Easter Monday Prayer

 

 

We still believe our Father that You rose from the dead

But we still struggle to believe that we can rise from the dead

We still struggle to believe that we can change

Here it is Easter Monday and we are back to school, to work, to the “360 or so day” normal rhythm of life

And we find old friends coming up to join us again as we walk into the office or school or store:

resentments, fears, anxieties, habits

which challenges the view of “becoming a new creation in Christ.”

So we open ourselves up to You

fill us with your Holy Spirit

and help us change the way we think with Your help and power

to live an honest and resurrected life in You

Amen

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Behind the Pulpit: Easter – A Resurrection of Faith, Hope, and Love

 

 

Today many people have gathered (and are gathering) in worship to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am one of them.

I think many of us go Easter services seeking a resurrection in one of these three areas.

We seek a resurrection of faith in something greater than ourselves because we are tired and disappointed in ideologies which have broken down into arguments and petty issues which have left us angry and impoverished in our work and our relationships. Easter is not about an ideology. It is about a greater reality of life from One who transcended the conflicting ideologies of His day and who points us to a relationship with God who offers us a fresh faith, in Him, through Jesus Christ.

We seek a resurrection of hope in something stable and hopeful because our hope has been dashed and we are deeply disappointed in people, our nation, our work, our families, and even the Church. Easter is about a hope in a power that is greater than life and our circumstances.  It is about a hope in One who provided hope to many people when He walked this earth and down through the centuries through a group of very imperfect people, the Church, because of this day and the hope which it holds.

We seek a resurrection of love in a steady and constant way. We have looked for love in all kinds of places – relationships, work, drugs, alcohol, sex, money, – just about anything and everything. Easter is about a love which transcends disappointments when it comes to the great human need for love. It is about love which is greater than a human love because it is a love which comes from a God who loves far more deeply within us than any other love story in human history.

You might be skeptical with what I am saying because you have found the Christian faith wanting in your life. I understand that because I have, too. When I was leaving my twenties and heading into my thirties, I was very angry and bitter with and at the church and God. I had had enough of both and I was in the ministry!!!!

But what I had to do is reconnect with the God of the church. I had to return to the heart of the Christian faith and that is in who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us. I had to give Him my anger, rage, pain, and yes… my sin and seek Him and Him alone. I needed a resurrection of faith, hope, and love but I had to reconnect, and stay connected, to the true source of faith, hope, and love – Jesus Christ whose resurrection we celebrate today.

I invite you for the next 30 days to simply begin your day with a prayer asking God to resurrect your faith, hope, and love in Him.

God be with you!

 

Holy Saturday Thoughts: Listening In the Silence

I have moments when I think, feel, and say, “Too many words!” For a minister, that it something to say, isn’t it! :)

I felt this way yesterday, Good Friday. I choose to say little to nothing here, on Facebook, on Twitter and elsewhere.

Why?

Because I felt God calling me into listening in the silence.

Familiar words and passages were to be heard and not said (though I did assist with one Good Friday service and attend another.)

I heard I listened as I read and imagined about that 24 hours which has the power to change the life direction and eternal destiny of all who choose to confess one’s sins, accept God’s wonderful forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and live in obedience to Jesus Christ.

On this day, with the tomb still closed, I continue to listen… knowing tomorrow that Jesus will again speak

 

16th century Russian icon of the Descent into ...

16th century Russian icon of the Descent into Hades of Jesus Christ, which is the icon for Holy and Great Saturday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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My Review of Hillary Chollet’s M.D. White Coat and Sneakers

18177119White Coat and Sneakers is the story of a young LA trauma surgeon whose accidental electrocution causes him to go back in time to late 1930′s New Orleans as a Catholic priest with a mission from Saint Hillary of Poitiers to save a young creole boy. The result is an interesting story about life purpose, faith, commitment, respect, love, and service.

Written primarily in a third person narrative style, White Coat and Sneakers becomes a story which links the surgeon to his past and present. Some might find the characterization lacking a greater depth and complexity but the point of the novel is, I believe, about the commitment to doing one’s best along with developing  one’s God given abilities no matter what your background is. It is also a novel which seeks to honor family and I think that the author does this very well.

I liked this novel as I think it made some important points about values and faith. However, the writing needed more first person.

I give this novel a ‘good’ read.

I received a copy of this book from Smith Publicity in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.

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Behind the Pulpit: Holy Week Reflection

This is an important week in the Christian faith. It begins with the remembrance of Christ’s “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem, goes through the week into Maunday Thursday and then Good Friday.

Many words are used this week and can I be honest about all of this word usage?

It gets exhausting from my side of the pulpit.  

Not because of the message of this week and this coming weekend but because I sometimes think that the wordiness gets in the way of the message of Easter.

Now I will freely admit that I am not saying much this week. In other words, I am not doing a lot of public pronouncements at various worship services.

What I am yearning for, and I pray that you who read these words would yearn for it too, is an Easter experience in which the Lord really makes His presence known in our hearts and lives.

For me, spending time reading through the gospel accounts of this week and prayerful reflecting on them  is what I am going to be doing.

There is a time to be silent and a time to speak  Ecclesiastes 3:7b

Il Signore sia con voi! 

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Faith (and Life) After 30: Keep the Faith! It makes a difference!

 

I recently read (and wish I could remember where) that a well known speaker said something to the effect that younger adults are looking to have conversations with older people who have kept the faith.

Do that! It is vital for your faith that you see and hear people tell their stories of faith lived day in and day out through their 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, 60′s, 70′s, and beyond! There is life beyond all the conferences and concerts and retreats, important they are, in which the day to day must be made meaningful and missional.

Late January is the time of year when I remember my public profession of faith in Christ. I was child but I knew that I needed Christ in my life and my pastor helped me make that profession of faith at an altar. As I share that experience with others I also say, as a reminder to myself, “I have not perfectly lived out that profession of faith. I have failed many times.” That experience is now 48 years behind in my life’s rear view mirror. But it has worked! God has worked, again and again.

My mid to late 20′s were some of the darkest times of my life. I did turn my back on my faith though I kept up appearances which fooled no one. I had dug a deep hole and it was only God, with the aid of some others, and some very good counseling, that helped me climb out of it.

After 10 years of marriage my wife and I became serious about kids. After a year of trying, she said, “Go see the doctor!” (Why me?) Turns out that I need to have  fertility surgery and I remember telling the congregation I served, “I’m not sure that I will ever become a father.” One of the members said to my wife “I thought you didn’t like children!”

It worked!

Twice!

And now my oldest is at the tail end of high school and in two years, Empty Nest will become a reality.

A year ago I had just begun what became a four month journey with my mom as she underwent two major cardiac procedures. Being an only child and first being three and then two and one-half hours away made for a draining experience. God was present for me, mom, and the medical personnel who worked on her.

Every so often, I stop and think, “Where would I be without the Lord?”

Not here writing these words I think!

So, faith and life does not end at 30. It only is getting underway!

Keep the faith! It matters!

 

 

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Holy Monday Prayer

 

I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem
    and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer.
I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices,
    because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. Isaiah 56:7

 

This week Our Father is a week that causes us to stop and ponder

You

Myself

Salvation

Grace

Love

Death

Hate

Guilt

Shame

Sin

Life

Help us to enter our places of worship this week mindful of the inner realities of life which demand our attention far more than the packed schedules and preoccupation with outerwear and chocolate.

Amen