We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Videos, Pentecost 7, July 24, 2022

01. See ye First

02 O Let the Son of God Enfold you

03 Give Me Jesus Larry Saylor

04 Gospel

05 Sermon

06 10000 Reasons Bless the Lord Larry Saylor


Chorus Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name.

Verse 1 The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning; It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Verse 2 You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger, Your Name is great and Your heart is kind; For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

Verse 3 And on that day when my strength is failing, The end draws near and my time has come; Still my soul sings Your praise unending, Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

07 The Blessing

Village Harvest, July 2022 – What happened?

When we look back in July and over recent years, the trends from June to July show either a steady increase or a sizeable drop. There is no consistency between years.

We had 74 people visit the harvest in July.  That was  a significant drop from 96 in June.  In 2021, the number from June to July  was actually up from 70 to 80 reflecting an increase. 2020 was a pandemic year. In 2019 the number of clients fell from 130 to 101. The year before there was an increase from 100 to 119. So it’s  “all over the place.” For the year 2022 is just above 2021, 617 to 615 but the difference between the years has been decreasing.

The real value is in the food provided – and that is up . We distributed 1,254 pounds of food, the largest distribution since March. The year it is 8,841 pounds for 2022 vs 8,718 for 2021. Pounds per client were up monthly from 14.18 to 14.33. The last full year was 2019 which was only 12 pounds. Similarly, the value per client at $6 a pound averaged from  $86 to $88 monthly during the period. It was $81 in 2019, the last full year. 

One positive is the composition of the foods. Produce shot up from 9% to 34%. In 2019 and 2021 it was comparable at 36%.  Meat was the main change at 19% in July, 2022 compared to 15% in 2021 and 7% in 2019

St. James the Apostle, July 25

St. Josemaria Institute

We celebrate James the Apostle on July 25. With his brother, John, the Gospels (Matthew 4, 21-22; Mark 1, 19-20; Luke 5, 10-11) record that they were fishermen, the sons of Zebedee, partners with Simon Peter, and called by Jesus from mending their nets beside the sea of Galilee at the beginning of his ministry

Jesus nicknamed them ‘the sons of thunder’ – perhaps justified by the story (Luke 9, 51-56) that they once wished to call down fire from heaven to destroy a village which had refused them hospitality.

They made it to key events in Jesus life – the Transfiguration, Gethsemene and at various healings and miracles – Peter’s mother-in-law and raising of Jairus’s daughter. Obviously, James was of Jesus closest followers.

He is known as James the Great to distinguish him from James the Less, or James the brother of the Lord.

About AD 42, shortly before Passover (Acts 12), James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I, grandson of Herod the Great (who tried to kill the infant Jesus–Matthew 2). James was the first of the Twelve to suffer martyrdom, and the only one of the Twelve whose death is recorded in the New Testament.

Tradition is he was a missionary to Spain in his life and, at his death, was buried at Compostela, a site of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. 

Relics of the saints were believed to possess great power. Spain needed it in the 8th century. Jerusalem fell to the armies of Islam in 636 A.D., and less than a century later, in 711, Spain was also invaded and conquered. Islam rapidly reached northern Spain, and sent raiding parties into France. In northwest Spain, however, a small Christian kingdom, including Asturias and present-day Galicia, emerged in the 8th century, and at this time James’ tomb was discovered near Finisterre. James was the most senior member of the intercessionary hierarchy whose relics remained undiscovered.  The discovery of his tomb helped to bolster the resistance.

In the 12th Century Santiago came to rank with Rome and Jerusalem as one of the great destinations of medieval pilgrimage. The first cathedral was built over the site of James tomb, and Benedictine houses were established.  The cathedral where he is buried was depicted in the film, The Way, at the end of the “Way of St. James”, a pilgrim’s path across Spain.  

The relics of St James are housed in a silver casket below the high altar, above which his statue presides over the cathedral. On the feast of St James on July 25, and other high days and holy days, a giant censer, the Botafumeiro, is swung on ropes by red-coated attendants in a great arc from floor to vaults, emitting clouds of incense over delighted crowds. It’s considered a symbol of both the cathedral and the city.

Here is the scene from The Way that depicts the pilgrims reaching  Santiago and venturing to the cathedral with the swinging of the censer or incense burner.  This has never been filmed before and the production crew had to get special permission to film it. They were allowed only 1 hour!

The “Way” is actually many paths across France and Northern Spain that has been followed by pilgrims for 800 years. In recent decades it has enjoyed a resurgence as a spiritual journey with many organized and unorganized journeys.  You can the take the route across Northern Spain (800km) taking 6 weeks or break it up into shorter journeys. 

Focus on the Lord’s Prayer

Lord’s Prayer – Matthew vs. Luke

The prayer as it occurs in Matthew 6:9–13

The prayer as it occurs in Luke 11:2–4

Our Father in heaven,


hallowed be your name.

hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your kingdom come.

your will be done,


on earth, as it is in heaven.


Give us this day our daily bread,

Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts,

and forgive us our sins

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

And lead us not into temptation,

And lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.

Why Prayer is Important ?

“Give us Today our Daily Bread” -James Hook (1866) 

Michael Foss (Power Surge) lists “daily prayer” as “The first mark of a disciple.”

From Yearning Minds and Burning Hearts: Understanding the Spirituality of Jesus by Glandion Carney , William Rudolf Long

“’Prayer changes us.’” The ultimate value of prayer is that it opens us to understand God and the world in fresh ways. Prayer gives us new spectacles to see the world–glasses that put the seemingly huge demands of contemporary life in a new perspective. Prayer helps us listen to the voice of God, accept the will of God and ask for the good things of God

“The practice of prayer is a standing rebuke to the wisdom of the world. The practice of prayer affirms a dimension to life that is unseen and unmeasurable, while the wisdom of the world considers something important only if it is visible and quantifiable. The practice of prayer proclaims that people are spiritual beings, rooted in the heart, while the wisdom of the world assumes that we are economic beings, concerned primarily with our personal net worth and an adequate retirement income. The practice of prayer indicates that God is the watcher, guide and protector of our lives, while the wisdom of the world teaches that unless we stand up for ourselves, no one will. The practice of prayer proves that “nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), while the wisdom of the world says we need all the resources ahead of time and all the right people speaking up for us or we will not be able to get what we want out of life. The practice of prayer says, “Don’t worry.” The wisdom of the world says, “Calculate.”

“Prayer is one of the principal ways of enlarging our awareness of God and of the universe. Prayer assumes there is more to the world than we can experience with our five senses. The great diversity of living things in the world should not only increase our sense of wonder, but also give us an awareness of our human limitations

“Prayer is the unique opportunity which God gives us to develop a deeper understanding of God and of the world

The latter is emphasized here -“Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods.” Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972).

Three Characteristics of Prayer

“What is the essential nature of prayer? First, prayer is the door or threshold to the spiritual world where God dwells in unapproachable light. It is the door to the inner world of the heart, whose contours have never fully been mapped. Prayer is the means to a “cartography of the soul,” to a process of spiritual mapmaking. When we pray, we pursue Jesus into the deep things of life, where light and darkness dwell together and neither fully extinguishes the other. Prayer is the door into understanding the heavenly realms as well as the inky abyss. It opens new realms to us.

“Prayer is also the anchor of our lives. It not only opens new vistas into the spiritual life, but also ties us ever more firmly to God in the process. One summer during college I worked at a large office building in San Francisco next to where a skyscraper was being built. It took the crew weeks just to drive the pilings deep into the ground. I still remember the ear-splitting crashes of hammers, the rush of pressurized air and the shouts of workers. They were anchoring the building, now among the tallest in San Francisco, deep into the bowels of the earth so that not even a major earthquake would topple it. Prayer is like that. It anchors us to God by blasting through the layers of debris and dirt of our lives so we might have a sturdy and strong life.

Prayer is, finally, a process of working the earth of the hearth, as the ancient monastic writers might say. In her book The Closter Walk, author Kathleen Norris writes about the ways that the Catholic monastic tradition provides a rhythm and depth for spirituality that many Protestants have never explored. When she says that the life of prayer works “the earth of the heart,” she means that prayer is like the act of cultivation. In order to work the soil, one must break up the hardened dirt clods, water the ground, free it from weeds and then plant a crop. Prayer is the way to “loosen up” the heart. During the natural course of our lives the “earth of our hearts” becomes parched, weed-infested and hard as flint. Unless we take care to break it up to run our fingers again through the rich soil that we know is there, our lives become as destitute and as desiccated as a desert.

Prayer is the means Jesus used to open himself to God, to anchor himself to his Father and to work the earth of his heart. Jesus prayed often and taught his disciples to pray. Prayer was as necessary to him as the air he breathed. I believe it was prayer that gave Jesus his powerful sense of awareness and insight into people and the world. It connected him to God, the source of life, and he began to see things so much from the divine perspective that he had no doubt that his work was God’s work. The practice of prayer gave Jesus an intuitive grasp of the truths of life as well as the political and religious realities around him. He could, figuratively speaking, see into another person’s heart because he knew both his own heart and the heart of God

“… We should, rather, yearn to imitate him and develop a similar commitment to prayer for ourselves. We should look at Jesus’ life as testimony to the benefits of developing a life of prayer. Jesus invites us, through prayer, to experience new, fresh, deep, true and permanent insights into the nature of God, the world and the culture in which we live.

Sermon, July 24, 2022 Pentecost 7

Sermon, Proper 12, Year C, 2022

Luke 11:1-13

“Ask and it shall be given you; search and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” 

These two familiar sentences make up one of the great promises of Jesus to us, that when we ask we will receive, when we seek, we will find, and when we knock, the door will open. 

But how many times in your life have you found that these promises don’t hold water, that what you asked for you didn’t receive, that what you sought you didn’t find, and that when you knocked, the door remained not only shut, but locked up tight?

That your prayers weren’t answered. 

So did God let you down?  Sometimes life feels that way—that God didn’t hear and  didn’t answer and that our prayers are in vain. 

But as Oswald Chambers says in his classic book of devotions, My Utmost for his Highest, “God answers prayer in the best way, not sometimes, but every time.” 

And somewhere deep down inside we believe that God does answer even our seemingly unanswered prayers, because we are here today, and I bet that you, like me, keep praying even when prayer seems hopeless. 

So let’s take a few minutes to knock on the door of today’s gospel and ask some questions of these words, and search for what God wants us to find today in these words of Jesus. 

The disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray and so Jesus gives them the words that we know as the Lord’s prayer. 

This line, “Give us each day our daily bread,”  is an obvious and sensible request.    Every day, we ask God to give us what we need for the day, the necessities of life.  In Biblical times, bread was essential to life.  Even when there was nothing else, people had bread and eating only bread sustained them.    

In the Old Testament, then the Israelites were wandering around in the wilderness and complained that they had nothing to eat, God provided bread for them in the form of manna that they found fresh on the ground each morning, and they gathered what they needed for the day. 

And then there’s the story of the prophet Elijah, suffering like everyone else in a famine, and God sends Elijah to the brook called Cherith.  Elijah goes there,  and God sends the ravens to bring him crumbs of bread each day.   

But I think that Jesus is telling us to pray for something more than bread when he asks us to pray for daily bread. 

In John’s gospel, Jesus says that he is the bread of life, one of the great I AM sayings. 

So we can think of this petition, “God, give us this day our daily bread” as asking for Jesus to be with us today, to be all that we need, to sustain us as bread sustains a hungry person. 

When Jesus is with me, sustaining me, the other needs I have get put into the proper perspective.  When I receive Jesus every day, I can see that my needs have already been met, often in unexpected and unusual ways, just as the raven fed Elijah. 

Give us this day our daily bread.  Give us Jesus, the bread of life.  Asking for this daily bread, Jesus, every day, keeps Jesus with us each day. 

I think the person who wrote the words of the old spiritual that Larry sang got the meaning of “Give us this day our daily bread.” Before asking for anything else, the writer asked for Jesus.   

“In the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, in the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.” 

After Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s prayer, he tells the them a  story about someone going to a friend at midnight and asking for bread, and that due to the person’s persistence the person finally gets up and gives the person the bread he needs. 

Sometimes, no matter how hard we pray, it’s hard to feel that Jesus is there with us, so Jesus reminds us to be persistent in praying for daily bread—to be persistent in praying to know the deeper presence of Jesus with us  in our lives. 

Prayer is not about magically making things happen if you pray hard enough, or pray the right way, but prayer is about helping us to learn ever more deeply what is already true, that is, as Oswald Chambers says, that we pray “to get perfect understanding of God.” 

Prayer isn’t some mystical act to make  Jesus appear, but we pray to realize ever more and more deeply what is already true, that Jesus is already with us, our daily bread. 

Another way to think of this is to remember the teaching of Jesus in John’s gospel.  “Abide in me, as I abide in you.”  That abiding in Jesus grows our understanding of God over time.  And when we abide in Jesus, we have all that we need—our daily bread. 

The more we pray, the more we realize that God is with us, providing for us and sustaining us.  So Jesus reminds us to be persistent in prayer. 

Now we come to the “ask and it will be given you” part of the gospel. 

When we talked about this passage in Bible study this past week, we wondered, what is “it?” “It” could be the specific thing I’m praying for—for instance, healing John Whitfield or Roger Key or any number of the people we pray for each day. But now, I’m thinking that “it” is something more. 

What if “it” is Jesus himself? 

“Ask, and Jesus will be given you.”  We already know that having Jesus in our lives is the foundation for everything else we need in our lives. 

Imagine what would happen if we ask for Jesus every time we pray, asking for Jesus first, before any of the other things that we need to ask God for—and those prayers are important as well.  Asking for Jesus first, before the rest of what we need, is the idea.   

Ask, and Jesus will come to you.  And then everything else we think we need will work out because we have come to know that Jesus is with us. 

Search, and you will find.   What if we searched for Jesus before anything else?  Jesus is the deepest and most wonderful mystery that we could ever search, and the more deeply we enter into the mystery of Jesus the more we will find the truth of our own lives, and the gracious presence of God with us.

Remember, the Bible is full of references for searching for God.  Not too long ago we had this passage from Psalm 63, written by David, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you.”  I love that—David knows that God is with him, but he is still seeking out God.  He says that his soul thirsts for God, and that his flesh faints for God.  Would that we would all be so diligent in our searching and finding God with us in our lives. 

And then “Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” 

In John’s gospel, in another of Jesus’ I AM sayings, Jesus says that he himself is the door or the gate through which the sheep enter into his fold, where they will be safe. 

In our lifetimes, we knock on so many doors.  Some open and some don’t.  But when we knock on his door, Jesus will always open and let us in, and then we  become content with both the open and shut doors that we’ve knocked on, for the most important door, the door into the fold of God, has opened and we are abiding in Jesus.   

At the end of today’s reading, Jesus says “How much more will the heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” 

That’s Jesus’ big, big hint for the disciples to understand the deeper meaning of what Jesus has been getting at in his teaching about prayer.  Oswald Chambers says that “the Holy Spirit is the one who makes real in you all that Jesus did for you.”  The Holy Spirit is the one who reminds us that we need to ask for Jesus as starving people would ask for bread. 

So here’s what I’d like to remember from this sermon, and what I hope you’ll remember too, when we pray. 

Give us this day our daily bread—give us Jesus. 

When we ask for Jesus, we will receive Jesus.

When we search for Jesus, we will find Jesus. 

And when we knock, we will see that Jesus is the open door through which Jesus invites us to enter,  so that we can abide in him and he can abide in us.

And then, the first thing we pray for in the Lord’s prayer will be granted in our lives.  

The Kingdom of God will become more and more a reality on this earth in our lives together as it is in heaven, for Jesus is with us, living in us,  and all of the rest will be well.    

Butterflies in July

July is often called the butterfly month, and with good reason. They seem to be more visible. At St. Peter’s we have swallow tails, monarchs and this one taken on July 20. There are about 20,000 species of butterflies worldwide. About 700 inhabit North America.
Great Spangled Fritillary

Lectionary Pentecost 7, July 24

I. Theme – Relating to God with Boldness and Persistence 

“Enriched Bread” – Corita Kent 

The lectionary readings are here or individually: 

First Reading – Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm – Psalm 138
Epistle – Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Gospel – Luke 11:1-13 

Today’s readings encourage us to relate to God with boldness and persistence. The gospel today, Luke 11:1-13, is a collection of Jesus’ sayings about prayer. So the first reading is the story of Abraham’s intercession with God on behalf of some innocent potential victims who live in Sodom. The psalmist gives thanks for God’s strong hand in a time of trouble. Paul warns the Colossians not to exchange the lordship of Christ for human teachings. Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray and illustrates the right attitudes with a story. The readings also present the many faces of God – as challenger, restorer, enemy, parent, and transformer.

The scriptures of the Judeo-Christian faith fully reveal the true character of God. The passage from Genesis is one of the most sublime revelations of the nature of God in the Bible. The extraordinary dialogue between Abraham and God teaches us two vital lessons: first, that God hears the prayers of those whose hearts are in tune with God’s; secondly, that God’s readiness to pardon is an integral factor in God’s justice.

Abraham’s boldness in challenging God came from his firm conviction that the lord could not act contrary to perfect justice by destroying the righteous indiscriminately with the wicked. “Shall not the judge of all earth do right?” This certain and lofty conception of the character of God still has not been fully grasped. For centuries, human societies have continued to truncate and pervert the biblical concept of divine justice, and very often human justice is untempered by mercy.

Abraham’s controversy with God also revealed the noble character of this patriarch whose name means “friend of God.” Abraham went to God in prayer with a conflict in his heart. His own sense of justice—“will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”—stood against his belief that the wicked must pay the penalty for their wickedness. Here, in Abraham, we see the intimations of God’s own dilemma with human creatures. In Christ we see the solution God provided.

God’s justice and righteousness were brought to bear upon sinful humanity through Jesus. Through Jesus, sinners are granted fullness of life with God as if they were perfectly righteous. The bond of wickedness was cancelled and set aside, nailed to the cross.

Punishment is our understanding of the consequences of our own actions when they don’t work out for us. It feels like God has abandoned us. Rather, God has not abandoned us, but the false god that said if we were good enough good things would happen. Instead, Jesus tells us that God sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. But what happens to those who are faithful is that we experience God’s restoration as justice—God brings down the high and raises up the low, as in the Magnificat.

In the gospel passage, Jesus intends to make only one point in his story about the midnight caller. If we, who are not good, know how to respond to a reasonable or good request, how much more will God fulfill requests that are borne to God in earnest prayer.

Many great devotional teachers have offered guidance in the art of prayer. One thing they all seem to agree on is that we should not give up praying for something until we either receive it or it is made clear that it is not God’s will to grant it. “Praying through” requires more patience than most of us can maintain. We blur our petitions in haste, flitting from this to that, dissipating our energy and concentration. How can we expect God to deal with a list of supplications that lightly changes from day to day?

When we call, God will answer, but we must sincerely ask, seek and knock, until heaven opens in one way or another.

II. Summary

First Reading –  Genesis 18:20-32

Sodeom, along with its sister community, Gomorrah, really serves as a fulcrum that stands between the texts regarding the Visitation at Mamre, and the Bargaining over Sodom, and its eventual Destruction. This truncated selection of verses raises the question of why God wanted to destroy Sodom in the first place. 

The Lord God and two angels have, in disguise, visited Abraham, who welcomed them from last week’s visit (Genesis 18:1-10a). As Abraham gradually discovers their identities, they start a trip to nearby Sodom, and the ever hospitable Abraham accompanies them.

Genesis 18:20-32 is the story of Abraham bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. Our second thread in the Hebrew Scriptures this season shares with us the promises of God, how God is faithful to the covenant

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a common example among the prophets for human wickedness that brings God’s just judgment. The specific kind of evil was variously indicated. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah have turned from God and worship other gods, primarily with male temple prostitutes. Isaiah identified it with social and judicial vices (Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9). Jeremiah associated it with the prophets’ betrayal of their vocation (Jeremiah 23:14). Ezekiel connected it with pride and neglect of the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:46-56).

The “outcry” against the sins of these towns prompts the lord to investigate. God is about to destroy the city completely, near where Abraham’s nephew Lot lives .Because of Abraham’s covenant relationship, he is allowed to know God’s secret thoughts. He begins to bargarin. Suppose there are 50 righteous people—won’t you save the cities for the 50 righteous? God replies that no, God will not. Then Abraham continues to bargain down until, if he can find ten, God will not destroy the cities.

Unfamiliar with the ways of the lord, Abraham intercedes for the innocent who will suffer the same fate as the guilty sinners. Abraham ends with a communal “ten,” and does not mention his family (Lot’s family) as innocents. Abraham returns to his home – a nomad’s tent, and we leave Lot in the midst of a teeming and complicated urban environment. But even though God is willing to bargain, apparently there were not even ten just persons to be found

We know that they are destroyed in the next chapter, but we see that even among Abraham, the idea of total and utter destruction is abhorrent. This is not God’s ways. It happens at times, but this is not what God desires. God’s covenant is about restoration and hope, and as one reads the Bible, the utter destruction of an entire community is never the ultimate plan, but rather, restoration is. But it will take some time for the people to turn from their ways, and for their understanding of God’s justice to change

Abraham ends with a communal “ten,” and does not mention his family (Lot’s family) as innocents. Abraham returns to his home – a nomad’s tent, and we leave Lot in the midst of a teeming and complicated urban environment.

Psalm –  Psalm 138

Psalm 138, a song of thanksgiving, praises God for God’s faithfulness, for God’s care not only for the powerful, but the powerless. God’s love endures forever, and God will not forget

This psalm of thanksgiving has many parallels with the later parts of Isaiah, and was probably written sometime after the return from exile. The “gods” of verse 1 may be the members of the heavenly council or the rulers and gods of other nations. Verses 1-4 give praise for the lord’s help, and verses 5-7 describe the effect of God’s majesty and mercy upon the kings of the earth. The psalm concludes with an expression of the psalmist’s trust that God will personally care for him. Although all creation is under God’s care, the lord’s intimate love is available to each individual.

In this thanksgiving psalm, we see God receiving the praise and thanksgiving of the psalmist despite the presence of the other gods. The following verses recite the reasons for such faithfulness on the part of the psalmist. The most profound of these recitations (especially in light of the first reading, and Abraham’s advocacy) is “When I called, you answered me.” That is the strength and the relationship that the psalmist’s faith is based on. There is an attempted universality in the psalm that sits on a spectrum that ranges from the individual thanksgivings of the psalmist to the “All the kings of the earth” who have heard the words of God. There is a similar dimensionality in the following verse in which God “on high” still cares for the lowly, an arc of comfort and of justice.

Epistle-  Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)

The Christians at Colossae were exposed to a variety of philosophical and theological teachings, many of which were incompatible with the gospel. Two weeks ago, in the first of this series of readings from Colossians, we saw that Paul had to establish that Christ was superior to any other possible mediator between humanity and God. Then in last Sunday’s selection, we saw that Christ in us is our hope of glory.

Colossians 2:6-19 is a warning against falling into the common strain of thoughts in that day—the Greek philosophy that embedded the cultural teachings, and the Greek mythology of the universe.

Paul warns them against “philosophy.” In Paul’s time the word meant, not rational inquiry, but occult speculations and practices. Such teachings were concerned with propitiating “the elemental spirits of the universe,” probably here referring to angels or to the stars and planets conceived of as living beings having influence over our world. In their hierarchically ordered picture of the universe, the “fullness of deity” was thought to emanate from the highest god and be distributed among the heavenly powers.

What Paul is arguing against is the ritual excess of not just Judaism as well as those of the mystery religions, he also warns against those Christians who have adopted strict practices in contravention to the Gospel of Jesus. He alludes to some of the requirements in an argument which he begins with “you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision” and then placing Christ at the center of the concept. In the manner of Paul, the author positions to elements in distinction from the one another – the fleshly circumcision, and that of the spirit. “The substance belongs to Christ”, he declares, acknowledging that Christ is the head of the Body.

Paul reminds the Colossians that they have “received”—a technical term for the handing on of normative tradition (1 Corinthians 11:23, 15:1, 3)—”Chr ist Jesus the lord.” Thus they are to “live in him” as the only foundation for their faith. The writer reminds the listener that our faith is rooted in Christ, not in human ways of thinking. Paul claims that this “fullness” is Christ’s alone, for he is above all these powers.

Today the question is, “How, then, do we get Christ in us?” Paul’s answer is that when we were buried in the waters of baptism, we were united with Jesus in his saving death, and when we emerged from the saturating waters, we were joined to Christ in his resurrection. (Paul assumes that the ritual of baptism obviously simulates burial and resurrection.)

God’s activity changes everything. With Romans 8, Colossians affirms that nothing can separate us from the love of God. In baptism, we share in death and experience new life in Christ. We are truly transformed in the baptismal waters, becoming a truly new creation, liberated from the past and everything that threatens to overwhelm us. Those who were “dead” because of their sins, God has forgiven by canceling the record of indebtedness (a common Judaic figure for sin).

Gospel –  Luke 11:1-13 

Luke 11:1-13 contains Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer and also what it means to persevere. Luke’s forms are spare and simple, perhaps reflecting an earlier form than that in Matthew, which is offered at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:9-15). 

This lesson on prayer was urged upon Jesus by his disciples who apparently had experienced the disciples of John the Baptist at prayer. In this episode, Jesus discusses three aspects of prayer: the discipline and form of prayer, the need for persistence, and the effectiveness of prayer

This lesson is also offered in the context of Jesus own life of prayer. Indeed, Luke depicts Jesus at prayer often: baptism, choosing of the Twelve, Peter’s confession, the Transfiguration, at the Last Supper, on the Mt. of Olives, and at the Crucifixion. Jesus is the model for a parent whose love is relational, inspiring, supportive, and nurturing. God does not compete with humankind in terms of power, but wants us to claim our power as God’s beloved children.

In this simple Lukan form, the prayer reflects the expectations of the relationship of a benevolent patron (a father of a household, king or master) to his dependents. Luke affirms the loving parenthood of God. God is the best of parents and – in contrast to the vision of God portrayed in Hosea – gives us grace and support long before we ask.

The opening address identifies God as our heavenly father. The first set of petitions indicate how we, as God’s dependents, will fulfill our part of the relationship by respecting the holiness of God’s name (or person) and make our own God’s aim of creating the kingdom community here on earth.

The second set of petitions asks God to fulfill the divine obligations in the relationship by providing food (“our daily bread”), forgiving our offenses (conditioned, of course, on our forgiveness of others), and protecting us from evil.

We are called to persevere in our prayers, asking God for what we need, and that God’s gifts are good. Sometimes our prayers are not answered the way we want them to be, but Jesus reminds us in this prayer that we are to ask for what we need, and that we need forgiveness.

Jesus then illustrates both the nature of our petitions and the response of God in a parable. The parable is a “can you imagine” situation, focusing on the readiness of the friend to help. In the context in which Luke places it, attention is shifted to the “persistence” of the needy friend. On the principle of what applies to smaller things ought to apply even more to greater things, the parable encourages us to believe that the Father’s answer to our prayerful petitions will always be more ready and certain than that of humans.

Thus, in order to receive forgiveness, we must also forgive. In the same way, we must persevere in helping to meet the needs of others, so that our needs may also be met. Our prayers gain power from our motivation and orientation: when we turn to God, we become godlike in our care for others. We forgive as we have been forgiven and live in the spirit of God’s realm. Resonating with the divine vision, we can boldly ask, seek, and knock, and are inspired not only to expect miracles but accept miracles at the hand of a generous God. God gives us the Holy Spirit and with the presence of the Spirit, we receive everything we need to flourish and to serve God.