What Happens to Those God Loves? (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Feb 26)

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." 12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14 … [Read more...]

How Do I Find Time to Pray?

I've been experimenting with various ways of ordering my schedule and prioritizing my workload. In response to the question, "How do I find time to pray?" my best current answer is, "Either you do or you don't."My college Health and Exercise Science professor had a similar philosophy about exercise: "If you don't start today, what makes you think you're going to start tomorrow?" But I'm not sure sure exercise (or really much else in my schedule) is precisely analogous to making time for … [Read more...]

A Progressive Christian Explores Healing Prayer: A Spiritual Practice for Preaching Mark 1:40-45 (Lectionary Commentary for February 12)

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Although I do not know anyone personally with leprosy, much less anyone who has been healed of the disease, I will nevertheless seek to explore some of what it may mean for twenty-first century, progressive Christians that both Jesus and his early followers regularly practiced various forms of healing prayer.There are a number of entry points into this scripture that we could consider.  Some of the more comfortable methods of interpretation might be to turn the focus away from ourselves and … [Read more...]

What To Do If You Need a Retreat, But Can’t Leave Home

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(Paula Huston, Simplifying the Soul: Lenten Practices to Renew Your Spirit, Ave Maria Press, 2011, 170 pages.)I have had the opportunity to go on a few five-day contemplative retreats in recent years: to the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky (where Thomas Merton was cloistered), the hard-to-reach Monastery of Christ in the Desert in New Mexico, and the saguaro-cacti-surrounded Desert House of Prayer in Arizona. Unfortunately, the last of these retreats was more than five years ago.In r … [Read more...]

Is Baptism Overrated?

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Preview: Baptism is not overrated when it is viewed as a powerful sacrament and a transformative means of experiencing grace. And I recognize that many of my Baptist and Anabaptist forebears were persecuted, suffered, or died for the right to baptize adult believers as they saw fit according to their local congregation.Nevertheless, baptism is overrated anytime it is used as a barrier to Communion or even as a barrier to church membership. Open Communion to all without exception is both what … [Read more...]

Contemplative Listening: A Simple, How-to Guide

An alternate title for this post could be " What To Do If Someone Asks for Counseling and It's Been a Long Time Since Your Last Pastoral Care Class: Or, How To Help If You've Never Had a Counseling Class." Hint: the contemplative listening how-to guide that anyone can do is at the end if you want to skip to that part.I received two interesting emails yesterday. One was a colleague asking for advice on how to respond to the increasing number of non-church members coming for counseling who … [Read more...]


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