Friday, November 17, 2006

Prayer of the People-Traditional Service, Nov. 19, 2006Scripture Reference: 1 Samuel 1:4-20

Holy One of Blessing—
Whose graciousness fills all of creation,

We come, like Hannah,
To talk with You,
To rest in Your presence
To just be, with you, in this time that we’ve set aside,
Just for you, God.

And also like Hannah,
We, each and every one of us,
Hold in our hearts that one thing that we want more than anything else.
Some of these things are good and right
And we can relax and know that they will come in your time.
Some are not good,
And from those we need to be released,
So that we can again be fully in accord with you.
And some are good, but not right for us.
These are the hardest, Lord,
Because it’s so easy for us to say, “Why not?”
Help us trust you with those, as well,
To recognize, that you always know best,
And that even though we want to be the ones in control,
It’s really best when you are.
We place all these things in your hands,

And we also place into your hands these names that we lift this morning.

Read prayer list

And alongside these, we place all those other things that remain unsaid,
The secrets, the worries, the fears.

We ask that you bring healing where healing is needed,
Strength where strength is needed
Compassion and forgiveness where love is needed,
Comfort where comfort is needed,
And joy and peace to us all.

As always, let us and those we love, be open and aware of your presence, your care and your gifts in our lives,
As we pray together the prayer you taught us to pray.

Our Father…

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Float Trip Preparations
Tomorrow I head off to a local river, leading 40 people in a church float trip. It's always a great time, one of the highlights of the year for my youth group. It's also a time when a lot of friends come along, some from no faith traditions, some from different faith traditions. That always makes the worship and devotional times interesting. I have no problem with required worship times--it is a church trip, after all. And, contrary to many Christian traditions, I don't feel a need to make a 'convert tonight or die and go to hell' pitch to everyone who comes. I just want to help them feel God's love and care for them, and to help everyone there see that lived out in our care for each other. I am firmly in St. Francis camp on this one--always preach Christ, if necessary use words. I just believe that the words should best come in response to what has been awakened in someone--yearning, curiosity, even animosity--and not be what comes first.

Anyway, constructing worship--and listening for God's voice in that process--is always interesting for this event. Even more so this year, when I know that several of these kids have had really tough times in the past. Some are truly antagonist toward even the concept of God, and are encouraged to be so by parents with the same attitude. Some have really warped ideas both of who God is and who they are. Some have grown up in the church and, for them, the mystery of God has disappeared, only to become 'white noise.'

Dear God, what a fascinating place you put us in, and what fascinating creatures your children are.

Prayer for today:Bend what is rigid in me, warm up what is frozen in me. (Old prayer quoted on Pray-As-You-Go podcast for Mar. 23, 2006).

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Question for the day: What does it mean to be a Christian?
  • Is it believing the right things? Which things specifically?
  • Is it doing the right things? Which things?
  • Is it not doing other things? Which things?
  • Is it in what you do or who you are?
  • Is it just being a nice person?
  • What is the role of passion, of thought, of sacrifice, of joy?

I would love to hear your responses.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Some random thoughts for today...

  • When you need to preach a prophetic truth, calling your people to account, it has to be done from a confessional stance. Because the reality is, we all struggle. It's not holding yourself as a standard of holiness, but a failure (like everyone else). But as one who in failure is moving toward God.
  • Some have made the point that many atheists are closer to God than many religious people. Being angry with God is being passionately involved, as opposed to many believers who take God for granted and hold him at a distance.
  • OK, so the New York Times interviewed 3 women in polygamous relationships about their responses to the new HBO show, 'Big Love'. Since these are primarily Mormon fundamentalists who as a group, I believe, would not support gay marriage or partnership in any form, I find this quote fascinating:
    "It's a more realistic view of a polygamous family that lives out in society than people have known," said Anne Wilde, a widow who was part of a multiple family for 33 years. "It can be seen as a viable alternative lifestyle between consenting adults."
    Does anybody but me see about 30 different directions you could go from here philosophically? Does putting these 2 together work at all or is this a massive example of cognitive dissonance? (Here's the url for the story:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lots of things to talk about. In fact, so many that I'm having trouble focussing on just one. (This is a frequently problem for me.)

1. I have to go run sound for a funeral shortly. This is the 4th funeral in our church in a week. It seems like whenever we get a cold snap like the one this weekend we often lose a few people, but this is like a new record. The hard thing about performing or helping in funerals is that they (obviously) aren't the kind of thing you can schedule so you have to just drop everything and focus exclusively on them. Of course, what else can you do? These are all people that you, or someone, has known and loved and is now grieving. How can you do anything less than drop everything to mark their passage and try and to provide comfort to those mourning their loss? I sometimes wonder if those people who wonder what church staff does all week have any idea how dumb that question is? We are there. Your needs are our schedule.

2. I'm a youth director at my church and right now I seem to be caught in a feud with my high schoolers. At least, they seem to think it's a feud. I just think they are struggling with making some decsions about who they are and who they want to be and just when they think they might decide to grow up. Word must be leaking out, though. I got my first call from a concerned (but misinformed) parent. I'm glad she's taking an interest. I'm glad that the high school group cares enough to be upset at me. But I'm not foolish enough to think that the next few weeks are likely to be easy ones. Lord have mercy.

3. I've been leading an adult class on Will Wilimon's new book, Sinning Like A Christian. The book is good, but more fascinating has been to watch people's reactions to it. Everyone squirms. But some react thoughtfully, some angrily. Know these people and their histories as I do, it's really interesting to see how they react to discussions of all those inisidious sins who are always following us around and looking for an opportunity to bite us in the butt. I wonder how many of them realize how much of ourselves we reveal when we talk about what makes us uncomfortable or angry?

4. Podcasts are wonderful. I'm having a great time, but in my usually compulsive style I've managed to subscribe to many more than I can possibly listen to in a day. So, now, in addition to having the opportunity to be behind in books, magazines, newspapers, movies, music and TV, I can also be behind in my podcasts. I have some real concerns about podcasts, though. While I think it's a wonderfully democratic medium for those privileged enough to have the technology and time to produce their own opinions on the world, I am seriously concerned about how much the ability to only listen to, view or read those things and people that we already agree with contributes to the further fracturing of our society. No wonder we are losing the skill of listening to others and discussing with them. We are getting so isolated in our own little position/opinion cocoons that even encountering someone with a different viewpoint is like a splash of cold water in the face. "I had forgotten that those people even exist." How can we learn, grow, evaluate, or even just be in community with each other if we can only tolerate those who please and agree with us? I find this a very scary place to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm Back!!
OK. I'm going to try and get this puppy rolling again. I'm not sure why this is so hard for me. I think I'm trying to be too profound, like I have to come up with some deep thought that no one in the universe has ever come up with before. Yea. Fat Chance. So, I'm going to try for lighter and see what happens. That's the great thing about keeping my little personal blog a secret. Even if someone I know runs across it, they won't know it's me.

Yesterday I listened to a very interesting podcast. It's still running around in my head. It was a sermon from Charla Gwartney on the Choctaw United Methodist Church podcast from, I think, this summer called 'Are you growing grass or pulling weed?' OK, so maybe the title is a little cheesy, but you try and come up with a catchy title every week and see how you do.

Anyway, the point of the sermon was that instead of putting all our time and effort and energy into trying to something that we have absolutely no talent for (like me playing the guitar) we (and God's kingdom) would be better served if we learned to do well enough to get by in those things and put our effort into learning the do the things we do really well, the things we have talents for, the gifts God gave us and intended for us to use, excellently. Those are the talents we were given. That is the way we were created. That is the gift the world needs from us. So why do we spend all our time blowing off what we do really well so we can try and perfect abilities that for us will only be so-so skills but never the best we can do. I can learn to play a guitar well enough, and have as a matter of fact, but I'll never be able to make real music.

But I can write. I can speak. I can teach. I do these things better than most, even when I'm just phoning it in. This is where I need to focus and quit squandering the gifts I've been given. So why did it take me until I'm 50 to figure this out?

Thanks Charla.