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Showing posts from November, 2013

How Do You Give Thanks?

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Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
This seems like fairly simple, straight-forward advice...especially on the day before Thanksgiving.  But, I invite you to really try living this tomorrow.  We might be thankful for family, but the truth is also that no one knows how to push your buttons in the exact right order to annoy you quite like your family.  To rejoice always might make us a bit skeptical.  We might wonder what exactly is Mr. Smiley Von-Smileson really hiding?  No one is happy all the time, especially after that comment Uncle Frank just made that was insensitive on so many levels.  How about we just rejoice when everyone is out of the house and the holiday is over?
Speaking of which, we might try praying without ceasing, and on Thanksgiving it might go like this, "Please God, help me make it through this meal."  Or "Please God, give me wisdom to not talk about the Health Care Act with certain members a…

What is Thanks?

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A Psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. 2     Worship the Lord with gladness;     come into his presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord is God.     It is he that made us, and we are his;     we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,     and his courts with praise.     Give thanks to him, bless his name. 5 For the Lord is good;     his steadfast love endures forever,     and his faithfulness to all generations.
This psalm pretty well says it all for me.  I think God loves a joyful noise, whatever you can get your hands on.  A drum?  Great.  A lute?  Play on, my friend.  Two wooden spoons?  You go!  An accordion...whoa, slow down there!  No need to get too carried away.  
There is something infectious and contagious about joy.  If you are around a happy person you either find yourself starting to smile, or you will find yourself get more and more annoyed by that person. There is no neutrality.  
The psalm affirms the…

God in the Ordinary

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Click here to read Exodus 3
I am a child of the Eighties.I grew up pumping quarters into the Pac-Man machine at the arcade, wanting to own a black trans-am sometime in my life, and thinking it was so cool to push your sleeves up to your elbows.All this to say that the good old days were perhaps not always so good.And then there is this.I don’t know what kind of sinister, James Bond-like villain, Darth Vader breathing evil genius came up with the idea that trying to get all the same colored stickers on the same side would be fun.This tells me the truth that you can use your powers for good or for bad.Most of the time I love puzzles and mysteries and brain teasers.But when the puzzle pieces won’t fit, when the last chapter of the mystery novel is missing, when the brain teaser starts tormenting refusing to reveal a solution, then, then like this Rubik's cube, it stops being fun.And let’s face it most of life is filled with paradoxes that will not submit to simplified, straight forwar…

Echoes of God

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Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.  But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream. Amos 5
This is a favorite passage of many who like to talk about justice.  Yet, what Amos is more than a bump sticker for our cars.  Amos says that what is happening in worship has gone so awry that the singing, preaching, and playing the harp can no longer be redeemed.  When our spirituality does not support our lives, something is not right.  When what we say and sing on Sunday has no impact on Monday something is not right.  When our worship surfs over the surface of our lives without challenging us to change both what we are doing inside and outside of the church, then in the famous line of I Love Lucy, 'We have some 'splaing to do.'  
One of the favorite quotes I picked up along the way was, "We want justice for everyone else and mercy for ourselves."  Justice is great when we are talk…

Thanksgiving Part 2

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The classic symbol of Thanksgiving is a cornucopia.  While we are used to nuts, dried corn, pumpkins and gourds flowing forth from this odd shaped basket.  In fact, it is actually a horn that comes from Greek mythology.  One of the more well known stories is about Zeus, who has an infant, broke off a rams horn that became an endless source of food for his nourishment.  You will never look at your centerpiece the same.
Regardless of where the cornucopia comes from, today, we find it to be an expression of bringing in the harvest and the abundance of life.  Yet, I wonder if we might find other ways to fill the cornucopias of our lives.
Besides fall items/food that are warm oranges, brilliant yellows and browns that still seem to radiate life, perhaps we could start to think about people and experiences and events to fill our cornucopias.  Or, we could think about, besides food, what nourishes our growth?
For me, worship on Sundays nourishes my growth and stirs my souls.
My family nouri…

Thanksgiving take 1

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If the only prayer we ever utter was "Thank you" it would be enough ~ Miester Eckhart
There is something about the autumn air swirling around us that awakens our desire to give thanks.  We know we should be grateful in every season.  But let's face it, in early spring the snow has turned grey and will not go away.  But the time the sun finally melts all the piles, we are longing to get out and do something.  We might utter thanks as we rush off for a walk or on a vacation, but as the temperatures fall, our ability to be thankful seems to raise.  Perhaps it is also because the days of year are dwindling and we are reflective.  Perhaps it is because the culture at large encourages us to be thankful.
What are you grateful for this season? 
I wonder if perhaps it is the food that helps.  The first taste of apple or pumpkin pie.  Warm banana bread or comfort foods of meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  These seem to help give us the energy to turn our thoughts to giving thanks.
My…

Psalm 150

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Let everything that breathes praise the Lord Psalm 150
Think of a time this past week or month that you were
really excited, enthusiastic, and caught a case of contagious
joy.I a sure several of you immediately thought of when the
alarm clock went off this morning.Perhaps others thought of a
chocolate induced euphoria you enjoyed on Friday night after a
long week of work or meeting a new friend or a meal with your
family.Having just returned from vacation, this is perhaps an
unfair question.We don’t spend much time in church talking
about joy or how laughter is a prayer to God.We seem to have
accepted that church is serious and sober business.On the one
hand we know all too well that this world is not as it should be,
that there is too much pain, far too frequently people are not
treated as beloved children of God, too often we cling to the
truth that might makes right and the one with the most toys
wins.On the other hand, perhaps we need open ourselves more
to what the psalmist describes as striking…

Sting of Death

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Listen, I will tell you a mystery1 Corinthians 15
One week ago at this exact time, we gathered in the church I grew up in; the church where I was ordained; the church that had been a source of hope and deep inspiration.  Only this time, the reason for the gathering was laden with heavy hearts as we were there to celebrate my mother's, Joyce, life.

I don't know exactly what you are supposed to feel when your mother passes away.  I have gone through about as many emotions as Kleenex.  I was numb for quite awhile, even thought I knew my mother's health had been deteriorating for the last year and half.  I was angry, sad, hopeful, filled with God's grace and peace, and there were also moments of laughter as we talked about how mom loved the seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We even sang, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" at her funeral, not because it was her absolute hands-down favorite carol.  More because mom is now part of the heavenly hosts that sing in h…