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Showing posts from July, 2011

Your Currently Most Dominant Thought

When I was in high school, they used to gather us in the basketball stadium for student assemblies, often “pep rallies” led by various motivational speakers. (Yes, in Indiana, the high schools have basketball stadiums , not mere gyms-with-bleachers.) (In fact, according to a 1998 article in The New York Times , 15 of the 16 largest high school gymnasiums were located in the state of Indiana.) (And the gym at my high school, Carmel High School, which seats 4,000, doesn’t even rank in the top 50-largest Indiana high school gyms .) But my point is about something one of those motivational speakers said at one of those pep rallies. I don’t remember his name or background -- although something tells me he was an Olympic athlete of some sort -- but I’ve always remembered his main point: “You move in the direction of your currently most dominant thought.” That was intended as a helpful insight into the importance of positive thinking. An example he gave was from a basebal

Saint(s) Alive!

In last week’s e-Pistle and in Sunday’s sermon, one of three claims I made about God is that “God is not rational.” Rather, I’m claiming, God is ir-rational, in the sense that God does not color inside the lines we try to draw for him -- lines of reason, logic, and what's practical or possible. And God is ir-rational in the sense that God does not ration or hold back. God is far more generous (in grace), extravagant (in welcome), and abundant (in love) than we can ever get our heads around. Today, in anticipation of St. James’ Day on Sunday, I want to spell out one implication of this claim about God. In one of the prayers in The Book of Common Prayer we pray: “Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer .” People we refer to as “saints” are not just good examples. Saints are not just models of faith who are supposed to in

How to find a church

So a parishioner moved to a different city and wrote to ask me which of two Episcopal churches nearby I would recommend he attend. I thought my reply is general enough that it would help others, and since this is a pretty big question for those who are asking it, I thought I'd post my reply here. Dear ____________, It's hard to say – the only way to know for sure which one is right for you is to investigate. First take a look at the websites (I included links to the church's websites here). Browse around, read anything and everything, especially old newsletters and recent sermons. As you read, pay attention to your feelings: See if you are turned off, or attracted to, what you are reading, its tone and substance. Then (assuming you are not turned off) go visit. Visit at least two times at different services on different Sundays. Be open minded and give the church and people the benefit of the doubt, but trust your feelings/gut instincts/initial reactions. Most imp

The Persistence of the Holy One Who Won't Stop Sowing. Ever.

Today I'd like to pick up where Rev. Kate ended in her sermon on Sunday. Kate was preaching on Jesus' famous "parable of the sower," the farmer who planted seeds recklessly, scattering them everywhere. Some seeds fall on rocks and never put down deep enough roots to grow. Some seeds are stolen away even before they have a chance to put down roots: they get eaten up by birds. Some seeds fall on decent soil and survive being eaten, but they end up among weeds that choke the plant and the plant never bears fruit. And some seeds fall on decent soil, do survive, and thrive, and bear fruit 30, 60, 100-fold. In this parable, "the farmer" is God. The "seeds" are God's word -- God's message. The various kinds of soil are the varieties of our hearts. Sometimes our heart is like a rock -- tough, hard, dry, no looseness of soil -- and when God's message falls on our hearts in that state, it can't put down roots. No growth in faith. So