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Showing posts from January, 2011

Disciples. In Community.

The Gospel appointed for this Sunday is from Matthew 5, and contains the "Beatitudes," the opening words of the “Sermon on the Mount” delivered by Jesus, who names several blessings, each beginning with the words "Blessed are…”

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are y…

Honor Your Mentor

A former high school teacher of mine is doing an “Honor Your Mentor” project, and as part of that project, was reaching out to all graduates of my high school to encourage them to say something about someone who mentored them.

He got me thinking about two teachers from my high school, one an English teacher, and the other a Psychology teacher (and wrestling coach).

My English teacher, Mr. Estell, was the first person to ever pull me aside and tell me I had a "gift" (that was his word) for writing. Until then, I knew I liked to write, even sensed that I was talented, or skilled in that area. But it was Mr. Estell who helped me to see talent or skill for what it really is: gift.

Then later, in my senior year, Mr. Estell also spoke a huge word of encouragement to me. The context was a speech each of us had to give to summarize a term paper we’d written.

We each had ten minutes to do our speech. Mr. Estell had our index cards and outline in front of him, and as each one of us spoke,…

A Word of Encouragement

“To encourage you today.”

That was the subject line on an email I received from a parishioner this morning.

Like most of us this week, this parishioner’s mind has very much been on the Tucson shootings.

Then, she read the newspaper headline for the man who did the shooting: Friends, Teachers Tell of Loughner’s Descent Into World of Fantasy. She told me she started praying “that God would show me those people who could be heading this same direction, so it can be stopped before such catastrophes [happen again].”

Two points about that.

One is the recognition that events like this don’t “just happen.” They are orchestrated by the evil one.

Hear me clearly: I am not saying the shooter “is” himself, evil. But I am saying that one of the downsides of our post-enlightenment, highly rational, Western, scientific mindset is that we only believe in -- or think of as “real” -- that which we can see, prove, taste, touch, or measure. And so we walk around with blinders on, oblivious to a huge part of re…

Epiphany, and Epiphanies About "The Work of Christmas"

I don’t know about you, but this week -- the first full week of January -- is always a bit of a shock to the system, after all the preparations for Christmas and the Christmas celebrations themselves, a short break, then BAM! all of a sudden it’s New Year’s, and all the things that I put off until “after Christmas” are suddenly staring me in the face.

No putting it off any longer.

Today IS officially the last day of Christmas. Today, January 6, is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the day of the Epiphany.

The word “epiphany” means two things, and both meanings can be helpful to us this time of year.

When “Epiphany” is capitalized, its meaning is a religious holy day, the manifestation or “showing” of Christ to the wider world. It’s the day we commemorate the magi, or wise men, coming from the East and bowing down before the baby Jesus and offering them their gifts.

The more common use of the word “epiphany,” however, is when we say we’ve “had an epiphany,” meaning a kind of “ah-HA! moment,” a…