In Isaiah 61:1-3 the poet prophet writes that he has been anointed “to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor . . . to comfort all who mourn . . . to give them a garland instead of ashes”.
You may recognize some of these words from Luke 4:18ff where Jesus incorporates them into his first sermon preached from the synagogue in Nazareth. He receives a rather mixed reaction from that congregation, some of whom spoke well of him and were amazed at his words, while others drove him out of town, ready to hurl him off the cliff. Tough audience! Continue reading
In this blog post I want to share a Thanksgiving prayer. I expected to write something somewhat traditional along the lines of recounting the many blessings for which we can offer thanks to God. And while there is an abundance of such blessing to recount – for which I am thankful – the prayer that began to form in my heart and mind went a different direction. This prayer is much more one of intercession for things in the news over the past year that many find troubling. As a pastor I have seen the effects the deterioration in our national dialogue has had on friends, families and the church. Perhaps you have as well. If so I invite you to join me in this prayer at Thanksgiving.
A Prayer at Thanksgiving
O God, in the noise and clutter of a confused and troubled world, help us to hear you. Continue reading
This time of year always reminds me of my childhood, growing up in central Indiana. Childhood can be a grand experience – perhaps only fully appreciated in hind sight. My own childhood was safe, happy and filled with things that I enjoyed.
As the youngest of five children in my family of origin, and living in a rural setting, I was often my own best play mate. I utilized my imagination to fully engage in daily basketball games on the court in the backyard. I played all the players – tossing the ball to myself from myself – giving myself names of South Putnam High School or Purdue University players I admired, and narrating the radio call of the game in my head – or out loud.
And you know what? I never lost a game! Continue reading
The First Baptist Church “Hope & Pray Moving Company” was at it again earlier today. That’s the name I’ve come up with for our group of volunteers who help persons in the congregation move their household from one home to the next. I think our motto is “We hope it fits and pray it gets there!”. Hey, you get what you pay for, right?
Seriously, in my time as pastor of this congregation I’ve watched, helped and appreciated this rotating crew of men and women who just jump in when a need arises to assist with a move. We’ve helped move people from their home to an assisted living facility, from one home to another, from an apartment into a first home, out of a home that was flooded, into a moving truck that’s headed cross country – you name it, we’ve probably done it. An appeal goes out, and people show up! It’s amazing – and rewarding. Continue reading
When I was in seminary I completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a hospital setting one summer. My particular assignment was on a heart specialty floor where I related to patients and families identified as CABG recipients. In the vernacular of the medical profession CABG (pronounced “cabbage” – though it has nothing to do with a vegetable) stands for Coronary Artery By-pass Graft. In other words these folks (the cabbage patients) were having heart by-pass surgery. They were on that floor due to heart trouble.
In John 14:1 Jesus says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” That was not always a good verse to share as a hospital chaplain on the CABG floor! Heart trouble had landed the occupants of that floor in those rooms. Often they were there post heart attack – perhaps the most troubled condition our hearts can physically endure.
Of course Jesus wasn’t addressing the physicality or anatomy of the human heart muscle when he shared these words in John 14:1. Continue reading