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Hallo again to all.

The weather and prayer for the many people in Haiti, the Southeastern US and elsewhere affected by Hurricane Matthew has been on our minds of late. There is a rich Christian tradition of praying to ward off the worst effects of weather, one of the constants of human existence (along with death, taxes, and customer complaints, it would seem).

The first prayer in the genre of protection from weather that caught our eye is in the cortile of the American Academy in Rome, dating from the 17th-18th centuries. After declaring the creed of the faith that Christ, died, rose, and ascended, it continues: Christus ab omni fulgure et tempestate nos defendat. May Christ defend us from all lightning and storm.

American Academy in Rome, Archaeological Study Collection

This further put us in mind of the many things we pray for and ways we pray, trivial or weighty. The occasional absurdity of someone thanking God that a parking space was open for them always makes us think that while God's eye may be on the sparrow, we are less certain about the carpark.

We teach our children to pray, sometimes in the ringing oratory of the Lord's Prayer and sometimes in the more lighthearted table blessing:

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

Thanksgiving grace, 1942

Cranmer it is not, though he in fairness had a phrase involving "detestable enormities" that has not stood the test of time. This table grace also calls to mind a different version that hijacks the soundtrack to Christopher Reeves' Superman films.

It is easy to carp. The 'Jesus, we just' vernacular of a certain style of worship makes an easy target. As we were tempted to feel a certain smugness, today's Gospel reading came around, according to the RCL in our part of the Communion. Christ heals ten lepers, but only one, the Samaritan—a foreigner and outsider—thinks to come back and thank Jesus. One doubts he was eloquent, but he was assuredly sincere since he was commended that his 'faith has made him well'.

Our worship today used 'Shine, Jesus, Shine' for its recessional. This is not our normal preference. (We still find it superior to 'On Eagle's Wings' with too much vibrato.)  Yet, invoking God's 'grace and mercy' on our land did not seem out of place or ineloquent. This is a troubled time for the world. Perhaps those prayers that seem light are a tincture for our day-to-day struggles and remind us about habits of thought long inculcated. We learned them as children, but that is what Christ told us we would have to become to be part of His Kingdom.

We hope in the coming days that you have occasion to remember some of the 'lighter' things that taught you about your faith and give you reassurance in dark times.

See you next week.

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9 October 2016

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