Pastoral Series

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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Prayer: Giving Thanks

   Every year at Thanksgiving, I read something from Frederick Buechner. He has been the master of unearthing lovely memories and deep emotions, the stories of our lives, the joys and sorrows we share. Here are some of his wisest words, which I offer as a little Thanksgiving gift to you: “In one sense the…

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Prayer: Giving Thanks

   As we approach thanksgiving, I find myself reminiscing about some thoughts for which I am grateful. A thought is just a thought – but then a thought can shape your world, and nothing is ever the same. Here are three: (1) When I was in seminary, my Old Testament professor, Roland Murphy, shocked us…

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Prayer: A Gripe and a Dream

    Ever wonder what clergy talk about when we’re together? Sometimes it’s you guys… the ways you bless us, and challenge us, concerns we have for you, and our dreams for you. We love you, which is why we do all we do. We clergy have our frustrations, and on occasion we even feel cheapened…

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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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