This year will mark the 3rd year that I serve as the Chaplain for the Washington County Board of Supervisors. All that really means is that I give the opening prayer for the Monthly full board meetings. I will update this blog monthly to share my prayer, but in the meantime here are some prayers that I have recently given. Dana
6/15/12 Our heavenly father,
The month of June, which follows right on the heels of Memorial Day is a rather patriotic month for our nation.
June 6th saw the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy France, which was the turning point of WWII and eventually lead to allied victory.
This coming Monday, June 18th will mark the 200th anniverary of the War of 1812 also know as the War of Second Independence.
Yesterday was Flag Day, the 235th anniversary of what is know as the “Flag Resolution of 1777” in which the stars and stripes was recognized as the flag for our country.
Yesterday was also the 237th Birthday of the U.S. Army. During times of war and armed conflict our nation rallies around our flag which we have come to know as the symbol of our great nation.
Our troops proudly wear a USA flag shoulder patch on their uniforms to set themselves apart from soldiers of other nations.
Many of our small towns have American flags lining telephone poles along their Main Streets and many private citizens have flag poles in their front yards. I have visited many nations around the world during my sea going career and I can tell you that I know of no one that proudly displays their flag the way Americans do.
Some of us present today for this meeting will be wearing a USA flag pin. This flag pin is our symbol of allegiance as we pledge allegiance to the flag as one nation under God.
4/20/12 BOS Prayer Dear God, the month of April is full of events worthy of a prayer, whether it be Christian Holy Week, Jewish Passover, Buddhist Theravadin New Year, Sikh Baisakhi New Year, the 237th anniversary of when the Revolutionary War began, National Volunteer Week, or the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. The Sea Captain in me wants to discuss the Titanic and how that event changed the Maritime Industry. But the Supervisor in me won out and the topic for today’s prayer instead will be National Volunteer Week. One thing that makes the United States of America stand out as an exceptional country made up of exceptional citizens is our propensity to volunteer. I have been to very many countries around the globe during my 26 year career at sea and I can tell you that no one volunteers as much as Americans do. That is one thing, among many others that helps to set Americans apart from other nations. The US Dept of Labor estimates that in the past year, at least 64 million Americans volunteered through or for an organization at least once. The volunteer rate amongst women continues to be at a higher rate than men across all age groups, education levels and demographic characteristics. The volunteer rate among women is around 30% compared to 24% for men. People in their early 20s are the least likely to volunteer. Religious volunteers account for most of all the volunteers. They make up a total of 33% of all volunteers followed by Educational or Youth Service volunteers followed by Social or Community volunteerism. Our communities are made up of many small towns which would not be what they are without volunteerism. Volunteerism and caring for community is what makes our small towns unique and special whether it be food panty work, sitting with the elderly or anything in between. Most of our Fire Companies and EMS workers are Volunteers, men and women who race out of a warm bed in the middle of the night risking their own lives to help save us and our property. So lord, we offer this prayer as a prayer of gratitude for all of the volunteers, who are often overlooked and who’s sole reward is to give back to the community. Let us take the opportunity and make a point of acknowledging and thanking our volunteers. In your name we pray, Amen
4/4/12 BOS Prayer
Our Father, this past Palm Sunday also happened to be April Fools Day. In the time of the early Roman and Hindu calendars, they celebrated New Years Day on April 1st. This was because April 1st closely followed the path of the sun at a point known as the Vernal Equinox. But in the year 1582, Pope Gregory the 13th ordered a new calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar. This calendar is still used today and is known as the Gregorian Calendar. Communication traveled slowly in those days and some people were only informed about the change several years later. Some were rebellious, they wanted to keep to the old traditions and refused to acknowledge the change. They continued to celebrate New Years on April 1st.
These people were labeled as fools and were subject to ridicule. They would receive invitations to non existant parties and have practical jokes played upon them. Just as how “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”, who the fool is is also very subjective and lies in the eye of the beholder. As far as religion and politics goes, is the fool the Secularist who cares more about the Politically Correct exclusion of all religious reference, or is the fool instead the politician the person who weighs all political thought asking “what would Jesus do?”. For me, I feel that the political religious fool is the person that feels that in order to become tolerant of other religions, we must become intolerant of the religion that founded this nation. These people would rather have a short opening speech called an “affirmation” instead of something called a “prayer”. Or am I the fool because I resist political peer pressure to make my prayers so secular and non denominational that I would have to include references to Mother Earth and Sister Butterfly? The first 10 Amendments to the United States Constitution are know as the Bill of Rights. The 1st Amendment to the Constitution says in part “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. This Amendment does not say that the State cannot make historical reference to religion. Instead it says that the State shall not establish a religion. When I make references in my prayers to certain religions, I am not promoting or trying to establish those religions, instead I am giving a historic religious reference to some well known event that we should be aware of whether it be Christian, Islamic, Hinduistic, Agnostic, or tree hugger. So, Lord in closing, Please protect us from fools. If we are the fools, then please protect us from ourselves. Amen
3/16/12 BOS Prayer
Our Heavenly Father, We are now a little more than half way thru the Christian season of Lent. Even though Lent is not mentioned in the Bible, it is one of the oldest Christian traditions and is a period of preparation for Easter. Lent represents the retreat that Jesus took into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting to console with God and prepare himself for the coming crucifiction. During Lent, observing Christians are supposed to fast for 40 days, but today fasting does not actually mean to give up all food and water, it usually means abstaining from something that we really enjoy, like red meat, dairy, candy, alcohol or swearing. Lent started this past Ash Wednesday where Christians around the world focused on their sins and mortality. The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week and commemorates the final week of Christ’s life. Maundy Thursday observes the Last Supper, and Good Friday represents the trial and crucifiction of Christ. Lent finally ends with Easter Sunday which signifies the Resurrection of Christ. Normally, individual Chritians are the ones that participate in Lent, but I would like my fellow Supervisors to consider what would happen if local Municipal Gov’t abstained from something for 40 days? What could we give up to act as a form of discipline and penance? Could it be overtime? Fringe benefits? County License plate? A prefered parking spot for the Chairman of the Board? As for myself, my wife has requested for lent that I shorten up these long winded prayers. When I ask her to proof read them she complains that they sound like sermons instead of prayers. So Lord, in closing I would like to say… Amen and have a Happy Saint Patricks Day!
BOS Prayer Spcl Meeting to discuss potential sale of PVI and HHC 2/29/12
Our Heavenly Father, We gather today to discuss and render a decision on which direction Washington County will take regarding the ownership and operation of the County Owned Pleasant Valley Infirmary Nursing Home and the Home Health Care portions of Washington County’s Public Health. The subject today of this meeting will be Government provided Health Care. Some feel that what is provided by the County is wonderful and well worth the cost while others feel that the public would be better served if Government were not the provider. Government provided health care, as we know it today, has evolved tremendously since it was first offered. Moses is widely credited with handing down the laws of God, many of which involve aspects that affect your personal health, but Government provided health care most likely started during the dark days of the middle 1300’s. This is the Medievel era when the Black Plague ravaged Europe and the British Isles. At that early time, the best service that Government Public Health could provide was to collect and dispose of the epidemic of dead bodies. Whole villages and towns ceased to exist from the very high fatality rate and inundation of dead bodies. Researchers believe that up to 60% of Europe’s population perished during the Black Death Plague. The Government provided Public Health service at that time was best depicted by the Monty Python skit where a wagon loaded with corpses patrols the streets and a bell ringing hawker cries out “bring out your dead”. In the skit, when one individual carries out a loved one that was very sick but had not yet died, they knock him unconscious so that he would be eligible for the Health Care service provided by the Government. When asked when the wagon would return, the wagon master says that he is scheduled to return to that particular route on Thursday. On the surface, this may sound like an off color heartless depiction of Government provided Public Health but put yourself in their shoes for a moment and transport yourself back to the 1300’s. You were absolutely helpless against the onslaught of disease. You would have no idea of germs, sanitation or infection control. Real medicine at that time consisted mainly cutting the skin to make you bleed away the disease, or herbs designed to make you vomit away the sickness. It was felt that if the Church, with all of its power could not protect you, then what good was God? Organized Religion, in its form at that time took a severe hit in faith as the masses became disillusioned. Half the population died and the remaing half doubted the very existence of God. At that time in the Middle Ages, Local Government Public Health was providing a very important service of taking away the dead and actually doing it on time too. Fast forward and contrast that to what we have grown to expect from Government provided Health Care today. On one side of the spectum there are those that think Government should provide care from cradle to grave while on the other side of the spectrum some feel that this service should be provided as much as possible by Free Enterprise. In between both of these extremes, are a lot of shades of grey. This is what brings us here for this meeting today. Should the County Government continue to provide these publically funded services or should we transfer ownership and operation to non municipal entities? No matter which way we decide, or which side of the fence your opinion should happen to fall, there will be those that feel we will have made the wrong decision. If today’s decision, what ever that may be, offends and upsets you, then I am sure that you will take to heart the following quote attributed to Mark Twain. Mark Twain said “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it”. What ever decision is made here today, we cannot possibly expect to make a clear cut black and white 100% right decision that will not be challenged by those that disagree. There will be those that are greatly upset but we must remember that our citizens have elected us to ponder, consider and weigh all of the facts about issues so that we can represent their interests while making the best informed decisions possible. So in closing, Let us pray that the decision we do make today will be the best decision. Best for all of the 62,000 citizens of our county. In your name we pray, Amen
BOS Prayer 2/17/12
Our Heaven Father, This past Tuesday we celebrated Valentine’s Day. Cupid, the Hallmark of Valentines Day is most often depicted as a naked fat cherubic baby angel with golden hair and small wings armed with a bow and quiver of arrows. As we all know, the angel Cupid is poised to strike romance into unsuspecting hearts. Lore says that if you are struck by an arrow, you will instantly fall in love with the very next person you will see. If you have ever experienced “Love at first sight”, chances are you had an arrow sticking out of you. Angels are recognized as heavenly beings in Christian, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastic religions. In Christianity, as other religions, there is a heirarchy for angels which breaks them down into 9 seperate orders. Seraphim is the highest order of angels followed by Cherubim, followed by Thrones, Rulers, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels and finally Guardian Angels. Lucifer belonged to the second highest order of Cherubim, that is of course until he was cast out of heaven. Archangels include the well known Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Gabriel is the Archangel credited with visiting Mary to explain the immaculate conception and also visiting the Islamic prophet Muhammad to deliver the message of God. Guardian angels, being the lowest order of angels are the ones whos duties include everyday interaction with man. In researching this prayer, I was interested to see what order of angels Cupid belongs too. I was surprised to learn that Cupid is not actually an angel. Instead, Cupid is the Roman Mythological God of Sex who’s mother was thought to be Venus. Cupid is usually depicted as a mischievous sprite with a sense of humor when it comes to making romantic matches. This may help to explain how Cupid’s arrow is often indiscriminant in its target with no forethought given as to who the lovestruck person might see next, nor the potential disasterous consequences. Love is blind and sometimes, so is Cupid’s aim. This is why the lowest order of angels, the Guardian Angels will be the focus of this prayer. Within Washington County’s Government, the Department of Social Services and Department of Public Health would probably be the ones that most directly see the effect of Cupid’s poor aim. This effect upon these two Departments can best be described by a derivation of a quote made by Shelley in 1840 that goes something like “The rich get rich and the poor get babies”. Child poverty is an ongoing national concern, the principal cause of child poverty is the absence of married fathers in the home. According to the U.S. Census, the 2008 poverty rate for unwed mothers with children in the United States was about 36 percent. The poverty rate for married couples with children was only about 6 percent. Being raised in a married family reduces a child’s probability of living in poverty by about 80 percent. So lord, in closing let us pray that our Guardian Angels will protect us and shield us with their wings so that Cupid’s arrows of poor romantic judgement may harmlessly be deflected and bounce off. In your name we pray, Amen
BOS Spcl meeting 2/9/12
Our Heavenly Father, Since this special meeting has to do with the Sewers of Washington County, I thought a bible reference about sewers would be of interest. In the book of Matthew, chapter 15 Jesus has a conversation with a group of Pharisees about sanitation and what is clean and unclean. Jesus called out to the crowd of Pharisees and said “listen and understand. What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him unclean. But what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean.” When asked to explain, Jesus said “Are you still so dull? Dont you see that what ever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body and into the drain. But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are what make a man unclean, but eating with unwashed hands and eliminating into the ditch does not make him unclean.” Amen
Board of Supervisor’s Prayer 1/20/12
Our Heavenly Father, in this new year, every day is a special day and a testament to your miracles. However, some view each day as a hardship and they pray to just get thru it. Their burdens can be crushing and they often loose sight of your divine grace and wonderous creations. Our job as Legislators of the County should be geared towards easing the burdens of our citizens, one way or another. By doing so, perhaps we can help them to catch their breath instead of a sigh, and at least see a little bit of specialness in each day. For example, I doubt if anyone in this room knows that today is National Butter Crunch Toffee day, but it is. There are also many citizens of this County that do not know that today we will work to ease their burdens and spend their tax dollars wisely, but we will try. I am sure that today’s sunrise was greeted by many a cancer survivor as the most special sunrise they ever saw, that is of course until they see their very next one and revel in its beauty. So let us not fall under the spell of pessimism, but instead proclaim that today is special and that our glass is half full instead of half empty as we give thanks to you God, for all of our blessings. Amen.
12/16/11 Board of Supervisor’s Christmas Prayer
Our Heavenly Father, the Holiday Season is upon us. But what is the Holiday Season? It is not some politically correct secular holiday where we gather around the Festivus Pole made famous by the Jerry Sienfeld comedy TV show. But rather it is the December 21st celebration of the Jewish Holiday Hannukah and the December 25th celebration of the christian holiday Christmas. Both of these holidays are historically significant religious celebrations. Hannukah celebrates the miracle of how 1 night’s worth of lamp oil lasted for 8 days and is symbolized by the Menorah. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ after the miracle of the immaculate conception and is most often symbolized by the Christmas Tree. In 1893 the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously declared that we are a Christian Nation, where Christians are free to pray for peace in Jesus name, so let us do that in all humility, with confidence to Almighty God our everlasting Father and greet each other with Happy Hannukah or Merry Christmas. Amen
11/18/11 Board of Supervisor’s Prayer
Our Heavenly Fater, this past Weds, November 16, 2011 – New York Governor Cuomo has directed flags on state buildings be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset in honor of Fort Drum Soldier Private First Class Theodore B. Rushing who died on Veteran’s Day November 11, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Veteran’s Day was celebrated last week and Father Denis Edward O’Brien of the United States Marine Corps. would have us remember that it was the Veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It was the Veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It was the Veteran, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial. It was the Veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the Veteran, who salutes the flag, who served under the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag. We pray to you also for the day no one needs to serve in any military to maintain world peace. Amen