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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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It's Almost Here: A Christmas Reflection

It’s almost here. Sometimes one can hardly sense ‘the coming’ amidst the clamor of the season. It is really countercultural. In the midst of the busyness of our lives and the obscurity of the occasion back then, a new born babe! The poet, Ann Weems, in her poem, The Birth, suggests that “God did not pitch a tent among us in an extraordinary way.” It was a new baby whose ‘crowning’ was a great joy to Mary and Joseph. Perhaps Joseph helped cut the cord. Mary suckled him at her breast and wrapped him in a simple cloth.

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An Advent Reflection

The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. It is a time in which we are invited to live into the anticipation and preparation for the coming of the One who turns our world upside down, who offers us a new perspective on life, a new way of being. Traditionally it was a deeply spiritual time in which the soul longed and waited for God’s coming into the world. Often for us, in our 21st century world, it is a time of frenzy, hurry, and unrealistic expectation of others and ourselves.

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