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Showing posts from June, 2012

Prayer Part One

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If you Google images of prayer you come up with countless images of folded hand and heads bowed.  It is the traditional prayer posture.  The one most of us unconsciously assume when someone utters the word, "Let us pray."   Because prayer can fall into a rut, I think it is important every few months to examine our prayer practices both personally and corporately as a church.  This week in church, I have revamped the liturgy just a bit to link our call to worship and confession together as one unit.  I do that so hopefully we feel like we are praying our way into worship. But as our church tries out new forms of entering into worship, it is a good time to also look at our personal prayer life.  Over the next several posts I am going to offer some thoughts on prayer. To be sure, I am stepping into a living stream of words upon words that have been poured out on this topic.  There are countless books and sermons on this topic.  But hopefully through these posts it will give yo…

Endings

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Today is my last day of class in the doctorate of ministry program at Luther Seminary.  In some ways it is an ending.  There will be no more classes.  There will be no more assigned reading.  There will be no more preparing to spend three weeks here at Luther.  Because it is an ending, there is grief.  As crazy as it might sound, I will miss it.  I have been blessed by the conversations over the last three years.  They awoken me to new ideas.  Just yesterday I learned what the six chief parts of the Christian faith are according to Martin Luther.   Okay...perhaps not all that exciting, but it gets my brain thinking new thoughts and the synapses firing making new connections.  I will miss reading books I might never have picked up.  I will miss the chapel services where I could sit back and worship.
At the same time I realize it is not really the end.  I have research to do, writing to do, and next April I will defend all of that will unfold in the coming months.
But for today, I want…

Parables

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My class this week has been working through the parables Jesus told his disciples.  I thought the picture above is appropriate.  While we might remember some of the parables of Jesus about the Good Samaritan or the Prodigal Son or the five foolish bridesmaids who did not bring enough oil or how the kingdom of God is like a tiny mustard seed - we have sometimes domesticated these parables.  
What we often do with parables is to turn them into good advice rather than the radical pictures of God's realm that we are invited to participate in right here and right now.  Jesus challenged people's understanding of what was kosher and stretched people's comfort zones.  You think you know who would do the right thing: a rabbi or priest...but along comes a Samaritan?  Really?  That was unexpected, shocking, and even offensive.
This week we've spent trying to reclaim and remember the jagged edges of these parables.  Not so we can hurt each other, but because at that edge we find …

Luther Update 2

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The picture above is a mosaic.  This type of art takes tiny broken unevenly shaped pieces, these come together to create a beautiful picture.  This image of a mosaic is great metaphor for the church.  We bring the pieces of our life to church: sometimes they feel tiny or jagged or cheerfully colorful or we are trying to make sense/ make meaning of the pieces.   My class this week has helped me realize this.  But also that we rarely ask you to lean into these broken and amazing pieces of life we bring.  Think about our congregation on Sunday.  Statistics say that someone in the congregation is dealing with alcoholism or addiction, someone is dealing with abuse, someone is dealing with ethical issues at work, someone is dealing with broken family relationships, someone is celebrating an anniversary, someone is facing medical news she would rather not have heard, someone is struggling to find a new job or celebrating graduation.  And that just half the pews! We bring these pieces and I …

Update 1 from Luther Seminary: Identity

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Yesterday, our class spend discussing the issue of identity.  This might seem like a strange topic for a seminary class, but stick with me.

For most of human history, your identity was handed to you.  You were born to a peasant family, you were a peasant.   Your dad was a farmer, you were a farmer.  And it was pretty much set in stone by the time you were in your early twenties (if not earlier). It is only recently that people were allowed within society to construct an identity.  And if I think back to my 20s, I know I am no longer the same person.

To be honest, it can be exhausting work.  Because not only can you shape your own identity, but you can change your identity now with the swipe of your credit card at the mall or Apple store or buy a new car.  So much of our identity is no longer wrapped in our job/profession - but in what we consume or which groups we belong to.  Family and religion no longer play the same role in shaping identity.  While we don't name that truth, it…