Most Richly Blessed

“I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.”

Adlai Stevenson sent this “prayer” on his Christmas card after he was defeated by Eisenhower. One of the people who received the Christmas card was the famed Dr. Howard Rusk, founder of the “Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine” in New York City. Rusk had the prayer, which was then known as “The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier,” placed in bronze and entitled it “A Creed for the Disabled.” It was also published in Time magazine in December 0f 1956.

A friend posted it on Facebook today and it spoke to me. I have been thinking about my path. I’m in a tight spot and in constant pain, due to damage to my spine from an infection most likely picked up from ministering on the street. But it has been an interesting path and I have met so many lovely people and helped along the way by so many gracious souls. I would not choose a different path. I am a man most richly blessed.

Context can change everything.

Christian folks who want to claim Jesus without actually following him as disciples are fond of quoting Him as saying, “The poor you will have with you always” (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8). This is a problem with not reading the Scripture in context, and not knowing the Old Testament. Jesus was a first century rabbi who like other teachers of the time would quote from the first part of a biblical passage, knowing his listeners had enough biblical knowledge to know the rest, “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land'” (Deuteronomy 15:11).

“Give them something to eat.”

Papal audience, St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, Rome, Italy - 06 Nov 2013“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a Church concerned with being at the centre and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life. More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).”
– Pope Francis

“Dancing Stars”

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This photo of stargazer lilies blooming by the driveway at the home of The King’s Jubilee looks like a watercolor painting. It’s called “Dancing Stars” as they appeared to dance and play in the breeze. Lilies remind us of God’s provision for us each day. This allows us to be generous and not to hoard, knowing that God will have enough for us tomorrow, as well. For look how much lavish beauty He bestows upon the lilies which are just going to wilt in a day.

This is available on a number of items in our Zazzle store. We have 10″ x 8″ limited edition, framable prints available here for a suggested minimum donation of $50 plus postage. It will also be available printed on 24″ x 16″ white, translucent glass, to be hung in front of a window or other light source. This is a one of a kind piece for $600.

To my friends who are in need

I know that I have friends who are receiving, or have applied for, or are thinking about applying for food stamps or Medicaid, or who are getting help from their parents, or from their church, or from the local food bank. For every one I know about, I’m sure there are others who are in the same position, but haven’t told me, because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. If that’s you, there’s something I want to tell you:

If you are ever tempted to think that you are doing wrong by asking for what you need, cut it out. Stop it. Repent. Jesus said that the rich were going to struggle to get into heaven. They might as well be camels, trying to get through the eye of a needle. They can’t do it, but God will make it possible. Your poverty, your need may be the thing that allows them to get through the needle’s eye, when they give to you.

And it really doesn’t matter if the giving is voluntary. I often hear people say that God doesn’t want us to be compelled to give. He wants us to give voluntarily. Well, of course that’s true. It is far better for us to give from a cheerful heart. But God will bless our gifts, and those who receive them, even if we give grudgingly.

Remember what St. Thomas did in India. He was hired by a prince to build a palace. He said he’d work on it, and he kept going back and asking for more money, and more money, and more money. Eventually, the prince wanted to see the palace, and St. Thomas showed him all the poor that he’d been feeding and housing and caring for. The prince, in fury, had him thrown in jail. And then the prince had a dream, in which one of his brothers who had already died came to him and showed him the great palace in Heaven that St. Thomas had been building for him by caring for the poor. St. Thomas had asked God to treat the gifts as if they’d been given freely by the prince, and God had honored that prayer. The prince was being saved by the gifts that St. Thomas was making to the poor on his behalf. Once the prince understood that, he freed St. Thomas and had him continue caring for the poor. But notice: God didn’t wait for him to give freely and cheerfully. God accepted the gifts that the prince gave to the poor, even when he didn’t know he was giving, even when he didn’t choose to give, and even when he would not have given if he’d had the choice.

By accepting the gifts of money and care and services from the rest of us, whether the gift is in an envelope slipped to you after church on Sunday morning, or whether it’s through food stamps or SSDI, or whatever it is, you are ministering to us. You are helping to free us from our attachment to the things of this world. You are helping us to repent ofcharli our worship of mammon. You are our guides and our help on the path to salvation.

For this, I make a metania and kiss both of your cheeks. Thank you.

~ Charli Riggle

A Responsive Prayer for Justice

justiceprayer

A wonderful litany from the Friends tradition. It is unusual because the Friends are not very liturgical.

A Responsive Prayer for Justice

Pray for those who are hungry.
Pray harder for those who will not feed them.
Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills.
Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.
Pray for those who are homeless.
Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.
Pray for the sick and lonely.
Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.
Pray for those who cry out for dignity.
Pray harder for those who will not listen.
Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages.
Pray harder for those who exploit them.
Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice.
Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.
Pray for those whose basic needs are denied.
Pray harder for the public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly.
Amen.

This is why we get up in the morning.

“At the bottom of the heart of every human being, from earliest infancy until the tomb, there is something that goes on indomitably expecting, in the teeth of all experience of crimes committed, suffered, and witnessed, that good and not evil will be done.” – Simone Weil

This is why we get up in the morning.

Parfait Mirror

parfaitThis is from our Lily Gilding collection. Some daylilies contain parfait in their name: “Peach Parfait”, “Strawberry Parfait”, “Rainbow Parfait”, etc. That inspired this. I took a photo of a non-parfait daylily, made a copy and solarized it to get that elusive blue daylily and drew a parfait glass.
Just a little touch of summer whimsy on a blustery, cold day.

This will be printed, centered on a mirror, then framed in rich cherry wood with gilded accents. The overall dimensions will be 14″ x 24″. It will look just splendiferous next to your soda fountain!

I am not sure of the cost just yet. Make the donation high enough and it won’t be an issue. The image looks good hung vertically or sideways. The artwork will also be available shortly on items from our Zazzle store.

Thank you for your support.

Teen SOYO Eastern Region Delegates Meeting

Last weekend, one of the service projects at the Teen SOYO Eastern Region Delegates Meeting hosted at St. Philip Antiochian Orthodox Church, Souderton, was to make power packs for The King’s Jubilee. Young people from different churches brought different parts of the kits and then assembled them last Saturday. Some brought juice boxes. Some brought granola bars. Some brought boxes of raisins. Some brought cracker and cheese packs. Some brought packs of peanuts.

They put them  into paper lunch bags. They assembled 300 complete power packs. We have several boxes of leftover ingredients to give out two weeks from now. We handed out the power packs last night. Some we gave to members of Eastern University’s YACHT Club for them to take with them as they went elsewhere in their ministry among the homeless.

These power packs provide a breakfast or lunch for the next day for the people we serve. They were very grateful to receive them.

Thanks! May God bless you.

Not Your Mother’s Vegetable Soup!

yucca20root
Yucca Root

When I go into Produce Junction, I go just a little bit crazy. OK, to be fair, those who know me are saying, “Short trip.” Tonight’s soup is a vegetable soup that is not your traditional fare. My sisters’ 8th grade Home Ec. teacher, and friend of the family, Mrs. Newton, would always stress that the quickest way to test to see if a meal was balanced was to see if it had a variety of colors.  This soup meets Mrs. Newton’s test, even though I’ve seen that theory debunked with one ear of Indian corn. It’s fun to remember her just the same. Here we go!

Ingredients:

  • Water
  • 1 large Celeriac
  • 1 large Yucca Root
  • 1 lb. Carrots
  • 2 Fennel
  • 2 Leeks
  • 3 Yellow Onions
  • 5 sweet, long Red Peppers
  • 4 sweet, Orange Peppers
  • 4 sweet, Yellow Peppers
  • 2 lbs. Radishes
  • 2 Eggplants
  • 3 cups Quinoa
  • handful Turmeric
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • handful Greek Oregano
  • 25 twists fresh ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
  • 1 generous Tablespoon ground Ginger
  • 1 generous Tablespoon ground Coriander
  • Olive Oil

Directions:

Fill a 22 quart soup kettle almost half full with water and start to heat. Chop up, then chop fairly fine the Celeriac in the food processor and add it to the kettle to cook. Slice and peel the Yucca Root. The Yucca’s peel is toxic and contains latex. The root needs to be thoroughly cooked. Cut the raw root into pieces and puree it in the food processor. then add it in to boil in the kettle. Slice or dice the carrots and add them to the pot. Do the same for the Leeks and the Onions. About this time, I transferred the kettle into the canner with rags under it and water in the canner, to form a giant double boiler to finish the cooking without scorching the yucca. You can stew a soup all day this way as long as you maintain a decent water level in the canner. Dice up the Fennel. The fronds throw directly into the soup. The rest, saute’ in a skillet first to release the umami, then throw it into the pot. Cut up all the Peppers into bite sized pieces and throw them into the pot. Quarter the Radishes and add them. Dice the Eggplants, leaving the skin on. (Remember Mrs. Newton. Actually there are valuable bioflavonoids there. She wasn’t all wrong.) Throw them in. In a large, deep skillet, heat up some Olive Oil and dump in the Quinoa to toast it. You may need to add more olive oil. Keep stirring it. Don’t let it burn. Now add 6 cups of hot tap water. and a handful of Turmeric. Keep stirring while it boils for about five minutes. Then turn off the heat, cover and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the Quinoa to the kettle and stir in. Press the Garlic into the pot. Add the other spices. It should be full to the top of the kettle and smelling and tasting fine!

Some of my choices for spices and ingredients are for flavor. Some are for health benefits. Turmeric, for example, has been shown to improve liver function, improve cholesterol, combat diabetes, fight inflammation, among other things. Coriander helps eliminate toxins like heavy metals from the system. Yucca helps cleanse the colon and is a good source of Vitamins A, B, C and potassium. It also helps treat or prevent rheumatoid arthritis. It helps thicken the soup. You may know it as tapioca.

April prepared for tonight: Black Eyed Peas, Ham & Greens Casserole and Mashed Sweet Potatoes. Jerry and Esther are each bringing spaghetti. Serge & Alex are bringing a small pot of chicken soup. Serge & Alex are bringing sandwiches. (different Serge & Alex) Others are bringing sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, peanuts, oranges, and pastries. I will pick up the iced tea. April already brought the hot sauce.