Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hope Floats

Lord, the damage wrought by Hurricane Irene along the east coast brings to mind the movie title Hope Floats.

I pray that hope floats atop the floodwaters, destruction and debris.

I’m fortunate - a mere armchair observer - but the TV news reports are discouraging.

It’s a grating wake up call. Our independence, security and prosperity - apart from you - can be fleeting.

I am reminded of St. Paul’s report from Asia when he talked of the despair he felt “beyond our ability to endure.”

Yet he wrote of his survival to the Corinthians:
…this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God…on him we have set our hope…as you help us by your prayers.” (from 2nd Corinthians 1:8-22)

We pray, Lord Christ, for an outpouring of practical assistance and spiritual support for the people along our coast. We pray for their fortitude. We pray for their restoration.

As Paul promised: Set your seal of ownership on them and put your spirit in their hearts. Amen.

Photos: and

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BIG GOD & little me

As I write this prayer, we have experienced a rare earthquake on the
 east coast, and a hurricane is headed in our direction. The BIG GOD theme is on point.

Father, this is my take on original sin. A literal interpretation of
 Genesis is not required. It seems obvious to me:

We are flawed, both people and planet. The software and hardware have 
bugs. That’s your construct, and it's beyond my

The upside: You are in control. That is my interpretation of Scripture.
 It is my personal experience.

Despite appearances, evil does not have the upper hand. Hitler, Mao and
 Milosevic did not have the last word in their time. African genocide and
 21st century terrorism are our generational plagues, but they will pass.

Creation groans for the promised melding of heaven and earth when the
 imperfections are removed.

While we wait, we must depend on you. Self-sufficiency is misguided.

While we wait, we must be at work for you. Selfish pursuits are misdirected.

Big flaws. Big job. Big hope. BIG GOD.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Canaanite Woman

Are you still so dull?

Jesus put that question to his disciples in the 15th chapter of Matthew when they missed the point of his teaching. These men left their jobs and families to follow Jesus. Clearly, they were committed, but they didn’t always grasp the purpose of their mission.

There are two more examples of that in Matthew 15:21-39. Do we sometimes miss Jesus’ message? Are we so dull?

Lord Christ, I was puzzled about your encounter with the Canaanite woman. She implored you to heal her daughter.

Taken literally, you were rude to her. There must be more to the story because the woman professed belief, persisted with her request and the child was healed!

Were you baiting your disciples? Drawing attention to their inattention, to their prejudice?

The story unfolds…

You continue your healing ministry among the lame, maimed, blind and mute. The miracles reach a crescendo as you feed over four thousand people from a picnic basket.

Again, your disciples are running low on empathy and faith, while you teach a lesson in abundance.

Do I set my sights too low? Do obstacles overwhelm me? Do I exclude others from your grace?

Teach me your lessons, Jesus, in…

Belief. Persistence. Compassion. High expectations.
Even miracles. Amen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Aunt Liz

Great God, I’m compelled to organize my thoughts about the death of Aunt Liz. This isn’t news to you. For sure, she is in your company.

Her life of ninety-two years is worthy of honor and celebration. I thank you that her passing came during sleep. You allowed a graceful end to a grace filled life.

Liz had meticulously planned her funeral, consistent with her bookkeeper’s demeanor. She wanted the focus to be on you, Lord Christ, not on her. That’s how she lived - selflessly.

Widowed early in life, she devoted herself to work (thirty-five years with the United Methodist Church) her own church, family and friends. Always worrying over others. Always tending to their needs. I often thought she was taken advantage of, a viewpoint she never shared.

Liz was a bookkeeper for ministers, but she had her own larger ministry. Thank you for her life, her light, her example. Aunt Liz was a Kingdom person doing Kingdom work.

Holy Spirit, put me on the path that Aunt Liz walked. Amen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Spiritual Candy & the Cup of Suffering

A challenging question was posed in my Scripture Union Bible study by Roger Pooley, a teacher at Keele University in the UK. He was writing about Psalm 145, and asked: What is it we want from God? Spiritual candy? Or something more profoundly nourishing?

Father, I’m content to munch on spiritual candy. It’s not junk food. It’s Ghirardelli. Inspiring music, a strong sermon, insightful teaching, a testimony that motivates. Pass the bowl. And thank you for the encouragement.

Lord Christ, I’m reluctant to accept your cup of suffering. To bear another’s burden, to be discomforted, to stand up or stand out for my faith. That’s not my preferred fare, but I do know it’s the best form of spiritual nourishment.

While I don’t wish it on anyone, my own faith has grown stronger when the anxiety level was highest, when the fear of falling was intense. It has been the low times, the scary times, where your presence was palpable, where trust was taught and learned.

King David captures an absolute truth:
The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down…the LORD is near to all who call on him…he hears their cry and saves them...the LORD watches over all who love him…

(from Psalm 145:14-20)

Holy Spirit, I pray for recurring bursts of inspiration and wisdom to appreciate the times of testing. Amen.