Pastoral Series - Prayer

Prayer/Church Matters: A New Series!

  After months of sending you emails about prayer, and just relating to God in various ways, I am shifting my focus here in early 2019 to “Church Matters.” In our worship services, during December we fixed our attention on the coming of Christ, Emmanuel, “God with us.” God indeed is with us. And if…

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Prayer: Gratitude, Commitment and Freedom

   When I started out in ministry, quite a few churches had “Watch Night” services – on New Year’s Eve. Puzzled on learning this, I asked an older pastor friend why we would do such a thing. He chuckled and said “Keeps people from drinking too much.” There are better answers. John Wesley gathered as…

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Prayer: The Days of Christmas

My family: we’re the oddballs who steadfastly refuse to whisk away all signs of Christmas on the 26th. The “twelve days of Christmas” isn’t just a kooky song. It’s a historic observance of the first days of the life of Jesus – culminating in Epiphany, January 6, the traditional date on which the magi appeared…

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Prayer: My Christmas Message to You

   It seems like I should have some special Christmas message for you, my Church family. It could be simple, like Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in Meet Me in St. Louis. All the music of Christmas moves me – so much so that I wrote a little book about sacred…

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Prayer: Good Company

  Mary, barely able to absorb the news of her destiny, went on a long, arduous journey to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth. Eighty miles it is from Nazareth to Ein Kerem, where this elegant statue commemorates her visit. Fascinating: facing the most daunting time of her life, she doesn’t hole up in the house, but…

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Prayer: Joy

   I think my favorite hour of the entire year will happen again this Wednesday. Our friends from UMAR gather in Jubilee Hall for a Christmas party that includes gathering around the piano and singing Christmas carols – wearing funny hats and bells. You don’t really know Christmas music until you sing it with adults…

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Prayer: Let It Be To ME

   During Advent each year, I find myself pondering a remarkable moment when, as a young preacher, I found myself at a workshop in Washington, DC, led by Herb O’Driscoll, who had us young clergy to his home for drinks and snacks. I noticed a portrait on his wall – which he spoke of with…

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Prayer: Mary’s Bible

   When the angel approached Mary about bearing God’s Son, her response was “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She means, obviously, the word which the angel had just spoken about the birth to come. But there also is a subtle reference to God’s word, the Scriptures, our Bible. What…

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Prayer: Getting Ready to Get Ready

  The season of Advent begins in just three days. Advent is a season of preparation, of getting ready for Christ’s coming – so how do we think about getting ready to get ready? At our house we have various Advent customs – like lighting the Advent wreath every Sunday. Some years we’ve almost missed…

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Prayer: The Music

   It was still October when I found myself in the hardware store and noticed “Here Comes Santa Claus” playing overhead… and it was early November when some teenagers crashed my office one day singing “Dashing Through the Snow” (as a joke, noting it was premature). I can’t imagine anyone loving Christmas music more than…

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