Showing posts from October, 2012

Fear Not

Our world is a marketplace of fear.  On this Halloween and in the closing days of a virulent political campaign, I wanted to remind you of the power of faith, hope, and love in the face of our deepest fears.
"And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13, NRSV).
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18)

Slaying Dragons
Fear’s toxic breath fills the air
Permeating every corner of life.
Gaining power
As Panic, Fear’s lackey,
Unleashes its menacing talons 
Attempting to choke out life in its grasp.

Despite its apparent strength
This invisible dragon,
The world’s one true foe,
Can be slain
Through the power of choice,
Freedom’s first fruit.
Do not fear;
Choose to live
In the face of the beast.
Steal its power;
Stifle its incessant noise;
End its tyrannical reign.

Fear no longer has a foothold 
On those who choose to live
With eyes of hope,
Full of faith.
Behold, the dragon now silenced.

For All the Saints

Thursday, November 1 is traditionally known as All Saints Day in many Christian traditions in the west.  It is on this day that Christians remember and celebrate the lives of those who have gone before them.  This is an important day in many Christian communities around the world marked by services of worship and celebratory events.  This holy day gives people an opportunity to consider the lives and the faith of those who have had a historic impact on the world as well as those with whom they have been honored to have a personal relationship.  
Many young people today lack a sense of being rooted in the past.  In our world of hurry to the next big thing and scamper to the next wonderful idea, it is hard to give that which has gone before a second thought. There just isn't time.  This can increase the feeling of isolation and disconnect from anything that has meaning.  Being disconnected from the past can lead to discouragement about the present and disillusionment about the future…

Reclaiming Words - "Salvation"

2.  thestateofbeingsavedorprotectedfromharm,risk,etc.
3.  asource,cause,ormeansofbeingsavedorprotectedfrom harm,risk,etc.
4.Theology. deliverancefromthepowerandpenaltyofsin;redemption.

The idea of salvation often carries with it a tremendous amount of baggage that can cause a great amount of discord and disagreement even among those who come from similar theological traditions.  Salvation has been written about by some of the greatest theological minds our world has known, and yet the disagreements and debates remain.  Therefore, the goal of this blog post (or any of the other posts found on this blog) is not to offer a solution to the disagreements or end the debate once and for all.  The goal is for us to think together, to enter into a dialogue of sorts, and to agree to journey toward an answer knowing that the answer is not necessarily a destination but the journey itself. 

What is salvation?
Each of the definition…

Prayers of the People - October 21, 2012

Prayers of the People and The Lord’s Prayer  written by Brian Shivers
Almighty God, we come to you this morning from many different places.  Some of us are so overwhelmed by the chaos of noise that we cannot find the quiet that can lead to rest; others of us have arrived with stillness in our souls and we await the sound of your voice to lead us.  We listen… SILENCE
Help each of us to hear our own needs as well as the needs of our neighbors. 
Where there are walls erected, grant us the courage to shatter the barriers and construct bridges in their place; SILENCE
Where there is hunger, move our hands to share your bounty in order that both plates and stomachs might be filled; SILENCE
Where there is violence, may we be agents of your spirit of peace and justice; SILENCE We wait… God of strength and mercy, this morning we pray for those who carry the weight of anxiety, depression, or loss.  Grant them the peace of your spirit and the promise of your presence. SILENCE
We pray for the present and f…

Speaking of Faith

One of the most important passages found in the Hebrew Scriptures (also called First or Old Testament) is a passage that is often referred to as the "shema".   It is called the "shema" because the first word of the passage in Hebrew is the word "shema". This word can be and is often translated "hear". 

This passage captures the heart of the Jewish faith, and it shapes much of their life together. 

In the New Revised Standard Version, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, a portion of the shema, reads,

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house …

Reclaiming Words - "Faith"

Faith 1   a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty      b (1):fidelity to one's promises (2): sincerity of intentions 2   (1): belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2): belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion (1): firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2): complete trust 3   something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially: a system of religious beliefs

Faith is often challenged.  Faith is often decried as unnecessary and a hold-over from a bygone era in our post-modern world.  Those of us who say we are people of faith are often put down, ridiculed, and mocked.
Let's do some unpacking of what faith is not. Maybe the we can begin to reclaim what faith is. Faith is not blind allegiance. Faith is not intellectual suicide. Faith is not a crutch for the weak. Faith is not a one time thing. Faith is not an opiate for the masses. Faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is not certainty.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the fact is w…

Time Together

In this fragmented and frenetic world, one of the most difficult things for us to do is make time to spend together.  Yet, in this fragmented and frenetic world, there are few things that are as important.
My niece gave birth to her first child not long ago.  He is fantastic! He was approximately six weeks premature.  He spent the majority of the first two weeks of his life in an incubator.  In spite of the necessity of his time in this protective environment, the doctors and nurses worked very hard to get him to the point where he could spend moments out of the incubator each day for some good mommy and daddy time.  Mom and dad would sit in the rocking chair and hold their wonderful newborn child close to their chest so that he could know their rhythms, feel their heartbeat, and hear their soothing voices.  The doctors knew that there was nothing better for the health of this little one than to spend quality time close to his daddy and mommy. 
As children grow, it becomes more and more…