Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Way of Peace

Blessed are you, Lord, the God of Israel; you have come to your people and set them free.
You have raised up for us a mighty savior, born of the house of your servant David.
Through your holy prophets you promised of old to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.
To show mercy to our forebears,and to remember your holy covenant.
This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham, to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship you without fear, holy and righteous before you all the days of our life.
And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
To give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 
Luke 1:68-79

I was right here in Cape May Point 40 years ago today, having finished my first year of college, reveling in a summer working on the beach. My mind was far away from the church. One could say I was at that stage of life where the church had little positive meaning for me. I was spiritual and prayerful even then, but the church I thought I knew had no place for me. Just a few miles away on a hot July day, eleven brave and faithful women made their vows before God and the gathered church. They suffered much because of what they did that day. They paved the way for a then teenager like me to be welcomed into the church. They made it possible for those of  us who followed in their footsteps to walk in the way of peace.

This passage from Luke's gospel, the Canticle of Zachariah, reminds of God's love and faithfulness despite the changes and challenges of life. God has promised that we are free to worship without fear, and that God's tender compassion will break upon all of us. We will have light in our darkness and peace in the midst of terrifying times. Even today, this far on, these words are good news and solace to the soul. There is still more that the hands of God on earth would accomplish, still more justice, light and freedom to be brought. We are being invited by God, to make room for others today, to find a place and welcome those who have been shoved to the margin, and left outside.

Today I want to give thanks for those brave women and men who 40 years ago today, trusted God and made room for women in the leadership of the church. May God give us all an extra measure of strength since there is still so much more to do. May we welcome with love and open arms today everyone we encounter in the name of Christ who turns noone away.

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