Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Canterury Tales: Reflection #2

You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
-Levitcus 19:34

I arrived in Canterbury greeted by the heavy rain at 5am Friday morning. The bus from Paris departed at 11pm and included a ferry ride into Dover (if you know me then you know how freakin exciting that was). First stop and first one off the bus, it was Paris all over again: I had no idea where I was or where I was going. Luckily the Youth Hostel wasn't too far up the rode. I arrived and sat for an hour in the rain under my umbrella (the picture was straight out of a movie...) until a staff person let me in the warm up. After I checked in, I crashed till the afternoon.

Now, mind you, I was supposed to be in Taize and had gotten to Canterbury three days early. The week earlier, Mark (my current CouchSurfing Host) sent me a message seeing I was going to be in Canterbury and said I could stay with him. Knowing this was a possibility I only booked one night at the Hostel. So I basically spent the day doing laundry and getting organized. Mark and I got intouch with eachother and I've been staying in his flat since Saturday night.

Mark is an Anglican priest here in Canterbury. He is the Priest-in-Charge for three different churches. In Canterbury, there is pretty much an Anglican church every few blocks not including the Cathedral. So, he keeps pretty busy. Despite this, he and I did go see a community production of "Bernarda Alba" and enjoyed good conversation just tonight. Mark is also gay so as far as personal stories and the church goes we could relate to eachother. He's got a really, really, great flat. I've had a room and bed to myself right in the center of the City Centre. He also gave me a key to his place!

Canterbury was originally a two day stop, but I'm glad I've spent the five days here. Walking the grounds of St. Augustine's Abbey was amzaing, if just for the fact that an audio tour was included in the admission. Canterbury Cathedral was all that I imagined it would be. When Henry VIII abolished the monastaries and overly Catholic buildings in England, the Abbey was destroyed. However, since the Cathedral was the established Seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury it was spared. I think the best prize in Canterbury though is St. Martin's. A section of it's wall dates back to the forth century being built by the Romans. It was here that St. Augustine and his men set up there base with the permission of the King and made efforts to re-evangelize Britain. Without a doubt this is the epicenter of where Anglicanism started. Other highlights include seeing Canterbury Castle which was built by the Normans, the Royal Museum, and the Masonic Museum.

Canterbury has definitley been an expected highlight of this trip so far. Just being in the center of where it all started has been just amazing. Canterbury is very small and is very walkable. It's picturesque with its ancient streets and buildings from the 1500s. It's freaking adorbale, really.

Once again God watched out for me. I got to Canterbury earlier than explected and had a place to stay, and when my CouchSurfing host for Monday through Wednesday never fell threw in contacting me I was able to stay with Mark. So I write this on my last night in this town. Mind you, I've caught a bit of a head cold and I spent most of the day doing laundry and preparing to leave tomorrow and just resting in general. It's two weeks since I left the States. This is the longest I've ever been from home and to be honest I am starting to feel a bit homesick. Granted, Canterbury runs at a much slower pace than frantic Paris allowing me to have mor time to process my thoughts and let my mind wanter. I've grown attached to this place, really. And just like when I left Paris I now have this anxiety of leaving for London in the morning starting over in a new place. My pilgrimage in Canterbury is coming to an end and I resume the trip tomorrow. But like the Canon told me at my Pilgrimage blessing today, the Pilgrimage onward both back home and to that Heavenly country have also began.

Things of Interest
-This past Rememberance Sunday I went to St. Mildred's (the Anglo-Catholic parish in Canterbury). The numbers were low as most people went to the Cathedral for this sort of Holiday. Mark remarked that most people seem to be more loyal to the Cathedral than there home congregation in that regard
-Archbishop Justin Welby was just in the area a few days before I got here.
-I was taking a break by the Castle wall when a peice of flint stone broke off when I sat by it. Coolest souvenier ever.

Monday, November 10, 2014

An American in Paris: Reflection #1

Well, I had intended to do this every few days. But, time flies. Right?
So allow me to recap Paris and since tomorrow is my last day in Canterbury I'll probably do another summary.

I arrived in Paris the Wednesday before last. After my connecting flight from Dublin I was instructed that my best bet to get to where I was going was just to take the airport tram to Gare du Nord Now, no one told me that Gare du Nord is the biggest train station in Europe...so once I got there I was stuck staring at a map tryin to figure out where exactly I was and how I was going to get to where I needed to go with a thousand people walking around me. Luckily, an israeli man came to my refuge. Though I was scared at first (you know...never talk to strangers) my gut instinct said the guy was trying to be helpful. He showed me how to purchase fare and which stop I should get off on (later did I find that I could have gotten off a few stops later, oh well). In the best French and improve sign language I could muster I pointed the directions on my phone to a bystander and asked for help. Having got good direction I walked to my hostel an hour later, booked my bed and then passed out.

I remained in Le D'Artagnan for five nights. During my stay here I saw Pere Lachaise, the super huge cementary with folks like Oscar Wilde, Bizet, Chopin, Morrison..), the Eiffle Tower, Notre Damn, Sainte Chappelle, and the Louvres. Now, I stayed an extra night at this hostel because over the weekend I had a dental emergency (I didn't post anything about it on Facebook because I didn't want to make a scene and distract from all the cool stuff I was doing). I cracked a tooth, and my better judgement said to stay in Paris and have it looked at, which meant skipping my trip to Taize because I knew this could get costly).

Saturday night when the crack happened, I was mostly freaking out. Pain, in another country, no insurrance. Where would I find a dentist? So i actually called my travel insurance and they made some calls and got some referrals. In the meantime, I was praying oh so hard. I barely slept that night. At this point the pain wasn't as bad as my overall demenor was. In the morning I went to the serivce at the American Cathedral. I went feeling oh so vulnerable in not knowing what to do. After serice I was talking to a man named Jeb and explained my situation, and what happened next was a God send: he referred me to his American dentist. I left the Cathedral over joyed knowing that I had a plan. The next day I saw the dentist. He took x-rays and turns out I need a root canal and a crown (joy...). I'm still on antibiotics, but there is just no way I'm going to be able to pull off that surgey while I'm here, so I'm chancing it till I get home. I have the x-rays with me just in case something does happen.

So having the "dent" in my Euro's and turned to CouchSurfing. I posted in the emergency group for Paris and got a response from a woman named Marie, who was from the South of France, and worked as an interior designer. She lived in a very small flat near the Eiffle Tower. My first night with her I went to a CouchSurfing party with her friends. While I was staying with Marie I actually went in and spent the day at the Louvres, and bought my bus ticket to Canterbury. She and drank tea and talked about life and travels. I loved hearing about growing up in South France in the Basque Country. She, a good Catholic, like hearing my rants about the church in America. She also was very interested and supportive of gays serving and being involved in the church. Apparently in France its still frowned upon to talk about religion with people you don't know too well, so she welcomed the opprotunity as it never comes by for her. On my last night she treated me well and cooked me a basque dish called Perserved Duck, and it was so freaking delishious.  We had a conversation about how Muslims were changing how they interacted with wider society, but it was cut short as I had to get to the bus station to get to Canterbury.  She is a wonderful person and I would love to stay with her or even host her someday.

A few things about Paris:
-The street signs arn't on poles like back home. You have to look at the buildings that are on corners, and they displayed there (most of the time....)
-Every single street starts with "Rue", very confusing when looking at a map
-The currency (this goes for the rest of Europe). One and Two Euro/Pound coins. The hell? I have a make ship coin purse to carry all this change. How do people do it?
-Don't stand and smoke, 5 people will stop and ask you for a cig.
-The Metro is absolutley amazing. Hands down. Easy to navigate and you can get everywhere you need to go within half an hour.
-Almost everyone speaks English to some degree.
-Everyone I met was super friendly! It really defeated the American steriotype that the French are rude (Granted, most people I got to talk to and know where not from Paris, and most of the friends I made were at a Bear Bar).
-French Law states that there must be one Pharmacy for every 500 people in each city. Paris literally has on every other corner.

Besides Maire I made friends with a guy from Northern Austrailia. Poor guy, he stood out pretty bad in his cut off heans, flip-flops, hoodie, towering over everyone at 6'5. He and I had some pretty good laughs over European culture.  He was in Paris waiting for his girlfriend who had just decided to travel for a month and told him to meet him there (too cool).

Highlights: eating fresh crepes and baugettes off the street, sitting in for a serive on All Saints in Notre Damn, hearing the choir at the American Cathedral for All Souls Day.

Paris taught me quite a bit about letting go and reaffirmed my belief/experiance that God is very present in the most vulnerable of situations. Its easier said than done to "let go and let God" but watching God take care of me from my dental emergency to getting  a place to stay to save money has thus far been incredible.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sermon for the Feast of Mary Magdalene.

As per usual in my congregation, there are monthly "Pentecost Preacher's" during the summer months which follow Pentecost. I was asked to preach last month, but the days leading up I caught a fever and wasn't able to finish the sermon. So, I traded with my Priest, and seeing that Mary Magdalene was remembered this week I asked to transfer her Feast Day. I'll admit that I finished this cutting close to the 11th hour. My laptop is down and I've been writing this in my head the past week, finally getting down to the church to get it all on paper.  So luckily it wrote itself. That being said, forgive me my grammatical sins. Comma-splices are too ignorable when punching out at the last minute. Whats been fun about this sermon wasn't the writing, but the speaking. There are so many opportunities to voice act considering the range of emotions in this text. As always, honest feedback is truly appreciated.

Aaron Conner
July 20, 2014
Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene (Transferred from July 22)
St. Paul's Episcopal Church-Bakersfield, CA
Judith 9:1,11-14
2 Corinthians 5:14-18
John 20:11-18
Psalm 42:1-7
The Collect
Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and of mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by your grace we may be healed from all our infirmities and know you in the power of his unending life; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

May the words of my mouth and the mediations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
What is a saint? According to Roman Catholics, narrowly speaking, a saint is popularly a person whom through God has lived in extraordinary virtue, and by signs and miracles associated with them, we know that they have bypassed purgatory and have gone straight to heaven. According to Protestants, a saint is a person whom has believed in the message of the Gospel and has undergone Sanctification to live a Godly and righteous life. What about Episcopalians? The answer is easy: Someone who provides both the wine and the cork screw.
I love the Saints. When looking at the lives of those whom professed the faith of Christ we can find so many wild stories, so many sad stories, and much more inspiration. The problem with the Saints, however, is that they can potential turn into revered and popular celebrities. Not that the Saints shouldn’t be revered or be popular, but that we make them into that which we what we want to see. We say to ourselves, I want to be just like THAT, or maybe, thank God I’m not like that, instead of allowing God to use us to be perfectly ourselves. Looking at the Saints can be like looking at the ecclesiastical version of People magazine; we have stories and pictures and keep up with what went on in their lives. We have a snapshot Peter, the rock; the one whom Christ said he would build the church. We have a snapshot of Thomas, the doubter; whom we see touching the holes in Jesus’ hands.  We have a snapshot of St Mary the Virgin, in the scene of Annunciation, pondering those things in her heart. Sadly, in celebrity culture we also have to deal with the dreaded tabloids, and the paparazzi has been following and photo shopping Mary Magdalene, whose feast we celebrate today, for years. The Catholic tabloids, have called her the prostitute. The Dan Brown tabloids will call her the secret wife of Jesus who lost community power to Peter and moved to France where she raised the child whom Jesus fathered.  Personally, these conjectures alone make me think that Mary Magdalene is one of the most interesting women in the world. But setting these aside, let’s take a quick look at what history has done to Mary before we get to know the real her.
It was Pope Gregory in the 4th century who preached a sermon which identified Mary Magdalene with the “sinner “who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke, and  Mary of Bethany who was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. It was in this association that Mary was known as the “penitent”, the full force harlot who was changed by Jesus to the point where seeing his death as a sacred death, anointed his body with ointment in grief even before Jesus dies. The reputation stuck. Several theologians in the middle ages tried to do Mary justice, but the effort was put to a stop as the Protestant Reformation gained attention and traction. In art we see Mary partly clothed, pondering her repentance with a cross in the background. It wasn’t until 1969 when the Vatican revised its calendar, making a note that on July 22 Mary Magdalene should only be associated with the resurrection of Christ, separating the Mary’s into their rightful historical persons. There is no evidence that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute.
In fact, we know very little about Mary. Mary is mentioned in Luke as being one of several women who supported Jesus’ ministry out of their own funds. So we know Mary had money.  She is also mentioned as having seven demons whom Jesus has cast out, but the author provides no detail.  Mark confirms this account as well. Her name “Magdalene” suggests that she was from the town of Magdala, a town not far from Capernaum.  Given her name being a derivative of the Hebrew name “Miriam”, she was most likely Jewish. The Gospels cite her as being the one who was present at the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. She was definitely a follower and in the inner circle of Jesus disciples.
Today’s Gospel reading from John 20 actually picks up in the middle of the narrative. Backing up to the beginning of the chapter we have Mary who is coming to the tomb while it’s still dark early in the morning. She is coming to anoint the body of Jesus as was costumed. She finds the stone which concealed the tomb has been rolled away and the body is not there. She runs to Peter and John and tell them what happened and they run back to the scene. Peter gets their first but doesn’t go in the tomb, as probably not to defile himself as unclean on the Sabbath Passover. John catches up and just doesn’t care and goes into the tomb. Peter follows. They see the bandages which were wrapped around his body, and the bandages which wrapped his head were wrapped in a ball on the side. They saw and believed, and returned home. Here, our part of the story picks up. Mary did not return home. She peers down one more time into the tomb and sees the angles who ask her, “Why are you crying, who are you looking for?” She replies that they have taken away her Lord and that she does not know where he is resting. Then Jesus comes from behind and asks the question from the angels, “Why are you crying, who are you looking for?” Not recognizing him and thinking him to be the gardener she says, “If you know where he is please stop this torment and take me to him so that I may carry him to rest.” And the moment happens. Where he calls her by name, and she recognizes him. She runs back to Peter and John and tells them “I have seen the Lord”!
This is the celebrity snapshot of Mary. Not the penitent prostitute, not even the woman at the Crucifixion or weeping by the tomb. This is the Mary who has seen the Lord. Even after his death, Mary never stopped looking for Jesus. When others left the Cross, when others left the tomb; she remained. She loved and served Jesus in her life by supporting him with her own means. When Jesus was left to die, she was the one who was there, fulfilling the call of Christ to serve to the “least of these”.
Forgive my conjuncture, but I don’t think the writer of John did her full justice. I can see her going from Peter and John, to Martha and Lazarus, to Luke and Mark and Matthew, to the whole community of disciples shouting at the top of her lungs “He’s alive! It’s just as he said it would be! I’ve seen him! Come, come and see the tomb where he was laid to rest! He’s not there!”
Mary was persistent and her example should inspire us to also persist. How often do we look for God? We expect God to be in one place and at one time. When God isn’t there, we go into our own dark tombs to sigh and confirm and then carry on with our emotional and spiritual baggage. When we persist, when we wait by that tomb we can be assured that God will show up just as God promised. God will call us by name and we will see him in something we never recognized before. May we who with Mary share in the witness of the Resurrection never cease to seek it and find it and recognize it for the greater glory of God in the communion of ALL God’s saints. Amen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

From air and land and sea #1

Almighty Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep:
O hear us when we cry to thee
For those in peril on the sea.
O Christ, the Lord of hill and plain
O'er which our traffic runs amain
By mountain pass or valley low;
Wherever, Lord, thy brethren go,
Protect them by thy guarding hand
From every peril on the land.
O Spirit, whom the Father sent
To spread abroad the firmament;
O Wind of heaven, by thy might
Save all who dare the eagle's flight,
And keep them by thy watchful care
From every peril in the air.
O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them whereso'er they go,
Thus evermore shall rise to thee
Glad praise from air and land and sea.
The original words of this hymn were written by William Whiting, headmaster at a choirsters school in 1860. Whiting was approached by a boy who was to travel overseas to America and was petrified of ocean travel. Having had his own perils at sea he wrote this hymn to "anchor" the boy's faith. The hymn has had mostly been used as the "fight song prayer" for those in the military, particularly the Navy. While that stands true that this is a military hymn (wikipedia has many words for this hymn depending on the branch of military service), the words to the 1940 hymnal for the Episcopal Church seem to apply to all who travel. God, protector of those who travel by sea, Christ the Lord of the hills and mountains, the Holy Spirit guarder of those in the air. The Holy Trinity, protector from natural disasters. For me implication is the same both of those who serve their country and the civilians who leave their home for work or leisure: they are called to do so.

God calls people in the Bible for all sorts of travel. Look at the trips Paul made all over Asia-minor, the calling of Abraham to the Promise Land, the pilgrimages the Hebrews would later take the Holy Land. There are other instances where travel isn't favorable. The numerous exiles of the Jews being one of them. While we know that before the Fall the world was paradise and perfect in order. Its my speculation that the need to travel may be a result of the Fall. When sin entered the world, our need of resources changed. Maybe they grew scarce? I'll add that to my many questions to ask someday but for the moment I'm more concerned with the theological/spiritual purpose of traveling. 

As I've said before, though I have no formal training in this area and am speaking from the armchair, theology is simply a framework to understand that "wholly other". The sacred which is beyond and infused in our mundane world. It's building will differ from tradition to tradition. Protestant traditions will build their theology only on the Bible (credit Martin Luther, even though he wasn't the first to say it). Roman Catholicism will build theology on Scripture and Tradition (Mary was "consummed" into Heaven because people saw it, and the Revelation kinda mentions it..ish). Blended traditions like mine will build on Scripture, Tradition, and Reason (we thought about it, and the lot of you are nuts). In any case, the framework allows a person or community to experience God. If you don't experience Spirituality in your theology, then you probably don't believe it, or your theology sucks. This framework helps us understand how God moves and acts in our lives by seeing how God has acted in the forebearers of our faith. 

Based on what we see in Scripture, God calls us to places which are other than our home. Sometimes for reasons we can't understand God forces us to places which are other than our homes. And sometimes, we just have to places other than our homes for need of resources. The one thing which scripture can't account for (please, if I'm wrong here then correct me) is travel for leisure. The need to "get away" just doesn't seem to be mentioned and I am super perlexed by this if its true.

The question I now pose is how do we build a theological framework around the idea of leisure travel? For instance when I make trips to San Francisco and much of my activities revolve around opprotunities for worship, am I just making a pilgrimage? When we take vacations to our favorite camp sites, are we just retrying to recreate the first time we went there, as Eliade would argue?

Oddly enough this was intended to be the first blog of my travel blog. I intend to backpack through Western Europe in November starting in Paris, then Taize, London, Edinburgh, and Dublin. That blog will chronicle my preparations starting now and through the trip itself. I was going to kick it off by looking for the spirituality in such a journey, but the post had another direction it wanted to go.

I'm at a loss here for the moment. I think this is going to be a three or four part thing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent.

This past Sunday I preached at the Episcopal Church of the Savior in Hanford. Father Luis had arranged guest preachers during Lent (all who are in part of the Discernment Process towards Ordination) with the theme of "Prayer".

The challenge of writing this sermon was extracting the theme of prayer out of the readings. At first I had wondered if the thesis was a bit stretch, but it seemed it was well received, and (mostly) well delivered. If you'd like to hear to me speak nervously and fumbled over words, you can do so here (click on Sermons and find my name).

Without giving too much away, in researching I discovered that families and individuals from liturgical backgrounds use Psalm 121 as a prayer before travel. I think it is a lovely tradition and adopted it this past week when journeying to the central coast.

Aaron Conner
2nd Sunday in Lent
Genesis 12:1-4a
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
John 3:1-17
 Psalm 121
Whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.  Next to the 23rd Psalm, John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible. I remember countless Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings hearing this verse from the Pastor urging those who have not been “born again” to come forward, repent, and amend their lives to Christ and become Christians. Yup, a good old fashioned altar call, and I responded to that call as often as I could. Not wanting to sin anymore, and hoping that in my sincerity God would undo the “abomination” of my sexuality, I would repeat after the pastor the “Sinner’s Prayer”. The Sinner’s Prayer is directly linked to John 3:16 and Romans 10:9; it goes something like this: Dear God, I know that I am a sinner and that am going to hell. I’m sorry for my sins and I believe that you sent your son Jesus to come and die for me.  I accept him as my Lord and Savior. Amen. Bam, after that God heard your prayer and life was awesome, or at least supposed to be. Now, I am not one to condemn the honest and sincere expression of lamenting one’s sin and wanting to make spiritual amends to follow Christ, but I will point out how the Sinner’s Prayer affected my attitude and conditioning towards prayer: I treated it like it was magic and acted like the most important thing which should result from prayer was obviously that answer, the end result, everything after the “Amen”.   No matter how much I tried, I was never able to “pray the gay away” and looking back at it all I have realized that I had missed the point of prayer completely. I had a petition that I wanted answered immediately. God however had something more substantial and more engaging once I was ready to start listening, which wasn’t until I grew out of my adolescence into my adulthood where I learned that prayer is about the journey at hand.
Prayer in its simplest definition is conversing with God. Asking God’s blessing, provision, and protection for ourselves and those we care about. It is also communing with God in silence or in nature. Prayer is not just limited to our thoughts, words, or deeds. It is choosing to engage with God by acknowledging that God is always engaging with us.
Psalm 121 is in a section of the Psalter known as the “Songs of Ascent”, which were used by the Hebrews when making pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Scholars suggest this psalm was used liturgically when beginning the journey. The traveler, using the pronouns “I” and “my”, would say to the priest at the temple, “I lift my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and Earth”. The priest changing the pronoun would respond saying “He will not let your foot be moved and he watches over you shall neither slumber nor sleep”. The psalm speaks in declaration in God who protects us from dangers of travel: the surrounding hills hiding the bandits, from the beating hot sun, the dangers in the night, from the deception from the moon, in the God who is the foundation of creation, the maker of Heaven and Earth. The psalm speaks of trusting in God not so much for the arriving at the destination, but for the journey at hand.
Having made the first pilgrimage to the Promised Land, Abraham would have well appreciated this psalm.  Though Abraham is commended in Romans for his faith in God who would make him father of a great nation and secure salvation in the world to come, one can wonder about his own initial fears in making the first pilgrimage to the land of Canaan. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never cared for things which are sprung at me last minute, even if it involves traveling anywhere more than 30 minutes away. Traveling takes preparation of departure, time, what to bring, route deciding, and hoping you know what to expect when the destination is reached. And in Abraham’s case I’m sure nothing could have prepared him for having to round up the family, load up the camel and leave everything behind and relocate to an unfamiliar place.
Now, Abraham might serve us as an inspiration and a model as he didn’t complain or turn back. He can also serve as an unfair measure of judgment as one would think it would be easier to follow divine command when God himself appeared right before him. Insert Nicodemus here, the one who might be more relatable to us, the one who actually had God right in front of him. Scholars debate whether he was just up late studying the Torah, as was common for teachers of the Law, or if he was fearful of being found out for inquiring of Jesus, something that the writer’s style could imply. But nevertheless Nicodemus’ journey leads him to Jesus one night. His journey at this point is full “Huh? Did I get that right? I’m not sure I follow”. I’m sure all of us have these conversations with God at one point or another.
Paul Miller writes that, "Prayer is a moment of incarnation - God with us. God involved in the details of my life." Abraham, Nicodemus, and the writer of Psalm 121 all have this in common: they allowed God to be involved in the details of their lives, and allowed themselves to be vulnerable. Abraham trusted in God and allowed himself to be moved to a new location and set the world on a new course. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, in coming to Jesus showed he knew that he had more to learn and understand. Through the perils of primitive travel, the writer of Psalm 121 trusts in God for a safe journey. When we acknowledge that we are vulnerable, the journey of prayer begins and we come to find that prayer isn’t necessarily for God so much it is for us. We who are vulnerable can come to see that God is for us and walking with us in the very moment of our vulnerability. In Lent, we focus on our need for the Word made flesh, we emphasize the existence of our human condition by prayer and fasting, trusting to be accounted for like the forerunners of our faith in today’s readings. May we who are wonderfully created, yet inherently vulnerable, find God’s presence in our vulnerability. May our vulnerability be our own cross to carry while journeying to the Promise of the Resurrection to come. Amen.