Thursday, June 08, 2006

Prayer Octave: Day 1, "Grow in the Spirit"

Intercessions precede 75th General Convention

Sunday, June 4, 2006

[Episcopal News Service] All in the Episcopal Church are invited to join the Octave of Prayer preceding the 75th General Convention, meeting June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio. Following are the prayers and meditation for today, June 4.

Full information about the Octave of Prayer is available online at: Spanish-language Octava de Oración/resources are posted online at:

Pentecost Sunday: Grow in the Spirit

A Prayer for the 75th General Convention

God our Wisdom, who eternally makes all things new: encourage by your Holy Spirit those who prepare for General Convention to labor together for the building up of your world and your Church; counsel them when to act and when to wait; turn their hearts always toward those in greatest need, and away from their own preoccupations and fears; help them never forget that love and mercy are your greatest gifts given us all to offer one another as we see in them Jesus Christ who alone is our joy, our way, our truth, and our life.

Galatians 5: 16 - 26

If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the fl esh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and selfcontrol. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.


Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sin, and have raised us to the new life of grace. Sustain us, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit and renew in us an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and to persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen (Book of Common Prayer, page 308, alt.)

Daily Meditation

by The Very Rev. George L.W. Werner

"Are not all these Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language?" - Acts 2:7-8

On the third Sunday of Easter, twenty years ago, I had a "Pentecost Moment." The Cathedral Deans of North America were to vest and process in a festival Eucharist at St. George's College in Jerusalem. A few of us decided to go early and join the Palestinian Eucharist as well.

The preacher was Naim Ateek. I could not translate the words of his sermon.

But suddenly I understood everything he was saying. Somehow in a depth, I had never known previously, I was one with the preacher and the people in a different place, culture, language and moment of God's history.

It happened again to me a few years ago. We were attending a Sunday Eucharist in Santo Domingo. Jean Monique Bruno, a Haitian priest, serving in the Dominican Republic was the celebrant and preacher. He avoided the pulpit and walked the aisle among the members of his community and we visitors.

He challenged his congregation with questions about the Scripture of the Day. The congregation seemed to catch fire. Enthusiasm derives from the Greek "En-Theos". My dictionary says "From God" and "inspired." There was joy, laughter and passion in the dialogue. I lost sense of time and for once it didn't seem to matter. Despite my pathetic skills in the Spanish language, I again returned to the depth of a "Pentecost Moment." I could not translate the words, but I understood everything that was being said.

The conventional wisdom of our time says that we must be safe and secure to live the good life. Pentecost says NO! It is when we choose to be vulnerable that the Spirit empowers us. It comes when we open our arms as Jesus did on the Cross, and welcome all in. It is comfortable to stay where we think we are protected. Yet, it is in the swirling, crowded, unfamiliar and unusual places, where I seem to collide most often with the Spirit.

Come and Grow in the Spirit. I think it is no coincidence that cults and terrorist groups isolate their members. What would happen if we were all in the marketplace and found the Christ in the other? What if we left the places where everyone knows our name to go "seek and serve Christ in all persons" in accord with our Baptismal Covenant?

In a story I love to tell, a Coast Guard station received a call of a vessel in distress in the midst of a horrendous Nor'easter. As the crew prepared to launch the rescue vessel, a new recruit kept peppering the old Chief with questions about the danger of going out into the giant waves and gale force winds. Finally, in terror, he shouts at the Chief, "If we go out there, we may never come back." The old Chief smiled and said, "Son, we don't have orders to come back."

When we enter into the ministry of baptism, we have no orders to come back. But as the old favorite hymn reminds us, "'tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home."

-- The Very Rev. George L.W. Werner is the 31st President of the House of Deputies and Dean Emeritus of Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh, PA.

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