Thursday, August 28, 2008


I didn't get to my morning devotions until 1p.m. So it seemed appropriate that one of the prayers included in my devotional guide is ....
For Spiritual Concentration
God, help my thoughts!
They stray from me,
setting off on the wildest of journeys.
When I am in church,
they run off like naughty children,
quarrelling and making trouble.
When I read the Bible,
they fly to a distant city,
filled with temptations.
My thoughts can cross an ocean with a single leap.
They can fly from earth to heaven and back again,
in a single second.
They come to me for a fleeting moment,
and then away they flee.
No chains, no locks can hold them back.
No threats of punishment can restrain them.
No hiss of a lash can frighten them.
They slip from my grasp like tails of eels.
They swoop hither and thither like swallows in flight.
Dear Holy Christ, who can see every heart
and read every mind:
Take hold of my thoughts.
Bring my thoughts back to me,
and clasp me to yourself. Amen.
The book I am using cites this as a Celtic prayer. Those Celts seem to have been wise, honest, fun folk.
(This appears in a book called This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer by Laurence Hull Stookey.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008


This was our annual week at Camp Pecometh. On our way home last night, Ray had the idea to stop at Downey's Chicken in Chestertown. We have said at least a dozen times that we want to try their food. As expected, it was delicious.

Camp is wonderful in many ways, and this was our most wonderful year yet. Jacob is out of diapers. Shannon was in the day camp week. They were both happy and enjoying themselves all week. Happy kids make for... yep, happy parents.

It was also a bit stressful, in that I am still sitting here on Saturday afternoon wrestling mightily for a clue about my sermon. Usually I have studied the scripture with others on Wednesdays, and then have been thinking about it all week. Not so this week.

The first somewhat unique insight that I have had after many hours of study and prayer is one that feels frighteningly personal. Two weeks ago, I preached on Jacob wrestling with the Lord in Genesis. Last week, I preached on fear as it relates to Jesus and Peter walking on water. This week I am reading the stories of the Canaanite woman Jesus rebuffed and her tenacity in verbally besting Jesus and about Joseph meeting up with his brothers in Egypt (which must have been emotionally trying for all involved on a number of levels). My insight? That sometimes the life of faith is about tenacity, about holding on, until things feel right again.

I am reminded of three things. First, at the preaching conference I went to this year, one of the speakers talked about preaching being the act of placing ourselves on a platter for all the hearers to dissect. Second, one of my clergy friends' mother's comments that you can always tell where a preacher is by what they are preaching. Third, I remember a friend from Seminary who lamented "once, just once, I want to hear someone preach an honest sermon about struggling while they are actually struggling, not referring to some past struggle."

Preaching is such a vulnerable act. It is feeling especially true today. I suppose that is part of the honest walk of faith- trusting God enough to be honest about where we really are on the journey. The life of faith is not all sweetness and light...much as I wish it would be. There is plenty of honest struggle, doubt, and fear... and somehow God takes it and uses it for God's purposes. I never cease to be amazed.