Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage


NOTE: The following are the Prayers of the People which I wrote at the request of Jack Spong for the service at 3 PM Sunday, June 5,  at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown for the 40th Anniversary Celebration of his consecration as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. At the end of every diocesan convention during his episcopacy, we all rose and sang, "God of grace and God of glory," by Harry Emerson Fosdick (always to the tune of CWM RHONDDA ). It just seemed to make sense, then, to set the petitions within the framework of that great hymn. 
 
Prayers of the People
for the 40th Anniversary Celebration
of the Rt. Rev’d John Shelby Spong

The voice of one: God of grace and God of glory,

It is always a privilege to come before you in prayer. We gather together today in prayers of thanksgiving for the ministry you have given us in baptism, the priesthood of all believers, and in celebration of the prophetic witness and ministry of John Shelby Spong, the 8th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
The voice of many: For the living of these days.

Christine Mary Spong
One: God of grace and God of glory,

We praise your name and thank you that Jack’s ministry raised up and empowered lay and ordained leadership to create vehicles of your abundance in endowments and granting agencies such as ACTS/VIM, Ward J. Herbert, and George E. Rath to fund the creative ministry of people and congregations, tend to the physical maintenance of churches, and fund the higher education of children of clergy.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Many: For the living of these days.

One: God of grace and God of glory,

We praise your name and thank you for the gift of reason and intelligence and for Jack’s unwavering commitment to tend to the minds of your laity and clergy. We thank you that through the New Dimensions and the John Elbridge Hines Lecture Series, your people were able to be challenged by renowned theologians, engaging in passionate debate at diocesan conventions and local congregations, and studying the issues that challenge the church’s life as well as that of our nation in task forces whose reports set policy for our own diocese as well as the wider church.  We have learned that we are blessed to be a blessing.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
Many: For the living of these days.

One: God of grace and God of glory,

We praise your name and we thank you for the gift of the Anglican Communion and our place in it as The Episcopal Church. We thank you that Jack’s leadership has called us to honor and cherish this gift, even when we found ourselves in sharp disagreement and discord which stretched the bonds of our mutual affection and Anglican tolerance. We thank you that we were able to provide hospitality and sanctuary to visiting laity, clergy and bishops from around the world, to learn from them and they from us, so that we might live more faithfully into the high priestly prayer of Jesus to be one, even as he and you are one.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage.
Many: For the living of these days.

Janet Broadrick, rector, St. Peter's.
One: God of grace and God of glory,

We praise your name and we thank you for the gift of your prophets who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We thank you especially for the prophetic ministry of your servant, Jack, who took to heart the words of his mentor, John Hines, that “the Body of Christ risk its own life in bearing and sharing the burdens of those who are being exploited, humiliated, and disinherited.” We thank you that the ministry of women and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people found oasis and sanctuary in the Diocese of Newark at a time when their lives were not valued and their gifts in the church and to the world were rejected.  The cost of discipleship has been a challenge and a burden, an honor and a source of joy.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage,
Many: For the living of these days.

One: God of grace and God of glory,

We praise your name and we thank you for raising up among us shepherds for your flock who care tenderly and kindly to your people. We are especially grateful for Jack’s ministry as our chief pastor who knew each one of us and called us by name, pastoring the pastors who work in your vineyards,

John Zinn, former CFO of the DioNwk
challenging our thoughts with difficult conversations and nourishing us with meals meticulously planned and cooked to perfection by him and his beloved Christine. We thank you for the blessings of kindness and generosity which create a culture of care and compassion and even greater blessing.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
Many: For the living of these days

One: Holy One, we thank you for all of these many gifts which we celebrate this day. We thank you that we the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, the priesthood of all believers, the saints of God, past, present and yet to come, have been, are and will be changed and transformed by the episcopacy of your servant, John Shelby Spong and are, as such, his greatest legacy.

Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
Many: For the living of these days. Amen.

PS. It was more than wonderful to see all the former staff and leadership of the laity and clergy of the Diocese of Newark. Jack was very gracious and generous, as always, and gave everyone who participated in the service an autographed copy of his latest book, Biblical Literalism: A Gentile Heresy, which also contained a private note. It's just so Jack.  I'm already 1/4 of the way through it.

Funny thing about "the good old days". You never know you're in them until they have come to pass.

I am such a grateful debtor.

4 comments:

Jane said...

Beautifully written, Elizabeth. I wish I could have been there to witness the anniversary.

John Z said...

Thanks for including my picture. Although I may have acted like it sometimes, I was, of course, the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) not the CEO (Chief Executive Officer). May I use the picture on my Facebook page, thanks.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Jane. You were there in prayer and spirit.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

John Z. My sincere apologies for the incorrect title. I'll change it. Of course you may use the picture. I'd be honored. It was so good to see you.