Pastoral Series

Prayer: Empty tomb

Prayer: Empty tomb    Some pilgrims to the Holy Land are a bit disappointed when they come to the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.  We harbor an outdoor image of “on a hill, far away, stood an old rugged cross,” and we envision a tomb, like a cave, carved into the side of a…

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Prayer: Gethsemane

Prayer: Gethsemane    One of the most intriguing places in Jerusalem is the Garden of Gethsemane.  Some of the olive trees are centuries old, a couple as old as 1500 years – and those are believed to have been grown from the shoots of olive trees dating to Jesus’ day. Despite throngs of tourists, Gethsemane…

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Prayer: their faith

Prayer: their faith    A must-see for all Christian pilgrims to Israel is the village of Capernaum, where so many of the Gospel’s stories transpired.  Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient synagogue, and a warren of small houses from the time of Jesus – including a one-room house we are sure was the home of Simon…

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Prayer: I am baptized

Prayer: I am baptized    For years, on our Holy Land tours, when we tried to get to the place where Jesus was baptized by John, we visited a fairly tacky place where there were handrails, lots of water, and plenty of opportunities for immersion.  But clearly – the wrong place. Nowadays, we venture further…

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Prayer: Thirst

Prayer: Thirst    When I was in graduate school, a professor and I were chatting about Psalm 42 one day.  He solemnly urged me:  When you get to Israel one day, go to a place called Banias, and find the big waterfall there.  I believe that is where Psalm 42 was composed. Years later, I…

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Prayer: You know I love you

Prayer: You know I love you    I love the scene in Fiddler on the Roof when Tevye presses his wife Golda one day by asking “Do you love me?”  Puzzled, she answers: “With our daughters getting married and this trouble in the town?  For 25 years I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned…

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Prayer: The Lord wept

Prayer: The Lord wept    I love this photo lots of people have taken from inside the chapel on the Mt. of Olives called Dominus Flevit.  The cross, in shadow, looking over the city of Jerusalem, with its long history of glory and yet much violence, holiness and yet so much sin and sorrow. Dominus…

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Prayer: Peace, be still

Prayer: Peace, be still    One month ago, our group got home from Israel.  I’d like this month to share some reflections on what we saw, learned and were inspired by there – hoping this will be of some encouragement to all of us here. A must-do activity in Israel is a boat ride on…

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Prayer: Mind of Christ

Prayer: Mind of Christ Earlier in this series, we explored prayer as more than just praying for something or someone.  And yet there is prayer for something or someone.  How do we engage in this necessary, important and even fruitful endeavor in faithful ways?  If Jesus is raised, how do we pray for?  “If you…

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Prayer: unintended consequences

Prayer: unintended consequences    Those of who are United Methodists in the western half of NC have our “annual conference” this week at beautiful Lake Junaluska.  Once in a while, during an especially boring or contentious business session, a friend of mine will snap a photo of the auditorium full of people with his phone,…

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