Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Friday, October 31, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 09, 2008
the singer says how it will be, how it will work when God has revived
us and the realm of God has come again:
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
...and it struck me that this pairing is the great pairing of God and
us. It helps to answer the question, "What is in God's power to
accomplish, to do? What is God's role? What is our part and what is
not our part?" In this poem, God is in the sky and we are on the
God: steadfast love
God: righteousness looks down from the sky
Us: faithfulness springs up from the ground
God: gives what is good
Us: our land will yield its increase.
So, we are not righteous - righteousness is not ours. Righteousness
belongs to God. Our response, our work, is to be faithful.
God's job is not to bring peace to the nations, that is the work of
Our role is to root ourselves in life, in the tangible, in the
ground. We are incarnate.
God is the one who gives what is good.
Our work is in rootedness, faithfulness, and peace. These are the
prerequisites for the relationship. All by itself, then, our land
will yield its increase.
Our work is to cultivate peace, faithfulness, and rootedness. Then
the soil in which we are rooted will yield spiritual, numerical, and
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your
hands to God for the lives of your children, who faint for hunger at
the head of every street.
- Lamentations 2:19
The Book of Lamentations is not the only Hebrew text where we find
laments. There are other laments throughout the Bible. Loss and
fear, pain and despair are such a normal part of life that this is
not surprising. Some listen to the voices of lament in the Bible and
hear that humans have cried out to each other and cried out to God
for thousands of years. Philosophers and poets, and the philosopher
and poet in each of us, have always asked why there is suffering and
what meaning can we draw from it.
Where do you hear lament in our contemporary world? I hear it in
country western songs and pop love songs. I hear it in ballads and
in the blues.
Our 21st century lives are not appreciative of lament. We dismiss it
as useless, as whining, as weak, as complaining, and as
embarrassing. Lament has to go disguised as outrage or ranting. We
see these as strong. When the disguised lament asks for a particular
redress, it sounds demanding and, again, strong. We dismiss as
beneath our compassion someone who "just complains and never does
When we dismiss and denigrate lament, we are skipping an important
and probably necessary step in our emotional and spiritual health.
It is no accident that lamenting passages can be found in the sacred
texts on which we base our own encounter with the divine. Some see
the Bible as a carefully constructed explanation of the cosmos. I
see it differently from that. I see the Bible as the collection of
encounters with the essence seen through the lens of specific
writers, their world view, their vocabulary, their societal norms,
their time, and their experience. Further, the Bible is the
collection of those encounters in which people in other times and
places, thousands of years ago and still today, have found meaning.
I say that "it is no accident" that we find lament in the Bible
because I believe that lament is part of the way humans deal with a
world in which bad things happen. I believe we skip this part of the
path at our peril.
One of the times in which our God is present for us is in our times
of sorrow and pain. When you have some lament that rises from your
soul, the healthy and appropriate thing to do is to let it out.
Problem: To whom will you let it out? Perhaps you have a partner or
a friend, a counselor or a pastor with whom you feel safe enough to
reveal your lament. For many of us, there is no one like that or we
don't want to burden that person for most of our lamenting. We may
know "she's always there for me." We also know that we don't want to
Call out to God with your lament.
God is the one who has always listened to lament. God is the one who
hears your cries.
Mind you, I'm not talking in this letter about asking God to fix
what's wrong. I'm not referring to "intercessory prayer" for someone
you know or some population you've heard of who needs your prayers.
That's another topic for another time.
It's the baseball playoffs in Major League Baseball in the United
States and Canada. There is bound to be some lamenting ahead! Let
me borrow a metaphor from baseball.
When you pray, asking God for help is like getting to third base.
What about first and second? Well, try this. You get to first base
by addressing God, identifying yourself, and thanking God for what
you see as blessings. You get to second base by uttering your
lament, laying it all out there between you and the one to whom you
pray. Then, as you get to third base, you are asking God for
specific strength to carry on, help through difficulty, aid to an
ailing acquaintance, world peace, etc. Bring it home by telling God
that you trust that God's holy power will be at work, whatever happens.
Of course, that's only one way around the bases.
As I think about you, I pray for you. I pray that the Spirit will
visit you in a special way and make clear to you, if it is not
already clear, that you are loved and known.
Peace and Blessing,
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Herb Miller at
I pray with some frequency and Herb's format is not unfamiliar. I
very much appreciate his practical focus, the simple-sounding how-
to. I know that faith is for some of us a matter of deep
commitment. For others of us it is a matter of having been found,
again, deeply. For still others, the depth comes with the richness
of theology's conversation between reason, experience, the nature of
humans, and the nature of God.
We also have available the trap that leading a good life is
sufficient for whatever purposes we claim our God has for our lives.
Somewhere in the midst of those is the practice itself. The habit of
acknowledging God and daring to enter a conversation with God.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!
by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown, Widely Quoted on the Net
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
That's right; he has led us beyond, "Do unto others as you would have
them do unto you."
In a recent worship service, we heard these words from the young Jew
of Galilee in the Gospel of John 15:12.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."
Perhaps we should make "John 15:12" signs to hold up at sporting events.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark, around about verse 35,
you can spy Jesus in a brief moment all alone. Here it is, the first
chapter of Mark and Jesus has already been very busy. Then:
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out
to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
It is a tender image and I urge you to draw your own mental picture.
Draw a real picture, if that helps. See Jesus as you wish. Is he
kneeling, like the old painting one sees of a white, bearded Jesus
with flowing brown hair (by Heinrich Hoffman, 1880)? Add some detail
to your image. It is morning and it is "still very dark." Perhaps
your image has this man walking in the early dew, feet getting a
little damp while he walks. He could have found his way to a rise, a
little hill, from which he could see out a bit. They were in
Capernaum, a town on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, so a view would
have been a water view.
We have a story of how Jesus taught his disciples, and taught us by
extension, to pray. In our 1611 prose we say, "Our Father which art
in heaven, hallowed be thy name."
We have a story of how Jesus prayed in that dimly lit garden just
before he was arrested, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take
this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
How would he have prayed that morning in Capernaum?
Make a prayer like you think Jesus might have prayed alone at dawn by
the Sea of Galilee. Make it as long or short as you wish.
This story is your story. You don't really need the model of Jesus
to tell how a few minutes to yourself early in the day can be a
precious time. For some of you, doing a little chore or two before
the rest of the house is stirring can be satisfying and useful. Some
of you will know the rewards of getting to work before anyone else
and having time to do some work in that silence.
In a physiological way, you know that there is a difference between
prayer and not prayer. I suggest to you that there is a unique
experience open to us when we "take a moment" and experience taking a
moment. A chore done in the silence of the morning is good but it is
different from stopping the doing, the reading, the eating, the
organizing, and the other important tasks of life. Stopping for a
brief time and noticing that you have stopped is very close to prayer.
Would you take that moment today? … and tomorrow? Take the moment
to notice the moment and in that moment, turn your regard to the holy
place where you find or you guess or you hope the Spirit waits to be
noticed. Just like Jesus.
Peace and Blessing,