Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Day 2020

For the first time in many years, I was not able to read the President's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation at a Thanksgiving Day (or Eve) Eucharist. Here it is, nonetheless. spt

Proclamation on Thanksgiving Day, 2020
Issued on: November 25, 2020

On Thanksgiving Day, we thank God for the abundant blessings in our lives. As we gather with family and friends to celebrate this season of generosity, hope, and gratitude, we commemorate America’s founding traditions of faith, family, and friendship, and give thanks for the principles of freedom, liberty, and democracy that make our country exceptional in the history of the world.

This November marks 400 years since the Mayflower and its passengers faced the unknown and set sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Propelled by hope for a brighter future, these intrepid men and women endured two long months at sea, tired and hungry, to arrive in a new world full of potential. In the winter weather that greeted their arrival, they lost nearly half of their fellow travelers to exposure, disease, and starvation. Despite unimaginable hardships, these first Americans nevertheless remained firm in their faith and unwavering in their commitment to their dreams. They forged friendships with the Wampanoag Tribe, fostered a spirit of common purpose among themselves, and trusted in God to provide for them. The following year, they celebrated a successful harvest alongside their Native American neighbors — the first Thanksgiving. This seminal event in the history of our Nation is a continual reminder of the power of faith, love, perseverance, prayer, and fellowship.

The Mayflower’s arrival to the New World in 1620 also marks the arrival of the first seeds of democracy to our land. Absent the rule of a monarch in an uncharted wilderness, these early settlers resolved to create their own government through what is known as the Mayflower Compact. Defined by majority rule through elected leaders responsible for creating “just and equal laws,” the Mayflower Compact represents the first chapter in the long tradition of self-determination and rule of law in America. One hundred and fifty-six years later, our Nation’s Founding Fathers resolved to break free from England, building upon the Mayflower Compact to establish an enduring government whose authority came solely “from the consent of the governed.”

This year, as our Nation continues to combat the coronavirus pandemic, we have once again joined together to overcome the challenges facing us. In the midst of suffering and loss, we are witnessing the remarkable courage and boundless generosity of the American people as they come to the aid of those in need, reflecting the spirit of those first settlers who worked together to meet the needs of their community. First responders, medical professionals, essential workers, neighbors, and countless other patriots have served and sacrificed for their fellow Americans, and the prayers of our people have once again lifted up our Nation, providing comfort, healing, and strength during times of uncertainty. Despite unprecedented challenges, we have not faltered in the face of adversity. To the contrary, we have leveraged our strengths to make significant breakthroughs that will end this crisis, rebuilding our stockpiles, revamping our manufacturing capabilities, and developing groundbreaking therapeutics and life-saving vaccines on record-shattering timeframes.

During this season of gratitude, we also acknowledge those who cannot be with their families. This includes the brave American patriots of our Armed Forces who selflessly defend our sacred liberty at home and abroad. And we pause to remember the sacrifices of our law enforcement personnel and first responders. We are deeply grateful for all those who remain on watch over the holidays and keep us safe as we celebrate and give thanks for the blessings in our lives.

This Thanksgiving, we reaffirm our everlasting gratitude for all that we enjoy, and we commemorate the legacy of generosity bestowed upon us by our forbearers. Although challenges remain, we will never yield in our quest to live up to the promise of our heritage. As we gather with our loved ones, we resolve with abiding faith and patriotism to celebrate the joys of freedom and cherish the hope and peace of a brighter future ahead.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 2020, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fifth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth.

The White House

Sunday, March 22, 2020

When You Can't Come to Church

It's been an, uh, interesting Birth Week thanks to this coronavirus. At Tuesday evening's Council meeting while eating ice cream and other treats for the Pastor's 61st birthday, after having already taken actions over the past week to minimize the risk of infection, we did everything but completely shut down Resurrection. And then Thursday afternoon the Governor ordered everyone in the state to stay at home, except for "essential business," from Friday evening through Tuesday, April 7. 17 days Yes, we can shop for food and medicines -- toilet paper had already disappeared from the shelves -- and there are other "essential services" that continue (the list includes "licensed medical cannibis dispensaries and licensed cannibis cultivation centers; reproductive healthcare providers"). But basically everything is shut down.

So how does one pastor a flock when, to try to prevent the spread of a disease for which there is no known treatment, he's not supposed to be in others' presence? Especially when most of the congregation is people who are considered most vulnerable -- the aged (which in the US is 60+ -- so that includes me!), those living in close proximity to others (such as senior communities, all of which were already closing to "outsiders"), etc. -- while many of the "younger" set work with them.

Our most visible step is for me to live stream daily prayer. For the beginning, that's Morning Prayer (Matins) at 10 o'clock in the morning, Evening Prayer (Vespers) at 7 in the evening. Every day. Started Friday evening with Facebook Live from my page. I'd played with that before, but it actually works rather easily with the iPhone app. Even as we were making the decision to do this Thursday evening, I took the first steps to do this on my YouTube Channel, since lots of folks aren't on Facebook. I've not broadcast live there yet, but I have uploaded the last three. Here's tonight's Vespers:

You are welcome to share these links with others.

I'm learning that it's one thing to pray the offices in the church my myself, it's another thing to pray them in the church with a (small) congregation, and it's yet another to pray them by myself while on camera. But I grew accustomed to the first two, so I should become accustomed to the third. Though hopefully not too comfortable.

Once upon a time in the face of grave danger people flocked to churches. Today even those who want to aren't able to do so. For the short term I think that's okay; this gives our health officials, scientist, and the medical profession (yes, I'm avoiding a now-common description) time to get some sort of handle on the spread of this disease. For the moment, streaming congregation-less worship services is a starting point for the Church to keep its connections. But it's only a start, particularly for a Faith where "he became incarnate from the virgin Mary, and was made man."

At the heart of being a pastor is being with the flock I've been called to. That happens when we come together, on the Lord's Day, on other days. We can offer "virtual" or "remote community" for a short while. But many in the Church are unable to access even that. What do we do for them to remain among us?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Prayer for Steadfastness in Affliction (1917)

A Prayer for Steadfastness in Affliction from the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, 1917 --

Almighty and most Merciful God, Who hast appointed us to endure sufferings and death with our Lord Jesus Christ, before we enter with Him into eternal glory: Grant us grace at all times to subject ourselves to Thy holy will, and to continue steadfast in the true faith unto the end of our lives, and at all times to find peace and joy in the blessed hope of the resurrection of the dead, and of the glory of the world to come; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer in Time of National Distress (1917)

A Prayer in Time of National Distress from the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, 1917 --

O Lord God, Heavenly Father: We humbly confess unto Thee that by our evil doings and continual disobedience, we have deserved these Thy chastisements; but we earnestly beseech Thee, for Thy Name's sake, to spare us; restrain the harmful power of the enemy, and succor Thy suffering people; that Thy Word may be declared faithfully and without hinderance, and that we, amending our sinful lives, may walk obediently to Thy holy commandments; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer in Time of Great Sickness (1917)

A Prayer in Time of Great Sickness from the Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church, 1917 --

Almighty and most Merciful God, our Heavenly Father: We, Thine erring children, humbly confess unto Thee, that we have justly deserved the chastening, which for our sins Thou hast sent upon us; but we entreat Thee, of Thy boundless goodness to grant us true repentance, graciously to forgive our sins, to remove from us or to lighten our merited punishment and so to strengthen us by Thy grace that as obedient children we may be subject to Thy will, and bear our afflictions in patience; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.