A Prayer for the Day(s) After Epiphany 2021

Sovereign Lord, as you prevail upon our nation’s leaders’ deliberations today, may the reign of your Spirit’s conviction preside and precipitate due and timely proper awareness of any complicity to rain down upon those among us especially in deep and dire need of repentance, both individually and corporately.

May “We the People of the United States, in Order to [continue to] form a more perfect Union, [re]establish Justice, [re]insure domestic Tranquility, provide [anew] for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity,” over and over, once again this day reaffirm here and now the ordained establishment of “this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Let it be so by your grace, O Holy One, for such a time as this unto the glory of our Creator who has endowed us “with certain unalienable Rights”, among which of “these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We make such “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone” in our country and particularly on this present day at this prescient moment in time for “all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

In your holy name and redeeming mercy,
Amen

OPEN LETTER TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE, MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, AND THE CABINET CALLING FOR THE REMOVAL OF PRESIDENT TRUMP FROM OFFICE

“We grieve for our country at this difficult time and continue to pray for the safety and security, and ultimately the healing of our nation. Holding those who have abused their power and participated in these immoral and tragic actions accountable, in particular the President of the United States, is one step toward healing.” (National Council of Churches, USA)
— Read on nationalcouncilofchurches.us/open-letter-to-vice-president-pence-members-of-congress-and-the-cabinet-calling-for-the-removal-of-president-trump-from-office/

The Aftermath of Epiphany 2021

Among a multitude of lines crossed by the federal executive branch of government in office at present, of which many took note much earlier leading up to this past Wednesday, it appears to have been the Day of Epiphany in more ways than one, particularly for those in the current outgoing administration.

The week’s egregious event(s) of grave concern on that day apparently provided for the timely tipping point at which the threshold has finally been breached, though not necessarily for some still staunch supporters as lingering holdouts albeit amidst diminishing returns.

It is disconcertingly even more so a suddenly saddening sordid sight. Now added to shameful memory in our nation’s consciousness as a disruptively grievous sobering site on which the incitement of unruly harmful forces was unduly sanctioned by a sitting commander-in-chief. No wonder the scrambling being witnessed in the defecation storm’s aftermath.

God help us all in the midst of our utter utmost brokenness as we the people seek again to be the people for one another whose government is meant to be of, for and by the people of these supposedly United States. America, may God shed God’s grace anew upon thee in the new year, hopefully redeeming the years the locusts have stolen. Lord, in your mercy….

On This Day Different From Other Days

“Instead, they were longing for a better country….”
—‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:16‬a (NIV‬‬) [after Epiphany]

Today, “in the desecrated chambers of democracy”, facing the aftermath of mob insurrectionists’ inundating the U.S. Capitol, the duly elected people’s representatives upon their duty and renewed vow to uphold and defend the Constitution of these United States are charged and blessed anew with the mandate and honor of rebuilding and reuniting our democratic republic toward a more perfect union.

O, U.S. of A., how deeply divided a nation of extremist polarizing factions are we in this present day…

As one nation under God, among fellow citizens of the undiscovered country, indivisibly called to prayerful intercession on behalf of one another with liberty and justice for every person, let us reject, renounce and refrain from inciting any and all seditionist tendencies and conspiratorial theorists’ efforts among us. May we instead engender, encourage and empower the best of us and the better angels of our nature for the greater good and common welfare of our shared humanity.

This is my heart in prayer, on this day different among other days, unto the holy One who intercedes for us before the throne of grace. O Lord, by your sovereign hand of redemption and reconciliation, let the healing of this our nation among all nations begin again, herewith in and under your mercy

A New Year’s New Beginnings in Joy

Today

1/1/2021

“It seemed good to us….” (Acts 15:25a’)

Dear Ones in the Beloved Family of Faith,

Effective today, Friday 1 January 2021, I am officially serving full-time as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Winchester and Portland, IN where both congregations have affirmed the call together for shared pastoral leadership with one another and me. A new year of new beginnings in the Lord beckons me anew to faith-filled obedience in ordained ministry — “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)

Acts 15:25a (NASB)

“it seemed good to us, having become of one mind….”

This month marks sixteen years of service for me in east central Indiana as a member of Whitewater Valley Presbytery whose commission on ministry (COM) has approved the churches’ joint covenant in mutual agreement. New opportunities and expectations engender renewed hopes and aspirations amidst the dangers and crises of the current times we are facing together in these latter days.

“Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church….” (Acts 15:22a)

Alongside each and everyone called to this mission in ministry with others in community, I endeavor to remain steadfast, standing firm under the mercy, moving forward in faith together toward advancing further the reign of our sovereign Lord in our midst. Blessed by providence with provision in perseverance, we proceed as God almighty presides over us and our progress through this present pilgrimage.

Acts 15:28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials

Praying in the new year ahead, continually lifting others up together gathered before the throne of God’s healing grace, I rejoice in the Lord renewing our rededication to each other as the Spirit renews our fellowship and commitment to one another in Christ. The Spirit of Jesus is with, in and among us! Thanks and Praise be to the Lord our God Who alone is worthy to receive all blessing, honor, glory and power unto the Ancient of Days.

A Joyous and Prosperous New Year of Blessings to you and yours!

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — above all — Praise Adonai

Amen

Waiting While Wanting in the Wake of Wonder

The beginning of this month signals the end of Daylight Saving as we anticipate the annum turning of ecclesial seasons from All Saints’ Day through the Reign of Christ Sunday into Advent. I have just recently, once again, as if for the first time, rediscovered a reason why I am, at times, drawn to watch news reports and read articles in the paper and periodicals. Suddenly reacquainted with a keen awareness of what keeps driving me to keep abreast of issues and becoming more deeply prescient upon the recent and ongoing plights of our society today, still I endeavor to remain in hope. 

The sordid significant streams of self-disquietingly thoughtful reflection serendipitously sought by stewardship that, eventually, seemingly inundate, satiate and suffuse one’s inner life, apparently help reconnect me further with a continual desire to remember my father’s love and loves of life, family and friends along the journey of journeys unto eternity.[1]

I miss my Dad. I yearn for whatever semblance of insightful paternal wisdom and fatherly advice he would generously, keenly and timely provide throughout life lived together with loved ones. 

I remember watching Dad in his retirement, intently viewing television for hours on end with focused concentration and undistracted attention toward various items in a variety of news broadcasts. There would be several sections of journalistically reputable newspapers strewn about after his reading them each day throughout the week and especially the Sunday edition of prominent publications hot off the press along with a diverse plethora of weekly and monthly magazines from subscriptions and sometimes nearby newsstands in town. This would inevitably well inform his contributions to stimulating dialogue in the casual course of engaging conversations with others. 

By his example, Dad inculcated in me a cultivating, captivating curiosity for currency in national and world affairs that would have untold repercussions on my developing certain principled views on civics and international issues. A lawyer, labor and business leader in his decades long career following higher education and training, subsequent to service in the Philippines under U.S. General Wainwright’s command during WWII, my veteran father’s acute and heightened sense of duty, righteousness and responsibility concerning liberty and justice for all was a poignant influence on his son’s worldview. It would later serve to strengthen my vocation in ministry upon encountering the theological approach of holding the bible in one hand and the published news in the other while praying through daily devotions with the offering of intercessions unto the One able to accomplish that which would address our concerns for the day. 

I am continuously seeking, searching for such tethered feeling of ancestral embrace with my father, imagined as though face to face. I constantly aspire toward that experience of parental approval uniquely obtained from the relationship key to a sense of identity as a man’s man can only derive from that one filial connection. It speaks to a familial interconnectedness. One realizes, albeit posthumously, that such transcendent inheritance is more pertinent and important to a farther extent than they had even already been aware of before. The reality of a parent’s impartation of prosperity in perspectives prior to their passing is wrought with similarity of sentiment on to one’s own progeny for posterity in perpetuity. 

We made a visit to his grave today on Veterans Day, Mom and I, plus a few among my younger daughters along with my son-in-law. They, their “Lola”/my mother, and I marked the time together in loving remembrance on 11/11 eleven years and two months after his departure from this earth, now over nineteen years since our nation’s terrible experience of world events on 9/11. We are left upon the aftermath in the wake of unspeakable grief and loss continuing on amidst times of global uncertainty amongst hundreds of thousands more afflicted and multiple millions affected through the present pandemic. I am bereft of sensibilities it seems at this point potentially desensitized to the dearth of dread for deathly disease plaguing the nation’s most vulnerable among us. I wonder what Dad would say today. 

With Gratitude for the Gift of Grace and Peace to Count it All Joy at Thanksgiving,     

—The Rev. M. Rex Espiritu 


[1] “Now unto the [One] Eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the Only Wise—be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen.”

At the Time of an Election

“Under your law we live, great God,

and by your will we govern ourselves.

Help us as good citizens

to respect neighbors whose views differ from ours,

so that without partisan anger,

we may work out issues that divide us,

and elect candidates to serve the common welfare;

through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.”

— Book of Common Worship by Presbyterian Church

https://a.co/fJcP71h

…. on a new way of looking at the New Testament ….

“At a General Assembly luncheon in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2006, the then executive presbyter of Shenango Presbytery, David Dawson, introduced Kenneth E. Bailey as “the most important New Testament scholar in our generation.” ….five years before [Bailey’s memorial service was in California last May (2016),] Jim Walther, a New Testament scholar at Pittsburgh [Theological] Seminary [said,] “Ken’s work will be discovered and become widely influential fifty years from now.” (Pittsburgh, PA)
—Presbyterian Outlook

“In the introduction to the revised edition, Bailey laments the near invisibility of Arab Christians in the West today. Though “there are more Arabic-speaking Christians in the Middle East than Jews in the entire world,” he explains, most Westerners continue to think that all Arabs are Muslims. This is a tragedy for Western scholars of the Bible as the traditional languages of their Middle Eastern counterparts (Syriac, Coptic and Arabic) are generally unknown in the West. Though Western biblical scholars learn Hebrew and Greek, for 1,500 years they have been cut off from Eastern scholars who, Bailey writes, “are inheritors of the traditional culture of the Middle East and thereby the culture of the Bible.””

“In “The Cross & the Prodigal” and in all the books that followed, Bailey attempted to fill this lacuna in biblical scholarship by analyzing the stories of the Bible in terms of Middle Eastern culture as he learned and experienced it over the course of his long career. He also shared these stories with Middle Easterners in classrooms and villages in order to test his ideas and gain new insights. In addition, he studied medieval translations of the Bible in Syriac, Coptic and Arabic; examined Hebrew sources such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Midrash Rabbah; and consulted Arabic Christian scholars (both medieval writers such as Ibn al-Tayyib and modern writers such as Matta al-Miskin) to tap into their cultural observations as well.”

“Bailey’s most important book may be “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels,” published in 2008. [He] gives prominence to those aspects of the Gospel story that have been misunderstood or overlooked because of Western ignorance of Middle Eastern culture.”

Kenneth Bailey: A scholar with a new way of looking at the New Testament

Kenneth E. Bailey’s first and
perhaps most well-known book

Every Word Has Its Place

“Every word is alive and is at home in a certain place. The word in the family is different from the word in the office or in public. The word that is born in the warmth of personal relationship freezes in the cold air of the public. The word of command, which comes out of public service, would cut the bonds of trust in the family. Every word is supposed to have its place and stay in it. As a consequence of the spread of the public word in newspapers and radio, the nature and boundaries of various words are no longer felt clearly, and indeed the special character of the personal word has been almost destroyed. In place of genuine words, we now have chatter. Words no longer have any weight. There is too much talk. When the boundaries of various words are erased, however, when words become rootless and homeless, then the word loses truth, and this almost necessarily gives rise to the lie. When the various conventions of life are no longer mutually observed, then words become untrue.”

— I Want to Live These Days with You: A Year of Daily Devotions by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

https://a.co/4lYy7ho