A prayer for the end of summer


Lord, where to begin?

If I forget everything else that’s been happening in the world, then – yes – it’s been a pretty good summer. Thank you.

But how do I forget everything that’s been happening in the world?

I looked back at the sermons I preached in July, before heading off on vacation, and they were – how do I put this? – gloomy. Well, you heard them, didn’t you? I’m never quite sure. But that’s what they were, weren’t they? There were gloomy about the world, they were gloomy about the future, they were gloomy about nearly everything.

I ask your forgiveness – and the forgiveness of all those who had to sit politely and listen to them. You have asked me to live with hope. You have asked me to trust in you. And I wish I could do that. But after all these years I’m still working on the very first step of faith, still trying to remember that you are God – and that I am not.

As you know – from previous prayers – I am not happy with our leadership. I have used strong language about them. I think they are all crooks and liars. I would ask that you bring down your devastating judgment on them – in the stern Old Testament sense – but then I think about my own life and how it isn’t really all it could be either. And I’m thinking that if I can ask for your mercy, so can they.

I pray that they do.

I’m heading back to work in a week, as I think you know, and surprisingly I feel ready to go back. I suppose that’s a prayer of thanksgiving right there. I thank you for the work you’ve given me to do. I thank you for the time away from that work. I thank you for the people I get to do that work with. I thank you that there are people who would actually like to be the church with me, who would like to walk this way together.

And if I forget to be thankful, I hope you will nudge me simply to open my eyes and look around. Amen.

(Photo: Thank you, Brooke Collier, for catching my lop-sided smile.)

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

10 Responses to A prayer for the end of summer

  1. Harry Vordermeier August 20, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    Doug, I look forward to your Blog every day. I also read Tony Dungee’s “Uncommon Life” every day and your blog and his reflection are similar on this date.

    • Doug August 20, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Harry, it’s wonderful to hear from you. I have all good memories of our times together, including the mission trip to South Africa. I hope you’re doing well.

  2. Fred Anderson August 20, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Well said, Doug.
    Sitting here in New Hampshire, contemplating going back to my last 9 months of ministry at MAPC, it is most helpful.

    Safe trip back.

    • Doug August 20, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      I’d love to hear your reflections on that sometime, Fred. In the meantime, I hope it’s a good year of ministry both for you and for your congregation. You’ve been a fine and faithful pastor. I know you will finish strong. Blessings.

  3. Georgia Hamilton August 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

    Doug, I especially appreciate this ‘end of summer’ blog; it speaks to my own feeling at this time. I am assigned to do the devotional for Session next week and I may use some of your thoughts. I hope you don’t mind but you say how you feel much better than I!

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation; God’s blessings as you return to your flock.

    • Doug August 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      You’re welcome to use whatever you’d like, Georgia. Am glad we can stay in touch this way.

  4. Jürg U. Kessler August 21, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Dear Doug
    Another good blog – thank you for it.
    We Need the gloom but we also Need the joy.
    We Need the questions (and the doubts maybe) but also the assurance and the hope. These two above most other things.
    We are looking Forward to your return!

    • Doug August 21, 2014 at 8:02 am #

      Thanks, Jürg. I was hoping you’d tell me that the sermons this summer weren’t so gloomy. But I suppose they were. Am ready to come home to Switzerland!

  5. Darlene Kostrub August 21, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Kernie and I are just so thankful we can hear your sermons on the tablet as we drive hours each Sunday on I-95 visiting various churches in the Presbytery. At the end of each sermon, when you say, “Will you pray with me…, we are thinking…”No, we are not ready for the sermon to end.” Thanks for your ministry in Florida and Switzerland!

    • Doug August 21, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      It’s wonderful of you to write, Darlene. And thanks for letting me know that you can access my sermons from the IPC website. Here’s the link for anyone else who would like the podcasts…http://www.ipc-zurich.org/en/worship/podcasts_feeds.html.

      I’m delighted to know too that I typically stop speaking before you stop listening! It’s pretty much the number one rule for public speaking, in my opinion. Blessings to you and Kernie.