Showing posts from November, 2013

"Returning Thanks" - A Prayer for Thanksgiving

(Based on Luke 17:11-19)

All that we enjoy...
the promise of a sunrise,
the sweetness of fresh produce,
the exhilaration of deepening love,
the sustenance of friendship,
the warmth of home,
the simple gift of breath,
is a blessing that we have received.

And we set about our lives in varying awareness of their delicate, precious nature.

We tend to notice this more when access to them is strained,
but the lesson fades as time passes,
and we settle back in to old ignorant ways.

It is only when we miss them that our prayers rise up in earnest for them to return,
and we vow never to forget again.

There comes that occasion, regardless of circumstance,
when we are more intentional about remembering,
that tenth time after the previous nine when we run back
to say thanks.

And so for times when our hunger pangs are quieted,
when the softness of a bed bends to our tired frames,
when a loved one speaks a kind word or gives a soothing touch,
when we are guided through uncertain times of bodily or…

Vintage CC: Worst Thanksgiving Ever

I'm actually amazed that I haven't re-posted this entry from November 2007 before now. It's been 10 years since this definitely-not-great experience, and Coffeewife and I still talk about it every once in a while. It was just a crummy, lonely sort of day for us where by the end we just said "screw it" and ate comfort food out at a restaurant. Read on to hear the rest, and may you find yourself in loving company this Thanksgiving.

This is the story of the Worst Thanksgiving least as my wife and I remember it. There are many Thanksgivings that are probably worse than this, but at least as our Thanksgivings go, this one was The Worst.

The year was 2003, the place was St. Louis, Missouri. That September I had started my time as student pastor at a large UCC church right down the road from the seminary. Coffeewife's time had been occupied for some time at a local children's psychiatric hospital which was right up her alley in terms of backgroun…

November Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for November...

1. Season 4 of The Walking Dead started last month, and so far it's been worth the wait. Things seem to be humming along at the prison, but of course that only lasts so long as they start being sabotaged from within on several fronts. I'm not sure how much to share since the season is still going on, so I'll just say that there's something about this season that was missing from the last one. There's an element of terror that has returned, where the main enemies aren't other humans, at least not yet. This past Sunday's episode, where we begin catching up with what has happened to The Governor, was one of the most intriguing of the season so far, and it looks like we'll get to see more this week.

2. A couple years ago, Allie Brosh of the hilarious blog Hyperbole and a Half announced that she was putting out a book based on her writings and cartoons: about half stuff we've seen and half stuff we haven't. Unfortunately, th…

Programming Notes

Some of my favorite blogging-related things are coming up, and I wanted to let you know what you can look forward to in the next few weeks, particularly if you're a newer reader.

In December, I will present what's become my traditional "Mondays of Advent" posts, where every Monday during Advent I'll share some reflection on how I'm experiencing the season. Hopefully it will aid your journey toward Christmas as well.

And THEN comes one of my favorite blog posts of the year, the Year-End Pop Culture Roundup, where I'll summarize my top books, movies, TV shows, albums, and blogs that I've experienced since the beginning of January.

There'll be other stuff as well, probably Advent/Christmas/New Year's-related. Or maybe not. I don't know yet.

But first, Thanksgiving. And then that stuff I just said.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading.

A Review of Painting the Stars from Living the Questions

When I received an email notifying me that Painting the Stars was available for review, I didn't really hesitate. This series is under the banner of Living the Questions, a video series from a much more progressive viewpoint which features prominent liberal theologians and scholars such as Marcus Borg, Walter Brueggemann, John Dominic Crossan, and many others. I jumped at the chance to watch this because I'd heard many positive things about it from colleagues who use it, and because I'm on the market for an educational series for Lent. So I went into this not only as a reviewer, but as a church worker considering it for use in my setting.

The tagline for this particular series is "Science, Religion, and an Evolving Faith," and purports to explore how religion and science are compatible rather than not. It features pastors/priests, authors, speakers, and theologians such as Matthew Fox, Rachel Held Evans, Michael Dowd, and Catherine Keller.
With that kind of a se…

Introducing An (un)Common Book of Hours

I'm pleased to share with you an Advent devotional to which I've contributed a few pieces entitled An (un)Common Book of Hours - Advent Christmas Epiphany Year A. Compiled by Peter Watkins, this book features writing from a number of colleagues and friends from around the United Church of Christ, as well as others from a wide variety of denominations and backgrounds. Here's the blurb from the book's website:
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany are important seasons in the Church’s Liturgical Year. An (un)Common Book of Hours brings together differing voices to help the reader reflect on the Daily Readings of the Revised Common Lectionary and prepare for these seasons of the Church. So if you're still in need of a devotional for the approaching seasons, I highly recommend this one not just because I helped with it, but because it features so many wonderful writers and reflections.

Small Sips Never Really Liked the "Little Brother" Moniker, Anyway

That one thing that happened. The football team of my alma mater, Heidelberg University, is ranked in the Top 25 in Division III, which never happened when I was a student, not even close. This past Saturday, they were #9 and had a big game against #1 defending champion Mount Union. So, then:
No. 1 Mount Union defeated host No. 9 Heidelberg, 44-34, and the defending Division III national champs extended the nation's longest winning streak, regardless of division, to 23 games Saturday in Mayer Field.   The Purple Raiders (8-0, 7-0 Ohio Athletic Conference) head home to Alliance for their final regular-season games against Baldwin Wallace (6-2, 5-2), which has won four straight, and No. 15 John Carroll (8-0, 7-0).   Coming off six consecutive blowouts, Mount Union was eager to show its ranking wasn't just a legacy consideration.   “We showed what we can do on the big stage,'' said freshman tailback B.J. Mitchell, who rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in his second car…

"The Cloud of Faces" - A Prayer for All Saints Sunday

(Based on Hebrews 12:1-2)

One of our favorite prayers is “I’ll do it myself.”

At daybreak and at eventide,
before meals and before sleep,
in crisis and in joy,
we say this prayer of individual empowerment
hoping we will keep on being convinced
that it is true.

And so life says “okay,” and it bears down:
deadlines creep closer;
financial demands loom larger;
health concerns are delayed;
emotions pushed ever inward;
expectations to do and be for others place us higher on pedestals
that we agree to build.

And then the marble of our perches flake and crumble.
We look down nervously; our arms flailing so we’ll remain steady.
The fall is hard, humiliating, humbling;
our self-prayer muffled and muted.

It is from our newfound prostrate position
that we look up and see the cloud of faces:
familiar, friendly, forgiving.

The cloud expands, and we see more:
Those in our mind’s eyes and in our spirits’ memories,
long gone, yet close as ever.

This cloud, draped around our shoulders and thick with…

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