Last week’s reading started out as a lesson in prayer, but shifted into a reminder that God wants to provide for us, if we will only ask. But asking God to give us his Spirit is a lot different from asking God to give us stuff. This week, Jesus carries the lesson a step further. Continue reading →
Shortly after our son became engaged, his future in-laws invited us to Thanksgiving dinner with their family. Their son, Mike, greeted me with particular enthusiasm, and I soon learned why. Mike usually got stuck with saying the prayer over a meal whenever the family was together. He hated doing it. He didn’t like praying out loud.
Mike was so glad to see me, not because he wanted to meet his sister’s future mother-in-law, but because since I’m a pastor, he knew his dad would ask me to give the blessing over the meal, and he’d be off the hook for once.
Maybe some of you can identify with Mike. Praying out loud in front of other people is just not comfortable for you. In fact, I think that’s why we teach our children table blessings and bedtime prayers they can just memorize. Now I lay me down to sleep…. Lord, bless this food to our use and us to thy service…Continue reading →
Do you ever get so busy you can’t think straight? You get so caught up in putting out fires and dealing with emergencies, there’s just no time left for the really important things like spending time with your family, or taking care of your own needs, or spending quality time with Jesus.
In 1967 (two years before the moon landing we remembered yesterday), Charles Hummel wrote a little pamphlet titled, “Tyranny of the Urgent.” It’s been revised and re-published over and over again, and it’s still available in print – in fact, if you want a copy, I have five of them to give away today. Just ask me after the service. These 32 little pages were foundational in developing the concept of time management. Continue reading →
Earlier this week, I was trying to remember exactly where my grandparents had lived when I was a little girl. So I called my mom. My mother has never been known to give a straight answer to a question when there’s a story she could tell instead. So, when I asked “do you know the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie?” her answer started out with, “All three of us girls were born on Uncle Harry’s farm. I think Edie Beth was about a year old when mom and dad moved to Hutchinson…”
An hour later, I had heard stories about my grandfather hauling coal in the winter and ice in the summer, my grandmother recovering from typhoid fever in a sod house on the Kansas prairie when she was a little girl, my great-grandfather dying just shortly after he’d finally paid off a debt his brother had incurred years before, and a few other tidbits of family history. But I never did learn the name of the street where Grandpa and Grandma lived in Pretty Prairie.Continue reading →
Classroom teachers know that proximity holds a lot of power. Good teachers move around the room a lot, getting close to students as they work. The teacher’s nearness does two things: it raises a student’s level of concern enough to encourage the student to pay attention (and stay out of trouble), but it also makes the teacher more available to answer questions and offer support.
Proximity to the teacher offers safety, and at the same time it holds a student accountable. Proximity to the teacher increases the probability that the student will actually learn something. This is why we almost always see the disciples staying really close to Jesus. He holds them accountable at the same time he offers them safety.
But at some point, students leave school. They have to take the lessons they’ve learned into the world, and practice those lessons on their own. The safety net is gone, and they have to hold themselves accountable. Continue reading →
When I was a little girl, my hometown replaced the old municipal swimming pool. It was about time. The filtration system in the old pool didn’t work very well, and the water was murky. The pool was too small for our growing community, and the diving board was … not safe.
So after an entire summer with no swimming pool, we suddenly had a new, up to date facility with twice as much area as the previous pool and not one, but three diving boards. The diving area was deep enough now to accommodate a true ‘high dive’ board, as well as two smaller ones. Kids lined up in a constantly moving stream to jump off the lower boards, but the high dive was reserved for serious divers only. Continue reading →
We seem to be hitting the rewind button during this season of Eastertide – we keep going back over events that led up to the crucifixion. I think the disciples must have been doing the same thing in those weeks just after the resurrection, too – remembering the stories, what Jesus said, how the events played out just as he had predicted. They were cementing in their collective memory the gospel that would be preached throughout the world.
It’s the same gospel we proclaim now: Christ died, was buried, rose again, and ascended to his Father’s side to rule the kingdom of God. That kingdom is already present among us, and we who claim Christ as Lord and Savior are part of it. Rehearsing these stories again and again keeps us in the faith, and keeps the faith alive in us. Repeating these stories for each other keeps them from becoming diluted or distorted over time. Continue reading →