A motto?

“I have only time for eternity.” Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas (Sand Diego: Harcourt, 1953), 120.
A goodly candidate as a motto.

Prayers in the bushfire crisis

Circulated by the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn.

A prayer written by the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral. The Very Reverend Kanishka Raffel.

Lord of all days and years, and time and eternity, You made this land and have blessed us with its riches and beauty. You are a refuge to all who seek your shelter, our strong defence in trial and tribulation.
Send rain we pray to extinguish flames and heal our land. Mercifully protect life and property. Give help and hope to our neighbours assailed by fire. Comfort and provide for those who grieve. Uphold those who suffer loss, Give peace and hope to those bewildered and broken-hearted.
We thank you for men and women of courage and selflessness. We thank you for brave communities of care and support, We thank you for those who share your comfort and hope, We thank you for those at a distance giving and praying.
Lord, you sent your Son so that we would know your power to save, your presence with your people in this world of turmoil, and your promise to renew the whole creation. Turn our hearts to you, that we may have faith for this day and hope for eternity. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Intercessions prepared by the Dean of St Saviour’s Cathedral, The Very Reverend Phillip Saunders

At this time of bushfire emergency in Australia we cry out to God calling on his mercy, saying, Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed in the bushfires. When they are weighed down by grief and loss, uphold them in your love. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those have lost loved ones in the fires and the families of fire fighters who have given their lives for others. Surround them with supportive family and communities to comfort them. Give them the assurance of your constant care. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for emergency workers, volunteers, and chaplains who are giving their time and resources so freely, and who often feel overwhelmed and depleted of energy by the demands of these extreme circumstances. Grant them renewed strength and hope. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the work of Anglicare and other caring agencies as they strive to meet the immediate needs of those affected by the fires. For our church, that we may respond effectively to the crisis giving generously and compassionately. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for our bishop Mark, Archdeacon Carol and church leaders in fire ravaged areas. Give them wisdom and energy they need to respond with the love of Christ. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for the leaders of our nation. Give them a desire to lead us in this time of crisis with integrity and compassion and to make available the resources necessary to respond effectively. Give them the desire to work to restore balance in our environment. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Heavenly Father, the magnitude of this emergency overwhelms us. Remind us of the One we follow, who suffered and died for us and rose to bring us new life. Bring new life and hope in this dire situation. Bring rain, restore your creation and heal our land. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A prayer request from The Reverend Doug Newman, Rector of Bateman’s Bay Parish

Pray that as a faith community we can exhibit the peace of Christ in these very challenging and anxiety causing times. That we can care for those who God gives us the opportunity to serve with love, grace and patience. Give thanks for the love of God that we have experienced, continue to experience and have seen as we walk among the community in these days of challenge.

A past redeemed

Father Michael Lapsley SSM (now leader of the Institute for Healing of Memories is a remarkable teacher. He was an anti-aparthied campaigner and chaplain to the ANC when his hands and one eye were destroyed in 1990 by a letter-bomb most likely in a covert operation of the apartheid regime. [He has prosthetic ‘hands’.) What follows is from a conversation he had with Rowan Williams at https://stethelburgas.org/”>St Ethelburga’s in London:

"In our Christian faith, we say, ‘By His wounds we are healed,’ and of course we often speak of the wounded healer. Let me tell a personal story which, while amusing, speaks to the issue of how we perceive woundedness and whether we see it as incapacitating or enlivening.

"I was bombed in Zimbabwe and then was moved to a hospital in Australia. Before I left for Australia, my bishop came to visit me and prayed for my recovery. Seven months later and now recovered, I returned to his office in Zimbabwe and said, ‘Here I am, Father.’ The bishop looked startled. At first I imagined perhaps he wasn’t used to God answering his prayers, but then he said, ‘But you are disabled now. What can you do?’ So I said, ‘Well, Bishop, I can drive a car.’ Then he looked frightened. I think he thought he might be on the same road with me. So I said, ‘Father, I think I can be more of a priest with no hands than I ever was with two hands.’ When I inquired of Archbishop Tutu, I got quite a different response. He said, ‘Come and work in Cape Town. I have one priest who is deaf and one who is blind, and now one with no hands.’

"Wow! So, for one bishop I was a liability but for the other I was an asset. The first bishop wasn’t a bad person, but his vision was narrow. Archbishop Tutu, on the other hand, had a different pair of spectacles and he was able to see that my woundedness could help others to heal. So it is fitting that Archbishop Tutu has written the foreword for my recent memoir Redeeming the Past, for he saw immediately that what happened to me was also an opportunity.

"Of course, none of that means that what happened to me was right. Sometimes people say, ‘It was God’s will that you were bombed.’ Now what kind of nonsense is that? Does that mean that God makes letter bombs? I am not interested in that kind of God. Rather, I believe in a God that gives us the strength to bring good out of evil, so that I can sit here today and say that in the bombing I lost a lot and that I have gained a lot.

"I know that I’m a better human being because of the journey I have travelled. For me, God’s grace worked through the prayers and support of people around the globe who also saw the possibilities of healing and continued to believe that I had a life ahead of me. That didn’t happen solely by my own efforts but through the collective power of love."
—Rowan Williams and Michael Lapsley, "The Journey toward Forgiveness: A Dialogue," The Ecumenical Review 66, no. 2 (July 2014): 191–213.

Parish prayers for the same-sex marriage debate

Acknowledgement: Professor Peter Sherlock #postalsurveyprayers

Matthew 22.23–33.

Gracious Lord, we give thanks for marriage and the great blessing it is to so many. We thank you for faithful married couples who bless us so richly.

Gracious Lord, long ago, lawyers and teachers used a problem about marriage to try and trick Jesus. How familiar this seems to us, as people of faith stumble over a question of marriage in the crude form of a postal survey.

We pray that all Australians may be prepared for whatever happens about marriage in the next few months. May Christians reflect and act on the teaching and model of Jesus. Should any fear for freedom, we ask reassurance should there be nothing to fear, and courage if there is.

May what remains of the campaigning be honest and constructive. We ask for a civil society, that we may learn to disagree passionately without violence or intimidation. May religious leaders inspire faith, hope, and love in a weary and angry nation. May both the opponents and the supporters of marriage equality be gracious and generous, as together we find good news to share in your love. Cause those who argue for argument’s sake to be silent, to listen and to learn.

May people feeling alone, unnoticed or unloved—especially young people—know that your love encompasses and holds them. May those who find only condemnation in the Bible come to know the gospel of grace. Uphold mental health staff and service providers that they have resources to help all in need.

Help our leaders to be prepared when the result is announced, that our democracy may be strengthened, not harmed. Help public servants who draft legislation to be patient and thorough. Guide religious and civil marriage celebrants to respond well to change and marriage counsellors that they may help people live fruitfully.

We ask courage for same-sex couples as the nation sits in judgment, and for couples whose legitimate marriages are not recognised in Australia, that their commitment may be respected. Watch over children of same-sex couples, that they may be cherished and kept free from fear or harm.

May gay and lesbian refugees in find their trust in Australia as a place of safety not to be misplaced.

We pray for celibate Australians, that their joy and fruitfulness will be recognised and nurtured.

We pray for those who for whom thoughts of marriage bring sadness and fear:
— people trapped in abusive relationships;
— those for marriage is a distant dream as the struggle to find the simple necessities of food, clothing and shelter;
— those forced or compelled to marry: may they find freedom.

We pray for those who grieve the loss of a partner and for those who mourn for what might have been—and for those whose partners have never been acknowledged, even in death, because of fear, prejudice and ignorance.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Parish Prayers as Jesus meets the woman at the well (John 4.5-42)

God of all peoples,
just as Jesus and his disciples journeyed through Samaria to reach their appointed destination;
teach us to how to walk through strange, foreign places,
how to meet people different from ourselves—
that they we might say to them "come and see".
You bypass no one; in this may we follow you.

May we also be like the Samaritan woman: willing to examine our lives in Jesus’ presence
that we may continue to true worshipers of the Father in spirit and in truth,
that we may share with those we know what it is like to meet with Jesus.
The truth revealed her faults, yet liberated the unnamed woman.
This Lent, may your truth reveal us to ourselves and set us free in you.

God of the nations, lead and direct so that truth and truthfulness may direct our leaders, inform our nation, govern our business and our everyday lives, that we may live in justice and peace together.

Give us and all who thirst for you that living water of your Spirit:
water of refreshment,
water of healing,
water of cleansing,
water of life.