Pastoral Series

Prayer: Holy rest & peace at the last

Prayer: Holy rest & peace at the last    John Henry Newman was one of the brightest lights in English-speaking Christendom during the 19th century.  He shocked many by converting from the Anglican church to Roman Catholicism.  His preaching and publications helped a lazy Christianity think openly and creatively about a changing world. I’ve always…

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Prayer: A Sigh

Prayer: A Sigh    There is so much to love and savor about the life of Martin Luther – but then there are the embarrassments: his ferocious invective against Catholics, and his demeaning of the Jews are just plain embarrassing. Luther was a gregarious guy who loved company, food, beer, music and conversation.  He always…

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Prayer: Reformation and Prayer

Prayer: Reformation and Prayer    We think of the Reformation as dazzling courage on the part of the heroic Martin Luther, or as the grievous splitting of the church.  But the term, re-formation, is what we as individuals and as a church require – always.  We get malformed living in the world, succumbing to sin,…

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Prayer: Help me! I promise I’ll…

Prayer: Help me!  I promise I’ll….    Martin Luther is getting lots of attention in church circles this month as we approach the 500th anniversary of his touching off the Protestant Reformation.  One of his most interesting prayers is laughable in many ways – and yet entirely understandable, shared in some way at some point…

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Prayer: Only you know that place

Prayer: Only you know that place    In one of his more obscure books, Heart Speaks to Heart, Henri Nouwen imagines himself talking with Christ hanging on the cross.  His prayer, his words to Jesus?  “O Lord, why is it that I am so eager to receive human praise and human support when experience tells…

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Prayer: Imitating Christ

Prayer: Imitating Christ    One of my favorite prayers in all of history comes from Thomas à Kempis, the Dutch theologian from the 15th century, author of the best-selling spiritual classic (even today!) The Imitation of Christ: “Lord, in what can I trust in this life?  And what is my greatest comfort on earth?  Is…

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Prayer: Open unto me

Prayer: Open unto me    Howard Thurman, who died in 1981, was a calm, wise force during the Civil Rights movement, a widely admired theologian, and a pastor to thousands.  Many know his profound poem, “The Work of Christmas,” which was set to music in a stunning anthem our choir has sung. Thurman’s prayers appeal…

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Prayer: Silence

Prayer: Silence    As we grapple with the wonderful words the saints through history have prayed and shared with us, I continue to be struck by the way in which it isn’t the words, but it’s the lack of words, that make prayer.  As Mother Teresa put it, “God is a friend of silence.” This…

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Prayer: Rebuilding

Prayer: Rebuilding   As he lay dying on the night of October 3 into the wee hours of October 4, Francis uttered his last words.  “I have done what is mine to do.  Now it is up to you to do what is yours to do.” This is kind of a relief:  I don’t have…

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Prayer: Footprints

Prayer: Footprints We have another prayer from St. Francis that very few people have ever seen.  It’s typical of him, and helpful for us: Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God, grant to us the grace to do for you what we know you want us to do.  Give us always to desire what pleases you. …

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