Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Predicting the Rapture

Sadly, it’s the religious extremists that receive media attention, ie, California-based Family Radio that predicted the May 21st Rapture. One man (with a chain of radio stations) generated worldwide headlines for his false alarm.

I will admit that the “end times” warning is a useful admonition, but it’s a misguided Biblical interpretation - pursued with too much enthusiasm!

How about some attention for the real Christian “extremists” doing relief work after the spring tornadoes in eastern North Carolina!?! Where’s the Reuters’ story on the NC Baptist Men, the Methodist’s MERCI program, Samaritan’s Purse and the Red Cross, an organization with a Christian foundation?

I believe it’s the present times - not the end times - that demand our attention as followers of Jesus Christ. What can we do to create some rapture for the lonely, sick, the hungry and poor - for the least of these to use Jesus’ term?

Let’s pray…


A group of our brothers and sisters were anticipating the Rapture on Saturday. They received abundant media attention, but they missed the mark.

Lord Christ, it seems your teaching was disregarded:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
(Mark 13:32)

St. John’s vision in Revelation makes me think we won’t be swept up into the clouds, rather you will return to heal this broken planet.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them…he will wipe every tear from their eyes…no more death or mourning or crying or pain...I am making everything new!”
(from Revelation 21:3-5)

Was that a warning of apocalypse or prophecy about a divine, decisive, rescue and repair operation?

While I wait (for that unknowable intervention) how can I prepare…to bring your way and presence to my family, workplace and community?

Holy Spirit, empower that mission. Amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Osama: Reprisal or Righteousness?

Dear God,

We depend on our U.S. Armed Forces for defense, but what if soldiers are called upon to balance the scales of justice?

I pray that Navy SEAL Team Six was a channel for your righteousness in the assassination of Osama bin Laden. His grievances and ideology had turned dark. They morphed into hatred as he directed murder and massacre.

Father, this is a prayer of gratitude for our soldiers, for their commitment and sacrifice. And this is a prayer of gratitude for justice done.

Lord Christ, I understand there’s a fine line between vengeance and justice. Hold my heart on the side of justice, not revenge and national swagger. And hold my heart to your radical standards: turn the other cheek, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.* I’m convinced that is the preferred channel for your righteousness.

Holy Spirit, use your Church - and use me - as a peacemaker…that fewer will be called to combat. Amen.

* - Matthew 5:30-44

Sunday, May 8, 2011

House Calls

Sovereign, Creator God, the book of Revelation reveals that you make house calls.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in… (Revelation 3:20)

Lord Christ, you pretty much kicked-in the door at Easter. And there you stand, the Creator of the Universe, standing in the doorway, asking for…

[your name here]

I pray that we hear the tapping on the door, that we recognize your voice, that you will come in. Amen.

Photo credit

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Springtime & Eastertide

I don’t remember much about being in the children’s choir at Trinity UMC in Richmond (somewhere back in the prehistoric 1960s) except for the words to the hymn, "This is my Father’s World."

This is my Father's world: the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker's praise.

This is my Father's world: he shines in all that's fair; in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.

I’ve since learned that this great hymn was written by Maltbie Babcock, a renowned Presbyterian minister in the late 1800s.

…but I’m partial to him because he was a baseball pitcher and swimmer at Syracuse University.

Also, he was an accomplished musician and an avid fisherman. A sensitive, creative man with a great appreciation for creation!

Father, thank you for a Technicolor springtime. The azaleas, rhododendron and dogwood have been brilliant - even in the weekend rain. Did I get a glimpse of the Kingdom!?!

Nature answers the call of Psalm 100: “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.”

It is Providential design that Eastertide comes in the spring. What appeared to be dead is very much alive! In nature we see the Kingdom’s tapestry. In Jesus we amend God’s presence.

Christ proclaims in Mark 1:14 “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the Good News.”

…that our hearts and lives, evermore connected to the Kingdom of God, may shout for joy!

In Jesus’ name, Amen.