Food for Thought-Dying Was Possibly Part of the Deal

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Dying was possibly,
Part of the deal,
When I signed up,
To follow Jesus,
Not for meetings,
To hear people squeal,
At mediocre praise choruses,
And marvel at sound bites poorly delivered,
but to die,
if need be,
part of following Jesus,
is being called to die,
that’s one the big reasons,
we knew it when,
we knew it then,
martyrdom was what he asked,
to bear a cross,
and die with him,
it’s become too easy,
to live this,
Americanized sin,
21st century Christianity,
Sanitized worship,
A deodorized Jesus,
No different from Santa Claus,
Where no one remembers,
Or gives a moments pause,
At what he said,
Or what he taught,
How he lived,
From the day he commenced,
Forgive and you will die,
The kingdom of heaven,
Making no earthly sense.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Benediction To Be Delivered at Ocracoke School Graduation 14 June 2015

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May you leave this place bearing the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of those who brought you to this moment. May you always remember the lessons learned, the friendships cherished, and the dreams nurtured by this place. May your pilgrimage be sustained by faith, hope, and love.  May God bless your journey in darkness and light, in storm and calm, and may you know that you are loved.  Amen.

Food for Thought-A Prayer for Memorial Day

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Today is the day,
we remember those who died,
beyond the places only sacred stones recall,
we mourn their loss and sacrifice made,
those who passed in distant lands,
and those who bled,
on these very sands,
In Christ there is hope,
In hope we pray for tomorrow,
That the violence of yesterday,
May give way to peace today.

In Christ,
Amen.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-A Prayer To Be Delivered At the Dedication of A New Baseball Field

Excelsiors You are the God of base hits, pop flies, stolen bases, home run moments, and missed opportunities. For in Baseball we see glimpses of our better selves and your grace; urging us to keep moving forward to the next base, when we would rather stand safely in the past. You call us, like outfielders, to be constantly aware of our surroundings and the actions of those around us. You tell us, like a good coach, we work better when we work together. May these lessons be heard and remembered in this place. May the summer sun which warms the faces of each player, remind us of the love you hold for each of us in your well worn heavenly Baseball glove. May the spring rains which will nourish this grass, remind us a community has sought to grow young people strong in body, mind, and spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Food for Thought-Prayer for Holy Saturday and Easter Morning

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We wait in the rain and gray of a Saturday that seems to never end. Our broken hearts, numbed by the images of your suffering, seem to re-shatter each time we move our bodies. How can we live without you? Grant us a steadfast hope which is more than any understanding we possess. May our lives be replanted and renewed beyond the fetid air of death that stalks our souls. May the promises you made in life be more than words we remember at your death. May the festering wounds of this week be healed and offer strength for the journey, not simply proof for those who doubt. Create within us space for wonder, amazement, joy, and love. For if we are not moved by love, we do not see the risen Christ or hear your words of comfort-the reality of the resurrection does not become real.

In Jesus Name,
Amen

Food for Thought-Maundy Thursday Sermon (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

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It’s been one of those weeks.  Jesus has been all over the news, in one way or another.  Whether in documentary form, docudrama, or the news; his name and his presence have been invoked at every turn.  Jesus seems to be everywhere.  Yet, is it him? Certainly, people are talking about him.  I’m not so certain everyone is on the same page.  It’s easy to talk about Jesus.  However, it is very difficult to gather in a small room and sit down at a table, face to face with Jesus.  With that degree of intimacy, we cannot hide.  We are forced to be honest with Jesus and ourselves about the meaning of this evening. We come here not to speak, not to put words in his mouth, or to talk on his behalf.  We are here to listen to him.  What does Jesus want to tell us on this night?

He wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”.  Why does he want to say this? We are never more vulnerable as people of faith than we on Maundy Thursday. This is the night when our worlds will spin so far out of control.  They’re already headed in that direction.  Our natural instinct will be to reach for something to control, a decision to make, or a person to hold onto. Those things that we think we know and rely upon aren’t going to be there.  To this table, where we are gathered, we bring this crumbling charade of control.  Beside the chalice of wine and plate with the bread we dump our garbage, junk, mess, and general personal chaos.   Jesus, on this night, when the world seems to be spinning out of control, you see us for who we are and what we are.   We are never more vulnerable than when we come before you at this table. We are a mess.

For some reason, despite the mess we’re in (and the mess you’re in) we are here together.  You’re with us, at this table, in the midst of our overwhelming messiness.  Jesus, we can barely understand yesterday.  We have no way to put words or thoughts to the immensity of tomorrow’s events.  Yet, there is something about the present which you are telling us to transform into a new way of living.  It’s all wrapped up in what’s on the table.  In the good memories we take in and the bad we leave behind; this table is the place where we realize the ugly memories of our lives do not define us in the eyes of Jesus.   We do, in remembrance of Jesus.  It is not, “what we have done”.  It is at the table where we see Jesus most clearly; can we embrace the aching vulnerability to make that same sense of clarity a two way street?

How do I know Jesus wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”?  John 15:12 and beyond seems to answer this question clearly.  Jesus tells his disciples to love one another as he has loved them.  They are to take care of each other and love one another. In verse 15, he goes one step farther, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends.”  He calls them friends. In the hours before his death Jesus calls his disciples friends.  It’s a strong enough statement to be recorded in John’s gospel.  We are friends.  We share this table.  In our vulnerabilities, flaws, darkness, and light, this is the space where the memories of yesterday become the ministries of tomorrow.  This is where everything gets left.  Take nothing home but the grace of God.