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Showing posts from April, 2013

Re-post: Faith of Clinched Fists and Open Hands

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Religion has taken a huge hit in our culture lately.  There is no doubt that some of the criticism that has been levied against organized religions (including the one where I have found my home) and their institutions is much deserved.  There is more than enough hate, vitriolic speech, and ugly actions all in the name of god to prove the critics right in their assessments.

In spite of all of this "evidence", I feel the need to somehow come to the defense of organized religion and those who belong to these groups.  I am convinced that organized religion is not the enemy; neither are the faithful people who are striving hard to be faithful within the structures organized religion provides them.  The problem is not even faith itself, even though some modern thinkers, philosophers, and pundits would like us to believe it is true.

No, the problem is and seemingly always has been with certitude - the kind of certitude that builds an impermeable wall around itself.  This is the &q…

The Importance of Interfaith Awareness and Work

Here are three important pieces for us all to consider.

The first is an article written by Eboo Patel, an American Muslim of Indian heritage.  He is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago, IL.  He is one of the young leaders of the new interfaith movement in the United States.  This is his response to the events that have transpired in Boston.

"These times require all of us to be interfaith leaders, to signal clearly that the worst elements of every tradition represent nobody."  Click here for the full article.

In addition, please read the beautifully written response to the events in Boston by the Muslim Alliance of Indiana below.  This is an organization that is doing incredible work in our community.  Second Presbyterian Church has a standing relationship with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana through which we have organized interfaith activities and service projects.

          The Muslim Alliance of Indiana joins other Muslim and faith groups in expressi…

Known as a Consumer?

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"We are called 'consumers'," Jennifer said, as she looked up from the book she was reading in preparation for teaching a college class on ecommerce.  "We are called 'consumers'," she said again in an indignant tone.

And I sat there dumbfounded.  Hearing this word stand on its own stirred up a mixture of emotions and thoughts that I couldn't even put into words.

Is that how I am known?  Am I a consumer?

Consumer: that is how I am known by advertisers, marketers, and salespersons.
Consumer: that is who the economy counts on me to be.
Consumer: that is who I am.

And seldom have I had more disdain for an identifier than I do for that one.

Consumer - noun
: one that consumes: as
a : one that utilizes economic goods
b : an organism requiring complex organic compounds for food which it obtains by preying on other organisms or by eating particles of organic matter.


"One that consumes."  
Is that going to be my legacy?  Will that be the epita…

Litany for Peace

On days like today, I have no words. On days like these, we pray.

Below is a litany that was written for World Peace Day.  It was shared during staff prayers today.  It is adapted from The Worshipbook, Westminster Press, 1970.

Remember, O Lord, the people of this world
divided into many nations, religions, and tongues.
Deliver us from every evil that stands in the way of your saving purpose,
and fulfill the promise of peace on earth
among those with whom you are well pleased;
through Jesus Christ. Amen.

From the curse of war and the human sin that causes war,
O Lord, deliver us.
From pride that turns its back on you,
and from unbelief that will not bow to you,
O Lord, deliver us.
From national vanity that poses as patriotism,
and from loud-mouthed boasting and blind self-worship
that admit no guilt,
O Lord, deliver us.
From self-righteousness that will not compromise,
and from selfishness that glories in the oppression of others,
O Lord, deliver us.
From the lust for property or power tha…

Prayers of the People - April 14, 2013

The following prayer was based on Ubi Caritas by Eleanor Daley (b.1955) as well as a sermon entitled “The Strength of Peace” with Ephesians 6 as its focus, “Put on the whole armor of God....Stand therefore....and for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”

Ubi Caritas
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exsultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus, et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Simul ergo cum in unum congregamur:
Ne nos mente dividamur, caveamus.
Cessent iurgia maligna,
cessent lites.
Et in medio nostri sit Christus Deus.

Translation:
Where charity and love are, God is there.
Christ’s love has gathered us into one.
Let us rejoice and be pleased in Him.
Let us fear, and let us love the living God.
And may we love each other with a
sincere heart.

Where charity and love are, God is there.
As we are gathered into one body,
Beware, lest we be divided in mi…

Living in Three Places at the Same Time

I find that I am lost in three places at the same time.  And I confess that I am haunted by all three.

I see and experience the world presently; that which is.  There are times when that which I see, experience, and think are sources of joy, challenge, and delight.  When I consider the beauty of the earth, hear an exquisite piece of music, encounter the exuberance of a child at play, or experience moments of genuine peace, I find myself filled with wonder.
And yet...
There are times when that which I see, experience, and think are sources of pain, difficulty, and despair.  When I consider the wanton destruction of nature, hear a story of an excruciatingly human struggle, encounter dis-ease, or fail yet again, I find myself filled with sorrow.

I am in three places at the same time.

I think back upon the past; that which was.  There are times when that which I recall, remember, and reflect upon are a source of gratitude, rejoicing, and amazement.  When I consider the the places from wh…

Dr. King - A Legacy of Audacious Faith and Hope

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Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We are deeply indebted to the work of this preacher, prophet, and leader. His legacy continues to impact our lives and our culture.  His message of audacious faith and hope in the face of oppression and injustice beckons us all to continue to pursue his dream of true equality and justice for all.

Three years ago I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Atlanta with a group of fellow Christian Theological Seminary students as a part of our senior course on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught by King scholar Dr. Rufus Burrow, Jr.  There were many moving moments during the trip; standing in Dr. King's Ebenezer Baptist Church, visiting the King Center, paying respects to Dr. King and Coretta Scott King at the graveside reflecting pool and fountain, and walking the campus of Morehouse College (Dr. King's alma mater).

However, the most important moment for me was our visit to the Robert W. Woodru…

Mission Trips - "A Call Story"

Every year, we plan and execute at least three short term mission trips with the students of Second Presbyterian Church.  This summer is no different.  As a part of our 175th Anniversary celebration, the middle school students will spend a week working in and serving the Indianapolis community from June 27 thru July 2.  We are really excited to partner with some powerful agencies in the area.  The high school students will journey to Chicago for an urban immersion experience (July 14-20 and July 21-27).  We will partner with Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago for each week.

Why do we provide such opportunities for our students?

We believe that these trips give youth the opportunity
(1) to experience what it is like to give of themselves and their faith in working with others,
(2) to further expand their world and world-view,
(3) to interact with our brothers and sisters in diverse communities and their rich cultural heritage,
(4) to learn new skills,
(5) to see the effecti…