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A Sabbath Challenge for the Summer

As we enter summer, most of us hope to find a more spacious life in which we can take time for recreation or release from patterns of overwork and over scheduling that have become habitual in our lives. Yet unless we create this reality, that hope will have passed us by when September arrives. Might we create time for Sabbath somewhere in our week during these summer months?

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Wind, Fire, Breath—What is Pentecost, Anyway?

Pentecost is observed fifty days after Easter, this year on June 8. It is sometimes called “the birthday of the church”, celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and many others gathered in Jerusalem on that day. In Pentecost, we celebrate the Spirit’s indwelling in each and every person. It reminds us that God’s promise is to be alive in each one of us, giving us courage to understand and live out more fully our lives as vehicles for God’s love and truth, grace and hope.

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Angels' Wings and Eagles' Wings

April 21, 2014
UCC Daily Devotional

“For God will command the angels concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” Psalm 91

Today is the 118th Boston Marathon. It is the world’s oldest marathon and, with over 500,000 spectators in attendance, the single most popular athletic competition in all of New England–sorry, Red Sox. Of course, you can look that up on Wikipedia. Heaven knows I did.

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A Prayer One Year Later

God of hard pavement and uphill battles,
God of where we start and how we finish,
God of city and suburb, of village and town,
God of the fleet of foot and we who stumble,
be with us today, this anniversary day.

Be with the families who mourn,
for whom the absence of a loved one is a hole,
jagged and menacing and too large and deep to fill.
Remind them that death is dead,
and envelop them in Your transcendent love.

Be with the survivors,
those still struggling to stand,
whose days are filled with rehab and pain,

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Reflecting (On) God’s Love

April continues our journey through the Lenten season, a time inviting deeper self-examination and spiritual introspection leading us into Holy Week and the joy of Eastertide. This particular Lent, my attention has been brought to the reality of the “new” brain science of mirror neurons, through which we come to know ourselves more deeply by way of the gaze of others. Like a good parent, God blesses each child of creation through God’s receptive and affirming face. Our familiar benediction, based on Numbers 6:25, says, “May God let his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.

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Grace As Surprise

Old South Church’s Theological Book Group has just finished reading Anne Lamott’s Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. It was a great read. It evoked some thoughtful discussion.

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Lent: Inviting Us to a Deeper Spirituality

This year, our Lenten season begins on March 5, forty days before Easter, this year celebrated on April 20. Interestingly, Easter is a “moveable feast” whose date is calculated by the lunar calendar. Our world is more accustomed to the “fixed” solar calendar, so Easter offers us a challenge from the beginning, since it cannot be “nailed down” to a specific numerical date each year. The resurrection itself speaks to this elusive world of the Spirit, upon which we depend, but which defies our controlling it. T. S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday” includes this interesting paradox:

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What, Me Pray?

What are the favorite stories you tell yourself about February? Do they include dreary, bitterly cold days with you trying to get warm after a seemingly endless wait for a bus? Do they offer adventures on the slopes with a strikingly soft powder under your skis and vistas of amazing grandeur? Are they full of ice dams on the roof or ice sculptures in Copley Square? Notice with gentle interest and curiosity which ones you dwell with, repeat again and again, or try to avoid.

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What is the 'First Act'?

Theology is always a ‘second act.’ That is to say, our understanding of theology and then our articulation of theological concepts and motifs (creeds, affirmations and the like), always come second. Most, but certainly not all, theologians and pastors would agree. Our theological formulations need to be updated, revised and perhaps sometimes even set aside as we continue to engage in the ‘first act.’ At best, they are human constructs of what others have believed in past days; albeit often very insightful. But even they are based on the experiences of those who engaged the ‘first act.’

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Epiphany - More Light Revealing God’s Love

January 6 is the festival of Epiphany in the Christian calendar. Epiphany is defined as “manifestation, disclosure, or revelation.” It is a moment in which we see or understand something in a new way. Traditionally, January 6 is celebrated as the day the Magi arrived to visit Jesus, symbolically marking the revelation of a new order for the whole world. As the light continues to grow with each passing day for those of us in the northern hemisphere, we are invited to reflect upon ways that the Spirit is revealing an unfolding light and new growth in our own lives, day by day.

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