August 5, 2015

Merton on Humility

Lord, You have taught us to love humility, but we have not learned. We have learned only to love the outward surface of it — the humility that makes a person charming and attractive. We sometimes pause to think about these qualities, and we often pretend that we possess them, and that we have gained […]

A Strange and Awesome Conclave

A Strange and Awesome Conclave Inside the kingdom of night I witnessed a strange trial. Three rabbis, all erudite and pious men, decided one winter evening to indict God for having allowed his children to be massacred. An awesome conclave, particularly in view of the fact that it was held in a concentration camp. But what […]

Alms, not Tithes

I have never heard an evangelical sermon on almsgiving. Despite countless texts in the Hebrew Bible about generosity toward the poor, the example of the first Christians, and a long tradition of the practice, especially during Lent, I have rarely heard the word mentioned in my adult life as a Christian. “Tithes and offerings,” yes of […]

Mud season and me

These are the ugly days. Before the new season springs forth in delicate color and texture, the world looks like a frat house the day after. The grass is patchy, brown and nubby, and with every step comes the possibility your sneaker treads will lose the battle with God’s good mud. Whatever snow remains crouches […]

Music Monday: Top Songs for Lent

One of the best resources on the web for pastors, church musicians, and worship leaders is the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. In their Resource Library, I found a page on which four church leaders listed their top ten songs for the Lenten season. You can go to the site and read more about each […]

Lent with Walter White

In case you suspect that I’ve been distracted lately, it’s because I have been living in the Old Testament. Old Testament Albuquerque, that is. I just finished binge-watching Breaking Bad, an act of self-flagellation worthy of the most rigorous Lenten discipline. I’ve known about the show, and had heard about its magnificent writing and performances and its […]

Music Monday: Lent with Wilco

I wander thro’ each charter’d street, Near where the charter’d Thames does flow, And mark in every face I meet, Marks of weakness, marks of woe. In every cry of every Man, In every Infant’s cry of fear, In every voice, in every ban, The mind-forg’d manacles I hear. From “London” by William Blake • […]

Wendell Berry: Lamenting Modern Christianity

Lent is a time for lamenting. The Book of Psalms teaches us that lamenting is a primary form of prayer in an unjust and unloving world. Through lamenting prayer, we cry out to God in the pain of our suffering and weakness, beseeching him to restore righteousness and peace to our world. In our individual lives […]

Lent is not about getting better

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. • John 12:24, NRSV • • • Lent is not about getting better. Lent is about preparing to die. The word “lent” means “spring.” But […]

Ash Wednesday: Psalm 51 in music

For Ash Wednesday Two renditions of Psalm 51 “Have mercy on me, O God,     according to your steadfast love . . .” • • • Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts Psalm 51:14-17 O God of mercy, hear my call, My loads of guilt remove; Break down this separating wall, That bars me from thy […]