Pastoral Series

Prayer: Let there be light

  Tonight: the Winter solstice, the longest night. We don’t really know the precise date of Jesus’ birth, but I’m fond of the idea that it’s just a smidgeon after the longest night. “Those who walked in deep darkness, on them light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2). Hardly noticed, the light is already getting a little…

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Prayer: Let there be life

“I’m Pro-Life” is a declaration we might see on a placard – over issues that are politicized, and hotly debated to the point of weariness.  We can though quite happily and with total certainty say that God is pro-life – not in terms of taking political sides, but in the sheer wonder that God just…

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Prayer: Let there be hope

What is the core, defining characteristic of the Christian?  It isn’t that we believe there’s a God, or that we feel certain feelings about God.  It’s isn’t our holiness (although we long to be holy) or our generosity (which is never as generous as we hope it might be).  At the very heart of the…

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Prayer: Let there be creatures

Something special, and not often discussed, about Christmas is the inclusion of animals in stories, pageants and manger scenes.  As a child, being too shy for a speaking part, I loved playing a wooly sheep.  How many of our children’s Christmas books feature a talking donkey or some other lovable creature?  And there’s that silly…

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Let there be comfort

  The Bible seems to be obsessed with comfort – and so are we.  But how do you find the intersection between God’s comfort and what we think we need? Scripture speaks of “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) who says “Come to me, and you will find comfort” (Matt. 11:29).  Jesus blessed…

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Prayer: Let there be…darkness

Your life began in a dark place.  And when your life ends, you will again be in a dark place.  When God created everything, it was dark – and even after God said “Let there be light,” God didn’t banish the darkness, but kept it.  When Jesus spoke of the dawning of the kingdom of…

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Prayer: Let there be…

The Christian year somewhat weirdly begins near the end of the calendar year – and all because of the way we mark our preparation for and then the marvel of the birth of Christ.  It’s as if we go to Genesis 1 every Advent, and God looks down at the dark, formless, chaotic void of…

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Prayer: What to be thankful for

The Irish poet John O’Donohue wrote a marvelous poem entitled “The Inner History of a Day,” which you could ponder over a great many days.  Among its most poignant lines are these: We seldom notice how each day is a holy place    Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens… and… So at the end…

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Prayer: Don’t grant what I ask

Teresa of Avila was born in Spain in 1515.  Her overly protective father caught her fliting with a young man – and swiftly deposited her in a convent, where she stayed until her death in 1582. Fragile in health, she became a brilliant theologian, and legendary in her spirituality.  It was said that she often…

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Prayer: I only say I trust you

Thomas Merton was one of the greatest writers on the spiritual life – ever.  His words are unfailingly thoughtful, eloquent, theologically rich, and constructive.  In one of his published journals, The Sign of Jonas, in which he shares his daily experiences and more profound wrestlings with God and himself in a Trappist monastery in Kentucky…

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