The Fire is His Presence that Gives us Faith

This morning I step into a unique and beautiful position.  This position is one that affords a perspective of a people who has faced many challenges in the past two years.  This group of people — you — have been forced to examine who you are and where you have come; in turn, you have … Continue reading The Fire is His Presence that Gives us Faith

A Handful of Humility and a Pound of Persistence

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This story holds a wealth of lessons and illustrations and anecdotes about life, relationships, hardship, injustice, doubt, grace, and community.  In the text Scout Finch is raised by many people:  her father Atticus, their maid Calpurnia, their neighbor Miss Maudie, and Atticus’ … Continue reading A Handful of Humility and a Pound of Persistence

Pray for the gift of unity, and we all will be changed.

Seventh Sunday of Easter Readings. When I was in college, my grandmother wrote letters and cards to me quite regularly.  Most of the time, her letters were not very long — a small stationary page or two.  She also sent cards and would write a note on the facing page, underline or circle certain words … Continue reading Pray for the gift of unity, and we all will be changed.

And we scratch our heads in disbelief

I subscribe to Christianity Today and read this article today regarding the SBC discussing the expulsion of churches within their organization who have been covering up abuse. My response is twofold. "The SBC is considering requiring background checks for denominational leaders and has urged churches to include such screening in the ordination process." This quote … Continue reading And we scratch our heads in disbelief

It’s a Matter of Perspective

Our lectionary readings this morning brought to mind so many different scenarios for me.  There is a wealth of instruction and encouragement from these passages, and I was inspired to reflect on stories I have heard and relationships in my life.  So, this morning will be a different sort of sermon from what I have … Continue reading It’s a Matter of Perspective

.-.. . – / .. – / -… .

I listen to a podcast from Mike Rowe.  You know him, the voice behind most of our current-generation Ford commercials and dozens of nature and science related documentaries as well as the television show “Dirty Jobs.”  Well, Mike has this podcast called “The Way I Heard It.”  It’s reminiscent of the Paul Harvey-style of storytelling:  … Continue reading .-.. . – / .. – / -… .

God’s Ball of Yarn

Little Nellie and her father were visiting an elderly neighbor. They were raking the neighbor's leaves, organizing the neighbor's garage, putting the trash out, and performing other small jobs around the neighbor's house. The little girl had not really seen the elderly neighbor closely, but on this day she was going to meet the neighbor … Continue reading God’s Ball of Yarn

We Define Ourselves by What We Are Not

There’s a conversation in one of my favorite novels between a father and his six year old daughter. Scout is confused by the anger and tension that is going on in her town of Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus joins Scout on the front porch swing and begins talking to her about what’s going on. He says … Continue reading We Define Ourselves by What We Are Not

What is Ascetical Theology?

Benedict of Nursia wrote that a monastic must have three intentional qualities of life in devotion to God: stabilitas , obedientia , and conversio morem. These behaviors -- no, relationship-bearing vows -- are what anchor a person to an ascetic life. One must be in a consistent church body home in which there is accountability … Continue reading What is Ascetical Theology?

God and Trinity

Two chapters from Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction focuses on the doctrines of God and of the Trinity. The first concern addressed is the doctrine of God. McGrath offers the minor theory that God might not be male and quickly moves forward. He identifies the “personhood” of God through such philosophers as Tertullian, Spinoza, … Continue reading God and Trinity

Simon Chan

In his text Spiritual Theology  Simon Chan addresses these topics: nature of spiritual theology, doctrine of God, nature of sin, and elements in salvation. Chan states that spiritual theology is quite different from spirituality: “spirituality is the lived reality, whereas spiritual theology is the systematic reflection and formalization of that reality” (16). Spirituality could be … Continue reading Simon Chan

Julian of Norwich

Addressing the introduction to Julian's Showings is a challenging task, indeed. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh have densely packed their research of the text noting the differences between the Short Text and the Long Text, Julian's theology and exegesis of her showings, her keen development of the rhetorical style, the role of contemplation, and the … Continue reading Julian of Norwich

Margery Kempe

Described as "a 'wet blanket in any company which was innocently enjoying itself,' " such is Margery Kempe according to a source included in Anthony Bale's introduction to her Book. Bale offers an objective -- if not twinged with tongue-in-cheek -- observation of Kempe's colorful life. He includes the standard background to the life of … Continue reading Margery Kempe

Chronicles (in two threads)

Historical Challenge of Chronicles The inconsistencies within the text of Chronicles versus Samuel-Kings does not imply that one is truth and the other lies.  Inconsistencies also occur in the creation narrative.   What comes to mind, however, if we allow the inconsistencies to occur and still regard the whole text as valid is that we must … Continue reading Chronicles (in two threads)

Walter Hilton

Most likely written to an anchoress, Walter Hilton offers instruction and guidance concerning the spiritual journey towards God in his Ladder (or Scale) of Perfection. This text, however, is prefaced by Clifton Wolters in the introduction; Wolters reflects on Ladder and Hilton specifically with a sense of objectivity mingled with admiration. Wolters, familiar with Hilton's … Continue reading Walter Hilton

What I Heard from the Pulpit…

Today is the celebration of the Transfiguration, a moment in Luke's Gospel (our reading passage for today) in which Jesus reveals Himself in His Divine Glory to Peter, John, and James.  The sermon this morning offered a different perspective on this event.  The lectionary reading also included Moses, face shining from having experienced the Glory … Continue reading What I Heard from the Pulpit…

The Cloud of Unknowing

"The quality of the contemplative effort which measures all progress in the interior life of the solitary is immediately related to the reflex conscious awareness of the self in its relationship to God, the supreme and single object of its desire" (64). While James Walsh in writing the Introduction to The Cloud of Unknowing understands … Continue reading The Cloud of Unknowing

How Much Does It Cost?

Henri Nouwen writes: "Nuclear man no longer believes in anything that is always and everywhere...He lives by the hour...His art...is a combination of divergent pieces, is a host impression of how man feels at the moment [emphasis mine]." Further, "We see man paralyzed by dislocation and fragmentation, caught in the prison of his own mortality...We … Continue reading How Much Does It Cost?

Is it live, or is it Memorex?

In post-modern culture we guard the written word and even the ideas behind the ideas with patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  We protect and lay claim to our creation like a dog marks its territory.  However, there are some scholars who find it necessary to analyze the verbiage, syntax, and style -- to distinguish the "authentic" … Continue reading Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament

Aquinas speaks to the relation between nature and grace concerning the sacraments.  However, we should first understand the value of grace according to Aquinas and his predecessors. In Question 2, Article 10, he references Augustine:  “By the same grace every man is made a Christian, from the beginning of his faith, as this man from … Continue reading Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament

A cuppa tea with…Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Silent Meditation vs Empty Chatter In this chapter Thomas moves further into meditative prayer...what it is and certainly what it is not.  He encourages us that interior prayer is simple, silent, and often expressed through small acts.  He cautions us that we convince ourselves that to have a "true prayer life" we must be engaged … Continue reading A cuppa tea with…Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Inertia.  Coldness.  Confusion. Thomas speaks of these as we all experience them at some point (or many points) in our prayer life.  What do we do when faced with these empty spaces, these times when nothing seems to matter and nothing gains traction? He warns that this might be a time when we have separated … Continue reading A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

  Thomas suggests instead of seeking a "method" of prayer, we should choose a "life" of prayer.  It should be intentional behavior to life and not akin to the enthusiasm of acquiring a new skill.  God calls us to life with HIm; prayer is that response.  In meditation we face the harsh realities of ourselves and … Continue reading A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

Thomas mentions the various forms of contemplative prayer including psalmodia, lectio, oratio, contemplatio.  These prayers are a way to turn from the world to God, but "to separate meditation from prayer, reading, and contemplation, is to falsify our picture of the monastic way of prayer."  Singing hymns and songs of praise, sharing in the liturgy, and … Continue reading A cuppa tea with… Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer

my fault, my fault, my most Grievous fault

  Nestled amongst the major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel lies the small but powerful book of Lamentations.  While the prophets offer the dooming judgment of Almighty God upon Israel and Judah, trapped within the chaos and devastation of their own making, Lamentations allows a glimpse of the raw, exposed emotions of Jerusalem … Continue reading my fault, my fault, my most Grievous fault