Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Long time between blog postings.  I don't know where my blog-energy has gone to ... between Facebook, Twitter and games, there just isn't much time for blogging.

Anyway, I have been on a new kick - I have decided that the best way to change habits is to do one small habit a month.  Month before last, I decided that the one habit I needed to practice was to remember to wear my pedometer every single day.  I've done OK with it - only missing one or two days in three months.  I am now trying to add 100 steps a day every week.  Eventually I'll be at the 7000 steps that will earn me more Virgin Health Miles.

 Last month, I decided to really take care of my rosacea - to do the 20 minutes of care every night to try to get it healed up.  It's looking better; not healed, but better.  It's a boost to my self-esteem.  I finally feel I can go out into the world without wearing a half inch of makeup.

This month I have tried to get on a better sleep schedule.  This will also help the rosacea and my energy level - so that I *can* get a few more steps in everyday.

One small step at a time.

Project Order from Chaos helped change habits.  By making it a habit to examine all the things in my life (coffee cups to doo-dads to worn-out clothing), I realized I've changed my attitude toward material possessions. I no longer put worthless things aside "for later" especially since later never seems to come.

Well, that's it!

Friday, August 03, 2012

One Does not Simply

Morning Prayer - Psalm 78 and a Prayer of St. Augustine

Psalm 78

  • 23 God gave orders to the skies above,
  • opened heaven’s doors,
  • 24 and rained manna on them so they could eat.
  • He gave them the very grain of heaven!
  • 25 Each person ate the bread of the powerful ones;
  • God sent provisions to satisfy them.
  • 26 God set the east wind moving across the skies
  • and drove the south wind by his strength.
  • 27 He rained meat on them as if it were dust in the air;
  • he rained as many birds as the sand on the seashore!
  • 28 God brought the birds down in the center of their camp,
  • all around their dwellings.
  • 29 So they ate and were completely satisfied;
  • God gave them exactly what they had craved.
  • 30 But they didn’t stop craving—
  • even with the food still in their mouths!

     Lord Jesus, Let Me Know Myself (Domine Iesu, Noverim me)
Lord Jesus, let me know myself and know Thee,
And desire nothing save only Thee.
Let me hate myself and love Thee.
Let me do everything for the sake of Thee.
Let me humble myself and exalt Thee.
Let me think of nothing except Thee.
Let me die to myself and live in Thee.
Let me accept whatever happens as from Thee.
Let me banish self and follow Thee,
And ever desire to follow Thee.
Let me fly from myself and take refuge in Thee,
That I may deserve to be defended by Thee.
Let me fear for myself, let me fear Thee,
And let me be among those who are chosen by Thee.
Let me distrust myself and put my trust in Thee.
Let me be willing to obey for the sake of Thee.
Let me cling to nothing save only to Thee,
And let me be poor because of Thee.
Look upon me, that I may love Thee.
Call me that I may see Thee,
And for ever enjoy Thee. Amen.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Text for the week

Bread of life  -- John 6:26-40, Common English Bible

 26 Jesus replied, “ I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. 27 Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Human One will give you. God the Father has confirmed him as his agent to give life. ” 

 28 They asked, “ What must we do in order to accomplish what God requires? ” 29 Jesus replied, “ This is what God requires, that you believe in him whom God sent. ” 30 They asked, “ What miraculous sign will you do, that we can see and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, just as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

 32 Jesus told them, “ I assure you, it wasn’t Moses who gave the bread from heaven to you, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. ” 

 34 They said, “ Sir, give us this bread all the time! ” 35 Jesus replied, “ I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But I told you that you have seen me and still don’t believe. 37 Everyone whom the Father gives to me will come to me, and I won’t send away anyone who comes to me. 38 I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 This is the will of the one who sent me, that I won’t lose anything he has given me, but I will raise it up at the last day. 40 This is my Father’s will: that all who see the Son and believe in him will have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. ”

I have been thinking about this text for a couple of weeks now, seeing as it is a continuation of what I preached on last week.  I probably will preach about Jesus being the "Bread of Heaven" but that's not what is capturing my imagination today.

I struggle and wrestle with something a lot of people think is really simple - how much aid do I give a family in need?  I know of some people who would say "none" and then some who say "all."  My tendency is probably to give way more than most. I don't say this to show myself up in a good light or to flatter myself - my need to give probably arises more from my need to be liked and wanted than real agape love.

I have given away too much this year to one particular family.  It got to the point that I believe that I was enabling them to live in their lifestyle without having to take responsibility for their own actions.  I know that I have done this several times in the past and probably will do it again in the future.  I've thought about the Traveller on the road to Jericho who was attacked by thieves (maybe they were zealots, who knows?) and the Good Samaritain who stopped and gave aid.  However, what if the Traveller when healed just went back out and jumped in the ditch again?  What if the Traveller got so used to being rescued that's all that the Traveller knew?

This story this week has helped me.  Jesus fed the 5000.  He retreated across the water, the people chased him.  When they all convened on the other side, he rebuked them and did NOT feed them a second time.  Instead he told them to look for the food that endures for eternal life.  This story has been balm on my soreness. Thanks be to God!

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

       A Prayer of St. Augustine

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Morning Prayer from St. Augustine

Today's readings:

2 Kings 4
What I heard: Death in the Pot, "My head! My head!"  “What can these few cakes do towards feeding a hundred men? They forget that God can multiply them. Ye limit the Holy One of Israel. Do you think he needs our numbers? Do you think he is dependent upon human strength? I tell you, our weakness is a better weapon for God than our strength.” (Charles Spurgeon)

John 6:1-21
What I heard: "Make the people sit down" - Jesus sets the table, we are his guests.  Jesus is the source of life and nourishment.

Too late have I loved you,
O Beauty so ancient,
O Beauty so new.
Too late have I loved you!

You were within me but I was outside myself,
and there I sought you!
In my weakness I ran after the beauty
of the things you have made.
You were with me, and I was not with you.

The things you have made kept me from you -
the things which would have no being
unless they existed in you!

You have called, you have cried,
and you have pierced my deafness.

You have radiated forth,
you have shined out brightly,
 and you have dispelled my blindness.

You have sent forth your fragrance,
and I have breathed it in, and I long for you.
I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst for you.
You have touched me, and I ardently desire your peace.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sitting with it

I've had to make a remarkably hard decision this week.  Actually, the decision was made by the circumstances involved, by lack of money and reluctance to give to someone who is an incurably, irrevocably, ungrateful, unrepentant recidivist.  Facebook asks, "What is on your mind?" What is on my mind is an incurable, irrevocable, ungrateful, unrepentant recidivist.  That is what is on my mind. Lord help us all. When does assistance go from assistance to enabling?  And in that case, what is the truly loving action?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Reflections on the Good Samaritan

Luke 10:29-37 (NIV)

29b ...so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 

 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Sometimes I wish Jesus were still around so I could ask a few question.  Like - what happened to the wounded man?  Did he recover?  Did he thank the Good Samaritan? Did he go forth and never fall again into harm's way?

Or did he retrace his steps and fall back into the ditch?  Did he go down the same road and make the same mistakes that got him there in the first place?  Did he run into another group of robbers?  Did he jump back into his ditch because that was the life he knew?  How many denarii did the innkeeper end up with? At what point does the traveller have to take responsibility for his own path?

Just asking.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morning Prayer - Augustine

Give Thyself unto me, O my God, restore Thyself unto me: behold I love, and if it be too little, I would love more strongly...

In Thy Gift we rest; there we enjoy Thee. Our rest is our place. Love lifts us up thither, and Thy good Spirit lifts up our lowliness from the gates of death. In Thy good pleasure is our peace.

The body by its own weight strives towards its own place. Weight makes not downward only, but to his own place. Fire tends upward, a stone downward. They are urged by their own weight, they seek their own places. Oil poured below water, is raised above the water; water poured upon oil, sinks below the oil. They are urged by their own weights to seek their own places. When out of their order, they are restless; restored to order, they are at rest.

My weight, is my love; thereby am I borne, whithersoever I am borne. We are inflamed, by Thy Gift we are kindled; and are carried upwards; we glow inwardly, and go forwards. We ascend Thy ways that be in our heart, and sing a song of degrees; we glow inwardly with Thy fire, with Thy good fire, and we go; because we go upwards to the peace of Jerusalem: for gladdened was I in those who said unto me, We will go up to the house of the Lord. There hath Thy good pleasure placed us, that we may desire nothing else, but to abide there for ever.

-- Augustine, from the "Confessions" (Chapter 8 to 11, excerpts)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'm here for an argument

Man: Ah. I'd like to have an argument, please.
Receptionist: Certainly sir. Have you been here before?
Man: No, I haven't, this is my first time.
Receptionist: I see. Well, do you want to have just one argument, or were you thinking of taking a course?
(Monty Python's Argument Sketch)

I've been thinking quite a bit about all that happened in Tampa during General Conference 2012.  I don't really think anything new happened.  We just had a nice course of 10 arguments for 8 pounds.  The same course of 10 that we had 4 years ago and 4 years before that and 4 years before that and so on. It gets to be rather predictable. And of course, some of the arguments are just plain contradiction by contrary people.

I get tired of the same arguments over and over again.  It gets to the point where I feel we can just play a tape and not truly engage with one another.  They are going to say *this* and then I will say *that* and that will cause them to say *this other thing* and I will counter with *another that*.

I could list the arguments I get tired of, as I am sure you could as well. I even get tired of the "2 space after a period" argument or the "em dash" argument.  Arguing, of course, is a hallmark for Methodists - and well, maybe even Americans.  "Everyone is entitled to their opinion" is tossed away before people are hit with the discount button.

I've been reading the text for the week and preparing my sermon (John 17:6-19.)  It's Jesus' prayer for the people of this world.  (Of course now comes the argument if it's Jesus' or Jesus's.) I have entitled it "In the World, Not Of It" (how many times has *that* sermon title been used?) I was getting along swimmingly (really) until I get to that phrase "so that they may be one, as we are one" and I have to take a step back.  What would it mean if all of us Christians in the world (much less us Methodists) were ONE as Christ and the Father are ONE?

And it's not harmony I'm talking about - that we all be the same texture and consistency (that would be bland, IMHO.)  I'm talking about how Jesus prays that we are ONE as the Trinity is ONE.  And that kind of blows my mind.  To be of one substance, of one accord.  Real and honest unity.  I don't think we would ever give up the arguing, except maybe it would be transformed into discourse.  But I think it would mean that we would have to really and truly engage with one another and lend to one another dignity and respect.  I think we might have to listen more than we talk.

Of course, I'm an idealist.  But if Jesus prayed it for this world, maybe I can. May we all be ONE as Jesus and the Creator are ONE.  So be it. Amen.

Morning Prayer - A Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Morning Prayer - Have a little patience - Soren Kierkegaard

Father in Heaven!
Show us a little patience
for we often intend in all sincerity to commune with You
and yet we speak in such a foolish fashion.

when we judge that what has come to us is good,
we do not have enough words to thank You;
just as a mistaken child is thankful for having gotten his own way.

things go so badly that we call upon You;
just as an unreasoning child fears what would do him good.

Oh, but if we are so childish,
how far from being Your true children
You who are our true Father, ah, as if an animal
would pretend to have a man as a father.

How childish we are
and how little our proposals and our language resemble
the language which should not be this way and that we should be otherwise. Have then a little patience with us.

-- Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, May 11, 2012

Morning Prayer - Kierkegaard - You Have Loved Us First

Father in Heaven! 
You have loved us first, 
     help us never to forget that 
     You are love so that this sure conviction 
          might triumph in our hearts 
          over the seduction of the world, 
          over the inquietude of the soul, 
          over the anxiety for the future, 
          over the fright of the past, 
          over the distress of the moment. 

But grant also that this conviction 
     might discipline our soul so that our heart 
     might remain faithful and sincere 
            in the love which we bear 
            to all those whom You have commanded 
            us to love as we love ourselves.

You have loved us first, O God, alas! 
     We speak of it in terms of history 
     as if You have only loved us first but a single time, 
     rather than that without ceasing.

You have loved us first 
      many things and 
      every day and 
      our whole life through. 

When we wake up in the morning 
      and turn our soul toward You - 
          You are the first - 
          You have loved us first; 
if I rise at dawn and at the same second turn my soul toward
      You in prayer, 
      You are there ahead of me, 
      You have loved me first. 

When I withdraw from the distractions of the day 
      and turn my soul toward You, 
      You are the first and thus forever. 
      And yet we always speak ungratefully 
as if You have loved us first only once.

--Soren Kierkegaard

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Morning Prayer - Soren Kierkegaard - You Who Are Unchangable

You who are unchangeable, 
        whom nothing changes! 
You who are unchangeable in love, 
        precisely for our welfare, 
        not submitting to any change: 

May we too will our welfare, 
        submitting ourselves to the discipline 
        of Your unchangeableness, 
So that we may in unconditional obedience 
        find our rest and remain at rest in Your unchangeableness. 

You are not like us;
       if we are to preserve only some degree of constancy, 
       we must not permit ourselves too much to be moved, 
       nor by too many things. 

You on the contrary are moved, 
       and moved in infinite love, 
       by all things. 
Even that which we humans beings 
       call an insignificant trifle, 
       and pass by unmoved, 
       the need of a sparrow, even this moved You; 
And what we so often scarcely notice, 
        a human sigh, this moves You, 
       You who are unchangeable! 

You who in infinite love do submit to be moved, 
       may this our prayer also move You to add Your blessing, 
       in order that there may be brought about such a change
       in us who pray as to bring us into conformity 
       with Your unchangeable will,

You who are unchangeable! 

-- Soren Kierkegaard

Monday, May 07, 2012

A prayer of St Anselm

Lord Jesus Christ; Let me seek you by desiring you,
and let me desire you by seeking you;
let me find you by loving you,
and love you in finding you.

I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,
that you have made me in your image,
so that I can remember you, think of you, and love you.

But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
and darkened by the smoke of sin,
that it cannot do that for which it was made,
unless you renew and refashion it.

Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your height,
for my understanding is in no way equal to that,
but I do desire to understand a little of your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.

I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more,
I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand.

from: The Oxford Book of Prayer, George Appleton ed., 2002.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Give my regards to Tampa.

Yesterday we the UMC General Conference voted to not divest themselves of companies doing business with Israel.  We've also voted in a "Plan UMC" that has now gone to Judicial Council to judge its constitutionality.  Today is a big day in that they will be discussion issues of human sexuality.  Westboro Baptist may be there, just to add some spice into the mix.

I haven't been following like I would want because I have to attend to all the other details of life: hospital visits, nursing home visits, bulletins, phone calls, writing liturgy among others - and then the details of life like laundry and dinner.

In some ways, what is happening in Tampa seems so far removed from "real life" yet I know that what is decided will be a factor in the way that ministry will be done in the future.  What's happening in Tampa is exciting and interesting and seems so urgent, until real life pulls me back in and its urgency and importance fades away.

We've had General Conferences before - we will have them in the future.  But babies will continue to be born and people will continue to die.  And somewhere in the middle they will live their lives.  The Methodist church will continue on regardless, somehow in the midst.  It may morph and change a bit over time.  We may or may not get new hymnals - eventually.  We may or may not be associated with certain churches in Sweden.  We may or may not affirm certain type of ministry by certain types of people (I do believe it will happen sooner than later.)  We will continue on.  We will change.

But one think I do know will not change: God's love for us will continue.  Of that I have complete faith.  God's will WILL be done, even if we manage to get in God's way.  This is something I know. God is already here regardless if we asked for God's presence or not.  And God will continue to show up.

So give my regards to Tampa today.  I'm praying for the delegates, the pages, the monitors, the Bishops, the observers - for them all.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Sky Is Falling!

Everyone had been abuzz with the things going down at General Conference 2012.  I feel like Chicken Little - people are declaring that the sky is falling! Well, at least in my neck of the woods.  They were tweeting and twittering about Episcopal term limits – which did not pass.  They were a twittering and tweeting about Guaranteed Appointments – which went away.   They have been aghast with the debates about God’s love being extended to all people - yes, even non-Christians.

And I just think about Ecclesiastes – there is nothing really new under the sun.  I think that the debates about God’s Love have been around for a very long time (maybe 2000 years) and the discussions about Guaranteed Appointments for at least a century.

I understand that the language about every pastor getting a church goes back to the 1912 Discipline.  I would love to get my hands on a copy and read the language for myself, but I know that idea of the covenantal promise of every preacher getting an appointment is from the 1956 Discipline.  I’m going to say something here: the world is different now that it was in 1912 and 1956.  In 1912, women didn’t have the vote.  In 1956, people of color and women couldn’t dream of making the same salary as a man.  I remember my mother telling me of her struggles of making 2/3rds of the men she was working with in the 1960’s. 

But we live in a different world.  Society has changed.  So – we change as well.  The sky is not going to fall down and the world is not going to end.  Life as an ordained elder might change, but the optimist in me tells me that it could possibly be for the better - if we have faith in God being in control.

Every generation has encountered change and the one constant is that – everything changes.  Each generation has hit speed bumps and the church has reacted.  Some times we weathered the speed bump well and sometimes we got a flat tire.  It happens.  It’s the nature of life. 

Am I concerned with the future of my denomination?  Of course I am!  However something in me tells me that I need to be more concerned with the Gospel of Christ and telling everyone of the love that God has for them.  That I need to be more concerned with my own spiritual life and my own sanctification and movement to God’s perfection than with “is my job going to be here in a few years.” 

The end of Guaranteed Appointments is going to be an adjustment for us.   People might lose their jobs; some might lose them unfairly.  I hope not.  I hope that our church is one of integrity and fairness.  I pray that our cabinets, Bishops and boards are where I am – concerned with the transmission of the Gospel to a hurting world.  And I actually have faith that they do.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Guaranteed Appointments and the LGBT question

I am not saying what exactly I support because frankly I don’t really know.  There are three things that have been capturing my attention this GC – guaranteed appointments, disposing of commissioning (personally invested in this one) and the ordination of LGBT.   Two of these logically go together – guaranteed appointments and ordination of all people.

I understand that guaranteed appointments have been around for half a century and that they were instituted so that women clergy would have a fair chance.  You see 50 years ago we were not debating if LGBT people would be ordained but if women could be ordained. 

So, let’s use a little logic here.  IF we dispose of guaranteed appointments and IF the ministry of LGBT is affirmed, what will be in place that the LGBT clergy get a fair chance?

So I say that these legislations go hand in hand.  I don’t think things will change horribly for me – personally.  I’m not going to say that I’m “in like Flynn” but I also think that I’m effectual and doing a decent job.  What disposing of guaranteed appointments will do for me personally?  I may not be able to be as outspoken about politically charged issues as I would like. Among other things.

However, I think that disposing of guaranteed appointments will do BIG things when it comes around to LGBT clergy being able to feel any sort of job security.

From an article on UMC.org

In 1989, the Rev. Robert Kohler, then staff for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, presented a paper to the Commission for the Study of Ministry in which he pointed out that on this topic “one finds a very short legislative history and a very long oral tradition.”
Kohler refers to “The Minister in the Itinerant System” by Bishop Thomas B. Neely, published in 1914.  Bishop Neely wrote that in his time the system promises “that the preacher shall be provided with a pastoral charge…(and)…that, if he does faithful and successful work, he need not be concerned about his next appointment, for the appointing power will concern itself about that.”
The 1912 Discipline spelled out how conference membership could be terminated, and these included judicial procedures (Paragraphs 243-260).  The 1956 Discipline was clear that, "Every traveling preacher, unless retired, supernumerary, on sabbatical leave, or under arrest of character, must receive an appointment." (Paragraph 432.9)  The 2008 Discipline states, "All elders in full connection who are in good standing in annual conference shall be continued under appointment by the bishop unless…." (Paragraph 337).
The language of Bishop Neely in 1914 is most interesting: “Back of the system, therefore, is the whole Church, self-obligated – sworn, so to speak, to conform to and to uphold this system of pastoral assignment. It is a contract between the laity and the ministry.” In other words, the bishop sends, the clergy go without reserve, and the laity receives. Break any link and the itinerancy is in jeopardy.
From the HuffPo
The issue of clergy job security will be front and center next month when delegates to the quadrennial General Conference of The United Methodist Church considers a proposal to end "guaranteed appointments" for elders in good standing. The church's Study of Ministry Commission says clergy job guarantees cost too much money and can focus more on the clergyperson's needs rather than the denomination's mission. On the other side, many clergy express fears that eliminating job security may lead to arbitrary dismissals. A major concern is that clergy will be judged based on their performance at "toxic" congregations, churches with so much internal conflict that it is difficult for any minister to have success.
I've been reading for years about clergy burnout, toxic congregations and obversely, toxic pastors.  I've also watched as our society fragment - Cokey Roberts spoke about this a couple of months ago at Berry College.  There has been a loss of collegiality and congeniality in American society.  Used to be that politicians across the aisle - Republican and Democrat - would debate for hours on the floor and then go to parties with one another, get drinks after the debate, go to church with one another.  I understand that in the last few decades, that's not so true anymore.

Pity that.  We have become a solitary society whose elbows rub when we are madly texting other people across the country and instead of talking to and being in relationship with the person we are rubbing elbows with.  And then we get irritated at them for taking up so much of our space and bandwidth.

Society is changing.  We are in a post-modern world in which truth is voted on by the majority and Wikipedia is truth.  Truth by consensus - is it really true?  Our children don't believe in black and white anymore, just shades of grey.

So when we are watching the church, are we not just watching a smaller version of our society?  As a society in general are we not getting more toxic?  Why are we so shocked that the church is more toxic as well?

We have an opportunity for change.  We the church have the opportunity to really do Holy Conferencing - for Communion to occur.  This General Conference let us do that - leaving our own toxic natures aside, let us embrace all those things which are good.  Let us Do No Harm, Do Good and Attend God's Holy Ordinances.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


There are a lot of tweets (#gc2012), Facebook postings and blogs all centering around one thing - the "atmosphere of fear" that is surrounding General Conference this year.  I hear it - and I wonder if it is something to put our energy into or if we ourselves are throwing the gasoline on the fire.

They are in committee this morning - last night was the evening plenary with a wonderfully produced and heartfelt presentation by Adam Hamilton.  I've heard him called "mega-church" pastor Adam Hamilton, as if the word "mega-church" is somehow equated to "anti-Christ."  Ridiculous put that way, eh?  It was obvious to me watching last night and watching again this morning that Rev. Hamilton loves this church - and he want it to survive not just because he loves the institution so much but because he love the people and he has a heart for those unchurched.  The tool he's advocating is the Bishop's CTA (Call to Action) which has garnered it's own share of hate-speech last night and this morning.

There has been such a visceral reaction to his address and support because we are frightened by change.  I would add that perhaps there is another tool we can use - another advocated by people at General Conference and that would be discipling.  Growing and maturing Christian in this faith that we declare leads to life eternal.

Words have power - let us monitor our words so that we don't lose the love we have for one another in Christ Jesus.  The word I would have for Adam Hamilton is "Thank You."  You have been a leader in this church and I thank you for the love you have for the people of the United Methodist Church.  The other word I would have for him is this:  can we be in conversation?

The tweets I read last night were damaging.  If I had read them as a person to whom they were directed, I think I would have been devastated to think that my message was so misread.  As we go into committees, please be in prayer for all those delegates who will be debating if our "shalls" should turn into "mays" or if our "mays" be turned into "shalls."  Words have power.

May the Word of God keep up and sustain us; may the Word made flesh be with us; may the Word we speak be the Word eternal.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


It's time for General Conference in the United Methodist Church.  In Tampa - this week, committees.  Next week - the voting.

I've been told this is an historic General Conference that it's the most significant General Conference since unification in 1968.  That this is a General Conference of significance. That we can redefine our denomination, that we can restructure, that we can become Vital Congregations.

I hope so - I pray so. But I do believe this morning's debates about rules is a signpost.  There were power plays, there was debate, there were conversations on the floor, off the floor, on the internet, Twittered, Facebooked, Video Chatted and so forth and what was the result?  We (they, actually b/c  I'm not there!) accepted the rules as written.

I hope this is not a sign of things to come. If this is really a conference to change our denomination from an institution to a missional movement, this debate about the rules does not bode well.  I hope and pray for real and substantive change, grassroots change, radical change - change that goes to our roots as Methodists.

I'll be watching and praying.  May God have mercy on our denomination!

Monday, April 23, 2012

New Rules for Life

Project Order from Chaos and my Eating Clean are coming together. One of my "life quotes" is from the Nag Hammadi: 
For what is inside of you is what is outside of you, and the one who fashions you on the outside is the one who shaped the inside of you. And what you see outside of you, you see inside of you; it is visible and it is your garment. -- "The Thunder Perfect Mind" 
 It's on my sidebar - used to be in the header. I get stuck on the idea of the inside reflecting the outside reflecting the inside. I get stuck on the idea of being a white-washed tomb. I want both my interior and exterior to be healthy.

 Thus I am make some new guidelines (or rules, if you wish.) I am not going to diet; I am going to move toward health. So here goes:
 1. Always eat at the table.
2. No reading material or electronic devices at the table EVER. Concentrate on eating and enjoying the food. And take your time at it.
3. No crashing into the perfect way to eat. Any sort of crashing sounds like it hurts. It took 16 years to gain 130 pounds. Move gradually, one step at a time into healthy living.
4. No stalling though.
5. The perfect meal consists of a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. No processed foods. Food should look like food, not like Cheeze Whiz.
6. By weight and volume, most of my food should be plant material – fruits and vegetables. Some raw, some cooked.
7. I eat nothing white: no white potatoes, no white sugar, no white flour. There are zero nutrients in this kind of food; it’s just calories and filler.
 8. Fats should be mostly in the food – nuts, seeds, avocado, fish. Other (cooking) fats should be only Olive, Canola or Safflower oils. Period.
9. Meat is a condiment. Enjoy it as so. Eat only lean meat and beef/pork maybe once a week. Make that 8 oz filet a 4 oz filet. Cut it way back.
10. Curves is great. It’s making a difference (I think.) Riding the stationary bike is great. But I think I need a “Level One” change – a first order change in my habits. I need to get up and move at least once an hour. It’s easy to get sucked into the computer. I need to move around 8 minutes every hour. I can start by just getting UP.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tony Freeman? Gordon Jones? Separated at birth? (Have you ever noticed how much Tony Jones looks like Gordon Freeman from Half Life?

One of the great theremin musicians, Barbara Buchholz, passed away. May she rest in peace and be raised in Glory.

Friday, April 06, 2012

It is Friday

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Nothing can be said, nothing can be done.
Action is futile – hebel.
I can hold the other's hands and weep, but I cannot be comforted.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

The air is heavy still with waiting and longing.
Waiting for the inevitable, longing for the impossible.
Can this cup pass from me?
I look around me – all the colors are muted.
Dusty browns and grays – Cold and metallic.
Rolling black clouds cover the brilliant blue of the sky
As my soul is occluded by pain.
All that remains is the red of the blood
Running down the weathered wood of the cross.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

I reach out and touch the raised grain of the wood.
It is rough against my fingertips.
The pong of unwashed wool and bodies crowds my nose.
I smell fear, pain, death. I taste it at the back of my throat.
I hear the labored breathing from the cross.
Death is near.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Remember Him!
Remember Him as the silver cord is severed, as the golden bowl is broken.
Remember Him as the pitcher is shattered at the spring and the wheel broken at the well.
Remember Him as the dust returns to the ground it came from and
His spirit returns to the God who gave it.

It is Friday
And I stand at the foot of the cross.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Year B Maundy Thursday Service

I've used the Maundy Thursday, Tenebrae and Good Friday Services from the United Methodist Book of Worship several times and wanted to shake things up a little this year.

Since Year B of the Lectionary is the year of the Gospel of Mark, I decided to write the entire service around Mark 14 and 15. I have interleaved the readings with communion, Hymns from the "United Methodist Hymnal", Songs from "The Faith We Sing" and the Cokesbury Hymnal with only one addition from an outside sources - "Bitter Was the Night" by Sydney Carter (I think it's #132 in Voices United which is used by the United Church of Canada. I had a few other selections in mind, but I began to limit the amount of music so that the middle lections had a different rhythm. The service uses only 12 candles, unlike other services. I think I'll record it tonight so that I can listen later.

Prayer – Opening words

Mark 14:12-25 – Last Supper
Hymn:  Let Us Break Bread Together On Our Knees UMH 618

Mark 14:26-31 – Peter’s Denial Foretold
Choir: Stay With Me
Extinguish First Candle

Mark 14:31-36 - Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
Trio: Into the Woods
Extinguish Second Candle

Mark14: 37-42 – The Disciples Sleep
Choir: Stay With Me
Extinguish Third Candle

Mark 14:43- 52 – The Arrest of Jesus
Choir: Stay With Me
Extinguish Fourth Candle

Mark 14:53- 65 – The Trial of Jesus
Choir: Lonesome Valley
Extinguish Fifth Candle

Mark 14:66- 72 – Peter Denies Jesus
Choir: Bitter Was the Night
Extinguish Sixth Candle

Mark 15:1-5 – Jesus Before Pilate
Extinguish Seventh Candle

Mark 15:6-15 – Pilate Hands Jesus Over to be Crucified
Extinguish Eighth Candle

Mark 15:16-20 – The Soldiers Mock Jesus
Extinguish Ninth Candle

Mark 15:21-32 – The Crucifixion of Jesus
Choir: Oh the Lamb
Extinguish Tenth Candle

Mark 15:33-41 – The Death of Jesus
Choir: Why Hast God Forsaken Me?
Extinguish Eleventh Candle

Mark 15:42-45 – The Burial of Jesus
Hymn:  Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? UMH 288
Extinguish Twelfth Candle

Isaiah 53:4-9
Choir: Your Only Son
Relight largest candle

Depart in silence.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Continuing about Third Place

For years, my third place was Stone Mountain Airport.  When the Summer Olympics came through and closed the airport, we moved the EAA hanger to Lawrenceville (LZU) and we hung out there for quite a while.  After I started to stay home with my children, my third place was indeed church - and it was a real shift for me - I entered into an identity crisis of sorts.  But that's a story for another time.

When I went to seminary, the seminary fulfilled the third place needs - however as an older student and one that commuted in, it was not complete.  I started to blog and use chatrooms.  That's where my true third place came in.  I frequented Real Live Preacher's chatroom and community formed.  That was good for a while - maybe two years.  Then the community dissolved and I began to use Second Life, where another group of people coalesced into community.  However, my participation in this medium was disruptive to my family and I became discouraged in finding funding for a UM mission and I began to drift into Facebook.

Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums are now my third place.  I do yearn for more face to face interaction.  It's not perfect.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

More about Third Places

From Wikipedia
Since Oldenburg’s writings, there are people in the computer and internet industry that have declared that third places are observed or shifting to the virtual world or virtual third places[3]. This descriptive practice is easily adopted because of the similarities in descriptive characteristics found between the virtual and physical worlds. It is possible that there are some interesting notions in relation to the transitional sequences or observed phenomena, which have occurred in the evolutionary focus in social life.
In combination with the Industrial Revolution and as media transitioned from the public space to the more comfortable roles inside our homes there was a large shift away from public activities because they could be enjoyed within the confines of one’s home. With the advent of online technologies these virtual third places have been observed in online communities and multi-player gaming. The characteristics observed in these communities vary from their physical application but meet the context of personalization, permeability, approachability, and comfortability.

Thinking about Third Places again - I believe that for most people reading this, their Third Place is virtual - the internet and social media. Sociologically, I don't know how this is going to impact people. There is very little face to face interaction; it's not incarnational. Are we substituting real human interaction with something that just should be a tool?

I do many things online: I socialize online, I have a study group online, I correspond with people I don't know in real life as "friends" everyday, I do most of my shopping online.  I really do LIVE online.  When the power goes out, it's a shock to my system - I have to refocus.  I get bored.

Maybe I need to do less online.  It's so pervasive in my life, going offline would be difficult.  My children are more plugged in than I am.  When I cut the internet off, it cuts off most of their social ties.  We are significantly changing the landscape of social interaction without knowing where we are going.  I remember part of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series deals with this and his robot societies.  I do wonder what it is going to mean.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Third Places

I've been thinking about third places.  Not home or work, but that place that you go for community.  For some, it's the church.  For others it's a club: the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Radio Club, the Masons, the Quilting Club.

Some people don't even have a third place, instead using either home or work as their all in all - homebodies and workaholics.

I've had many third places in my life: the Baptist Student Union in college, the EAA after I got married, the karate studio among others.  Currently I don't have a third place - I have home/work/church all sort of smushed into one.  It's happened very naturally as I live and work just a dozen feet away - and I work at the church.  It lends for a sort of sameness throughout the day; something I need to be intentional in breaking up with going to Curves and visiting out and about in the community.  I probably need to research a group of people in this area that would have  common interest as I do - scrapbooking maybe?  I probably need to do this for my own health, but as with other things, it's been placed on the "later" shelf.

And I've been wondering about church REALLY being the third place for people.  I wonder if that's a myth that us churchy types have told ourselves.  I think maybe 100 years ago in England the pub was really people's third place - or a social club or a quilting circle.  I read Dickens, Jane Austen - I read more current authors, I watch TV.  Church was not as central to life as people make it out to be.  Even in the 1950's with "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver," church is mentioned as a peripheral activity at best.  When the church or ministers are mentioned or portrayed, it is often times in a comedic role. Especially when a minister gets up to preach.

And I think about the picture above - how we do school, work, church.  It's not a linear thing anymore.  Schools are grouping kids into small groups for discovery type learning activities.  Industries are looking for cooperative creativity.  What would this look like for church?  If we are indeed to be a third place, we are going to have to change radically.  People don't want to be lectured at anymore - what is this going to mean for preaching?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Project Order from Chaos - Photographs - In which I overthink

James Frazier in his book "The Golden Bough" looked deeply at religion, mythology and magic. In the third chapter, he examines sympathetic magic and in this chapter he discusses homeopathic magic which is founded on the association of ideas by similarity and also contagious magic which is founded on the association of ideas by contiguity.  He posits that magic works because

I'm reading the book "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things" by Prof. Gail Steketee Ph.D. and Prof. Randy Frost Ph.D.  In the first chapter of their book they refer to James Frazier's ideas of homeopathy and contagion in reference not to sympathetic magic, but to ideas of the value of an object and ownership. Certain items have value because they have been owned by famous people.  In the book “Stuff,” they use for their example a shirt owned by Seinfeld.  In an episode of “NCIS: Los Angles” that I just watched, the head of the team, Hettie, was upset that Deeks had used a blanket out of her office.  To Deeks, it was a smelly old blanket.  To Hettie, it was a tapestry that had hung in Mozart’s home.  The value was in the story.  When the story is not known or lost, the item loses value.

Photographs do not gather their value because of this idea of homeopathy (the item being an actual part of them or similar to a part of the person) but they are more than just contagious.  Yes, this photo might have value because my grandmother handled it, but it's more than just that.  This photo is almost an icon in the traditional sense as in "a symbol resembling or analogous to the thing it represents."[1]  And yet, of course, this is not a real physical part of their body, like hair or nails or teeth and it’s not “similar” to their physical presence in a literal sense, but it does represent the person or place that has been photographed.

I think that’s why I get stuck on the photographs of my family.  I value them because they are iconic in their nature.  I value items that my family “made with their own hands”: the afghan that my mother crocheted, the sampler that Bill’s mother made, the china that his grandmother decorated.  It’s more than just “I value this because they owned it” but more of “I value this because they placed their life energy into making this item.”  Of course, when the story is lost, value is lost.

However, I think pictures are different.  I hate that I have lost the story behind so many of the pictures that I own.  But I still value them because the people I somehow recognize as being part of me.  I see familiar looking features and familiar looking furniture in the pictures.

So I scrapbook and place them carefully in acid-free boxes where no doubt they will stay until someone who does not recognize the ghosts throws them away.  I surround myself with them; I insulate.  I comfort myself thinking that the stories aren't really lost and I document what little I can remember.  It's what I can do.

[1] Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Sermon Stewpot

What's stewing today:

The text this week

Naaman, Jesus and Leprosy.

India still has an active leper colony (if not official).

New York's Leper Colony is falling into disrepair.

Who is a leper in this day and age? Anyone we feel is unclean. AIDS patients, homeless (it might rub off!), the unemployed, people who are different than we are.

Sermonic action: get people to admit they are afraid of "germs" and hold up their bottles of Purell in the sermon.

Leprosy leads to a loneliness that goes all the way to the bone.

Looking for more stuff now...

Monday, February 06, 2012

To blog or not to blog, that is the question

Today I was reminded of the day that I stopped blogging regularly. It’s been 3 years or so. The trigger for this memory was a posting in a Facebook group. Someone decided to leave the group because it caused some vexations in her spirit.

I’ve been there. I left a group maybe 5 years ago after an IRL meeting, a few postings to an anonymous blog and a few phone calls left me vexed in my spirit. I’ve left another group because I didn’t like the way the group was evolving and the postings and comments in the group became more bitter and at times just plain nasty. I’ve had a group that meant a lot to me fade away slowly because of centripetal forces – new blogging tools, new social media outlets.

But I stopped blogging 3 years ago because of a conflict I had IRL with a home-school group. I still post some things, but I just haven’t had the vigor that I had in the past. I’ve become circumspect. I’ve encountered conflict on the internet before – I encountered conflict on the proto-internet 30 years ago – and what I have learned is this: if your participation in a group causes you pain and agony; if it vexes you in the spirit, for your own self care – leave.

30 years ago, I posted some things on a bulletin board for a computer club here in Atlanta. I was looking for social interaction – the guys on the BBS were looking for a good argument (a la Monty Python, I am sure.) My feelings were hurt and I found another BBS that was more interested in socializing.

Another thing I have learned is that social interaction on the web can have real world implications. Such was my conflict with this homeschool group. I could not sign their statement of faith, but I really wanted to join this group. I suggested to the group that I my statement of faith found in the UM Book of Discipline was equivalent (except for infant baptism). After much discussion, they decided “no.” This got to me. I’m all about inclusivity. The more people at the party, the more fun you can have. I love getting to know people that are different that I am – I believe they enrich my life. But I could accept that they wanted a homogenous group and I could have taken that rejection. My children could not. And then the children of the other moms got involved. They began to troll my blog and made a few horrible comments.

I’ve been thinking about this for 3 years. So much of life deals with conflict but at least IRL there is not a permanent record of the conflict. On the internet, there is. IRL you can discern if a person is serious or joking around. On the internet, not so much.

I’m not the only person who has encountered these demons of conflict on the internet. For the last three years, I’ve watched controversy and conflict pick people up in a maelstrom of emotions and then deposit them beaten and bruised in a desolate place – where there is little to no human interaction or grace to be found.

So for the last three years, I’ve written essays and not posted them. I’ve typed in comments on Facebook and not sent them. I’ve written tweets and not pressed enter. I ask myself, “Am I posting this for the good?” and if the answer is “no” I don’t post.

As Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say on “Hill Street Blues” - Hey, let's be careful out there.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Morning Prayer - Mark 1, Psalm 111

Mark 1:21-28 from The Message

Then they entered Capernaum. When the Sabbath arrived, Jesus lost no time in getting to the meeting place. He spent the day there teaching. They were surprised at his teaching—so forthright, so confident—not quibbling and quoting like the religion scholars.
Suddenly, while still in the meeting place, he was interrupted by a man who was deeply disturbed and yelling out, "What business do you have here with us, Jesus? Nazarene! I know what you're up to! You're the Holy One of God, and you've come to destroy us!"
Jesus shut him up: "Quiet! Get out of him!" The afflicting spirit threw the man into spasms, protesting loudly—and got out.
Everyone there was incredulous, buzzing with curiosity. "What's going on here? A new teaching that does what it says? He shuts up defiling, demonic spirits and sends them packing!" News of this traveled fast and was soon all over Galilee.

Leader: Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
People: Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
Leader: The Lord has gained renown by his wonderful deeds. He is gracious and merciful.
People: He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations. The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
Leader:  He sent redemption to his people. He has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
People: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. All those who practice it have a good understanding.

God over all, You have filled our world with wondrous things. You have given us a church family and friends that give us some understanding of the glories of heaven with You and all Your people. We thank You as well for being our Father in heaven, a Father who gives us daily guidance and protection. Help us to honor and glorify You as we follow the example of Your Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray: “Our Father. . .”

from http://psalmsandprayers.com/psalm111.htm

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Morning Prayer: Make My Life a Prayer to You

Make my life a prayer to You
I wanna do what You want me to
No empty words and no white lies
No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light You gave
Thru Your Son You sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know You're really there

Well I wanna thank You now
For being patient with me
Oh it's so hard to see
When my eyes are on me
I guess I'll have to trust
And just believe what You say
Oh you're coming again
Coming to take me away

I wanna die and let You give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope You gave me
The love that set me free

I wanna tell the world out there
You're not some fable or fairy tale
That I've made up inside my head
You're God the Son and You've risen from the dead


I wanna die and let You give
Your life to me so I might live
And share the hope You gave me
The love that set me free

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Morning Prayer - St. Augustine from Confessions 13, 9

Give Thyself unto me, O my God, restore Thyself unto me: behold I love, and if it be too little, I would love more strongly...

In Thy Gift we rest; there we enjoy Thee. Our rest is our place. Love lifts us up thither, and Thy good Spirit lifts up our lowliness from the gates of death. In Thy good pleasure is our peace.

The body by its own weight strives towards its own place. Weight makes not downward only, but to his own place. Fire tends upward, a stone downward. They are urged by their own weight, they seek their own places. Oil poured below water, is raised above the water; water poured upon oil, sinks below the oil. They are urged by their own weights to seek their own places. When out of their order, they are restless; restored to order, they are at rest.

My weight, is my love; thereby am I borne, whithersoever I am borne. We are inflamed, by Thy Gift we are kindled; and are carried upwards; we glow inwardly, and go forwards. We ascend Thy ways that be in our heart, and sing a song of degrees; we glow inwardly with Thy fire, with Thy good fire, and we go; because we go upwards to the peace of Jerusalem: for gladdened was I in those who said unto me, We will go up to the house of the Lord. There hath Thy good pleasure placed us, that we may desire nothing else, but to abide there for ever.

-- Augustine

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Morning Prayer - Psalm 80 and "Teach me the measure of my Days"

Teach me the measure of my days,
Thou Maker of my frame;
I would survey life’s narrow space,
And learn how frail I am.

A span is all that we can boast,
An inch or two of time;
Man is but vanity and dust
In all his flower and prime.

See the vain race of mortals move
Like shadows o’er the plain;
They rage and strive, desire and love,
But all the noise is vain.

Words: Isaac Watts, The Psalms of Da­vid, 1719.

Turn now, O God of hosts, look down from heaven;
behold and tend this vine;
preserve what your right hand has planted.
Let your hand be upon the person of your right hand,
and son of man you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you;
give us life, that we may call upon your Name.
Restore us, O LORD God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
From Psalm 80

Dearest Lord, I am always worrying about things beyond my control. Make me not to anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly. Life is ephemeral and even now, while I am placed among things which are passing away, help me to discern that which is really important -- my faith, my family, my friends -- and help me to hold fast to those that shall endure. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Morning Prayer - John 1

Hear us, O God, in your dear love,
Let our prayers rise to you above,
And help us, this and every day,
To live as truly as we pray.

Words: John Keble, (19thC) adapted
Music: Elisheva Barsabe (21stC)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Lord, I thank you for the faithfulness of your servants. I thank you for their committment and the grace and love that come from you through them. I thank you for that great cloud of witnesses that surround us -- the saints who are dwelling with us and those who have gone on before us. Thank you for friends, for those I know in real life and those I have met via the internet who minister to myself and each other, mostly unaware. I pray for those today who are sick and ill and suffering -- in spirit and in the body.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
Govern and uphold them, now and always.
Day by day we bless you;
We praise your name for ever.
Lord, keep us from all sin today;
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
For we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope;
And we shall never hope in vain.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Morning Prayer -- Psalm 142, Micah 3:9-4:5, Featuring John Wesley

Psalm 142
I cry to the LORD with my voice; *
to the LORD I make loud supplication.
I pour out my complaint before him *
and tell him all my trouble.
When my spirit languishes within me, you know my path; *
in the way wherein I walk they have hidden a trap for me.
I look to my right hand and find no one who knows me; *
I have no place to flee to, and no one cares for me.
I cry out to you, O LORD; *
I say, "You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living."
Listen to my cry for help, for I have been brought very low; *
save me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your Name; *
when you have dealt bountifully with me,
the righteous will gather around me.

Micah 3:9-4:5 (NRSV)
9Hear this, you rulers of the house of Jacob and chiefs of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, 10who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong! 11Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money; yet they lean upon the LORD and say, "Surely the LORD is with us! No harm shall come upon us." 12Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.

In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised up above the hills. Peoples shall stream to it, 2and many nations shall come and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more; 4but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. 5For all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God forever and ever.

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior.

O Lord my God, I bless thy holy name for this mercy, which I have now received from thy bounty and goodness. Feed now my soul with thy grace, that I may make it my meat and drink to do thy gracious will, through Jesus Christ my Saviour. Amen.

- John Wesley

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Morning Prayer - Thoughts in Solitude By Thomas Merton

I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think
that I am following your will
does not mean that
I am actually doing so.

But I believe that
the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have
that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything
apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this
you will lead me
by the right road
though I may know nothing
about it.

Therefore I will trust you
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-- Thoughts in Solitude By Thomas Merton

Monday, January 09, 2012

Morning Prayer - Precious is the Heart of Love

Precious is the heart of love; 
may, at length, such hearts be ours; 
God, please send down from above 
your love and truth divine. 
And may they cleanse our willing souls 
of earthly ills and make them whole; 
for Christ did come to share our toil 
and will not spurn our prayers.

Thankful for the Morning Light
Words: James Reed (adapted)
Music: James Reed

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Help us to discern your will -- help us to find our way in this broken and hurting world.

Lord Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd of the sheep, you gather the lambs in your arms and carry them in your bosom: We commend to your loving care the children and adults who died this week in automobile accidents. Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit into the hearts of the relatives and into our hearts, to direct and rule us according to your will, to comfort us in all our afflictions, to defend us from all error, and to lead us into all truth.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, you have blessed us with the joy and care of children: Give us calm strength and patient wisdom as we bring them up, that we may teach them to love whatever is just and true and good, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.