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Showing posts from February, 2013

Servants Serve: Lenten Midweek Missal (2)

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Matthew 20:17-28 (CEB)


As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve aside by themselves on the road. He told them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Human One will be handed over to the chief priests and legal experts. They will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be ridiculed, tortured, and crucified. But he will be raised on the third day.” Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus along with her sons. Bowing before him, she asked a favor of him. “What do you want?” he asked. She responded, “Say that these two sons of mine will sit, one on your right hand and one on your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You don’t know what you’re asking! Can you drink from the cup that I’m about to drink from?” They said to him, “We can.” He said to them, “You will drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left hand isn’t mine to give. It belongs to those for whom my Father prepared it.” Now when the other ten disciples heard about this,…

Wandering Mind- Aging Cells?

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You already knew that practices that encourage mindfulness and being present in the moment were good for your spirit. Now a biological marker is being studied, linking mind- wandering with aging. The University of California, San Francisco study defined being present in the moment as an "inclination to be focused on current tasks" and mind wandering was defined as "the inclination to have thoughts about things other than the present or being present elsewhere."
Interventions which support mindfulness, compassion, and acceptance are associated with increased activity for an enzyme called telomerase, which protects and replenishes telomeres. Telomere length is an emerging measure for cellular and general bodily aging. 
The lead author, Elissa Epel, Ph.D. concludes : "Our attentional state- where our thoughts rest at any moment- turns out to be a fascinating window into our well-being... In our healthy sample, people who report being more engaged in their curre…

Respect God: Lenten Midweek Missal (1)

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When the crowds grew, Jesus said, “This generation is an evil generation. It looks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except Jonah’s sign. Just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Human One will be a sign to this generation. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from a distant land to hear Solomon’s wisdom. And look, someone greater than Solomon is here. The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they changed their hearts and lives in response to Jonah’s preaching—and one greater than Jonah is here." Luke 11: 29-32 (CEB)

Eric Fromm, in The Art of Loving, noted that one of the main components of loving another person is respect. The Latin root means "to look at," he maintained. This is a good way to frame one of the harsher sayings of Jesus. 

Notice that in describing his current generation as evil, Jesus d…

Is Hypocrisy Organic to Spiritual Life?

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Jesus never observed Lent nor was he a Christian. Although Thomas did worship Jesus in John 20:26 ff., in none of Jesus' words in the New Testament did Jesus ever command his followers to gather every Sunday or any other day to worship him.  What he did expect of his followers is that they would engage the spiritual disciplines core to life with him, such as giving, prayer, and fasting. 
But like a prophet who teaches by telling us what excesses to avoid, what temptations we will certainly face, so Jesus' words contain the kind of warnings that are organic to the spiritual life. Long before someone like Eugene Peterson ever penned his brilliant Working the Angles, it was of course said by prophets and sages before him, including Jesus. 
Jesus seems to like to use the word "hypocrite," and its frequency in the reading for Ash Wednesday from Matthew 6 is much more than a light caution before we get on with the supposedly main business of Lent. Matthew writes a gospel…

Add Burnout to the Three B's

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Jim Henderson, in Jim and Casper Go to Church, well- described the holy trinity of pastoral success as the "Three B's," that is,  buildings, budgets, and behinds- in- pew. There have been some  attempts to soften the success formula (Lovett Weems, now of Wesley Theological Seminary). 
Making the pastor's spiritual health one factor among many means that the spiritual integrity of clergy is nothing without the help of at least one of the measurable "Three B's."  The late author and preacher John Claypool wrote a stirring spiritual memoir of his search for self-acceptance and awareness as a younger pastor. A critical part of his story was his struggle to grieve the death of his young daughter with raw honesty. 
Claypool also described living off the latest success in terms similar to an addiction. After each major pastoral accomplishment, the euphoria gradually lessened in intensity and duration until the next big success came around. The cycle finally left…