever seen the pattern change from time to time? Do you stop to wonder why? Let me tell you a story about these Canada geese. Allow me to draw a good lesson for us as Christians out of their precision.

There is a good reason why these geese fly in a V formation. The flapping of each goose�s wings creates uplift for the goose behind him. It has been proven scientifically that the V formation allows each bird to fly 71 percent further than if it were flying by itself. The wind velocity created by the wings of the company of geese helps the momentum of each individual goose. If a goose falls out of formation, it lags behind. It has lost the strength of the other geese.

The lesson here, as brought out in Galatians 6:2, is that Christians helping Christians make for greater spiritual strength. We are admonished to �bear one another�s burdens.� If we try to �make it on our own�, we are more likely to fail. Just like with a goose that falls out of formation, we feel the drag of trying to do it alone. But when this happens with the geese, the one who has fallen out quickly moves back into line to take advantage of its fellow geese�s support. What a good lesson for us. If we do fall out of formation with other Christians, we feel the drag of the world pulling us down. We must quickly get back in line so that the strength of our Christian sisters and brothers will create an uplift for us. Our fellow Christian�s thrust will help support us.

Another lesson we can learn from the geese: Geese take turns offering leadership. When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing, and another goose takes the lead. Galatians 6:6 says, �Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.� Doesn�t that sound like what the geese do? We who are Christian leaders should not try to do all the work; and we who are just part of the Christian community should not just sit back, absorbing all the teaching and never giving back. We are admonished to share the responsibility. Be like the geese. Know when we are tired and drop back into the formation, letting someone else take his or her turn. If we do not share the work we will not get to our destination. If the lead goose were not willing to share the lead he soon would become so exhausted that he would be of no use to the rest. But by their sharing, no one goose becomes useless from exhaustion.

A final lesson from the geese: This is very important. When a goose becomes ill, or becomes wounded and falls out of formation, two fellow geese fall out of formation and follow the ailing goose to help protect it, and to help support it. They will stay with the goose until he is restored, or until he dies. Then, and only then, will the geese set out again to find another formation to which they can join themselves. Galatians 6: 2 tells us to "bear one another�s burdens." Verse 9 tells us "not to grow weary while we are doing good, for we shall reap the benefits eventually."

Are we willing to sacrifice our time to help a hurting Christian? Or perhaps to spend sometime sitting by the bedside of a sick friend? Or perhaps we know a neighbor who is suffering from depression. Are we willing to go out of our way to help? Or perhaps to extend an invitation to that one for a Sunday supper? We will reap the benefits if we will do as the geese do. Support one another.

by Helen Dowd in  � 2006

An Order for Compline

Use highlighted choices of responses and psalms











The Officiant begins


The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect

end.  Amen.


Officiant                   Our help is in the Name of the Lord;

People                   The maker of heaven and earth.


The Officiant may then say


Let us confess our sins to God.


Officiant and People


Almighty God, our heavenly Father:

We have sinned against you,

through our own fault,

in thought, and word, and deed,

and in what we have left undone.

For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ,

forgive us all our offenses;

and grant that we may serve you

in newness of life,

to the glory of your Name. Amen.



May the Almighty God grant us forgiveness of all our sins,

and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.


The Officiant then says


          O God, make speed to save us.

People     O Lord, make haste to help us.


Officiant and People


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as

it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.


Except in Lent, add    Alleluia.


One or more of the following Psalms are sung or said. Other suitable selections may

be substituted.



Psalm 4  Cum invocarem


1   Answer me when I call, O God, defender of my cause; *

    you set me free when I am hard‑pressed;

    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.


  �You mortals, how long will you dishonor my glory? *

    how long will you worship dumb idols

    and run after false gods?�


3   Know that the Lord does wonders for the faithful; *

     when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.


4   Tremble, then, and do not sin; *

    speak to your heart in silence upon your bed.


5   Offer the appointed sacrifices *

    and put your trust in the Lord.

6   Many are saying,

     �Oh, that we might see better times!� *

    Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord.


7   You have put gladness in my heart, *

    more than when grain and wine and oil increase.


8   I lie down in peace; at once I fall asleep; *

    for only you, Lord, make me dwell in safety.



Psalm 31  In te, Domine, speravi


1   In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge;

let me never be put to shame: *

   deliver me in your righteousness.


2   Incline your ear to me; *

    make haste to deliver me.


3   Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe,

for you are my crag and my stronghold; *

   for the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me.


4   Take me out of the net that they have secretly set for me, *

   for you are my tower of strength.


5   Into your hands I commend my spirit, *

   for you have redeemed me,

   O Lord, O God of truth.



Psalm 91 Qui habitat


1   He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High *

   abides under the shadow of the Almighty.


2   He shall say to the Lord,

�You are my refuge and my stronghold, *

    my God in whom I put my trust.�

3   He shall deliver you from the snare of the hunter *

   and from the deadly pestilence.


4   He shall cover you with his pinions,

and you shall find refuge under his wings; *

   his faithfulness shall be a shield and buckler.


5   You shall not be afraid of any terror by night, *

   nor of the arrow that flies by day;


6   Of the plague that stalks in the darkness, *

   nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid‑day.


7   A thousand shall fall at your side

and ten thousand at your right hand, *

   but it shall not come near you.


8   Your eyes have only to behold *

   to see the reward of the wicked.


9   Because you have made the Lord your refuge, *

   and the Most High your habitation,


10   There shall no evil happen to you, *

   neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.


11    For he shall give his angels charge over you, *

   to keep you in all your ways.


12   They shall bear you in their hands, *

   lest you dash your foot against a stone.


13   You shall tread upon the lion and adder; *

   you shall trample the young lion and the serpent

under your feet.


14   Because he is bound to me in love,

therefore will I deliver him; *

   I will protect him, because he knows my Name.


15   He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; *

   I am with him in trouble;

   I will rescue him and bring him to honor.


16   With long life will I satisfy him, *

   and show him my salvation.







Psalm 134  Ecce nunc


1    Behold now, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, *

   you that stand by night in the house of the Lord.


2   Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the Lord; *

   the Lord who made heaven and earth bless you out of Zion.


At the end of the Psalms is sung or said


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:  *

   as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.


One of the following, or some other suitable passage of Scripture, is read


Lord, you are in the midst of us, and we are called by your

Name:  Do not forsake us, O Lord our God.  Jeremiah 14:9 ,22


People          Thanks be to God.


or this


Come to me, all who labor and are heavy‑laden, and I will

give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me;

for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for

your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28‑30


People          Thanks be to God.


or the following

May the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our

Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of

the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you

may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his

sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and

ever.  Hebrews 13:20‑21


People          Thanks be to God.


or this


Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls

around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Resist him, firm in your faith.  1 Peter 5:8‑9a


People  Thanks be to God.


A hymn suitable for the evening may be sung.



Then follows


V.  Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit;

R.  For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

V.  Keep us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye;

R.  Hide us under the shadow of your wings.


Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.


Officiant and People


Our Father, who art in heaven,                        Our Father in heaven,

 hallowed be thy Name,         hallowed be your Name,

 thy kingdom come,                 your kingdom come,

 thy will be done,                  your will be done,

    on earth as it is in heaven.                               on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.                        Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,                        Forgive us our sins

  as we forgive those    as we forgive those

   who trespass against us.           who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,                        Save us from the time of trial,

  but deliver us from evil.      and deliver us from evil.


Officiant                   Lord, hear our prayer;

People                 And let our cry come to you.

Officiant                   Let us pray.


The Officiant then says one of the following Collects


Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy

defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the

love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours

of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and

chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and

illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by

night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.



Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the

enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in

peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.




One of the following prayers may be added


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.


or this


O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live

in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,

who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never

forget that our common life depends upon each other�s toil;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Silence may be kept, and free intercessions and thanksgivings may be offered.



The service concludes with the Song of Simeon with this Antiphon, which is sung

or said by all


Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake

we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.


In Easter Season, add    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Thursday morning

The promise of the Law

Readings from Exodus 19: 3 - 8 and Exodus 20: 1- 17


19: 3 Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6 but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites." 7 So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 The people all answered as one: "Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do."

20:  1 Then God spoke all these words: 2 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3 you shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6 but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.   12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder.  14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 17 You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.


Everyone knows what rules are.  From your earliest memories, you can probably remember your parents telling you �No� in an effort to keep you safe, to teach you how to get along with others and to give you the skills to survive in the real world.  These rules were designed to provide you a safe path through life�s experiences and from your parent�s perspective, were a way to show their concern and love for you as you grew into young adults.  Sometimes your parents struggle to create and enforce the rules as they don�t want to be disliked by the children they love.  It is not easy being mean even when the long term result is beneficial�as we see in this observation:

A mean mother never allows candy or sweets to take the place of a well balanced meal         A mean mother insists on knowing where her children are at all times, who their friends are and what they do.                                                                                                                               A mean mother breaks the Child Labor Law by making her children work--washing dishes, making beds, learning to cook and doing other cruel and unpleasant chores.                          A mean mother makes life miserable for her offspring by insisting that they always tell the truth.                                                                                                                                                          A mean mother produces teenagers who are wiser and more sensible.                                                    A mean mother can smile with secret delight and pride when she hears her own grandchildren call their parents "mean".                                                                          What the world needs now are more Mean Mothers.                                                                ~~ Author Unknown ~~

Enforcing the rules can be a thankless job. Most of you will try your parent�s tempers at least occasionally as you test your wings.  In the midst of your rebellion, imagine what life would be like if there were no rules and look around at your friends whose parents have not given them the structure of some �shalt nots�.  How happy are they when their lack of guidance results in trouble?  How many of them would at that moment of crisis hope for a �mean mother?�

The Bible gives us many rules for living.  God gave us these rules to keep us happy, safe, and healthy and our observance of the rules is rewarding.  In the words of the Psalm:  �Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked. . .but delight in doing what the Lord wants; day and night they think about His law.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail.  Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.�
LAW                                                                                        Thursday lunch meditation

The Limits of Love
            After the divorce, her teenage daughter became increasingly rebellious. It culminated late one night when the police called to tell her that she had to come to the police station to pick up her daughter, who was arrested for drunk driving. They didn't speak until the next afternoon.

Mom broke the tension by giving her daughter a small gift-wrapped box.

Her daughter nonchalantly opened it and found a small piece of a rock. She rolled her eyes and said, "Cute Mom, what's this for?"

"Here's the card," Mom said.

Her daughter took the card out of the envelope and read it. Tears started to trickle down her cheeks. She got up and gave her mom a big hug as the card fell to the floor.

On the card were these words:  

                         This rock is more than 200 million years old.              That's how long it will take before I give up on you.

Author: Unknown in


 Let us Pray:

       God, we complain too much about the rules.  You gave us the sunshine, and we celebrate it.  You gave us the rain and we rejoice in that, too.  Even the sky reveals all the gifts you give us.  You hand us a world with everything we need to be happy, then you give us your laws and we complain like children.  Everything that comes from you is good, because with your laws, you give us wisdom.  With wisdom, you give us the ability to choose our own paths.  It�s hard to see our own failures, God.  Keep us safe.  Don�t let the world tell us what�s good, pure, and true.  We know the things that come from you are what matter.  We will rejoice in your laws, like we rejoice in the rain that ends a drought.  We will rejoice in your laws in your laws the way we rejoice in the sunrise after a long, dark night.  Make our actions acceptable to you, God.  Help us to show the world the truth about your love.  Amen. 



Thursday evening


The Song of the King


          The three knights sat at the table and listened as the Prince spoke. 

�My father, the king, has pledged the hand of my sister to the first of you who can prove himself worthy.�

          The prince paused to let the men take in the news.  He looked at their faces�each weathered from miles and scarred from battles.  The kingdom knew no stronger warriors than these three.  And these three soldiers knew of no fairer maiden than the daughter of the king.

          Each knight had asked the king for her hand.  The king had promised only an opportunity�a test to see which was worthy of his daughter.  And now the time for the test had arrived. 

          �Your test is a journey,� the prince explained, �a journey to the king�s castle by way of Hemlock.�

�The forest?� one knight quickly inquired.

�The forest,� answered the prince. 

There was silence as the knights pondered the words.  Each felt a stab fear.  They knew the dangers of Hemlock, a dark and deadly place.  Parts of it were so thick with tress that sunlight never found the floor. 

It was home of the Hopenots�small, sly creatures with yellow eyes.  Hopenots were not strong, but they were clever, and they were many.  Some people believed the Hopenots were lost travelers changed by the darkness.  But no one really knew for sure.     

�Will we travel alone?�  Carlisle spoke�a strange question to come from the strongest of the three knights.  His fierce sword was known throughout the kingdom.  But even this steely soldier knew better than to travel Hemlock unaccompanied. 

�You may each select one companion�.

�But the forest is dark.  The trees make the sky black.  How will we find the castle?�  This time it was Alon who spoke.  He was not as strong as Carlisle, but much quicker.  He was famous for his speed.  Alon left trails of baffled enemies whose grasp he�d escaped by ducking into trees or scampering over walls.  But swiftness is worthless if you have no direction.  So Alon asked, �How can we find the way?�

The prince nodded, reached into this sack and pulled out an ivory flute.  �There are only two of these,� he explained.  �This one and another in the possession of the king.� 

He put the instrument to his lips and played a soft, sweet aria.  Never had the knights hear such soothing music.  �My father�s flute plays the same song.  His song will guide you to the castle.

�How is that? Alon asked. 

�Three times a day the king will play from the castle wall.  When the sun rises, when the sun peaks, and when the sun sets.  Listen for him.  Follow his song, and you will find the castle.�

�There is only one other flute like this one?�

�Only one>�

�And you and your father play the same music?�


It was Cassidon inquiring.  Cassidon was known for his alertness.  He saw what others missed.  He knew the home of a traveler by the dirt on his boot.  He knew the truth of a story by the eyes of the teller.  He could tell the size of a marching army by the number of scattered birds in flight. 

Carlisle and Alon wondered why he asked about the flute.  It wouldn�t be very long before they found out.

�Consider the danger and choose your companion carefully,� the prince cautioned.  And so they did.  The next morning the three knights mounted their horses and entered Hemlock.  Behind each rode the chosen companion. 

For the people in the king�s castle, the days of waiting passed slowly.  All knew of the test.  And all wondered which knight would win the princess.  Three times a day the king sent the music soaring into the trees of Hemlock.  And three times a day the people stopped their work to listen. 

After many days and countless songs, a watchman spotted two figures stumbling out of the forest and into the clearing.  No one could tell who they were.  They were too far from the castle.  The men had no horses, weapons or armor.

�Hurry,� commanded the king to his guards, �bring them in.  Gove them medical treatment and food, but don�t tell anyone who they are.  Dress the knight as a prince, and we will see their faces tonight at the banquet.�

He then dismissed the crowd and told them to prepare for the feast. 

That evening a festive spirit filled the banquet hall.  At every table the people tried to guess which knight had survived Hemlock Forest.

Finally, the moment came to present the victor.  At the king�s signal the people became quiet, and he began to play the flute.  Once again the ivory instrument sang.  The people turned to see who would enter.

Many thought it would be Carlisle, the strongest.  Others felt it would be Alon, the swiftest.  But it was neither.  The knight who survived the journey was Cassidon, the wisest. 

He strode quickly across the floor, following the sound of the flute one final time and bowing before the king.

�Tell us of your journey,� he was instructed.  The people leaned forward to listen. 

�The Hopenots were treacherous,� Cassidon began.  �They attacked, but we resisted.  They took our horses, but we continued.  What nearly destroyed us, though, was something far worse. �

�What was that?� asked the princess.

          �They imitated.�

          �They imitated?� asked the king.

          �Yes, my king.  They imitated.  Each time the song of your flute would enter the forest, a hundred flutes would begin to play.  All around us we heard music�songs from every direction.�

          �I do not know what became of Carlisle and Alon,� he continued, �but I know strength and speed will not help one hear the right flute. �

          The king asked the question that was on everyone�s lips.  �Then how did you hear my song?�

          �I chose the right companion,� he answered as he motioned for his fellow traveler to enter.  The people gasped.  It was the prince.  In his hand he carried the flute.

          �I knew there was only one who could play the song as you do,� Cassidon explained.  �So I asked him to travel with me.  As we journeyed, he played.  I learned your song so well that though a thousand flutes tried to hide your music, I could still hear you.  I knew your song and followed it.� 


Let us pray:

Lord, the world is a noisy and confusing place.  In the midst of this confusion, help us to hear your song, follow your way, and hear Your voice calling our name.  Amen.



Friday morning



A reading from Hebrews 8:6-12


6 But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need to look for a second one. 8 God finds fault with them when he says: "The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 not like the covenant that I made with their ancestors, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I had no concern for them, says the Lord. 10 This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach one another or say to each other, "Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more."


The Man and the Birds


Now the man to whom I'm going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men. But he just didn't believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas Time. It just didn't make sense and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn't swallow the Jesus Story, about God coming to Earth as a man.    

"I'm truly sorry to distress you," he told his wife, "but I'm not going with you to church this Christmas Eve." He said he'd feel like a hypocrite. That he'd much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. And so he stayed and they went to the midnight service. 

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another, and then another. Sort of a thump or a thud. At first he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window.

But when he went to the front door to investigate he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They'd been caught in the storm and, in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window. Well, he couldn't let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter, if he could direct the birds to it.             Quickly he put on a coat, galoshes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened the doors wide and turned on a light, but the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow, making a trail to the yellow-lighted wide open doorway of the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs, and continued to flap around helplessly in the snow.       

He tried catching them. He tried shooing them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, the scattered in every direction, except into the warm, lighted barn. And then, he realized, that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could think of some way to let them know that they can trust me. That I am not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led or shooed because they feared him.                

"If only I could be a bird," he thought to himself, "and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to safe, warm ... to the safe warm barn. But I would have to be one of them so they could see, and hear and understand."

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. And he stood there listening to the bells - "Adeste Fidelis" - listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.


Let us pray:

Eternal Father, you gave to your incarnate Son the holy name of Jesus to be the sign of our salvation:  Plant in every heart, we pray, the love of him who is the Savior of our world, our Lord Jesus Christ;  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy spirit one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.





Friday evening

The Holy Eucharist:  Rite Two








The Word of God


A hymn, psalm, or anthem may be sung.


The people standing, the Celebrant says


Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

People                 And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever.



In place of the above, from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost


Celebrant         Alleluia. Christ is risen.

People                 The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.


In Lent and on other penitential occasions


Celebrant          Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins.

People                 His mercy endures for ever.


The Celebrant may say


Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known,

and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our

hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may

perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name;

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

When appointed, the following hymn or some other song of praise is sung

or said, all standing


Glory to God in the highest,

   and peace to his people on earth.


Lord God, heavenly King,

almighty God and Father,

   we worship you, we give you thanks,

   we praise you for your glory.


Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,

Lord God, Lamb of God,

you take away the sin of the world:

   have mercy on us;

you are seated at the right hand of the Father:

   receive our prayer.


For you alone are the Holy One,

you alone are the Lord,

you alone are the Most High,

   Jesus Christ,

   with the Holy Spirit,

   in the glory of God the Father.  Amen.


On other occasions the following is used


Lord, have mercy.                      Kyrie eleison.

Christ, have mercy.                or         Christe eleison.

Lord, have mercy.                      Kyrie eleison.


or this


Holy God,

Holy and Mighty,

Holy Immortal One,

Have mercy upon us.

The Collect of the Day


The Celebrant says to the people


         The Lord be with you.

People                 And also with you.

Celebrant   Let us pray.


The Celebrant says the Collect.


People                  Amen.



The Lessons


The people sit. One or two Lessons, as appointed, are read,

the Reader first saying


A Reading (Lesson) from____________.


A citation giving chapter and verse may be added.


After each Reading, the Reader may say


The Word of the Lord.

People                  Thanks be to God.


or the Reader may say     Here ends the Reading (Epistle).


Silence may follow.


A Psalm, hymn, or anthem may follow each Reading.


Then, all standing, the Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying


The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

according to__________________.

People                 Glory to you, Lord Christ.

After the Gospel, the Reader says


The Gospel of the Lord.

People                  Praise to you, Lord Christ.



The Sermon



On Sundays and other Major Feasts there follows, all standing


The Nicene Creed


We believe in one God,

    the Father, the Almighty,

    maker of heaven and earth,

    of all that is, seen and unseen.


We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

    the only Son of God,

    eternally begotten of the Father,

    God from God, Light from Light,

    true God from true God,

    begotten, not made,

    of one Being with the Father.

    Through him all things were made.

    For us and for our salvation

        he came down from heaven:

    by the power of the Holy Spirit

         he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,

         and was made man.

 For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

     he suffered death and was buried.

    On the third day he rose again

         in accordance with the Scriptures;

    he ascended into heaven

         and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

    He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

         and his kingdom will have no end.


We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

    who proceeds from the Father and the Son.

    With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.

    He has spoken through the Prophets.

    We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

    We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

    We look for the resurrection of the dead,

         and the life of the world to come. Amen.



The Prayers of the People


Prayer is offered with intercession for


The Universal Church, its members, and its mission

The Nation and all in authority

The welfare of the world

The concerns of the local community

Those who suffer and those in any trouble

The departed (with commemoration of a saint when appropriate)


See the forms beginning on page 383.


If there is no celebration of the Communion, or if a priest is not available,

the service is concluded as directed on page 406.



Confession of Sin


A Confession of Sin is said here if it has not been said earlier. On

occasion, the Confession may be omitted.


One of the sentences from the Penitential Order on page 351 may be said.

The Deacon or Celebrant says


Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor.


Silence may be kept.


Minister and People


Most merciful God,

we confess that we have sinned against you

in thought, word, and deed,

by what we have done,

and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart;

we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,

have mercy on us and forgive us;

that we may delight in your will,

and walk in your ways,

to the glory of your Name. Amen.


The Bishop when present, or the Priest, stands and says


Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins

through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all

goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in

eternal life.  Amen.



The Peace


All stand.  The Celebrant says to the people


The peace of the Lord be always with you.

People                  And also with you.


Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the

name of the Lord.



Eucharistic Prayer C


In this prayer, the lines in italics are spoken by the People.


The Celebrant, whether bishop or priest, faces them and sings or says


The Lord be with you.

And also with you.


Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.


Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.


Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds


God of all power, Ruler of the Universe, you are worthy of

glory and praise.

Glory to you for ever and ever.


At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of

interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses,

and this fragile earth, our island home.

By your will they were created and have their being.


From the primal elements you brought forth the human race,

and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us

the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed

your trust; and we turned against one another.

Have mercy, Lord, for we are sinners in your sight


Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets

and sages you revealed your righteous Law. And in the

fullness of time you sent your only Son, born of a woman, to

fulfill your Law, to open for us the way of freedom and peace.

By his blood, he reconciled us.

By his wounds, we are healed.


And therefore we praise you, joining with the heavenly

chorus, with prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and with all

those in every generation who have looked to you in hope, to

proclaim with them your glory, in their unending hymn:

Celebrant and People


Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

    Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

    Hosanna in the highest.


The Celebrant continues


And so, Father, we who have been redeemed by him, and

made a new people by water and the Spirit, now bring before

you these gifts. Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be the

Body and Blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.


At the following words concerning the bread, the Celebrant is to hold it, or lay a hand

upon it; and at the words concerning the cup, to hold or place a hand upon the cup

and any other vessel containing wine to be consecrated.


On the night he was betrayed he took bread, said the

blessing, broke the bread, and gave it to his friends, and

said, �Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do

this for the remembrance of me.�


After supper, he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and

said, �Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new

Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the

forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the

remembrance of me.�


Remembering now his work of redemption, and offering to

you this sacrifice of thanksgiving,

We celebrate his death and resurrection,

as we await the day of his coming.

Lord God of our Fathers; God of Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob; God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Open our

eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver

us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace

only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for

renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one

body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the

world in his name.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread.


Accept these prayers and praises, Father, through Jesus

Christ our great High Priest, to whom, with you and the

Holy Spirit, your Church gives honor, glory, and worship,

from generation to generation. AMEN.


And now, as our Savior                                 As our Savior Christ

Christ has taught us,                                  has taught us,

we are bold to say,                                       we now pray,


People and Celebrant


Our Father, who art in heaven,              Our Father in heaven,

   hallowed be thy Name,                               hallowed be your Name,

   thy kingdom come,                                    your kingdom come,

   thy will be done,                                           your will be done,

      on earth as it is in heaven.                                       on earth as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.                Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,             Forgive us our sins

 as we forgive those                                 as we forgive those

  who trespass against us.                                 who sin against us.

And lead us not into temptation,             Save us from the time of trial,

 but deliver us from evil.                              and deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,                             For the kingdom, the power,

 and the power, and the glory,                   and the glory are yours,

 for ever and ever. Amen.                               now and for ever. Amen.










The Breaking of the Bread


The Celebrant breaks the consecrated Bread.


A period of silence is kept.



Then may be sung or said


[Alleluia.]  Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;

Therefore let us keep the feast.  [Alleluia.]


In Lent, Alleluia is omitted, and may be omitted at other times except

during Easter Season.


In place of, or in addition to, the preceding, some other suitable

anthem may be used.


Facing the people, the Celebrant says the following Invitation


The Gifts of God for the People of God.


and may add          Take them in remembrance that Christ died for

                  you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith,

                      with thanksgiving.


The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it

to the people.


The Bread and the Cup are given to the communicants with these words


The Body (Blood) of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you in

everlasting life.  [Amen.]


or with these words


The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven. [Amen.]

The Blood of Christ, the cup of salvation. [Amen.]


During the ministration of Communion, hymns, psalms, or anthems may be sung.


When necessary, the Celebrant consecrates additional bread and wine, using

the form on page 408.


After Communion, the Celebrant says


Let us pray.



Celebrant and People


Eternal God, heavenly Father,

you have graciously accepted us as living members

of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,

and you have fed us with spiritual food

in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.

Send us now into the world in peace,

and grant us strength and courage

to love and serve you

with gladness and singleness of heart;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.


or the following


Almighty and everliving God,

we thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food

of the most precious Body and Blood

of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;

and for assuring us in these holy mysteries

that we are living members of the Body of your Son,

and heirs of your eternal kingdom.

And now, Father, send us out

to do the work you have given us to do,

to love and serve you

as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.

To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,

be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.


The Bishop when present, or the Priest, may bless the people.


The Deacon, or the Celebrant, dismisses them with these words


Let us go forth in the name of Christ.

People                  Thanks be to God.


or this


Deacon       Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.

People                  Thanks be to God.


or this


Deacon       Let us go forth into the world,

rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.

People                  Thanks be to God.


or this


Deacon       Let us bless the Lord.

People                  Thanks be to God.


From the Easter Vigil through the Day of Pentecost �Alleluia, alleluia�

may be added to any of the dismissals.


The People respond   Thanks be to God. Alleluia, alleluia.



Case, Steven L.  The Book of Uncommon Prayer �1964, 2002, by Youth Specialties. 

Dowd, Helen.  �Lesson From the Geese� in  � 2006

Gilmore, Ruth.  �Sitting on the Rainbow� in Sitting on the Rainbow. �2002 by           Augsburg Books, p 44.

Harvey, Paul. �The Man and the Birds�, transcript of a radio program � December               2005.

Hascall, Glenn.  �The Miriam Parable� in

Lucado, Max.  �He Did It for You� in The Great House of God �1997 Thomas           Nelson, publisher.

Lucado, Max.  �In the Beginning� in Tell Me the Story :�1992, 2003 Crossway           Books.

Lucado, Max.  �The Song of the King� in Tell me the Secrets : �1993, 2004           Crossway Books. 

MacArthur, John.  �The Lonely Ember� in 

Rose, Dudley:  God�s Mercy is Born in  March 9, 2003

Unknown author,  �His name is Bill� from 

Unknown author.  �How to be a Mean Mother� from                                         

Unknown author.  �Rain� from

Unknown author.  �The Limits of Love� in


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