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Showing posts from October, 2010

Rejoice and Give Thanks, Saints of God!

Sunday is, as you know, Halloween. Did you know the reason Halloween is always on October 31 goes all the way back to the 7th Century, when Pope Boniface IV designated November 1 as All Saints’ Day, a day to honor, or “hallow” (as in “hallowed be thy name…”), saints and martyrs. In about 1,000 AD, the Church added November 2 as “All Souls’ Day,” a day to remember the dead.

So the three days together -- the eve of All Saints’, All Saints’, and All Souls’ came to be called “Hallowmas,” from which we get our modern-day term “All Hallow’s Evening,” or “Hallowe’en.”

So what, you might ask?

These three days are days set aside not just for the fun of the Leesburg Halloween Parade, dressing up in costumes and going to haunted corn mazes or trick-or-treating (all of which are perfectly innocent fun, by the way; don’t let some modern-day Puritan deprive you of it); but these days are also days to remember by name (as we’ll do at each of our services this Sunday) those who have died in the past yea…

Running a Marathon, and a Strong Faith in God, Part Two

I hope you’ll excuse me if I pick back up on a theme I wrote about two weeks ago: running a marathon, and having a good, strong relationship with God.

As I shared with you a couple weeks ago, running a marathon is on my mind lately because I’ll be doing just that: the big day is tomorrow (Saturday, October 16), when I’ll be running the Baltimore Marathon, starting at 8:00 a.m.

(Lest you be too impressed: my one and only goal for this race is to finish it. I don’t care how long it takes me. . . which is good, because at the time the first several winners are crossing the finish line -- about 10:00 a.m. -- I won’t even be to the 13.1 mile halfway point!)

(Well, actually, I do have a time goal. I want to finish in time to grab a quick shower back at the hotel before their late check-out time, which is 1:30!)

Two weeks ago I said that having a good, strong relationship with God in a time of crisis is a lot like running the 26.2 miles of a marathon: it’s relatively easy, IF you’ve put the time…

Brussels Sprouts

Today I want to repeat something I said a few years ago, when the Gospel story of Jesus curing ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) came up.

In the story, Jesus heals ten lepers of their disease, but only one of them turns back to give thanks. So – as I’ll be exploring further in Sunday’s sermon – it’s a lesson about the difference between “feelings of gratitude” and “actions of thanksgiving.”

As I said several years ago, I’m all for feelings of gratitude, and especially for translating those feelings into acts of thanksgiving, but I think the feeling of gratitude needs to be sincere and based on reality.

If our gratitude is forced, then our thanksgiving comes across as pandering; and even the person receiving it feels that it is contrived and insincere.

So I’ve never thought it is a good use of time to try to manufacture feelings of gratitude where none exist….trying to make yourself feel grateful for relationships or things for which you really aren’t grateful.

You know the dynamic I’m talking abo…

Running a Marathon, and a Strong Faith in God

Today, I want to write about the connection between two things that might not seem related to you: running a marathon, and having a good, strong relationship with God.

Running a marathon is on my mind lately because I’ll be doing just that: running one later this month, specifically the Baltimore Marathon on October 16.

Having a good, strong relationship with God is on my mind because that’s a main reason for going to church -- St. James’ or any other.

What’s the connection between these two things?

Lots of people, when they hear I have run 4 marathons (although the latest was in 2003), or that I’m going to be running another one soon, are impressed, but will say something to the effect of “wow -- you’re going to run 26 miles?! That’s got to be SO difficult!”

And no doubt about it, running 26.2 miles is a challenge. But what most people don’t realize is that running that distance on the day of the marathon is not the most difficult part of running a marathon. In fact for many people, and i…