All Saints’ Sunday B: Look Twice

Dear Partner in Preaching, On the nightstand beside my childhood bed stood a plaster statuette of two children kneeling, hands folded and heads bowed. Beneath them, raised in gilt-edged letters, ran the old English prayer, Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. And if I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Not too long ago, I happened to glance upon a similar item, tucked away in the corner of a display window of a bright, cheerful shop of books and collectibles, but this time made of plastic and with a slightly altered prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Guide me safely...

The Journey Mar07

The Journey

I’m still pondering the importance of paying attention, especially to joy. I think the reason Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are my two favorite living poets is probably their knack for paying close attention to things many of us miss so that we might see something we hadn’t seen...

Epiphany 5 B: Freedom For

Dear Partner in Preaching, Well, it was another thrilling match-up. All the players had prepared well, sparing no expense in terms of time and effort. The stakes were high; the competition was fierce; and the whole world watched…. And, no, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl, but rather the Super Bowl commercials! I have to admit, though, that as much as I found the Budweiser puppy endearing and the Katie Couric/Bryant Gumble BMW commercial clever, nothing really equaled the uplifting quality of last year’s Duracell commercial featuring Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks. Do you remember that one? At a young age, Derrick lost his...

Do You Feel Called, Pt. 2 Aug22

Do You Feel Called, Pt. 2

Judging by your comments (16) and emails (about double that amount) to the short piece I wrote on vocation last week, I’d say that we all, at the very least, want to feel called. And so I wanted to continue sharing some thoughts on vocation as well as continue inviting your conversation (especially in the comments so all can hear what you’re thinking). In this post, then, three observations I have about vocation in relation to the comments, emails, and dozens of conversations I’ve been privileged to have with folks over the years about their sense of calling. 1) No matter how hard we try, we still often tend to think of “calling”...

Do You Feel Called? Aug14

Do You Feel Called?

Do you feel called? Two things prompt this question: 1) As I’ve talked with both clergy and everyday Christians (my preferred term to lay people), I’ve been struck by a deep divide over the issue of vocation. Not about whether vocation is a great idea – who could argue that all Christians are called by God in Baptism to participate with God in caring for the world. Rather, the divide is two-fold. First, most pastors feel called by God to what they do, while most everyday Christians do not. Second, most pastors assume their people feel called, in part because they preach and teach about vocation, while most everyday Christians...