O Rachel, Weep No More

The violence of the past weeks in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, and other places in the world, brought to mind the horrors of September 11, 2001. I recall that morning vividly. It was a Tuesday, and we were scheduled to host our circuit pastors’ meeting at our congregation. We were all in shock. We talked, we wept, we prayed. Many of us called our congregations together for services of prayer that evening or the next day.

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A Deep Wound

Early Sunday morning, after my morning prayers, I always look at the intercessions of the church for the divine service for that day to add any last minute petitions. As I was doing so yesterday, I saw a news notification for yet another mass shooting, this time in Dayton, Ohio. The day before had been El Paso, Texas. The week before was Gilroy, California.

I’m sad. I’m weary. I’m angry. I’m sickened. How long, O Lord? How long?

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Slowing Down

I’ve incorporated the psalms into my daily prayer practice in a more intentional way. The monastics pray the entire psalter weekly or monthly; I’m content with two to three psalms per day; four if they’re short. There are 150 psalms in the psalter (151 if you use the Apocrypha), so that will keep me going for a couple of months. This week, I hit Psalm 119.

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From Convention to Conference

It’s good to be home again. After a week of rain, humidity, and heat in Tampa, FL at the synodical convention, it’s good to be home. I’ll be home just long enough to wash my clothes, prepare a sermon, and head down to Irvine for the last of the Higher Things Concordia conferences. All things considered, I’d rather be at a youth conference than a synodical convention any week of days.

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Stewardship of Symbol

I already knew the outcome, thanks to a passing glance at Facebook, but I watched the women’s World Cup final on DVR delay from beginning to end anyway. It was a great game, well played and exciting. Soccer is not my first choice for sports, but I’ve grown to appreciate the skill and stamina of its players, and, fair-weather fan that I am, I almost always show up for the final.

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Christ at the Beach

I was visiting a young family who lived two short blocks from the ocean. “You should go take a walk on the beach,” the wife suggested as I was leaving. I was pressed for time, and rush hour was fast approaching. But it was a beautiful day, and I could smell the ocean breeze. “Why not, ” I thought. What’s an extra hour in traffic on a Friday afternoon anyway?

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The driver of the car in front of me was attempting an impossible – and quite illegal – left turn. In the opposite lane, another driver was attempting an equally impossible- and just as illegal – U-turn. Gridlock ensued. I sat and watched the melodrama unfold in front of me.

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The little guy came into the sacristy with a question.

“Pastor,” he said looking up at me as I adjusted my stole, “Does church have to be boring?”

“Yes,” I replied with a smile. “That’s because church isn’t Disneyland and Jesus isn’t Mickey Mouse.”

He nodded politely with a look of understanding mixed with confusion and went back to his parents in the pew.

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Thirsty for God

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalm 42)

It was supposed to be just a short hike on a warm, sunny day. I left the ubiquitous water bottle in the car and was soon sorry for that decision. The warm dry air quickly dried out my mouth and throat. I was uncomfortable the entire time and missed much of the beauty of that little hike – the song of birds, the rustle of leaves, the smell of grass, the view.

We thirst for God, and in that thirst we miss the beauty that is all around us in nature, in our family, friends, and neighbors, in the world. Our thirst turns us inward on ourselves and our misery. It consumes our entire attention and robs us of the joy of the journey. The “thirst-quenchers” of this world, laced as they are with spiritual sugar and salt, just leave us thirsting for more.

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