Sep 17 2014

Sacredise: Brainstorming for Worship: Undeserving

As we gather for worship this coming Sunday, we may come seeking “blessing”. Or we may hear someone who has experienced some fortunate event in their lives praise God for God’s “blessing”. We may also be tempted to wonder, as we consider those who are “less blessed” than we are, what they may have done, […]

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Sep 17 2014

The Heart Of The Matter: A Bible Verse That Scares Me . . .

Here’s how Luke tells the story of the Send Off Party for Barnabas and Saul (later Paul) on one of their missionary journeys:

Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.

It’s not really a scary passage, is it?

Except for the part I put in bold.  As part of their commissioning into ministry, the two apostles receive the gift of touch in addition to the blessing of prayer.

Yesterday, some people I love very much at Good Shepherd laid hands on me to pray before a ministry event.  Twelve people or so encircled me, laid hands on my shoulders, and prayed.

And my response was . . . painful?  Twisted?  Comedic?  Anal-rententive?  Protective of my personal space?  
All of the above.

Which is more than a little ironic.  Because one of the first ministries I brought to Good Shepherd was our healing services where we — hello! — anoint people with oil and pray by the laying on of hands.  I’ve been on both the giving and the receiving end of what God does in prayer through the agency of human touch.

So yesterday, I didn’t have good reason to feel such discomfort.  I just did.   

Until I took a few deep breaths, overcome my space issues, and recognized what a treasure I was in the middle of: a caring Christian community who carries on an ancient tradition that links Godly prayer with human touch.

May their tribe increase and may my unease vanish.

Here’s a song that brings it home:


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Sep 17 2014

Thoughts of a Naked Alien: Hate Is Poisonous.

Jonah hated them more than he had ever hated anything in his life. His hate burned with a righteous fire, a fire he though of as holy and purifying flame. It stabbed at his heart to have to give them an opportunity to repent – every fiber of his being wanted their entire race exterminated. At least he could be comforted by the certain knowledge that there was no way on Earth that this rich and powerful City would change its greedy ways!

God saw that they did in fact truly repent, and changed his mind. Jonah’s anger grew even hotter, and he started to scream at God: “THIS IS NOT RIGHT! THIS IS WHY I DID NOT WANT TO COME HERE AND PREACH! I KNEW YOU DIDN’T HAVE THE BALLS FOR THIS! YOU HEARD ME! GO AHEAD AND KILL ME! I DO NOT WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD THAT HAS PEOPLE LIKE THEM IN IT!”

The Lord answered him with the calm voice of a peaceful stream: “We saved many today, you and I – why are you angry?”

Jonah stomped off into the hills. He made a shelter overlooking the City and waited. “Surely, God would soon see that he had screwed up. They would show their true colors, and I will be proven right!” he thought to himself.

It was a crappy little shelter, and God saw that Jonah was suffering in the sun. Secretly during the night, God raised up a shrub to shade Jonah. Jonah sat in comfort the next day and was not as angry. But the day after that, God took the shrub away. Jonah, refused to budge. He just sat there and continued to sulk, thinking: “I would be better off dead!”

God spoke again to Jonah: “Why are you angry? You were unable to build adequate shelter for yourself. So I gave it to you, but then changed my mind and took it back. You did not create the City either – I did. It is mine to take or give as I see fit. You say you are angry about the destruction of the little shrub? Shouldn’t you be angrier about the destruction of thousands and thousands of lives in the City?”

(From Jonah 3:10-4:11)!/pages/The-Naked-Alien/352389110349?ref=ts

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Sep 17 2014

Begin Again: Letting the Earth Help You Deal with Overwhelming Feelings

Caring for the Earth and the climate come only when we’re able to see ourselves in relationship with the Earth herself.  Intimacy, and discovering a reciprocal side of this relationship deepens it.  Letting the Earth help you when you’re struggling makes it that much easier to turn around and help the Earth with her struggles.

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Sep 16 2014

UMR: Yale chaplain’s resignation reflects larger mainline tensions over Israel

When an Episcopal chaplain at Yale University seemed to suggest that Jews were culpable for Israel’s actions against Palestinians and a related rise in global anti-Semitism, his comments not only led to his resignation but rekindled a debate within mainline Protestant churches about how to respond to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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Sep 16 2014

Jason C. Stanley: The Longer I Serve

  After visiting my grandparents (PaPa & NaNa) one day this summer, I left marveled at these two witnesses. PaPa is 92 and Nana is 87. They have lived long and fruitful lives. PaPa stationed in Europe during… Read More

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