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Signs of the Times  •  21 October 2016  •  No. 93

Processional.The Prayer,” performed by busker Call Morris. (Thanks Randy.)

Above: Norwegian summer landscape.

Invocation. “Jump for joy, oh people! For amid the screaming commercials and blithering campaign ads, the Redeemer has heard our aching voice. God hears! God knows! This is our assurance against all blistering deceit.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Bounty and abundance,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 116

Call to worship. “We need the Buddhists and the Baptists / Quakers and Catholics, too / atheists and agnostics / the Muslims and Jews / We need people of all nations / all colors and all creeds / to put an end to war, now / put an end to greed.” —Jon Fromer, "Gonna Take Us All" (Thanks Dick.)

This takes my breath away. “This 8-Year-Old Boy Spent 2 Years Growing His Hair To Make Wigs For Kids With Cancer.” When Thomas Moore saw his mom watching a video on Facebook about a girl who had lost her hair to cancer, he had an idea. He decided to start growing his hair out for kids who had lost theirs to chemotherapy, and so that's what he did. For the next two years. James Gould-Bourn, boredpanda (Thanks Jo.)

Hymn of praise.All God’s Chillin Got Wings,” performed by Sons of the Pioneers .

A small turn in the road, but a turn nonetheless. “The president of America’s largest police organization on Monday issued a formal apology to the nation’s minority population “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.” ­Tom Jackman, Washington Post

But then there’s this. The Fraternial Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, recently endorsed Donald Trump for president, lauding his support for law enforcement. Ben Kamisar, The Hill

Confession. “I've tracked blood in on the floor / I put my fist through the wall / I've dragged trouble through the door / And I've spilled wine on it all / Maybe I can paint over that / It'll prob'ly bleed through / Maybe I can paint over that / But I can't hide it from you.”  —Guy Clark, “Maybe I Can Paint Over That

Wonderful advice for instructing children on how to apologize. “Sometimes people try to pretend that they are apologizing when they really aren’t sorry. They might say: ‘I am sorry if anyone was offended,’ which really means something like: ‘I don’t really think I did anything wrong, but if you do, that’s too bad, and I hope you feel better soon.’” —David Gushee, “Children, here’s how you apologize," Religion News Service

Hymn of lamentation.268 David’s Lamentation,” Second Ireland Sacred Harp Convention 2012.

Reminder for this electoral season. On the morning of the last presidential debate, my friend Craig White imagined what he wished Hillary Clinton would say:
        "If I am elected to be your president, I will need you. Not just those of you who vote for me, but those who disagree. Supporters of Bernie Sanders, we need your voice to be heard during my term in office, pushing for corporate accountability and living wages and health care reform and above all, a responsible approach to addressing climate change. And to my colleagues on the right, we need you, too. America needs the Republican Party to find its soul again, to find its integrity again. We need to have honest, passionate, respectful arguments on legislation. We need to create common sense policies. Regular Americans do this every day, in every community in America, and they need their leaders to do the same."

To my friends who question the value of voting, or have ethical qualms about choosing between the lesser of two evils.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Vote, or don't: The issues are larger than the election

¶ "Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them." —Paul Valery

Part of our political cynicism is caused by our own naiveté over what we can reasonably expect from elected officials. Which is why this advice from Arundhati Roy is important.

        "We're told, often enough, that as a species we are poised on the edge of the abyss," Roy concludes. "It's possible that our puffed-up, prideful intelligence has outstripped our instinct for survival and the road back to safety has already been washed away. In which case there's nothing much to be done. If there is something to be done, then one thing is for sure: those who created the problem will not be the ones who come up with a solution." —quoted in Jake Johnson, “No Moral Superpower: Arundhati Roy, Edward Snowden, and the Crimes of Empire,” CommonDreams

¶ “Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.” —Charles-Pierre Péguy

¶  “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” —Ambrose Bierce

¶ “Disciples are called to ‘live your lives in a manner worthy of the Gospel’ (Philippians 1:27). But this translation doesn’t capture the concreteness of Paul’s admonition. The Greek word translated as ‘live your life’ is politeuesthe, from polis, and is more accurately translated as ‘live your lives as citizens,’ or better yet, ‘let your politics be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.’ The word’s clear meaning has to do with living as a citizen, or managing civic affairs, or conducting one's self as pledged to some law of life.” —Stephen E. Fowl, The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary

¶ “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.” —Maria Montessori

¶ “Each of the great social achievements of recent decades has come about not because of government proclamations but because people organized, made demands and made it good politics for governments to respond. It is the political will of people that makes and sustains the political will of governments.” —James P. Grant

Words of assurance. “I will lay this burden down / That I have carried for so long / My own hand placed this mark upon my brow / Don’t need to wear it now / I will water this thirsty heart / With tears of healing rain / I’ll learn to lay this burden down / And never shoulder it again / Never again.” —Aoife O'Donovan and Childsplay, "Tears of Healing Rain/ After the Rain"

¶ “There is no greater perversion of religion than the false piety of insisting on the separation of the political from the spiritual. Since the principle is ‘being is communion,’ how we arrange our common life is central to a healthy spirituality. Politics is simply the means we use to organize our shared lives. It is how we express responsible solidarity. —Alan Jones

¶ “Politics is anything that someone disagrees with you about.” —author unknown

¶ “We are not accustomed to thinking of Jesus as a political figure.  In a narrow sense, he was not. He neither held nor sought political office, was neither a military leader nor a political reformer with a detailed political-economic platform. But he was political in the more comprehensive and important sense of the word: politics as the shaping of a community living in history.” —Marcus Borg

¶ “Politics is really just the art of divvying up the swag.” —attributed to Will Rogers

¶ “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to sheer wind.” —George Orwell

¶ “It is the wish of the world to find a Church which will not interfere. In Germany, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels said: ‘Churchmen dabbling in politics should take note that their only task is to prepare for the world hereafter.’” —William Barclay

Right: A salvaged chair hangs in a tree amidst nearby homes destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in a seaside fishing neighborhood of Port Salut, Haiti, on October 9, 2016. Photo by Rebecca Blackwell/AP.

Hurricane Matthew: A tale of three countries’ fatalities. The storm caused the deaths of 33 people in the US. In Haiti the fatality total is expected to be more than a thousand, and a cholera epidemic—the disease killed 10,000 after the 2010 earthquake—threatens additional long-term consequences.
        But in Cuba, where the eye of the storm raked across its eastern region, the storm’s death toll was zero.
        “Fortunately for us the Cuban Defense System is very effective in saving human lives and material resources,” wrote Rev. Elmer Lavastida, a pastor in Santiago, in a personal email note. “Thousands of families were evacuated before Hurricane Matthew arrived. Even farm animals were evacuated. That is why there are no human fatalities.” A team of volunteers from Lavastida’s church has already visited the most impacted communities—a treacherous journey, since most of the roads were washed away—and is helping coordinate humanitarian relief.

Athletes worth emulating. “He [Dominican Republic-born David Ortiz, aka “Big Papi,” Boston Red Sox star and future hall-of-famer who just retired] added that his kids are into baseball and said, ‘If they ever get up here [to the big leagues], I want people to say to them, I knew your dad, and he was a guy with huge power. But there was something better about him. He was a good person. That’s what I care about the most.’” —Jorge I. Ortiz, USA Today

Preach it. “Whoever believes that my preaching is political, that it provokes violence, as if I were the cause of all the evils in the republic, forgets that the word of the Church is not inventing the evils which already exist in the world, but illuminating them. The light illumines what already exists. It doesn't create it. The great evil already exists, and the word of God wants to do away with those evils. It points them out as part of a necessary denunciation so that people can return to good paths.” —former Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, assassinated while saying Mass in 1980

Call to the table. Fill My Way With Love,” Iris Dement

For the beauty of the earth. North Dakota night sky (2:31 time lapse video), by Joshua Eckle. (Thanks Sharleen.)

Can’t makes this sh*t up. More than 4,900 South Korean soldiers were baptized (photo at right) during a worship service at the South Korea Army Training Center in the city of Nonsan on 6 August 2016. Forty local pastors, along with 22 American pastors and US military chaplains, participated. See the photo at right, from Baptist World.

Altar call.When the stars begin to fall,” The Seekers.

Benediction. “‘O Lord, how long shall I cry for help?’ Then the Lord answered: Stop your whining! Your self-pity is embarrassing. Get yourself a billboard. Set a neon sign in the sky. So that even the most harried soul can see it clearly. And this is what it should say: Don’t let your fears get behind the wheel.—continue reading Ken Sehested’s “Pound the doors of heaven,” a litany for worship inspired by Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

Recessional. “O see the darkness yielding / That tore the light apart / Come healing of the reason / Come healing of the heart.” —Leonard Cohen, “Come Healing

Left: “Zacchaeus” painting by Joel Whitehead

Lectionary for Sunday next. “Last week I stumbled on a word I knew but have never used in my writing. The word is ‘corporeality.’ It means “having, consisting of, or relating to a physical, material body.” But then Mr. Webster’s Dictionary goes on to add the phrase: ‘not spiritual’ and the word ‘insubstantial.’ Suddenly I had a clue about why we get so confused about religious faith's relation to public affairs.” —continue reading Ken Sehested’s sermon, “The Zacchaeian Encounter: Tell the whole story: A sermon about the wee little man

Just for fun.30 Yard Signs That Will Make You Pull Over Your Car to Have a Laugh,” Abby Heugel.

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Featured this week on prayer&politiks

• “Vote, or don't: The issues are larger than the election

• “Suffer the children: A Bible study on Jesus’ teaching about ‘becoming like children’”

• “Pound the doors of heaven,” a litany for worship inspired by Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4

• “The Zacchaeian Encounter: Tell the whole story," a sermon about the "wee little man”

• “Bounty and abundance,” a litany for worship inspired by Psalm 116

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