Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Christ in Winter: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter… 

James 1:17-27, today’s Lectionary reading, is a treasure trove of sermon possibilities. Here is my pastoral prayer for this morning, based on the passage about anger…

A friend from another town recently dropped by to see us. As we chatted about current conditions, he said, “I wake up angry every morning.”

The Lord be with you.
And also with you
Let us pray…

And why, O Lord, should we not wake up angry every morning? Angry at the sneering incivility, the overweening greed, the brutal violence, the nasty cruelty, the sheer meanness, the blatant hypocrisy of it all?

We are not ashamed of our anger. You are the one who should be ashamed, for the way you ignore the greed and injustice of your world. Why are YOU not angry? Where is the fire of righteousness, kindled against the sins of this world of your creation?

On this Labor Sunday, when we honor those who have worked so hard with hands and hearts to create a successful economy, who have sacrificed their time and sweat and even their lives, that all may be free of want and fear, we see greedy overlords take away their jobs and their dignity, laugh at them behind their backs, treat them as fools and use them as dupes. How can we not be angry?

Yes, we are angry at the powerful who have no compassion for the powerless, at those who chant for punishment for others while reveling in their own misdeeds, but most of all we are angry with you, for you should be angry along with us, and you are not.

You tell us in the scriptures that we are to stay unstained from the world, but the world throws all sorts of slop at us. How do you expect us to dodge that stuff every time?

Your preachers tell us that love never ends, but that’s because it never begins.

But even in the heat of our anger, we feel a cool breeze from somewhere, a whispering breeze from a broken cross in an unholy land, a whisper that tells us that our anger has filled our eyes and stopped our ears to a greater reality, that somehow, somewhere, even in our rage, you are already present.

Here, pulling us with grace instead of pushing us with anger, we behold the table of unity, the body of Christ broken not just for the righteous but for the unrighteous

So, with reluctant will, we relinquish our anger, virtuous as we hold it to be, and turn it over to you, to beat it into the plowshares that prepare the earth for a new planting of love.

If you will not join us in our anger, O Lord, then let us join you in your mercy. Let us join you in prayer in place of wrath, supplications for the hurting, the homeless, the helpless, the hungry, the hopeless. Most of all, let us join you in prayer for those who have no one else to pray for them.

Help us, O Lord, to awaken each morning refreshed by the love that never ends because it is always beginning.

Hear us now, we pray, as we come before you, one by one, to ask for mercy for the whole damned world…

John Robert McFarland

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