Thursday, June 14, 2012


We are much drawn to circuses

We reckon bread and circuses is a good political routine.
We are much drawn to circuses,
          and we imagine that we own the bakery.
On our own we do not want to choose between guns and butter,
          so deliver us from all the guns,
          all the butter,
          all the circuses,
          all the bread that we bake.
Give us the leanness to understand and receive and celebrate
          the few nourishments for our common life
          that come from you
          that is all we need.
So override our anxieties about what we shall eat
          and what we shall drink
          and what we shall wear
          and where we shall live
          and what we will save
          and how we will spend
          and what we shall have
          that in intentional and visible and public ways
          we may live as befits your liberated partners.
We pray in the name of Jesus who,
          as far as we know,
          never went to the circus.
AMEN  

From Awed to Heaven Rooted in Earth, Prayers of Walter Brueggemann 

I read this prayer right after have a brief conversation about politics.  Nothing bad, but a general conversation about the dissatisfaction of the state of politics in general.  We the people have to become a little more responsible.  If a politician promises to cut taxes and increase service we need to be skeptical.  We have to remember that one person’s essential program is another person’s wasteful program.  A prime example is free breakfast and lunch for school kids.  At the other extreme is waiting periods for purchasing a gun.  We the people have to stand up and be counted.  Not in a radical or militant way, but quietly, with certitude, with confidence that the system does work. Don't let the radio, TV or internet tell you how the system is "supposed to" work.  Remember the US History Class you took in Jr. High and Elementary.  We have been taught how the system works.  Trust what you know.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trends in Ministry


As I was reading this Sunday's Gospel text, Mark 4:26-34, I had an unusual thought.  As I re-read, "The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come." I own a lot of books that teach how to sow seed, how to prepare the ground for the seed. Of course I am speaking metaphorically about Church Growth. Every year there are more books, seminars, blogs, webinars and consultants than I can keep up with. I am part of a internet group that is for small rural congregations, they send a monthly magazine with helpful hints. In my years of ministry I have noticed that these events and resources seem to come and go in trends. If you listen you can catch the trend language. In 2003, when I arrived in the Synod the trend language was Transformational Ministry. In 2008, it was Re-Rooting in our communities and this language is still around. Today, the language is 21st Century and Faith Formation. Please note that I am not be critical of these movements, but note what the parable is saying:"The kingdom of God is as if someone would scatter seed on the ground, 27and would sleep and rise night and day, and the seed would sprout and grow, he does not know how. 28The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. 29But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come." We scatter the seed on the ground. We are not preparing the field, we are not planting in straight rows or on raised beds. We are not even providing irrigation and the seed sprouts and grows. How the seeds grow is a mystery to the sower. But as soon as the harvest is ready, you take your sickle and you harvest. As a pastor, I sometimes take credit for things I didn't do. I have to be honest and know that Holy Spirit does so many things in our ministry.  We just don't know how those seeds sprout and grow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Prayer for this day by Walter Brueggemann, titled "Your word"


Your word is a light to our feet and a lamp to our path.
Your word is a glue of the universe wherein the whole creation coheres.
Your word is the address of promise and command by which we live.
Your word has come fleshed among us full of grace and truth.
              We are creatures of your word and we give thanks for it. 
For all that we are more dazzled that your word
               is carried, uttered, acted
               by frail vulnerable human agents.
We ponder and give thanks for those who this day
              speak your word where it is desperately need 
                        and deeply resisted.
We ponder and give thanks for those who this day
               act your word for newness and peace and justice.
We ponder with trepidation that among us
               you will yet designate such carriers
                                                such speakers,
                                                such actors.
In our thanks for your word,
              we pray for courage in the name of the one
                       who emptied himself.   Amen.