Pastoral Series

Prayer: Handbells or Mop Buckets

   My colleague and friend Brian Childers has published a lovely book of devotionals called Ringing Deeply – a great gift to handbell ringers, directors and fans. Brian is an amazing teacher, composer, arranger and visionary when it comes to handbells. His entry in Ringing Deeply for Labor Day has stuck with me, as it…

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Prayer: Time, and the Mundane

  I was just getting gas, and found myself slightly annoyed at how slow the pump was. Earlier, I felt a twinge of anxiety, as the little errands on my list (dropping off laundry, stopping by the bank, and dropping off a package) took longer than anticipated. I hope you aren’t like me – but…

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Prayer: Words

   Yesterday, I preached on James chapter 3 – in which we overhear ambivalence about the wonder of human speech. Words can bless, encourage, love, praise, reckon, reflect, and pray – but then words can curse, belittle, demean, lie, confuse, and wound. And, probably due to our fallen nature, negative words do their sinister work…

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Prayer: Praying the Psalms

   I’m teaching a weekly Bible study, which has been great fun. Yesterday we looked at one of my favored topics: praying the Psalms. I told how I commenced this practice: Back when I was in graduate school, I was teaching assistant to Father Roland Murphy, the great Old Testament scholar. He asked me to…

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Prayer: What God wants us to read

  Yesterday in worship we gave Bibles to our third graders. When we did this a few years back, I suggested in my sermon this could just be a colossal waste of time and money – if the Bible rests unread at home, even if it’s situated in a prominent place. It’s not a cute…

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Prayer: Labor as Career or Calling?

  What is work about? Is it merely a means to an end – so I do what I do to make money so I can live my true life which is outside work? Is work an end in itself, something I enjoy, a way I express who I am, a means to execute skills…

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Labor Days

   Once upon a time in America, Labor Day celebrated the goodness of work. We might be wise as Christians to recover a sense of the giftedness of work, and how our work (whatever it may be, a career, caring for a family member, just coping, a temporary job) ties us closely to God. God…

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Prayer: Neighbors and friends

   About 20 years ago, by some astonishing good fortune, I got to have lunch with Frederick Buechner, one of the great writers of this generation. He was utterly humble, accessible, just a guy, way more interested in people around him than in spouting stuff about himself. Somehow the name of the novelist John Irving…

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Prayer: Bicycling

   One of my personal goals, which I then try to infuse into you, is the habit of looking for God’s presence everywhere, seeing if mundane activities might bear some spiritual meaning. I ride my bike every day, unless it’s sleeting or there’s a thunderstorm raging. It’s exercise. Like all exercise, you don’t get fit…

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Prayer: Solomon’s Prayer

   David, Israel’s first great king, was succeeded by his son, the one born to Bathsheba, the woman David saw and simply took from another man. Solomon is a bit two-dimensional when compared to David; we don’t see much of his emotional life, struggles, and passions. 1 Kings 3:3 tells us that “he loved the…

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