Pastoral Series

Prayer: Opportunities

   A retired psychiatrist in our church family, Dr. Ernest Chander, wrote a marvelous book (called Trishul to Trinity) revealing his life, work and ministry in India. In it, he explores many things: the importance of mentors and colleagues, how Christianity crosses cultural barriers, and much in his work as a psychiatrist and as a…

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Prayer: Blessings

One of the quirky aspects of life as a minister is that at most meals, I’m the one who gets asked to pray. I sometimes joke that There is no course like Blessings 101 in seminary. We clergy have no special talent or training in meal blessings. I understand the respectful deference, and am always…

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Prayer: Desires

   What do you desire? The very word “desire” conjures up a host of things we want, we crave, we dream of, we wish for, we impulsively pursue – and “desire” may also remind us of something we wish we could banish from our heads and hearts. Walter Brueggemann, whom I got to visit with…

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Prayer: Silence

Arsenius the Great was a great scholar and teacher who lived in the palace of the Roman emperor and tutored the royal family. Then, as his faith and holiness grew more serious, he abandoned that comfortable life and lived out the rest of his days as a poor hermit in the Egyptian desert. He was…

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Prayer: one more day

The Israeli psychologist Danny Kahneman, who along with Amos Tversky invented the field of behavioral economics and won a Nobel Prize, grew up in a Jewish family that just barely survived the Holocaust. When he was 9 years old, his family in desperate flight from the SS, Danny would lie awake and pray the same…

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Prayer: I love you

There is a marvelous statue on the shore of the Sea of Galilee that commemorates a remarkable moment recorded in John 21. The disciples have been out fishing all night, catching nothing at all. Then, “just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach.” But they didn’t recognize him. He hollered across the water…

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Prayer: My Lord and my God

If biblical prayers might be extended to include any words spoken directly to Jesus, we might pinpoint these from Thomas as fitting, and instructive to us: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). What prompted him to make such a ringing declaration, such an enthusiastic declaration of faith? Thomas somehow had missed Jesus’ first visit…

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Prayer: Stay with us

On Monday we looked into the story of Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).  I want to probe a bit further.  As we think about prayer, the words the two disciples spoke to Jesus – at the turning point in the story – might be our wisest prayer: “Stay…

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Prayer: Disappointment

It’s fascinating to me how many of the Gospel vignettes narrating Jesus’ resurrection involve disappointment – almost as if they anticipated one of the dominant moods of our culture.  Advertisers work overtime to instill, breed, feed on and expand a feeling of disappointment; they never say Be content! or Things are just fine!  Add to…

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Prayer: Up-Rising

A few days before Easter, I was on the phone to a clergy friend who asked What are you preaching on Easter morning? I asked him, and he mentioned the idea I hadn’t pondered for some time: the Greek word we translate as “resurrection,” anastasis, literally meaning “rising up” or “uprising.”  Jesus rose up.  It…

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