September 25 2013

This is not an ordinary post on the Work Day in A Hard Time list.  It’s a note that one year ago today appear the first post on the list.  Since that day 534 emails have come from list-members commenting on one post or another.  For me as I write the posts, this feels like a conversation, not a sermon (good as a good sermon can be). Your emails help me imagine all 1609 of you and imagine the humanity we all share.

Regular post tomorrow.

Have a good day,


john sj

2013, September 25 first post

a work day in a hard time — from john st sj

Wednesday September 25, 2013

Hard times — a Congress locked in venom and contempt for those with whom one must negotiate, “partisan” is a common adjective for elected officials at the national level; Detroit city caught in uncertainties about bankruptcy that stir mistrust and fear for the future; UDM negotiating a McNichols faculty contract turned acrimonious and hurtful.

In easy times you don’t have to be so careful about your language, you will spontaneously find playful words, wise with kindness. In hard time it helps to pay attention to word choices. I decided to choose one prayer or poem each work day for a while. Unless I screw up that plan and forget one day or another.

Here is today’s word, sent with much respect and affection.

john st sj


It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
Of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying
That the kingdom lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capacities.
We cannot do everything,
And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete
But it is a beginning, a step along the way,
An opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are the workers, not the master builder,
Ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Ken Untener, Bishop of Saginaw

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