With an immensely heavy heart for a host of reasons, I have informed the Stated Clerk that I am stepping down from standing for the office of moderator of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Each Sunday, I share a prayer. Together we can find what it is to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I invite you to join in this work.
Sometimes the most courageous thing is to do nothing. This takes strong faith that God is at work in the world in ways we cannot know or see. This meditative use of a verse from Psalm 46 to quiet our selves can open our eyes to God’s activity all around us and give us the courage to let go.
I was overjoyed when Jeff Krehbiel, who is standing as my vice moderator, offered to share a prayer for Mother’s Day. Jeff writes movingly about an issue that is often overlooked in our churches and in society as a whole. I continue to feel blessed that Jeff is travelling this journey with me and that he is able to share his pastoral wisdom with us here.
For a time recently, as my husband was admitted to the hospital for the first time in his life, my vision shrank to what Augustine captures here. It took immense courage for him—usually the physician in charge—to receive care from others. For those who feel alone, afraid, sick, or face great challenges or even boredom, this prayer offers an acknowledgement of our burdens and a call to where hope can be found if we have the courage.
It is a privilege to be Jesus’ arms and legs in this world. At the same time, our spirits can falter at the challenge of sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. For many of us it is not something we ever thought would be needed in our neighborhood. We are shocked how often now those we know have no knowledge or experience of God in Christ or had a bad experience with the church. It takes courage to witness—this prayer becomes ours.
Rev. Dr. Arlo Duba and Doreen Duba sent this prayer to us after being reminded of it by Thomas Merton’s prayer posted on March 18, 2012. It has a similar theme of asking for courage to follow unknown paths, exactly what we are all doing as we reform into the PCUSA that is to be. It is one of the prayers suggested at the end of Morning Prayer in The Book of Common Worship.
This prayer for God’s blessing includes a wealth of human experience. We recognize how these activities require God’s blessing that often comes in the form of courage to be able to do these challenging things. One way of understanding praying without ceasing could be having a routine of asking God’s blessing on all our hands do all day long.
Jesus springs forth from the grave vibrant with life! Perhaps the willingness Gerald May speaks of is another way of capturing the heart of human “courage.”
Though the use of “men” for “people” has become archaic, the yearning expressed here to love and serve Christ with joy is as present to us as our next heart beat. And those things that hold us back are terribly familiar. This prayer asks God to lift those impediments so that we may courageously respond to the “call to better things.”
I have found in my spiritual journey that fasting takes courage, especially if one aspect of courage is perseverance. At the same time, this prayer reminds us that feasting on what is good and beautiful and true also requires a kind of courage. Particularly, for us Presbyterians, the critical eye can be more comfortable that the open hand. It takes courage on our part to stretch into joy.