Pastoral Series

Prayer: When Someone You Love Dies

I did not preach yesterday. We were with Lisa’s dad and the rest of our family, in church in Winston-Salem, marking the one year anniversary of the death of Lisa’s mom, Jean Stevens Stockton. Some muddling of time happens with such things. It feels like forever ago, or just yesterday. There are so many surprises….

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A Different Kind of Strength

I’ve just finished reading a most wise and insightful book: The Legacy of the Civil War. The author, Robert Penn Warren, winner of Pulitzer Prizes in fiction and poetry, is best known for his novel All the King’s Men. I wish everyone arguing over statues and the names of buildings would ponder Warren’s profound reflections…

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Prayer: All Saints

   Growing up, I had never heard of All Saints’ Day. Now it is one of my favorite days of the year. And it’s today! We will mark All Saints’ Day in worship this Sunday, with our marvelous service that so moves me each year. Acolytes light candles as we name those in our church…

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Prayer: Where Reform Begins

Last year was huge for Lutherans, and all of us Protestants, as we marked the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his famous 95 theses to the Wittenburg door, sparking the Reformation – on October 31! His parchment railed against abuse, self-indulgence, and a flat out swerving away from what Jesus had in mind when…

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Prayer: Battered and forgotten

Prayer: Battered and forgotten I think my favorite page in Ron Chernow’s wonderful biography of Ulysses S. Grant came when he summarized what was going on – or not going on – in Grant’s life in April of 1860. He had just moved to Galena, Illinois, with his family, penniless, a loser in business and…

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Prayer: Birthdays need to be celebrated

A lovely moment in my life as a dad came when we began as a family to talk about the marvelous world J.R.R. Tolkien created with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – particularly the way the hobbits observe their birthdays. Instead of having a party in their honor, and instead of receiving…

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Prayer: Jesus’ priorities

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, who will be speaking at our church next Tuesday, has reflected (in his book Reconstructing the Gospel) on Jesus’ first sermon – and what it tells us about his priorities, and what ours probably should be too: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good…

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Prayer: Praying with my legs

Frederick Douglass spoke and wrote so eloquently – and the fact that he was held in high regard during days when men of color were feared, despised and abused is simply astounding. One of his most memorable quotes is this: “I prayed for freedom for 20 years, but received no answer until I prayed with…

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Prayer: He’s got the whole world in his hands

The other day I was almost to my office when I noticed a guy on the sidewalk carrying… the world! Snapped a quick couple of photos – and I wished I’d had time to stop and ask What are you doing with the world? Much wisdom can be found outside the Bible – like in…

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Prayer: World Communion

   Yesterday was World Communion Sunday – a day when we pay attention to the reality that is in God’s heart every day. We are on with God’s people all over the world. We are one church, however divergent our worship styles, languages, and cultural manifestations of our faith might be. That’s part of the…

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