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Showing posts from February, 2018

Thankful for Your Grace - A Litany for Lent 3

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Forgiving God, we sometimes mistake this season as a time to feel bad about ourselves; to tear ourselves down and dwell on mistakes we have made and the wrongs we have committed. During our time together, remind us that this is a time to receive your grace and be transformed by it so we may be participants in your healing of the world. And so we pray...

For the ways we've hurt others that we still are trying to make right...

We are thankful for your grace.

For sins and mistakes that keep us up at night with guilt...

We are thankful for your grace.

For the time we've spent intentionally trying to make amends...

We are thankful for your grace.

For moments when we can't quite buy in to the notion that you love us...

We are thankful for your grace.

O God, by this grace may we live, and continue striving to change ourselves. While we can't remake the past, empower us to make a better future. Amen.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

February 2018 Pop Culture Roundup

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Five items for February...

1. This month I read Vital Vintage Church by Michael Piazza, a pastor and speaker known for his leading congregational turnarounds. I've attended several workshops with him the past few months with a couple more to come this spring, and I found his material very compelling. This book is basically most of that same material in print form, as he describes ways that long-established and declining mainline congregations can revitalize and re-energize themselves for ministry in the 21st century. He talks about the importance of dynamic worship (not necessarily contemporary, just something that has energy and engages the senses), having a strong social media presence, making stewardship and generosity year-round issues, moving meetings to electronic form if you have to have them at all, and being bold about who you are to your community. I liked the book version as much as the verbal version I've been enjoying since September, and am glad for Piazza's…

We Want to Repent - A Litany for Lent 2

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O God, we remember that to repent means to turn around from old and hurtful ways of living to new and life-giving ways to which you call us. We confess that we don’t often realize or want to admit those parts of who we are that are in need of such change. So we turn to you wanting to be more honest and open to your transforming Spirit as we pray…

For the wrongs we keep secret out of shame for what others might think of us,
We want to repent, O God.
For the ways we judge others harshly without knowing them,
We want to repent, O God.
For the ways we shame others into silence whether we know it or not,
We want to repent, O God.
For the ways we close ourselves off from others’ advice, support, or pushback,
We want to repent, O God.
For the ways we rationalize our own self-preservation and ignorance,
We want to repent, O God.
O God, light the dark corners of our lives in need of change, so we can become the disciples you want us to be. Amen.
(Image via Public Domain Pictures)

Vintage CC: Five Reminders for a Meaningful Lent

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I wrote this on the first day of Lent in February 2015. A lot of people seemed to find it useful when it originally posted, and with Lent soon to begin again, I thought it's time to re-introduce it. Obviously it's not Ash Wednesday, but after that the content is time-unspecific.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season of Lent. Lent is one of the holiest times of the church year, a season of 40 days and 6 Sundays leading up to remembering Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. It also seems to come with some misconceptions from both observers and non-observers alike. I thought that it might be helpful to share a few reflections and remembrances to help clarify what Lent is. Hopefully it will aid those making this journey toward Easter.

So here are some things to remember about Lent:

1. It's about self-examination, not self-flagellation. Many people recoil at this season because it just seems like such a downer. Who wants to sit around beating themselves up? The…

Reform Us - A Litany for Lent 1

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O God, we come to this time of worship to seek your presence but also your forgiveness for what we have done and what we’ve left undone. We pray that you will reform our minds, hearts, and actions and mold us into evermore faithful disciples of Jesus.

In the ways we think of others as less than ourselves,
Reform us, O God.
In the ways we pre-judge others according to appearance,
Reform us, O God.
In the ways we seek our own comfort at the expense of others,
Reform us, O God.
In the ways we excuse our own behavior because we don’t want to admit we’re wrong,
Reform us, O God.
In the ways we need to reach out to help rather than withhold what we could share,
Reform us, O God.
O God, reform us today, and every day by your Spirit.Amen.

Book Review: The Gospel of Self by Terry Heaton

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The point is that both Donald Trump and Pat Robertson address the same people, those who practice a form of Christianity so foreign to orthodoxy that it truly boggles the intelligence. We stood high atop our satellite-based pedestal in the 1980s and shouted down to a citizenry whose minds were fertile for a different perspective. We fed them. We nurtured them. How we did it and got away with it holds a key to unraveling the frustrating reality we have before us today. - Terry Heaton, The Gospel of Self

Before there was Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, there was Pat Robertson and The 700 Club. That is this book's thesis in a sentence.

For those unfamiliar, The 700 Club is a show on the Christian Broadcasting Network that has been on the air since 1966, serving as that network's flagship program. It presents itself as a news program, yet often features commentary with a heavy evangelical Christian bent on many of its stories. Pat Robertson, a longtime face of the Religious Right, has…

Five Ways to Battle Writer's Block

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I confess that I've been having a tough time coming up with things to write about lately. Part of that is being immersed in getting the book done, which has been sucking up most of my writing-related attention. Another part of it has just been basic writer's block: I sit down to write something here, staring at a blank page, and feeling like there's nothing. No ideas, no energy, nothing.

It happens to every writer. For some it's a near-constant affliction. Others have come up with some go-to methods of overcoming it.

How does a writer get past that wall, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and produce something again?

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are a few tricks that have worked for me.

1. Walk. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is get away from your computer or notepad. But if you're stuck for an idea and are working with some kind of real deadline or goal, you can't just plop on the couch to catch up on your N…

Small Sips Made Bad Cinnamon Rolls

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Seriously, pizza dough? You may or may not remember that one of the big names recently called out for sexual harassment of women was Mario Batali, a guy who I guess has restaurants and Food Network shows and such (I only know a few food-related celebrities, sorry). Anyway, when he apologized in a letter, he had the audacity to include a recipe for cinnamon rolls. Geraldine DeRuiter, aka The Everywhereist, actually deigned to make them to see if they were any good. The short answer is that no, they weren't. But there's more to it than that:
I use Batali’s recipe that he’s linked to, which I’ve made before, and I’m already hesitant. Pizza dough is chewy and crispy, not tender – the latter is what you’d hope cinnamon rolls would be. It’s a savory recipe – incorporating white wine and a generous amount of salt – and I feel like he’s shoe-horning it into a dessert where it doesn’t belong. He’s cutting corners because he gets to cut corners.

I roll out the dough – Batali specifies a…