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By Advent Meditations and Prayers 2014

Psalm 41, 52; Isaiah 8: 16-9: 1; Luke 22: 39-53

One of the hardest spiritual disciplines is to surrender control. Part of what makes it difficult is the discernment required to know when such surrender is what God requires. Think of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Jesus’ surrender in the Garden of Gethsemane comes at the end of his long, tireless efforts to change the things he could. So, too, for us, after doing all that is within our power, there comes a time to surrender. Sister Joan Chittister writes, “The will of God for us is what remains of a situation after we try without stint and pray without ceasing to change it.”

These are hard words, and yet we know their truth when we have no choice but to let go of whatever it was we hoped to change by our efforts. The feeling is like letting go of a rope and falling backwards in mid-air.

Fortunately, such moments are relatively rare. But when they come, think of Jesus in the Garden, or the young Mary carrying her child, or Joseph agreeing to heed the voices of a dream telling him to take this child as his own.

Surrender may be the hardest of disciplines. As W. H. Auden writes, “To do what is difficult as if it were easy, that is faith.”


Lord, help us to know when it is time to let and
surrender our lives in your hands. May your will,
not ours be done. Amen.


The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, DMin
Bishop, Diocese of Washington
Washington, D.C.
2015 Commencement Preacher




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Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde is the spiritual leader of 40,500 Episcopalians in 89 congregations and 20 Episcopal schools in the District of Columbia and four Maryland counties–Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles and St. Mary’s. She also serves as the Chair and President of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which oversees the ministries of the Washington National Cathedral and three Cathedral schools.

A passionate believer in the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Budde is committed to the revitalization and growth of congregations and core ministries of the diocese, building their capacity to serve Christ’s reconciling mission in the world. Her priority is to develop and strengthen collaborative models of ministry that can meet the needs of a changing world with flexibility, endurance, and grounded faith.

Bishop Budde was consecrated as the ninth bishop of Washington in November 2011. Prior to her election, she served for 18 years as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.

She earned a B.A. in history at the University of Rochester, N.Y, graduating magna cum laude. She earned both her Masters in Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Virginia Theological Seminary. Her sermons have been published in several books and journals and she is the author of Gathering the Fragments: Preaching as Spiritual Practice, published in 2007.

She and her husband, Paul, have two adult grown sons, Amos and Patrick.


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