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Showing posts from October, 2016

Why worship? Why pray?

What is the purpose of worship? What is the purpose of praying? But wait: let's back up a bit...perhaps you don't grant the premise behind those two questions, namely, that worship and prayer HAVE a purpose. If your objection is a religious one, perhaps it's that you think that there doesn't need to be a "purpose" for worshipping or praying -- that they are "ends" in themselves, good and worthwhile activities per se, and are not a means to some other good or end. If your objection is a non-religious one, perhaps it's that you don't think worship or prayer HAVE a purpose at all! -- that they are (at worst) a waste of time and effort or (at best) a "crutch." The way I'd address the first objection is by saying "well, that's not what the Bible seems to be saying about worship and prayer." Rather, scripture seems to consistently teach that we come into God's presence for a purpose: to be changed. We worsh

The Vice-Virtue Judo move, in three steps...

As we see again in this Sunday's gospel , Jesus frequently warned us about the dangers of being judgmental. "Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and regarded others with contempt." Person A - who was a religious, law-abiding person -- goes to the temple and prayed, "I thank you God, that I'm not like other people," especially not like sinners and tax collectors." Person A is our tendency to hold ourselves up as good examples by comparing ourselves to others.  Person B - a tax collector, and so probably someone who was thought of as corrupt, despised, and even a traitor - stands at a distance and says, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." Person B is the grace you receive to judge only your self, and not to engage in comparison at all. Guess who goes home "justified" (put right, made right) with God? (Hint: it's not us when we are being judgmental.) As Oswald Chambers write

You're Grateful. So What?

In Sunday's Gospel , we hear the story of ten lepers begging Jesus to be cured of their disease. Jesus cures all ten of them. All ten lepers, were, at that point in the story, probably filled with an enormous sense of gratitude. How could they not be? - their lives had just been radically changed. But ONE of them, "seeing that he was cured," turned back, came back. Ten were grateful; only one translated that "feeling of gratitude" into an "action of generosity." Ten were grateful for what God had done for them. One gave thanks. I am grateful for my wife Mary. I am grateful for employees' and vestry members' and other's creativity, initiative, hard work, team spirit and drive. Unfortunately, that feeling of gratitude is only a emotion...a sentiment. My spouse or those I work with may -- OR MAY NOT -- be aware of my gratitude - how could they be? How can others be aware of my gratitude unless I take a lesson fro