Greetings of peace from Church of the Woods.
This has been a challenging time. A summer of shootings and too many scenes of horror around our country. A presidential election campaign horribly suffused with a rhetoric of violence. Acts of terror and warfare in so many corners of the world. And the challenges closer to home — for me, the sudden death of my brother-in-law, David — and the illness, grief, and loss that we all experience in one form or another. Underlying all this, there is the ongoing upheaval of the systems of nature that sustain all life, far beyond just humans. It is a tough time.
Such challenges are, alas, the regular fodder of existence. Life brings us such joy and beauty, but it brings also pain, loss, tragedy, and grief. No one skates through unscathed.
Given all this, as we near the end of this long, hot summer, I invite you to consider: How can we — you, each of us, all of us — be beacons of beauty, love, and joy in the midst of this? How can we transform fear and hatred into love and peace? How can we be bearers of hope and goodwill? Where can we turn for role models, teachings, and practices that build up rather than tear apart?
I invite you to join us at Church of the Woods as we explore these and other questions in a setting that invites peace — that is peace. Starting September 11,* we will be holding services at 9:00 AM as well as our now-customary 3:00 PM service. Please join us — the woods beckon!
I leave you with this prayer, attributed to St. Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
yours in the peace of Christ,
Steve O’ the Woods
(with thanks to my good friends at St. Stephen’s in Pittsfield NH for this new name!)
* N.B. There will be no 9:00 AM service on Sept. 25 as I have a previous commitment elsewhere.
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