Showing posts from July, 2016

July 2016 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for July...

1. I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline this month. Set in the year 2044 where the real world is slowly decaying, most people turn to a vast virtual reality universe called the OASIS instead. Before his death, the creator of this online existence left a series of hidden clues to his substantial inheritance and ownership of and caretaking responsibilities for the OASIS. The main character, Wade, along with many others, have made it their lives to search for this prize. As he and others get closer, he finds himself increasingly the target of an organization that wants the treasure for its own nefarious reasons. The book is filled with references to all manner of geeky fare from the 1980s, which is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the story. Even besides, I found the plot engrossing and I was actively rooting for Wade and his friends. This was easily one of my favorites of the year.

2. Belatedly, we saw Captain America: Civil War last month. This time aroun…

The Lord's Prayer - A Modern Version

O God who is like a nurturing father or mother,
who resides in divine spaces near and far,
come and make your name holy among us.

May your realm of peace and justice be evermore established in your world,
and may your purposes be fulfilled.
Grant us what we need for today physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally.
Forgive us for what we have done to or neglected to do for others,
as we are also called to forgive those who have engaged in such acts against us.

Help us to resist the temptation to give into fear, hatred, and scapegoating
which harms your creation and makes idols of our own prejudices,
and liberate us from thoughts and actions that demean and dehumanize that which you love.

A transformed reality for which we have ongoing hope,
the power that you show in unconventional and unexpected ways,
and the glory that you are ever shining through what you have made
are always and forever yours.


A Mid-Summer Daydream

June had almost ended by the time I finally prepared my enclosed porch for use. I usually do it much sooner, as the warmer temperatures invite many moments of reclining with coffee and a book, or meals at our patio table. I dragged my feet on doing the needed clean-up this year, with no real reason for the delay other than basic busyness: the first month of summer had been spent flying from classes for the kids to the church's Vacation Bible School to Florida and back again.

The 4th of July finally served as my motivation. Grilled burgers at the table while a cool breeze passes through the screened windows reminded me why I relish time spent in this space so much.
I make no secret that I am chiefly an autumn person. I love the cooler air and college football and hoodies and Halloween and Thanksgiving. I don't even mind raking leaves that much. It comes with the territory; a small price to pay for the joy those months bring.
But lately I've remembered why I used to prefer …

Pastoral Prayer for the Busy

based on Luke 10:38-42

God of peace, we confess that during this moment of prayer right now, we’re thinking about what we need to do after worship is over. In this prayerful pause, we’re wondering what to prepare for lunch. In this moment to seek your presence, we’re aware of grass that needs to be mowed or groceries to be bought. During this time to sit and listen at Jesus’ feet, we instead can’t wait to get on with our days so we can cross the last item off our to-do lists before bedtime. We often can’t even take an hour to lay down our worries and burdens and tasks to pay attention to how you are present, beckoning our attention.

We do come with hearts heavy for different reasons, but we don’t often know how to slow down and acknowledge it to you. We grieve violence across the world and closer to home. We’re anxious about illness or finances or friendships. We turn these big anxieties over and over in our minds along with a thousand small ones about our families and car repairs an…

Vintage CC: The Complexity of Help

I wrote this in July 2013. I'm still wrestling with the main issues it raises. The church is certainly called to help others, but there can be a lot of factors involved that prevent it from doing so in a one-size-fits-all, idealistic way. We can wish that it was otherwise, but reality prevents that.

I am a pastor. Coffeewife is a nurse practitioner on the psych unit of a children's hospital. We are both in what sometimes are referred to as "helping professions." That is to say that our jobs are primarily associated with the help that we provide to others--physical, spiritual, emotional, and so on. I doubt that there is really any official list of jobs that qualify as "helping professions." It seems to me that it's a pretty loose term used when it seems convenient to do so.

But it's not inaccurate to say that a large chunk of what Coffeewife and I do in our respective roles is help people in various ways. We are trained to give counsel in ways approp…

A Pastoral Prayer of Lament

How long, O Lord?

As hard as we may try, we cannot escape news of tragedy. We cannot hide from stories of violence, suspicion, discrimination, incitement of one against another. We cannot avoid these events that press against our minds and our hearts, demanding our attention while we wish we could do otherwise. Would that we could unplug every device that delivers this heartbreak to us. Would that we could find respite away from the darkness in our world. Would that we could pray for our ears to be stopped, our eyes to no longer see, our tears to cease flowing, and our memories to be filtered clean.

But the reality of what we’re capable of doing to one another closes in around us. We hear it from Baton Rouge, from Minnesota, from Dallas. We hear it from Istanbul, from Medina, from Baghdad. We hear it from our own communities, and from places closer to us still. And in response, through our sense of despair, hopelessness, and yearning, we muster the only prayer we can: How long, O Lor…

Small Sips Kissed Purity Culture Goodbye

Mind: blown. In recent years, I've been really big into the concept of self-care. There was a time when I wasn't great at it in multiple ways, so I've been trying to do better at paying attention to my own needs in order to better serve not just as pastor, but as husband and father as well. As I've done so, I've also noticed in recent years a certain backlash against the concept of self-care for various reasons, which I've also been trying to understand. Liz Kessler has written something that I think finally has helped me get it:
The term "self care" gets thrown around all the time when what we are really talking about is coping. Sometimes this idea is disguised by using terms like "retail therapy" or a "girls day". Advertisements use phrases like "you deserve it" to remind people (and especially women) that they've worked hard and could use a break.  Using the term "self care" instead of "coping" …

Prayer for Pentecost 8

Faithful God, we are called this time of year to ponder and celebrate freedom. We do so with parades and fireworks, with tributes and music, with cookouts and mattress sales. We express thanks for rights to worship, to speak, to write, to dissent, to purchase, to participate or refrain. So many liberties have been granted, and yet we confess we don't always use them well: at times we neglect our responsibility in the midst of what we have.

As disciples, we strive to remember Jesus' call to exhibit rights in faithful ways. We are free to worship, yet called to invite rather than coerce. We are free to speak, yet called to build up rather than destroy. We are free to purchase, yet called to resist idolatry of our possessions. We are free to participate or refrain, yet called to do so in the name of justice and peace rather than hatred or bigotry.

We give thanks for freedom, yet know that Christ beckons us to wisdom about what it entails. And so we turn to you acknowledging our …

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