Proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ

Prayer and Devotion

Icon Meditation: Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence

Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence

Our Lady of Ferguson and All Those Killed by Gun Violence

This icon was commissioned by the Rev. Dr. Mark Bozzuti-Jones at Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street, and written (icons are not “painted,” but “written” in prayer and as visual prayers) by Mark Dukes, to recognize victims of gun violence. It is on display at Trinity.

This icon combines Mary, a boy caught in the cross-hairs of a gun, the Sacred Heart of Jesus symbolizing His compassion for the whole world, and the Christus Victor mark symbolizing His victory over the powers which hold humankind in bondage: sin, death, and the devil.

Mary, the God-bearer, is always depicted in iconography wearing the blue of humanity closest to her body and the red of divinity over the blue. In this image, Mary holds her arms in the orans position, a position of prayer and supplication. When Christ is shown in Mary’s womb in this style of depiction, it references Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” It is a visual sign to us today of Christ’s continuing presence—of God-with-us. Mary is depicted as an African-American woman, emphasizing her compassion with the Black community; Mary, too, lost her son to a violent death and knew grief, and she comforts all mothers who have suffered the loss of children and all those who are left behind–comforts because death is not the end.

In the middle of the icon, rather than Jesus as we would expect, we see a boy caught in the cross-hairs of a gun—and in the center of his chest we see the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart has always been a representation of Christ’s divine love for humanity. The Sacred Heart is surrounded by a crown of thorns, further representing Christ’s suffering and sacrificial love for all. The boy’s hands are also in the orans position. In the victim’s elbows are the letters “C” and “V”—Christus Victor. This is the name for an ancient theory of the Atonement that counterbalances a strict transactional substitution/ransom concept of the Atonement with a less transactional concept in which Christ’s death defeated the powers of evil which held humankind in bondage, sin, and death. Christ entered into human misery and wickedness and redeemed and conquered them. Christ the Victor saves us from the sin in which we are trapped.

There are many fruitful themes for meditation and prayer in this icon, including:

  • God took on flesh as a helpless child.
  • God suffered as a human.
  • Christ suffered as an innocent victim.
  • Christ was unjustly killed by the evil systems that rule the world through the powers of violence, selfishness, and intimidation.
  • Christ overcame the power of violence and the power of evil.
  • Christ conquered the power of death.
  • Christ is the Victor over the sins of us all, individually and collectively.

At first viewing, the icon overtly speaks of death through the image of the gun crosshairs. But through closer examination, prayer, and meditation, it can be seen that it is actually an icon of Hope, specifically of Hope in the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus the Victor—Hope in Christ’s redeeming and transforming presence in our midst today. The Sacred Heart of Jesus, symbolizing His compassion and love for the whole world—even for His enemies—even for those who killed Him—still beats whole and undimmed. As followers of Christ, we proclaim that evil and death do not have the last word; we are called to action to love God and neighbor, to show the world that “Hope in Christ” is a living power in our lives and a living, redemptive power in our world.

Fr. James Martin, S.J., editor of the national Catholic magazine America, writes this regarding the icon:
Our Lady prays for all who are targeted by gun violence: African-Americans and all others, the poor and marginalized, and police officers.
All are her children.
All are our brothers and sisters.
Let us ask Our Lady to pray for us.


[Ed: Much of this material is from the blog]

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Supplemental Prayers of the People: Weeks of June 13th and 20th, 2016




These special Prayers of the People were written by Bishop Barker and the DioNEB road team for the Diocese of Nebraska this week in response to the tragedy in Orlando. They are encouraged for use in worship throughout the diocese for the next two weeks.


In the aftermath of the tragic events in Orlando earlier this week, we offer these prayers for our Church, our world, and ourselves. Let us join our voices together in faith and solidarity to the God of comfort, justice, and peace saying, “hear our prayer.”

We pray for those who lost their lives in a moment of terror while seeking after joy, delight, and community. Comfort us in the knowledge that at the end of our earthly journey, life is changed not ended, and that we will dwell in perfect union with the God who knows us by name and takes pride in the whole human creation.
God of comfort, justice, and peace, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are injured and those who mourn.
Heal the broken hearts and broken bodies of your stricken children by the power of your Spirit. In your time, restore to wholeness those who grieve and whose hope is shattered.
God of comfort, justice, and peace, hear our prayer.

We pray for victims of gun violence everywhere, and for all those who live in the shadow of fear and oppression.
Give us courage to walk in the way of the Prince of Peace;
Humility to loosen our grip on certitude and self-interest;
and a spirit of compromise to find a way forward when the lives of our neighbors are imperiled.
God of comfort, justice, and peace, hear our prayer.

We pray for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community in Nebraska and throughout the world.
Increase in us the knowledge that every human being is created in God’s image,
and cherished in the fold of the Good Shepherd.
Help us to remember that Jesus showed special preference for those who are marginalized and oppressed.
Empower us to build a Church that celebrates the life and the love of every unique member of the Body of Christ.
God of comfort, justice, and peace, hear our prayer.

We pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world during this solemn season of Ramadan.
Help us to celebrate our common ancestry as children of Abraham.
Where our differences are real, banish fear from our hearts,
and help us to affirm all that is holy in our sacred neighbor.
God of comfort, justice, peace, hear our prayer.

We pray for the Diocese of Nebraska, for our fifty-three congregations both large and small throughout the state.
Unite us across our differences, keep our doors open as sanctuaries of refuge and transformation, and bless our individual lives with the knowledge and wonder of your real presence in the creation in which we dwell.
God of comfort, justice, and peace, hear our prayer.

We ask all these things in the name of Jesus, the executed, risen, and living Christ. AMEN



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House of Bishops Theology Committee Offers Free Online Daily Meditations for Lent



This Lent, the theology committee of the House of Bishops invites the Church to explore ways to recover and renew economic imagination with a new resource, Repairing the Breach: Discipleship and Mission in a Global Economy.


Produced in partnership with Forward Movement, Repairing the Breach provides daily meditations and videos during the season of Lent. The meditations move through a pattern of reading, watching, reflecting, and praying, and each week of Lent is devoted to a particular aspect of economic life.


“The project’s digital format is a welcome new direction for our work as the theological arm of the House of Bishops. We have sought to model a process of theological reflection that is open, interactive, and accessible to everyone,” said the Rt. Rev. Thomas Breidenthal, bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio.


The reflections examine the causes of economic injustice and our role, both personally and corporately, in unsustainable patterns of consumption and self-interest. The project also highlights specific practices where the Spirit of God is moving in local congregations and communities to bring new life.


“This resource provides an opportunity to engage in an important topic during Lent—
especially in a pivotal election year,” said Richelle Thompson, deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement. “Most of us have been impacted by the economic crisis, whether we lost homes and jobs or know someone who did. This is a chance for us to reflect on concrete changes that we can make in our lives to avoid another meltdown.”


Visit to learn more and watch for the first meditation on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10. A print-friendly downloadable PDF of the reflections is also available for download at


(Reprinted from

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Give yourself the gift of Christian education for the new year



Four Great Courses are being offered at Bishop Kemper School for Ministry
January 9-10, 2016

Whether you’re interested in the world of Christian Ethics, the first 1000 years of the Church, the writings of Paul or the Doctrine of God, January courses will deepen your knowledge and enhance your faith. You’ll learn and worship with faculty and students who love the Church and seek to fulfill its mission. We are pleased to announce that the Bishop Mary Field, Diocese of West Missouri, will join us as Bishop-in-Residence.


To learn more or enroll, click here.


Christian History I
Instructor: The Very Rev. Dr. George Wiley

This course explores Christian history from A.D. 150-1000. Using Peter Brown’s masterful “The Rise of Western Christendom,” we see Christianity as a small religion among many in the Roman Empire, as that empire’s official faith, and as a growing movement continually encountering pagan cultures in the Mediterranean world and northern Europe, changing those cultures and being changed by them. Brown includes extensive information on Eastern Christianity to help us understand its Western form. He shows us that the Roman Empire did not “fall” and the Dark Ages weren’t dark.

Christian Ethics I
Instructor: Dr. Tyler Atkinson

This class is designed for students enrolled on the deacon track as well anyone seeking a better understanding of Christian Ethics. Rather than taking an issues-based approach, this course will tell the story of Christian ethics, considering the ways in which people in the Church have responded to God’s work in their midst through word and deed. There will be three primary trajectories: Scripture, historical theology, and contemporary theological ethics, shaping the big questions discussed in class.

Pauline Epistles
Instructor: Dr. Andy Johnson

This class introduces Paul’s letters to those who have not studied Paul in an academic setting. It will help students understand Paul’s letters vis-à-vis the socio-historical and political contexts of the first century. In addition, it will demonstrate how these letters function as missional documents, embodying the gospel in their particular culture. This course provides students with a rudimentary understanding of, and tools with which to engage in a responsible theological interpretation of Paul’s letters.

Doctrine of God
Instructor: Dr. Adam Pryor

Perhaps there is no more distinctive feature of Christianity than its assertion that God becomes a human being in Jesus the Christ, but who do we understand this God to be? How does God act in our world and on behalf of whom? In this course, we will explore the classical issues associated with the doctrine in systematic theologies including divine attributes, the relationship between God and creation, theodicy, and issues of human distinctiveness. Special attention will be given to work from subfields including theology and science, disability theology, and feminist theology.

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BKSM Summer Mini-Classes

 The Bishop Kemper School for Ministry is offering this two classes this summer that, while open to clergy, they are particularly designed for lay leaders, whether paid or volunteer, who are responsible for children and youth ministry programs. The two courses are:


MINI 340: Christian Education Leadership Survey
Saturday, June 13 – Sunday, June 14
Upton Hall, on the Diocese of Kansas campus in Topeka

MINI 350: Christian Education Teaching Survey
Saturday, July 18 – Sunday, July 19
Upton Hall, on the Diocese of Kansas campus in Topeka


Each class costs $125, which includes overnight accommodations and meals.

Attached here you will find both a color and black & white flyer in PDF format. If you would be willing to share the flyer with your clergy list and ask them to print and post the flyer in their churches to help us get the word out about these wonderful classes, it would be most appreciated.

Also, I would gratefully ask your assistance in sharing this information with clergy and laity in your diocese via Facebook, at meetings or via any upcoming e-publications. This link has complete information about both classes as well as an online registration form.

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Men’s Ministry Retreat May 15th – 17th

mmDiocese of Nebraska
2015 Men’s Retreat

Study • Worship • Pray • Recharge • Connect

St. Benedict Center, Schuyler, NE
5:00 PM Friday, May 15th — 12:00 noon Sunday, May 17th
Cost is $140 for a single and $120 for a double, per person, includes 2 night stay, and 6 meals.

Join Fr. Randy Goeke and Fr. Jerry Ness as we explore God’s call to deeper relationship with Christ and each other.

Click here to download a retreat poster and agenda in pdf form.



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Lent with the ESC – On Doubt, by Fr. Jason Emerson

Fr. Jason Emerson

Fr. Jason Emerson


February 24th Lenten reflection on the Episcopal Service Corps site
“On Doubt,” by Fr. Jason Emerson, Resurrection House Program Director and Alum

To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; *

Growing up, I loved comic books. A common feature it seemed of every comic book was each super hero had an arch nemesis, an enemy that posed the the greatest threat to the hero because he or she knew the hero’s weakness. Our society does not value weakness. Somehow we are taught that admitting weakness will cause us to doubt ourselves. In our hyper-individualistic culture the cardinal sin is to doubt one’s self. To doubt that you alone by yourself can achieve whatever dream, task, or ambition…to doubt that by your actions you can satisfy whatever instant gratification you can imagine…to doubt these things is considered un-American at best and down right treasonous at worst….

Click here to read the full post on the ESC site.

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by Mother Elizabeth Marie Melchionna, St. John’s Cathedral, Denver

How do we respond to God and to our community in this season of Advent and Christmas? How do we receive the reality of God humbling Godself to be made “in human likeness”?

Art helps me to meditate on the mysteries of the Incarnation, of God self-emptying to be born in Jesus Christ. This year the artwork from The Saint John’s Bible has been central in my devotions, and the frontispiece to Saint Luke’s Gospel has served as my focal point. A lithographic print of this page of the Bible hangs in the hallway of the parish; you might have passed it on your way to coffee hour and adult formation. Take a moment to notice the image—the way the sunlight catches the gold in the print. What might God be saying to you in this image?

My eye is drawn to a brilliant shaft of light, of gold leaf, that bifurcates the painting and then draws my gaze to the manger. Faces surround the manger: an older man with a beard, perhaps a shepherd, a young man with a child, a boy, and a woman draped in blue, whom I presume to be Mary. They all look into the light. There is no cute baby in this painting. There is no baby at all. And the golden light that emanates from the manger illumines the faces of those who look upon it. Turning our faces toward the light of Christ means that we are changed, that we can reflect back that divine light to others.

Words invoking light also illumine the page: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,” and “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” The words of the angels to the shepherds in the field also illuminate the page: “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Luke 2:14). The words are familiar—too familiar. They no longer convey for me the cosmic significance of the Incarnation. But the image does.

In the foreground there is not a dairy cow, but the distinctive, black outline of a bull, nearly identical to those found in the cave paintings in Lascaux, France, from 18,000 BCE. It looks to me that the bull is bowing to the manger. In a radical way, the birth of Christ changes the cosmic order, bending linear time back on itself. On either side of the divine golden column of light what I imagine are angels flank the column, forming a cross. The work of Christ on the cross is prefigured even at his birth. Dozens of shooting stars, or maybe comets, fill the background as if the cosmos is rejoicing, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

The frontispiece of Luke’s Gospel, this image of Christ’s birth, suggests that we do not encounter the divine in isolation, but rather that we know and are transformed by Christ in communion with both our natural, physical world, and our human family.

This season, take a moment to pause and explore how The Saint John’s Bible images can inspire new questions, new exploration, and new discoveries for you.


Image: Birth of Christ, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on the St. John’s Cathedral, Denver website Thanks to the cathedral and Mother Elizabeth Marie Melchionna for permission to reprint here.

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Men’s Retreat May 16-18, 2014: Practical Spirituality


2014 Diocese of Nebraska Men’s Retreat

Practical Spirituality: A Toolkit for Christian Practice

Men in our culture are often defined by what we do…for a living, with our free time…you fill in the blank. What happens when we take what we do and allow God to work with us, and through us, to form a faithful and nourishing spiritual practice?

Come explore how what we do in work and play can support our walk with God in Christ.


Who: All men of the Diocese of Nebraska
What: Annual Retreat
When: 5:00 PM Friday – May 16th thru 12:00 PM Sunday – May 18th
Where: Camp Carol Joy Holling – Ashland, NE
Cost: $150 per person (Double Occupancy Room)
Contact: Click here to register


Click here do download the PDF flyer for this event.


Our Leader:

The Rev. Marshall Keith Shelly is Rector of Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church, Spotswood and Dean of the Northern Convocation in the Diocese of New Jersey. Completing his second decade of ordained ministry, he has served parishes in a variety of settings, ranging from rural to urban, from “small” to “large.” He holds a degree in Anthropology from Kenyon College in Ohio, was born in Michigan and raised in the Appalachian hills of Southern Ohio. He is a fifth generation gardener and a first generation home brewer. He has a passion for outreach, mission development and fostering adult spiritual formation in the context of service, study and prayer.


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Centering Prayer Retreat: April 5th

Saturday, April 5, 2014 8:30 AM-1: 30 PM
Location: All Saints Retreat Center (rear of the church on North)

Cost is $20
For $16.00 the book Open Mind Open Heart by Thomas Keating will be available
Additional books will be available for purchase

Snacks and a lite lunch will be offered for a free-will donation

Centering Prayer is a response to the invitation to “be still and know…God.” (Psalm 46:10)

This introduction will include a brief overview of the contemplative tradition, the method of Centering Prayer, how to let go of thoughts and the effects of a deepening relationship with God in our daily lives.

Rev. Donald Bredthauer will lead the workshop. Don is a retired United Methodist pastor and a Certified Spiritual Director. He has practiced Centering Prayer since 1989 and regularly presents the introductory workshop for which Thomas Keating and Contemplative Outreach commissioned him in 1995.

Please e-mail Judy Stribley, Pastoral Associate, All Saints Episcopal Church ( to obtain a place in the retreat. Registration fees will be collected at the beginning of the retreat or sent to Judy after February 25 to the address below.

Should you wish to purchase a book/s, they will be available the day of the retreat.

Registration checks for $20 may be sent to:
Judy Stribley
Pastoral Associate
All Saints Episcopal Church
9302 Blondo St.
Omaha, NE 68134

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