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Showing posts from June, 2013

"Hold On Loosely, But Don't Let Go"

One of the lessons appointed for Sunday is from Paul's letter to the Galatians. That letter has been called the "Magna Carta of Christian liberty." While at one level Galatians deals with the question of whether or not Gentiles who convert to Christianity must first follow the requirements of Jewish law - circumcision and dietary restrictions - its broader lesson is in showing us where true human freedom is to be found. Freedom: it ain't just for Andy Dufresne Eugene Peterson starts his commentary on Galatians ( Traveling Light  ) by pointing out that we all carry around within us certain fantasies, or illusions of freedom, as compared to real freedom - actual experiences of living freely - which is God's freedom. Human freedom is based on the fact that we are created in the image of God, and God is free. Therefore, our freedom is our deepest reality, and bondage or slavery is artificial - i.e., not our natural state. Many things can plac

Marie Howe, on Prayer

I've been gobbling up the poetry of Marie Howe lately, ever since hearing of, good stuff: earthy, raw, alive, fresh, and yet accessible and not (like so much poetry) impenetrable. See for example her collection of poems in What the Living Do , and The Good Thief . And this honest piece on prayer from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time:  Prayer Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important calls for my attention -- the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage I need to buy for the trip. Even now I can hardly sit here among the falling piles of paper and clothing, the garbage trucks outside already screeching and banging. The mystics say you are as close as my own breath. Why do I flee from you? My days and nights pour through me like complaints and become a story I forgot to tell. Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning to rise from the chair as soon as I finish the sentence. (Marie Howe

Children Need Models, Not Critics

Since Sunday morning won’t be focusing much on the fact that Sunday is Father’s Day, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts about that here. My father, who died in 2001, was not a perfect husband or father. But a) he never pretended to be; and b) who is?—certainly not me. But was a great husband and a great father. There was a sign that hung above my father’s desk while I was growing up. It simply said: Children need models, not critics. That was my father’s philosophy. To model – to set an example, to use one’s energy trying to walk the walk yourself – rather than to criticize the failures and faults of others. I want you to imagine, if you will, a child working in the back yard, helping his father build a storage shed, or as we called it, a “mini-barn.” The child is doing it wrong: cutting the wood the wrong length; using the tools incorrectly and even dangerously…taking too long to do the work.  The father knows the child is doing it wrong.

"Maybe it IS the problem...?"

This funny video is making the rounds on Facebook, mostly as a commentary on "being married," but as I watched it, I kept wondering... "Am I the only one that felt like this guy while they were trying, so hard, to train us in "reflective listening" during CPE and other pastoral care classes?"   "Am I the only one who sees this video as a microcosm of how it feels sometimes at so many church meetings -- mercifully not at the parish level -- but at wider church meetings?

"Jesus Doesn't Care About Your Failures"

"Jesus doesn't care about your failures." That was a line in one of the daily " Pray-as-you-go " meditations I listen to, and it's gotten me thinking. The comment was made in a reflection on John 21:15-19 , the scene where Jesus asks Peter three times "do you love me?" As The Message puts it, After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Master, you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.” Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered,“Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep" Remember this scene takes place after the resurrection. After Peter h

Those "can't-I-just-go-to-the-beach-and-stare-at-the-waves" feelings...

I had the good fortune of having a great mentor (The Rev. Andrew Merrow) in my first job in ordained ministry right out of seminary (at St. Mary's, Arlington). And of the many words of wisdom he passed on to me in my four-and-a-half years with him, there's one that I think about each year around this time:   "Early June is the most dangerous time of the church year."   What he meant by that is this: The first few weeks of June is the time of year when the church "program year" (and for teachers and students, the school year) is winding down. In most churches, the busy program year starts in September and then picks up steam and intensity, feeling as if we go from Labor Day to the Annual Giving Campaign-start-of-classes-and-programs-then-Advent-and-Christmas-oh my get ready for the Annual Meeting/Elections/retreat-and-Lent-Holyweek-Easter-omigodtimeforthebishop's-visit then all of a sudden it's sunday-school- teacher-appreciation-s