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Dust and Ashes

The Gift of Mortality

Avowed atheist Susan Jacoby recently created a dust up with a recent article in the New York Times Sunday Review entitled, “The Blessings of Atheism.” She wrote in response to all the god-talk that appeared in the immediate aftermath of the Newtown massacre; with all those unanswerable questions or inadequate answers to human suffering and death so often peddled in popular religious belief.

So too, not long ago author and “non-believer,” Christopher Hitchen’s posthumously published his little book Mortality; recounting his rambling thoughts on his own imminent demise; after a terminal diagnosis left him a sufficient number of days to find himself “deported from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.”

But what, or where to, after that? What if this really is all there is?

It seems there has always been the human hankering to imagine all kinds of fanciful notions, in our attempts to recapitulate our mortal existence into something more than it is. Many religious traditions, including centuries of “mainline” orthodox Christianity, employ great mythic stories to describe a life subsumed into something greater than we can either know, or grasp, except by “faith.” Heaven knows, some folks try to better themselves, merely in the hope of a remote possibility there something more, after our death, which is a certainty. But in the end, is it all dust and ashes? And is that OK?

This is the liturgical time of year when many in the Christian tradition undergo a seasonal pilgrimage in which the faithful are reminded at the onset we mortals are nothing more than dust. And so we will one day return to that from whence we came. Then the traditional forty days end with the perennial re-enactment of a passion play commemorating the mortal demise of the one whom Christians even these many centuries later would profess to follow.

Many do so in the hope of some kind of immortality for themselves in some indecipherable form or other; attributing to Jesus a “resurrection” that means the same thing to them as god-like immortality; while others of us may find such imaginings to be not only reasonably implausible, but of less importance than what we take to be of greater significance and meaning in this faith tradition.

Otherwise, the vainglorious hope of immortality can become so enshrouded in our mortal fears that we become – like Lazarus in his early grave – so wrapped up in death that we fail to truly acknowledge and appreciate the gift of our mortality for what it is; nothing more, nor less.

With the certain assurance then that we are but dust and ash, we can ask ourselves if the gift of our mortality is not only enough, but more than enough? And if so, as the psalmist says, how then shall we “number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom?” (Psalm 90:12)

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A Eucharistic Prayer for Lent and the Via Negativa

The Great Thanksgiving

It is right and a good and joyful thing to give thanks to you always, Creator God, because you have made the world in all its complexity.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: Lent. Rituals: Communion and Lent. Resource Types: Full Service Liturgies and Prayers.

We All Breathe

A new collection of poetry and prayer. Vosper once again gives expression to the beauty and complexity of life in ways that can touch and move us on many levels. Identifying our interconnectedness as a core principle of our common, human journey, Vosper plays with imagery and symbol, weaving us into a whole that lifts and ennobles us all.

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Let Us Overcome

An Easter Litany

The celebration of Easter is the acknowledgement of the power of the divine spirit working through us to transform the most negative of situations. Let us commit ourselves to overcoming hate with love.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: Easter. Prayers: Invocation. Resource Types: Prayers.

Standing Before the Cross

I am standing before the cross in all its brutality
And feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.
Why could the church not have a nice
Life-affirming symbol instead of a cross?

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Lent. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Poetry, Prayers, and Readings.

The Lord’s Prayer – Why I Can Still Say It

Despite its familiarity and almost constant liturgical use, the Lord’s Prayer has become difficult for even some devout Christians to pray in our day. To be sure, the thought-world of the New Testament is very different from …

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Those Who Struggle for Justice

For those who promote human rights in countries controlled by military dictatorships, risking their lives every day
All: Blessed are those who are persecuted for their struggle for justice: the kingdom of heaven is theirs

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 6: Peace and Justice. Prayers: Call to Worship and Invocation. Resource Types: Prayers and Readings.

Hear the Voices

One: Hear the voices, small voices, loud voices, voices of the oppressed, voices of the powerful.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 6: Peace and Justice. Prayers: Call to Worship and Invocation. Resource Types: Prayers.

Reflection on Jeremiah 31

It is tattooed on our hearts
Etched on the walls
at the core of our being
There is no escaping the reality
And yet we still ignore it

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 4: Act As We Believe. Seasons & Special Events: Lent. Texts: Jeremiah. Resource Types: Prayers and Readings.

Children’s Litany for Lent

Children ~ This first Sunday of Lent, we give up the idea that we have no voice.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 1: Teachings of Jesus and Point 6: Peace and Justice. Seasons & Special Events: Lent. Ages: Elementary, Pre-Teen, and Teen. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Affirmations, Prayers, and Readings.

God Is Love

A Meditation on the Indefinable Nature of the Divine

Meditation on God is Love. How many times have we heard the word “love” being used to define that which is ultimately indefinable? I suppose it is because that’s the only word that can even bring us close to grasping the ungraspable.

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Christmas Day responsive reading

Leader: Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ.
People: We celebrate the birth of Jesus, who showed us how to express God by letting the Christ within be our guide.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 8: Compassion and Selfless Love. Seasons & Special Events: Christmas. Prayers: Call to Worship and Invocation. Resource Types: Prayers and Readings.
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