Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Faith must serve goodness, for if we fail in love we fail in everything else"

I had the privilege of representing California Faith for Equality last night at Progressive Christians Uniting's 2010 Dinner Gala ... featuring keynote speaker Diana Butler Bass and honoring Methodist Bishop Mary Ann Swenson.

It was a great night ... a great event ... and it began with this great opening prayer by All Saints Church Rector Emeritus George Regas -- who is also a founding member of PCU.

I asked him for a copy to share and here it is. Words of wisdom, warmth, hope and challenge on the cusp of Lent ...

Progressive Christians Uniting Dinner
February 15, 2010 Prayer by George F. Regas
Rector Emeritus, All Saints Church, Pasadena

I want you to pray with me tonight with your eyes open.

Prayer is joining our hearts and minds and bodies to the great purposes of creation;
Prayer is saying yes to the fullness of life and no to all the obscenities of death;
Yes, to health and no to sickness.

Prayer consciously links us with the divine energy that lives in the depth of our being and at the center of the universe.

Prayer is bowing to the sacred in all creation and becoming God’s partners in mending its fabric.

We are here tonight in a world God has made beautiful beyond any imagining of it. Everything around us is sacred, every person beside us is holy.

This sense of the sacredness of all life is the fragile thread upon which civilization hangs in our age. We are grateful for God’s gracious, sacred gift of life; and we also remember those in Haiti for whom this gift of life has been so tragically damaged and destroyed.

In this challenging, complex world, we all long to be loved and valued and held tenderly close. And so we are grateful tonight that the rich heritage of our faith tells us that each one of us is loved by God as though each one was the only one in the universe to love.

We live in a dangerous, war-torn world, divided by fear and suspicion, and flowing with the blood of hatred. And so we are grateful that our eyes have been opened to see there are no boundaries on God’s planet, that we are all interconnected and the survival of one is dependent on the survival of all. In our faith communities we have discerned that in the nuclear age the smallest unit of survival is the whole world.

Give us the courage and wisdom O God, to proclaim in word and deed that it is still politically expedient for this state and this nation to be generous to its poor, loving to its children, compassionate with its sick and just to its prisoners.

We gather tonight as a people on a journey of discovery and we thank you God that we have learned a few things.

We’ve learned that truth must be our authority, not some authority our truth; and faith must serve goodness, for if we fail in love we fail in everything else.

We’ve learned we need your spirit of truth, God, in the deepest places within us if we are to continue to be engaged in great learning – for your spirit keeps us eager to pursue truth wherever it leads, and you make us scornful of the cowardice that fears new truth, of the laziness that is content with half truths and with the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth.

I pray tonight, God, that you will send us forth from this dinner to have a lover’s quarrel with the world.

Give us grace to quarrel with a nation that spends 57% of our national financial resources each year on our military as people are sick and suffering all over the planet.

Give us grace to quarrel with all that profanes, trivializes and separates people and fails to see in every person, even our enemies, the image of the divine and the sanctity of life.

This is our prayer to you, O God, whose lover's quarrel with the world is the history of the world.

We ask your blessing on us, God, as we eat and tell our stories tonight … maybe then we may bring to our world a little more justice, a little more peace, a little more health and beauty because we quarreled with the world for what is not but could be.

To you, God, be the honor, glory and majesty tonight and forever.


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