Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not quite ready for college? Take a Gap Year....hmm...

I subscribe to several e-newsletters, one of which comes from Walter Mueller's Center for Parents/Youth Understanding. I just got this article written by Derrick Melleby, who leads their work on transitioning students to college. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our Father

One of my spiritual practices this summer has been to pray through the "Divine Hours," as Phyllis Tickle calls them in her manual of the same name. It's "praying the hours," founded on readings from the Book of Common Prayer. Last fall I started praying the Morning Office, usually with a couple of students before their 9:00 class. However, I haven't really prayed through all the offices until this summer. This morning, while praying the Morning Office, as I've done most mornings for the last year, I prayed the Lord's Prayer.

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread..."

You know it, whether you pray trespasses or debts, you know it. Anyway, as I was praying these first three lines, I was struck by something that, ashamedly, I've just noticed. I noticed that I had just prayed in the plural..."Our Father...Give us...our daily bread." Praying the Lord's prayer has not been one of my common practices, except for in church when I pray it along with the rest of the congregation, until I started praying the hours. And throughout most of the year, I prayed it with students. This summer, I've been praying the Lord's prayer by myself, but today the "corporate-ness" of it really struck me.

One of the powerful things to me about using Divine Hours as a guidebook for prayer has been the idea that while I'm praying this prayer now in my time zone, an hour from now, someone in Mountain Time will be praying it. And then Pacific, etc. The idea of continual prayer, around the world becomes a reality. I think this morning I sensed a similar reality, except on a bigger scale with the Lord's prayer. While I was praying, I realized that while I may be praying it alone in my living room or in my office, "the saints," both living and dead have prayed this prayer innumerable times. Hebrews 11 and the first verse of Hebrews 12 comes to mind, "Here we are, surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses." The faithful prayers of so many, initiated by Jesus' important prayer, help us hold that prayer in proper context. We can pray to God, requesting for God's kingdom to be realized here on earth and that God's purposes would be accomplished. We can be grateful for the provision that God gives us through physical things and receive the forgiveness of God, as well. We also can ask for God's protection through all of our trials and temptations. We. Sure, I individually could ask for these these things, but this is a prayer for all of humanity. It reminds us that we haven't "arrived" yet. And, due to it's universality, it is a prayer that helps us experience community, even if we're praying it alone in our living room. Thanks be to God!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Summer Vacation (Books and Travels)

In my last blog, I wrote about how great it was to read some of the books that I've been wanting to read this summer! That remains true...I've read two more books since I wrote that last and I'll give my two sentence synopsis of those two books:

Taking Back the United Methodist Church by Mark Tooley. This book was written just in time for all the delegates of the quadrennial General Conference by the UM Action Director at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. While I think that the book had lots of good information in it, the sometimes inflammatory tone could perhaps mislead readers, especially readers who have a beef against the IRD or Tooley. Reading the book gave me some background on some of the contemporary controversies in the UMC (for the good or for the bad). (Sorry...that was three sentences.)

2.) The Shack by William P. Young. Paraphrasing Eugene Peterson in his accolades of the book, The Shack is a modern-day Pilgrim's Progress. That's pretty high praise, but (if you don't take the theology too seriously, as it borders on modalism)the book is encouraging and helps to answer the question of how God is at work during difficult times. (There...I did it in 2 sentences!)

I also got to go on vacation since my last post. I visited friends in Oxford, MS; Lake Arthur, LA; and Mandeville, LA and had my fill of southern food! Borrowing from my good friend Katie's blog, I'll adopt her style of 5 words or phrases to summarize my trip:

Oxford--Laughter. Conversation. Great Food. Southern Charm. Kindred Spirits.
Lake Arthur--Stories. Giggles. Crawfish. Spiritually Relaxing. Felt like home.
Mandeville--Barfing Baby. Rest. Catching Up. French Market. Sharing Secrets.

I had such a great time with Corrie and D., Melanie and her family and Shannon and Jeff! Thanks to you all for hosting me! What a gift each of you are to me...

I ended my vacation at a family wedding in Springfield, MO. After 2300 miles and about $200 in gasoline, I arrived home exhausted, but feeling incredibly blessed by my friends and family!

PS I listened to two more great AudioBooks on my travels, Light from Heaven by Jan Karon and Morality for Beautiful Girls, one of Alexander McCall Smith's books from the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Both were great!