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Showing posts from April, 2018

A Prayer for God's Shepherding

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based on Psalm 23
O God, you are our guide and keeper. Because of you, we will lack for nothing; we will always find our needs met.
Your embrace allows us to rest easy in peaceful places. You lead us by calm, refreshing, cleansing waters. And our parched and weary souls find much-needed renewal.
You lead us along paths both rocky and smooth; we listen for your name, and for you calling ours.
When we find ourselves in valleys of darkness and despair, we persevere because you are ever with us. You protect our steps and provide a steady Spirit when our hearts are endangered.
You prepare a table of nourishment and reconciliation for us and for others. You call us to service and our blessings overflow.
Your forgiveness and steadfast love will always pursue us, even when we can’t detect it or are running from it. We are always in your presence, in this life and ever after. Amen.
(Image via GoodFreePhotos)

Vintage CC: Spiritual Fever

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This post comes from April 2015. I still remember the illness that inspired it and how worn-down it caused me to feel. Of course, as I point out here, there's more than one way to feel worn down, and it seems like a lot of people around me are going through something like that these days. There are ways to take care of ourselves, and there are reasons to hope that we'll find healing and health again.

As spring has arrived, so have my seasonal allergies. I've been coughing and sneezing, and my nose has been like a faucet the past few weeks. As if that wasn't enough, however, I recently had to deal with some sort of viral infection that only seemed to make all of this worse. My being prone to illness has increased exponentially the past few years as our kids have attended school and daycare. Last year was one of the most disease-ridden year in our household that I can remember. It was very rare that all four of us were healthy at the same time.

The clear sign that I was …

A Prayer for Easter Questions

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based on Luke 24:36-48

Faithful God, at Eastertime you show us strange and unexpected things. We find it difficult to grasp how Jesus was once dead but now alive again. We question how that is possible, and what he is like now. And we wonder why it matters.

After all, we are well aware that life ends. This painful truth has been made known to us more than once. For Jesus to be raised and to be more or other than what he was is outside the bounds of our experience and knowledge. How can we be sure that resurrection was possible for him, let alone us, and what does it look like?

And so you show us. You show us through meals enjoyed with laughter and hospitality. You show us through warming temperatures; the blooming of color in flowerbeds and the return of squirrels hopping through grass. You show us through kind words and shared deeds, through moments when we can offer some part of ourselves so that others may find relief in sadness. Through the physical, you show us something spirit…

The Heartbroken Disciple

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They've stuck him with a label throughout history. People have defined him by one story, one reaction, one comment.

He's the doubter. The one who didn't seem to have enough faith to believe without seeing. For many he's become the example of what not to do and who not to be; the defining picture of what faith isn't.

And to that end, many use him as a caution against asking questions and expressing skepticism; the icon for why you should take claims about Jesus at face value from people you're expected to trust.

Doubting Thomas. Not just Thomas, or Thomas the Twin, or Didymus. It's Thomas, the guy brave enough to say he wanted more than the word of his fellow disciples.

How often do we ask why he did so? We assume it's because he had a faith problem. His trust or his intellectual assent or his buy-in was faulty, so the narrative goes. If only he believed harder, he wouldn't have had to go so far as to ask to stick his fingers in Jesus' wounds.

B…

Bourbon, Zombies, and Self-Care

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As a pastor, the end of my week comes on a Sunday rather than a Friday. That morning is the culmination of a week of preparation and planning that likely has featured anything ranging from meetings to visits to checking in with volunteers on any number of things to all that goes into making ready for what happens on Sunday morning.

Sunday evening is a different story. On Sunday evenings, I've finished my work. I have the next day off and will spend it with my daughter. But by this point in the day, she and her brother are in bed while my wife has retreated upstairs for her own time of winding down.

As for me, I do two things. I pour myself a glass of bourbon and I turn on The Walking Dead. I lovingly refer to it as my "bourbon and zombies time," the hour-plus span in my week when I have left all work behind me for a while and I am electing to sink into my couch and claim this moment for me.

One important point that I have to note is that most weeks, this will be the onl…

Small Sips Was Born Too Late

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Days gone bye. Erik Parker points out that millennial pastors don't remember churches' glory days:
My problem, as a young pastor was, I wasn’t grieving the glory days with most people around me. I wasn’t grieving them because I don’t remember them.

Even though now I have almost a decade of experience under my belt, I am still a young pastor by mainline standards.

And it has always been tension the church that most people around me are grieving, and the one that I have always known and loved. The church that God called me to seminary and to be a pastor to serve.  The church has always been filled with grey hair in my memory. Sunday School has always been pretty sparsely attended, youth groups have never been more than a handful of kids, budgets have always been hard to meet, and there are rarely times when it is hard to find an entire pew to yourself in worship.

This is only version of the church I know… and it is the one I am called to serve. I'm a little older than the co…

Something Like Laughter

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based on Mark 16:1-8

In November 2002, I received a phone call that you never want to get. I can remember what I was doing when my wife handed me the phone, and where I was when the person on the other end shared the news.

On that day, a series of tornadoes had ripped through parts of Ohio, including Seneca County where I'd attended undergrad. The caller, my best friend from those years, was sharing that the only casualty in that part of the state was our friend Darren.

The next few days were a whirlwind of emotions and planning. We, along with many others who'd scattered since graduation, descended back upon our old haunts for a reunion we hadn't planned for and didn't want.

One of my most distinct memories of our few days back came during the calling hours. On the one hand there came a steady line of shell-shocked 20-somethings parading up to the casket, most very quiet and unsure of what to say in response to a friend gone at such a young age. On the other hand, I…