Pastoral Series

Prayer: Maundy Thursday

Matthew 26:30 tells us that, at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, the disciples sang hymns together. This always moves me. I try to imagine their voices, this small men’s chorus echoing around a stone floored room. Did Jesus lead? Did Simon harmonize? We know which hymns they would have sung: Psalm 113 through 118….

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Prayer: Holy Wednesday

We cannot be sure what happened on Wednesday of the original Holy Week. The Gospel of Mark’s chronology (check out chapters 11 and 14) indicates that Wednesday was the day Jesus’s dinner was interrupted by a woman pouring expensive ointment on his head. But the Gospel of John’s account of things (check out chapters 12…

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Prayer: Holy Tuesday

On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus – the day after leaving the authorities raging mad and plotting to rid themselves of his criticisms – walked right back into the teeth of danger and taught.  All day long, it seems.  Matthew 21:18 through 25:46 shares with us some of what Jesus had to say to various…

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Prayer: Holy Monday

Monday of Holy Week: Jesus walked into the city and approached the temple. He saw business as usual: the money changers exchanging all kinds of foreign money for the shekels required for the temple offering, and selling sheep for the non-shepherds required to make a sacrifice. Out of the blue, Jesus got physical, overturning tables,…

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Prayer: Palm Sunday

Holy Week is upon us. As my emails for the past few months have been about prayer – how to talk with God – I will continue this now, looking at prayers that were offered up during Jesus’ last week. As Jesus entered the city, humbly, on the back of a donkey, the crowds gathered…

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Prayer: Gratitude

   So many of our Psalms, our hymns, much in the rest of Scripture, and the writings of great saints and theologians are overflowing with gratitude.  But somehow, for us, gratitude feels counter-cultural, as if you need practice and reminders.  I nag about it… and remind you about the very self-centered benefits of not being…

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Prayer: Our Father

   Several years ago, I did an email series on the Lord’s Prayer – and it was great fun and hopefully helpful to my soul and maybe yours also to take it slowly, word by word, pondering the depth of meaning, the secrets lying right out in the open we never notice because we typically…

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Prayer: Joy

Last Sunday our worship theme was “from judgment toward mercy,” and this coming Sunday it will be “from guilt toward joy.” I think these are intimately related to one another. If we get fixated on judgment, being judged, judging others, even ourselves, then we wallow in guilt, or we afflict others with guilt. In such…

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Prayer: Nobody Knows

In Anne Tyler’s terrific novel, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, Pearl Tull reminisces about what it was like to be married to Beck. Over a beer in the evening, he liked to sing – and his favorite song was “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve Seen; Nobody knows but Jesus.” Pearl “supposed it must be true….

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Prayer: Love God, Love Neighbor

The German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg offered a keen insight into what it means to pray for others:  “By prayer, love of neighbor is integrated into the believer’s relationship to God as participation in God’s love for the world. Prayer prevents the practice of neighborly love from becoming simply our own moral work.” When asked which…

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