Gracious God, our heavenly Father, the Son you sent among us collected his followers for three years of training. These disciples appear - from the record of the gospels - to have learned very little during that time. Three of them slept through the closest thing to a final Jesus gave them. Lord, have mercy. The example of your friends does not ease our fear that we will find ourselves in the course of the year ahead stepping up to challenges that will expose us. Thank God for your Spirit.
Patient God, may the example of the disciples a) keep the rest of us from making enslaving idols of our failures, and b) save us from our illusions of self-importance.
God of Anna, Simeon, and all who longed to see your promise in their lifetime, in the semester ahead, show us Jesus. Show us Jesus in the usual places, yet surprise us, like Moses, with fiery challenges to our presumptions to know where you belong and so also where and through whom you will talk to us. Give us your Spirit. Train our eyes to see the Spirit's active presence in language labs, science centers, coffee shops, and even on State Street. Seeing your Spirit, give us courage to laugh and be gentle.
God of parables, teach us the humility necessary to seek knowledge not for the sake of curiosity, vanity, or - God help us - money, but - as Bernard would remind us - for the sake of the love that is knowledge in order to serve.
Finally, God of victory over death and lots of other possibilities we haven't yet imagined, make of the Episcopal community at St. Francis House a living parable of community, love, and joy in the Gospel of Jesus, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, for ever and then some. We love you, and we ask these things in Jesus' name.