Praying the Daily Office

In this third installment of our prayer video series, the Rev. Patricia Lavery explains how to get started praying the Daily Office and incorporating it into your daily routine.

Other videos from this series: 
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 2 – Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

Praying with Icons

In this second installment of our prayer video series, Dean Downey of the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie discusses using icons as part of your personal prayer practice.

Other videos in this series:
Personal Prayer Part 1 – Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

St. John’s, Sharon to Host Diocesan Prayer Vigil

9:00am Friday, March 22 – 9:00am Saturday, March 23 at St. John’s, Sharon

St. John’s, Sharon, is hosting a 24-hour Lenten Prayer Vigil for the Diocese, its congregations, its people and its communities from 9:00am on Friday, March 22 through 9:00am on Saturday, March 23.  The church and chapel will be available for prayer throughout the day. Additionally, we will gather for time of structured prayer throughout the day. All are welcome to join us in Sharon or to join us in prayer from your own location.  For more information, contact Adam Trambley (atrambley@gmail.com) or Vanessa Butler (vbutler@dionwpa.org).

Schedule

9:00am.  Morning Prayer

10:15am   Prayers for every church in Diocese of Northwest PA and Western NY

12:05pm   Stations of the Cross

3:00pm.  Prayerwalk

5:30pm.  Eucharist

7:00pm.  Healing Service

10:00pm  Compline

11:00pm   Oral Reading of Gospel of Mark

8:00am.  Morning Prayer

Developing Your Personal Prayer Practice

This is the first in a six part video series on personal prayer. We invite you to join us as we explore this aspect of faith through the Lenten season. 

Other videos in this series:
Personal Prayer Part 2 – Praying with Icons
Personal Prayer Part 3 – Praying the Daily Office
Personal Prayer Part 4 – Walking the Labyrinth
Personal Prayer Part 5 – Centering Prayer

God and the Five Love Languages

In the last ten years, the concept of the Five Love Languages has exploded. Now you can find books on how to help your spouse, your teenager, your kids, your neighbors, all using the concept of the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Originally, Gary started working with the concept of the Five Love Languages as a way for his couples in counseling to communicate how and what they needed when it came to their love relationships. The Five Love Languages is a concept which gives easily understood and communicable language to one of the most difficult ideas for humans to understand: love.

The Five Love Languages are fairly easy: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. In all of our relationships, aspects of each of these different love languages plays a part. The idea is that while relationships need all of these things, people tend to favor one or another love language in their own lives. People tend to understand love in one way easier than they understand love in another love language. Say for example, Mario and Sarah like each other, but Mario is all about giving gifts and Sarah wants words of affirmation. Neither will feel completely loved in the relationship until they learn how to express and share love in the other’s love language.

Naturally there are also other ways to understand and communicate love, but the patterns of love languages helps us see what could otherwise be missed. Interestingly, when you look at the scriptures, we can see throughout history that God has expressed love for humanity in all of these ways at different times. Through the scriptures and the prophets, God sends words of affirmation to all of God’s people, calling them, “treasured”, and “holy” (Deuteronomy 14:2) In chapter 49, Isaiah makes the comparison that God’s people are more precious than a child to a mother.

Through the person of Jesus, God shows love in physical touch by healing through touch, by crying with others, by allowing people to touch him. Jesus offers love and healing through touch to the Blind man in John, to the hemorrhaging woman, and to countless others. God gives bounteous gifts and receives numerous gifts from the people. The two biggest gifts given in the Bible are the gift of the Promised Land and the gift of the Messiah! Both gifts are given in love and for the redemption of the people. And those are just the biggest gifts! Throughout the Old Testament God is constantly serving the people of Israel as they wander through the desert by feeding them and giving them water, by saving them from their enemies, by sending prophets and judges to guide the people.

God loves us in so many different ways, and they are all evident in the scriptures. It is only when we step back to look and reflect can we see the overwhelming nature of God’s love for us. No matter what way you know and feel love, God is waiting to show love to you.

The Rev. Elizabeth Yale is Priest in Charge at St. John’s, Franklin. 

Coming to Center

In throwing a piece of pottery, the most essential element comes right at the beginning of the process: centering the clay. One has to take the ball of clay and get it perfectly centered on the spinning wheel if making any vessel is going to be possible. And centering, it’s not always easy. It can be tricky and one can think a ball is on center when it isn’t. As you begin to open the clay and pull up the sides, it becomes evident quite quickly that the piece is off center because the pot will be lopsided, with one side thicker or thinner than the others. When it happens, you can keep working for fun or practice, but it will get harder and harder, as the pot bounces and the lopsidedness grows more evident. Manipulating the pot becomes frustrating and eventually, it grows too unwieldy and beyond control.

When my life is un-centered, it has much in common with a bouncing, unwieldy ball of clay, spinning toward entropy not towards purpose. This most often occurs when I’ve forgotten where my true center lies. I get off kilter when I think that my value and worth derive from what others think, how well I guide or contribute to the organizations to which I belong, whether my work is successful. Being off center creates a certain spiritual thinness that leaves me vulnerable to outside voices and internal critique; it thickens the wall between my current emotional space and healthy behavior.

The only way to re-center is to stop the chaotic spinning, quiet all the voices, and sit still in the presence of God. When I lose center, it is because I forget that there is only One voice that actually matters and defines my worth. My faith journey is about coming to center in God’s love, trusting in my deepest place that I am God’s beloved, and knowing that nothing can change that truth. When I summon the trust required to fall into God’s love, it always catches me, always welcomes me back, and slowly, spins me back to center. Knowing I am loved beyond anything I can actually understand changes me and transforms every aspect of my life. No longer do other voices have power over me; no longer do the external things, like success or failure, define me. God has called me beloved, has adopted me as a child and heir, and longs for me to center peacefully in that truth.

And unlike an un-centered ball tending towards entropy, centeredness gives meaning and purpose. When I know who I am and whose I am, I can work in the world in life-giving ways. I do not need to control every outcome or give into anger when the world does not work my way. I can give of my time generously without demands and create spaces in which those around me are loved and accepted for who they are. Being centered means I know what is mine and what is not mine to do; I can work with a helpful detachment from outcome, trusting God is present. By trusting God’s love for me, I can freely give love and compassion to others in ways that foster healthy relationships and communities.

When I live in that centered space, certain of God’s love for me and for all the created order, everything is balanced. I’m not lopsided; I’m not coming unglued. I’m spinning in the right direction, a willing participant in what God is doing in my life and in the world. And there is no other way I want to live and no other place I want to be than right there, in the joyful center of God’s belovedness.

The Rev. Melinda Hall is vicar of Holy Trinity, Brookville, and Church of Our Saviour, DuBois. 

Different Kinds of Love

In today’s world, when love in the Bible is discussed, people typically want to know what word is used in the New Testament Greek. Many of us have heard about the different Greek words for love and their meanings. Eros, philia, storge, agape, ludus, pragma, philautia: sensual love, familial love, long term loyalty love, love for everyone and everything, playful love, practical love, and love of self. Knowing the differences between these words and how they are used in the New Testament helps us understand the scriptures better and deepen our relationship with God. Much less discussed though are the multiple words for love used in the Old Testament Hebrew. Knowing their meanings and usages can also be helpful in understanding the ways of Love between God and people. The four most commonly used words which end up being translated as love found in the Old Testament Hebrew are ahav, yada, raham, and hesed.

Ahav is typically the word used to describe relationships between people, such as between men and women, and parents and children. Ahav is used in Genesis multiple times to describe the relationships between Abraham and Isaac, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Joseph. It has an understanding of attraction and attachment, sometimes in a very mechanical or materialistic way. The relationships of children to their parents is not usually described with ahav. (The commandment to honor your mother and father uses the word kabad, which literally translates to something with weight or value.)

Yada means to know. It is used both in contexts of knowing something intellectually, and knowing someone intimately. In Hebrew you learned knowledge through the senses, through seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, and hearing. Knowing God was an intimate learning through the senses. Knowing someone else intimately, such as being in a sexual relationship with them, was understood as learning about them through the senses as well. Most of the marriages in the Old Testament are described in this manner; Jacob knew Rachel.

Raham is typically used in relationships with compassion or mercy involved. Isaiah uses it to describe the relationship of a mother to her baby, while the Psalms uses it to describe a father’s love for his son. In a number of passages, raham is used to describe God’s mercy to the people, God’s love for them, even when they didn’t follow the commandments.

Hesed is the Hebrew word most translated as lovingkindness in the King James Version of the Bible. Hesed is a steadfast loyalty kind of love, a relationship built on kindness and trust. Many of these relationships in the scriptures are formalized in some way, such as in a covenant. Marriages, the covenantal relationship between Abraham and God, or the relationship between God and the people are all formalized legal relationships described by using the word hesed.

Of course, there are other words which get used to describe love or loving relationships in the Old Testament Hebrew as well. These four, however, are the most common. Knowing the different kinds of love described can help us understand the relationships we read about in the scriptures. Love is an amazing aspect of human and divine life, in all its glorious facets.

The Rev. Elizabeth Yale is Priest in Charge at St. John’s, Franklin. 

Living the Way of Love

In the fall of 2018, I did a sermon series at Resurrection Church Called “The Way of Love: Practice for a Jesus-Centered Life.”  The series was based on Presiding Bishop Curry’s invitation to the Episcopal Church to explore various practices each day that would help us live a life of love as Jesus taught.  During that time, we also used the study for the basis of our “Food and Faith” conversation- a monthly gathering that takes place at the Panera Bread in Hermitage.

As part of the invitation to live the way of love, Bishop Curry used seven words and seven Scripture passages as the basis for the “Way of Love.”  The words are Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest and Turn. Each one when lived out and practiced in daily life could help us live a life modeled on Jesus and embody the love that he brought to this world through his life, death and resurrection.

Each week during the sermon series, we looked at each word and a Scripture passage that connected with that word.  We asked the questions, how does the world connect us to God’s love and if lived out how can this practice help us live as Jesus lived and love as Jesus loves us?  I found the sermon series to be very powerful and practical. As we got further into the series, I saw my own life and the life of Resurrection Church being shaped by these words and by the daily practice that drew us closer to God’s love. The practical takeaways were amazing.

The more we learn about Jesus’ life the more we can live like him.  The stronger our prayer lives become, the more we can be filled with God’s love and in turn love others. As we turn away from our own sin, we can turn toward the life God has called us to live and to be an example of his love in the communities we live and work.

For those who are interested in trying out the way of love, I first recommend checking out “The Way of Love” material at the Episcopal Church website:

https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love

The site gives great information about the Way of Love and resources you can use to read, experience and live the practices each day.  What I encouraged Resurrection Church to do is to think about that week’s word each day and to read the Scripture passage throughout the week.  Let it become part of your devotional time or your daily prayer life. What does each appointed word mean for you in your life? How can that word draw you closer to God in a way that connects you to the love of God?  How can those words be turned into daily and weekly practices that help you experience God’s love and then live out that love in your community?

Give “The Way of Love” a try and see how the practices change your life and how God’s love becomes more real each and every day.

As Bishop Curry is famous for saying, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God!”

The Rev. Jason Shank is the priest of Resurrection Church in Hermitage. 

Province III Opioid Response Task Force Resources

Items submitted by Province III Opioid Response Task Force Members:

Books

  • Dreamland: The True Tale of American’s Opiate Epidemic, Sam Quinones, April 2016
  • Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America, Beth Macy, 2018
  • American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America’s Deadliest Drug Epidemic, John Temple, 2015
  • Glass House: The 1% Economy and the Shattering of the All American Town, Brian Alexander, 2017
  • Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, Robert Putnam, March 2015

Web-based Resources

Recordings of 2018 Webinars featuring Faith and Community Leaders

Throughout 2018, The Partnership Center hosted a series of national webinars featuring community-based innovative and promising practices and models addressing the opioid epidemic.

2017 Department of Health and Human Services National Webinars

In 2017, the Center hosted webinars featuring subject matter experts from HHS, including those from the CDC, NIDA, and SAMHSA, sharing timely information about the opioid epidemic, the brain science of addiction, treatment, the recovery process, prevention and pain management.

Do I Need this Pill? Understanding Pain and Prescription Drugs (Dec. 7)

Hope in Action: An Overview Of The Practical Toolkit For Faith And Community Leaders In The Face Of The Opioid Epidemic (Oct. 18)

There is Hope: Treatment, Recovery & Prevention (Aug. 16)

Understanding the Opioid Crisis: What’s at the Heart of the Matter? (Aug. 9)

HHS Live Stream of “Opioids: Recovery, Prevention & Hope, National Experts Equip Faith and Community Leaders” (Sept. 27).

Federal Government Information and Handout Materials

       U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the White House

                  Help, Resources and Information on the National Opioids Crisis

                  Opioids Crisis Next Door

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

          Opioid Basics

          Rx Awareness Campaign

          Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain Factsheet

      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)           Factsheets and Help-Lines

          Managing Your Pain: Which Approach is Right for You

          What are the Risks of Opioid Medications?

          What to do if Your Medication Isn’t Working?

          Treating Overdose with Naloxone

          SAMHSA’s Find Help & Treatment  (Helplines and Resources)

    National Institute on Drug Abuse

          Teens: Drug Use and the Brain

          Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction

          Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction

    U.S. Surgeon General

         Turn the Tide Campaign

         Facing Addiction in America

Community Based Resources

While the following is not a comprehensive survey of faith- and community-based recovery support programs and practices, we hope they provide a starting point for communities discerning the possibility of hosting these or similar services.

Faith and Community-based Recovery Support Programs

Faces & Voices of Recovery’s Guide to Mutual Aid Resources

AA.org  Hosting local Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings

NA.org Hosting local Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

Al-Anon.org Hosting local Al-Anon Meetings to support family members

Jewish Center for Addiction supports Chicago’s Jewish community with education, prevention and treatment resources

The Landing, Alateen Meetings  or similar programs for young people

Celebrate Recovery (CR) A 12-step, Christian recovery program.

Celebrate Recovery Inside (CRI)  The prison and jail expression of Celebrate Recovery

Alcoholic Victorious Meetings use 12 Steps, the Bible, & Alcoholics’ Victorious Creed

Overcomers Outreach an international network of Christ-centered 12 Step support groups

Phoenix Multisport: Sober Active Community A sober-active recovery community that provides fitness programming to help foster the strengths necessary to maintain sobriety through physical pursuits and a sober network of friends.

Spiritworks Foundation Williamsburg Virginia SpiritWorks Foundation Center for the Soul is a Recovery Community Organization based in Williamsburg, Virginia.

National Networks, Resources, and Referrals to Local Programs

JAANetwork.org  Jewish Addiction Awareness Network  (JAAN)

YoungPeopleInRecovery.org  Young People in Recovery

CollegiateRecovery.org  Association of Recovery in Higher Education

NACR.org National Association for Christian Recovery (NACR)

BuddhistRecovery.org Buddhist Recovery Network

CalixSociety.org  The Calix Society

Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons and Significant Others (JACS)

Faith Communities Shaped Around Recovery Support

TheRecoverychurch.orgThe Recovery Church, St. Paul, MI

Chapelwood.org/Mercy-StreetMercy Street, Houston, TX

GoDaven.com Congregation Minchas Yitzchok, Washington, D.C.

NorthstarCommunity.comNorthstar Community, Richmond, VA

BeiTtshuvah.org Beit T’shuvah, Los Angeles, CA

Note: The companion piece to this article, “A Compassionate Response: A Statement on Opioids” from the Province III Task Force is available here

A Compassionate Response: A Statement on Opioids

(Prepared by The Task Force of Province III of the Episcopal Church)

Opioid use disorder, like other substance use disorders, profoundly affects the mind, body, and spirit. Scientific research shows that addiction is a disease that originates in the brain – not a moral or spiritual failing. Much like other treatable diseases, many factors contribute to addiction, and the disease affects the whole family. Some factors include behavior, environment, and genetics. Recovery benefits from a variety of support, including medical care, counseling, and faith communities. Often the last line of defense in communities, faith communities now have an important call to foster space for conversation, prevention, education, care, healing, recovery, prayer, and advocacy. Faith communities also have an ongoing responsibility to examine and address problematic contextual factors such as joblessness, trauma, injury, family stability, educational offerings, community resources, and crime.

Faith communities offer a place for modeling life-giving relationship with persons facing the disease of addiction by considering their outreach interactions, pastoral response, and language. Certain practices and ways of avoiding persons who are facing addiction express not only cultural stigma, they actively discriminate against a person with a treatable disease. Sometimes our language labels a person as an “addict” rather than seeing them in a more dignified way as a person facing addiction. Faith communities offer open space for worship, healing, interaction with God and God’s people, safety, and prayer. This helps to break down the secrecy and shame around addicted members of family and community groups that leads to discrimination, and may discourage a person from seeking assistance toward their recovery goals.

Recovery is a life-long process requiring commitment. Addiction, as a chronic illness, requires appropriate resources for recovery. There are many pathways to recovery. For some persons, residential inpatient treatment works best. For others, medication-assisted treatment (https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment) offers a pathway toward health. For still others, twelve step groups provide a pathway to recovery and community. There are recovery support institutions and virtual recovery communities. Many discover that a combination of pathways works best for their recovery journey. As new pathways are created, we celebrate new possibilities for persons seeking healing. Faith communities, depending on their gifts, abilities, and facilities, take on various roles of ongoing support for persons in recovery and their families.

Addiction is a daily struggle. It affects entire families, and children are especially at risk during this crisis. Faith communities can offer belonging, community connection, listening, prayer, comfort, care, worship opportunities, and other resources to persons in households where addiction has caused great pain and damage. Children, parents, grandparents, siblings and spouses require care and support that is open-hearted and free from moralizing judgement.

For the Victims of Addiction
O blessed Lord, you ministered to all who came to you: Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost our health and freedom. Restore to us the assurance of your unfailing mercy; remove from us the fears that beset us; strengthen us in the work of our recovery; and to those who care for us, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer of The Episcopal Church, page 831 with pronouns modified for solidarity.)

Learn more here:
http://www.provisionsforthejourney.org/
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help

A companion piece with a bibliography of resources gathered by the Opioid Response Task Force is available here