Sunday, May 08, 2011

Christian Prayers for Mother's Day

The Rev’d Fr. P.S. Winton

From the days of the Kings and Judges in the Old Testament forward, Holy Scripture measures the morality of believers, in significant measure based on our care of “widows and orphans’. By extension, our call to be mindful of mothers lies deep within the DNA of the faith.

It is important that God incorporates Motherhood in His decision to enter the world and redeem it. The ways God might have come into the world are without number and yet God chose to enter the world through Mary and provide for himself a Mother. It is as if God looked at the human condition and concluded that not only is it “not good for man to be alone” but that “it is not good to enter the human condition without a mother.” And so Blessed Mary is called to the Ministry of Motherhood,

Mother’s Day is essentially a secular expression, yet Christians have, throughout our history, taken that which is secular and re-visioned it with sensitivities of our faith and thereby elevated that expression into something deeper – in this case – Motherhood as part of the Divine Plan. That said, Motherhood and the relationships thereof, are fraught with all the dynamics of human relationships. The prayers below seek to celebrate motherhood and yet realize some sensitivity to these realities.

Mothers as Part of God’s Divine Plan

Almighty God and Father we give you thanks for Mothers. We give you thanks for wrapping the loving arms of motherhood around your creating, nurturing and sustaining work in the world. We give you thanks for the wonder, grace and blessing that transform women to mothers and all the teeming life that is part of that wonder. We give you thanks for the fears and challenges of motherhood and for the courage, bravery and sacrifice it requires. We celebrate motherhood as you envision it as an expression of the most tender, unyielding, uncompromising, unconditional love within the capacity of humanity. Amen.

Thanks for My Mother - Imperfect

I give thanks to you O Lord, for the goodness and love you have made known to me by giving me a mother to love me, to care for me, to in so many tender ways, live for me. I hold in my heart sweet memories of my mother and I hold in my treasure of hope exciting dreams for future blessings with this woman who birthed me and loves me. Help me Lord, to hold in holy affection both the gifts my mother has for mothering and some perspective and grace for mistakes along the way. Where she slipped may I forgive, where I have failed her may she find a place of forgiveness in her heart. Where we are apart Lord Christ, help to find a way back to one another’s heart. In all things Lord, I know that my Mother meant well for me and for all whom she loves and I give you thanks for her life and mine – together. Amen.

For My Mother – Deceased

Lord God, in the most simple terms I miss my mother. I miss how she somehow automatically knew that which never occurred to me. I miss that which she somehow knew, that which I am not sure I will ever figure out. I miss that she knew when to be tender and when to be tough and managed them so they were both strong. I miss big things like how to talk about a breaking heart and terrible loss. I miss the little things like the smell of her and the feel of her hand on my cheek and her voice as I drifted to sleep as a child. More than anything Lord, I just miss her presence – the blessed assurance of her company. I place my hope Lord, in an eternal promise that I will one day be with her; but for now I need to just lift up the truth of my missing her and ask you the bless that. Amen.

A Husband’s Prayer for the Mother of His Children

I lift my voice in thanks to you Lord God, that you have made my wife a mother. In her ministry to our children I see some glimpse of the great hope you have for all of us – that we will care one for another. I am grateful that she knows they are sick before they do, that she knows they are going to be sad before that event takes place, that though exhausted she will still lift or hold or listen to the child one more time – and in that generosity change everything. I am grateful that even when she is at the end of her rope – she finds enough of a string to hold on to so that we can climb back up to a safer place. Help me Lord, to be supportive, to be encouraging and not a child myself; to be not merely willing to engage but to be fully engaged in supporting this role of Mother with the full love I hold in my heart for her and the children we both treasure. Amen.

Women who desire to be Mothers

God above – I know that within you resides both Father and Mother and every expression of generosity and love known in the Universe. I come before you like millions of women before me and I lift the same prayer they lifted, cry the same cry choked throughout the millennia, and shed tears from the common pool of women who come to you seeking a child. I believe you can make this possible for me and so I too lift my prayer. I will do my part, whatever that may be. I believe I will be a good mother and I long for that life. Please bring me a child Lord, and if not please bring me peace. Amen.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Prayer for The People of Japan

Almighty God and Heavenly Father, He who restores and redeems all things: We beseech thee to reach forth thy mighty and loving hand and uplift the people of Japan, in this their hour of terrible need.

Gather the finest minds of the world together to solve the dangers facing nuclear reactors and the great danger they now pose to the people of Japan and the people around them. Bring light and heat to the 2.5 million people without electrical power. Bring to the tens of thousands who are to be evacuated from harm's way hope that they will be able to return home or find welcoming places in their own country and throughout the world.

Give courage and hope to the families and loved ones of the thousands missing, that worst fears may be overcome with the joy of resuce. Give to the nations of the world an ongoing call to aid and assist Japan, a nation that has been generous throughout the world when others have been in time of need.

Be with Pime Minister Naoto Kan and the leaders of Japan as they meet the great and terrible challenges of the days and weeks ahead.

Finally Father, we commend to you those who have died in this disaster that they may, through the mercy of God, rest in peace, and in thy good time may those who love and care for them find peace of heart and mind.

In the Name of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Stewardship of Creation

I Greet you in the Name of Christ Jesus,

Even as I am writing this blog, the staff and leadership of this parish church are engaged in a bold experiment. We are inviting the nation to join us in an hour of prayer seeking God's direct intervention into the environmental crisis along our gulf coast. By press time today we will have been in touch with everyone from the White House to your child's Facebook and your neighbor's Twitter account.

We are asking people to join us in prayer that God will intervene and clean up our mess. In fact, it is worse than that, isn't it? God created this beautiful planet, entrusted it to our care, and then we molest it, mistreat it, abuse it, indeed rape it - and then have the audacity to call upon God to restore and redeem it. We are not merely petulent children - we are wildly, deeply, profoundly disrespectful and ungrateful.

I find it interesting that people want to demonized British Petroleum - yet we have by the millions, including me, been pulling up to either their gas pumps or someone elses' to fill our tanks, suspending the reality that every gallon we pump into the tank had to be artificially extracted from someplace on this fragile planet. It was any particular company by accident of time and place, but sooner or later one had to anticipate that if we are going to violate the earth - seeking its very core - bad things had to happen. The blame game is a zero sum game - it allows us to pretend that we are not complicit - that somehow God's broken heart is not our responsibility, too.

So...a week from today (June 17th) we are going to gather here in prayer - one parish church- and we are going to thank God for this glorious planet he has entrusted to us. By that time we will have invited tens of thousands of people of faith to join us - wherever they may be.

In particular, in this time of prayer we are calling VIGILance 2010 (see the link on our home page), we are going to give thanks for soil and air and water. And then...from deep places in our hearts we are going to confess our part in the abuse of His plant and we will ask God to forgive us. It is God's very nature to forgive - indeed it is God's deep and Holy longing. It is time that we confess our need for that forgiveness. That forgiveness comes, I remind us - after a sincere desire to amend our lives; in this case to change how we approach God's earth. And then we will share in a Covenant with Creation, a way to promise that we will be faithful in our care of God's earth.

And yes, we will ask God to once again clean up our mess and we can do so with confidence - because that is simply what God does. Amen.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Dear Friends:

The first thing to say is that it is unlikely that i will post on a weekly basis - though I will try. My life as a parish priest is a busy one and I find that I spend most of my time actually engaged with God's people and devote enough of my time to the computer terminal or blackberry keyboard. SO...I will post to the blog as I can and try and make whatever I post worthy of your kind attention.

I have been doing a great deal of thinking about discipleship lately. Specifically; I have been asking myself in what ways we might need to transform parish ministry if one was single- mindedly devoted to forming Christian disciples.

On one hand - that is the work to which the Church has always been called and I believe most churches believe that is what they are doing. I also believe most of us are wrong. If we think we are forming disciples with any intentionality, I think we are kidding ourselves. Don't get me wrong, every now and then a true disciple will manage to survive the post-modern institutional Church and appear in the world making a difference in the name of Jesus..but..if we were doing what we were really intended to be doing we would be sending disciples out 2 by 2 and dozens at a time. So, why aren't we?

Well...that is the question on my mind. The answer that I most often come up with is: "Because we don't really know how to!" and from whom do we learn?

Over the next several months I am going to devote considerable energy to answering that question. How do we as a parish church transform ourselves into a community totally devoted to preparing and sending disciples into the world to share the Good News of Jesus Christ? What are the implications of such a decision?

I am willing to learn from anyone who is willing to teach - so bring it on.

I wish you the peace of Christ in your every day and walk with the Lord Jesus.

Fr. Paul+

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Eastertide Contentment

Wednesday in Easter Week

Dear Friends:

I have found it very interesting that after a very short time here, what people want(ed) to know is if I am "happy" here, if I like Charlotte, if I "like" Saint John's. First, one must appreciate the very kindness behind the question itself. There is a hope that I do indeed like it here, that I am indeed settling in and that I am happy with Saint John's.

So let me share. I am contented. I am at peace. I am satisfied that I am where God wants me to be doing what God wants me to do among people God has selected for me as my community. My practice is to ask if I am being "faithful". If the answer is "yes" (mostly) I move on to happiness, which is not the objective but the fruit of faithfulness. And all of that said: I am very happy indeed!, Thank you.

I love Charlotte. It is a Southern town in the very best ways. The people are gracious and kind and polite - no matter where they are from originally. I think Charlotte brings that out in people. The town is lovely to behold, easy to get around in and has everything for which one could ask. There is much to do and see and learn. Most importantly there is a highschool baseball field right across the street from the parish (once the season begins, if there is a home game and you can't find me - look there.) The minor league field is but minutes from my house and the local radio station carries the Braves.

My son Tyler, is only about 90 minutes away and he has already been generous in traveling to Charlotte to spend time with me as his busy schedule permits.

My experience with the parish is very new. Folks seem to be responding well to our worship,preaching and teaching. We are finding our balance with respect to change. Saint John's is a healthy parish that is not in need of wide ranging or very deep change. What I do hope to offer is an enriched experience of the practice of the faith. My task to create a safe, exciting, formation rich environment of radical and ongoing - viral - if you will - invitation. There is ministry enough for every soul of the parish and if we are all faithful we can do much good work in the world in the name of Christ. I have found everyone to be kind and generous, patient and understanding. I work every day to be a better Rector than I was the day before. I love a life in Holy Orders and find that the tasks that thrilled me as a young priest still thrill me today.

Organizationally and structurally more changes are on the way as we learn together how best to do Church in this place. There are multiple committees and task forces hard at work on special projects ranging from "branding" to the formation of a Flower Guild.

In the weeks ahead we will begin to prepare the parish to re-invest financially so that we can live into the full ministry into which God calls Saint John's.

So - Yes, I am happy - very happy here. I believe that God has called us together at St.John's and the years ahead we will produce fruit worthy of that calling. I love St. John's and Charlotte and I am settling in nicely.

Back in about a week. Going to talk about "dust".

Fr. Paul+

Monday, March 29, 2010

Who is Jesus?

Monday in Holy Week, A.D. 2010

It seems a "right, good, and proper thing"; to use very old Prayer Book language, for a parish priest to begin a blog in Holy Week. As I have contemplated this business of a BLOG I settled in my mind that it should be, insofar as possible, a communcation of hope and encouragement and if not that, perhaps a place that might foster some wondering about things that matter. Speaking of things that matter - I am off to the parish kitchen for a cup of coffee. It is a little after 7 - we have had our first serice for the day and it time for my coffee. ...There - that's better. Our coffee here at St. John's is really good Church Coffee - not quite a Sacrament - but not far behind.

In Holy Week the Church Universal contemplates the last days of the life of Jesus as he left the byways and beaches of the Holy Land and entered Jerusalem, a City over which he wept. It seems to me that there is no way to contemplate those events without considering on some deep level who this Being must be. Before the week is out you see, we (The Church) will be making some extraordinary claims about His personhood, His nature, His essence, His role in the unfolding history of the Divine/Human relationship.

Like most Christians on the journey, from time to time I must clarify for myself so that I can articulate for others, whom I hold this person Jesus to be. This, as one would imagine, shifts and evolves (one hopes) over time and life experiences but I am clear whom this Jesus is as I expereince Him and as I see Him unfold in the hearts and lives of those who believe in Him.

First, I should say that I believe in the Credal Jesus - the Jesus described by the Church Fathers in the Creeds of the Church. Yet - this is the Universal truth about Jesus for all believers to embrace and live. What I am getting at here is how that Universal/Credal Jesus encounters me and I Him in the very ordinariness of my life events.

I expereince Jesus Christ as the result of a Divine Love so expansive that it could not be contained in heaven. The heart of God was so bursting with love and hope; and yes perhaps fear for humanity; that the Cosmic Heart burst and the life blood of God Himself infused itself into the human condition in an enfleshment of that Cosmic concern for His creation. Further, Jesus Christ is a love so pure that hell could but expell it - for it could not endure so pure a Presence.

Well - there you go. That is the Jesus I have come to know and adore. But he came to know me and love me first. He just couldn't help it. It is the way he is.

I bid you a Blessed and Holy Week. It is my intention to return after the great celebration of Easter Day.

I welcome your thoughts about who Jesus is to you.

Fr. Paul+

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Celebration of a New Ministry

This evening, we will gather to celebrate the beginning of a new ministry. The ministry we celebrate is the ministry of a community of people who have chosen to follow Christ Jesus as disciples, a community which is over two thousand years old.

The Episcopal Church understands that the ordained ministry which takes place in a parish church is the ministry of the bishop. As a bishop can only be in one place at a time, Bishop Curry, like most bishops, shares ministry with bishops, priests, deacons, and lay persons so that the Word is preached, the Sacraments are offered, and pastoral care is provided to God's people.

Recognizing that in accordance with the Canons of the Church, God's people have called The Reverend Paul S. Winton to serve them, Bishop Curry and Bishop Gregg, through this service of Institution and Induction, invite and authorize Father Winton to share in the Bishop's ministry to the people of Saint John's. Together then, Bishop Curry and Bishop Gregg and the people of Saint John's join with Father Winton in the celebration of this new ministry. We welcome you with open hearts and arms in the name of the Risen Lord and invite you to join in our celebration this evening and in the worship and service life of this parish.