By The Rev. J. Fletcher Montgomery, Rector

St. John's Episcopal Church

Thy Kingdom Come is an initiative of the archbishop of Canterbury which invites people around the world to pray with special intention from the Feast of the Ascension (May 25 this year) to the Day of Pentecost (June 4 this year) - the final 10 days of the ‘Great 50 Days of Easter.'   This year St. John’s will join in the praying along with millions of Anglicans in dozens of nations.  The chief prayer is that those we love, and others around us, may come to know God’s profound and unconditional love for them in Jesus Christ.  We are also invited to pray for anything else on our hearts as we come before the Lord in this holy season.

St. John’s will be open for prayer from 9:00am to 4:00pm on May 25, 26, 30, and 31, and June 1 and 2;

and our Thursday midweek Eucharists (12:15pm) on both May 25 and June 1
will be held in the church instead of the Heyward Hall chapel.

How should we pray?

Thy Kingdom Come has an excellent website filled with resources and ideas for you and your whole family (thykingdomcome.global).  And our own Book of Common Prayer (bcponline.org) has a section called “Prayers and Thanksgivings” (pages 814-841).  As I thumb through these numbered collects, I would especially recommend prayers 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10, 15, 18, 27, 40, 44, 54, 61, and 62, and thanksgivings 1, 3, and 7.

If you’re more of an extemporaneous pray-er, follow this simple outline as you pray in your own thoughts and words for:  

1) the worldwide church, its members, and its mission;

2) our country, and our elected officials;

3) the peace and welfare of all the peoples of the earth;

4) particular concerns within our local community;

5) the sick, and all who suffer hardship or trouble;

6) thanksgiving for those who have died and gone before us into God’s heavenly kingdom.

As we commit to this special 10 days of prayer together, the apostles’ teachings will also be our guide:  Are any among you suffering?  They should pray.  Are any cheerful?  They should sing songs of praise.  Are any among you sick?  They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord.  The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.  Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.  (James 5.13-16)

Let us pray!

 

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By The Rev. J. Fletcher Montgomery, Rector

St. John's Episcopal Church

Growing up as the son of a preacher, some random things got stuck my head over the years.  I can remember just about all of my dad’s sermon illustrations for example, and I definitely know all of his sermon jokes.  To be fair, some of dad’s jokes were actually amusing, though I seem to recall most of them being pretty corny.  One was:  “Malachi: the only Italian prophet in the Old Testament!”  (Dad would wrongly emphasize the second syllable, use a soft ‘ch’ and a long ‘e’ sound so that the name came out ‘Mal-AH-chee.’)   ...Ha ha ha.

However you pronounce ‘Malachi,’ the author has left us a powerful little book with a serious punch.  The prophecy is very strident throughout, and yet I come back to it time and again in my personal devotional reading.  Malachi’s premise is that the people of ancient Israel are actually questioning God’s love for them!  Their crisis of faith isn’t just theoretical, but is visibly apparent in the many ways Israel breaks its covenant with God.  This little book isn’t just a dressing down of God’s people nearly 2,500 years ago; it’s a warning to us in the 21st century church as well.  Impure sacrifices, false teachings, indifference to rampant injustice, and an unfaithful return of tithes and offerings…all these things - in very tough language - are cited in order to call Israel back to its true faith, and back to its faithfulness towards the God of their salvation.  What can we learn?

Timeless truths still speak to us through the ages:

  • Chapter 1 - We must not be satisfied to offer God our left-overs, our used-up gifts, our spare pocket change, or anything else in which we ourselves don’t see much value.  “Do not show contempt for my Name; it is to be honored and revered in your tithes and offerings.”
  • Chapter 2 - The ministers of God must teach correct doctrine so that their hearers will not stumble; the people of God must in turn be faithful to God in heart, mind, body, and spirit.  “Be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful in your relationship with me,” says the LORD Almighty.
  • Chapter 3 - We must not weary God with empty words, but back them up with our striving after justice in our land.  “I will come and be quick to testify against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress those who have none to help them, and deprive foreigners of just treatment.”
  • Chapter 4 - Those who are careful not to decide, ‘It is futile to serve God’ will make up God's faithful remnant.  “On that day when I act, they will be my treasured possession.  I will spare them, just as parents have compassion upon their own children.  Upon you who revere my Name and honor me with your faithfulness, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”

In closing - an interesting fact:  the Book of Malachi contains the only verses in the Bible that actually tell us to test God:  “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it!”

May the Lord bless you as you strive to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

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