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A Prayer for Sunday (Thomas à Kempis)

Thomas a KempisFew people manage to have a lasting impact on the church with only a single book. Thomas à Kempis is one of them. His Imitation of Christ is widely considered to be the most influential devotional work of the Middle Ages and one of the most widely read Christian books of all time. (I’ve even heard it claimed that the Imitation of Christ has been translated into more languages than any book besides the Bible, a claim I have not even tried to confirm.) The Imitation of Christ had an undoubted impact on Catholic spirituality, but also impacted many Protestant thinkers (e.g. John Wesley). And it received a renewed boost in contemporary spirituality through the writings of people like Thomas Merton.

Although Thomas à Kempis’ book has received significant criticism over the years–especially for an apparent overemphasis on the “inner” life of the Christian at the expense of a more “active” spirituality–his work has played an unquestionable role in the spiritual lives our countless Christians. So in honor of the life and ministry of Thomas à Kempis, who died on July 25, 1471, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him.

Grant me, O Lord, to know what I ought to know,
To love what I ought to love,
To praise what delights thee most,
To value what is precious in thy sight,
To hate what is offensive to thee.
Do not suffer me to judge according to the sight of my eyes,
Nor to pass sentence according
…..to the hearing of the ears of ignorant men;
But to discern with a true judgment
…..between things visible and spiritual,
And above all, always to inquire what is the good pleasure of thy will.

Flotsam and jetsam (7/25)

academic language

Good Reads

  • Prioritizing Church Attendance: There used to be an understanding in Christian families that unless one was deathly ill or there was a family emergency, you just never ever missed church. So what has changed and caused so many people to view the church as a disposable good instead of as an intricate part of one’s spiritual life? (Gospel Centered Discipleship)

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Just for Fun

Flotsam and jetsam (7/23)

jacket

Good Reads

  • The Double Standard of Religious Leadership:  On the one hand, leaders are accorded certain privileges and have corresponding responsibilities. The price of the platform is accountability. At the same time, we don’t want leaders to assume they are somehow better. When they fail there is a certain reassurance and even delight in the schadenfreudian confirmation that everyone is human. (On Faith)
  • Living With Disability in the Dark Ages:  The moral arc of the universe may indeed bend toward justice, in disability as in race, gender, and class—but that arc doesn’t flow smoothly: It contains many hills and valleys. (The Daily Beast)
  • Why our brains love the ocean: Science explains what draws humans to the sea:  Several years ago I came up with a name for this human–water connection: Blue Mind, a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion. (Salon)

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/21)

android smartphone

Good Reads

  • How to Talk about Pain: Stripped of its mysticism and its virtuous solicitations, pain was emptied of positive value. Rather than being passively endured, pain became an “enemy” to be fought and ultimately defeated. The introduction of effective relief made submission to pain perverse rather than praiseworthy. (New York Times)
  • The Importance of Eating Together:  It’s incredible what we’re willing to make time for if we’re motivated….Perhaps seeing eating together not as another appointment on a busy schedule, but rather as an opportunity to de-stress, a chance to catch up with those whom we love then, could help our children do better in school, get in better shape, and be less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Eating together also led children to report better relationships with their parents and surely relationships between adults can similarly benefit. (The Atlantic)
  • Five Pleas from Pastors to Search Committees:  At any given time in a year, as many as 50,000 congregations are searching for a pastor. The implications of the challenges and possible misunderstandings are many. These pleas from pastors are sound and reasonable. (Thom Rainer)
  • The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence:  Emotional intelligence is important, but the unbridled enthusiasm has obscured a dark side. New evidence shows that when people hone their emotional skills, they become better at manipulating others. When you’re good at controlling your own emotions, you can disguise your true feelings. When you know what others are feeling, you can tug at their heartstrings and motivate them to act against their own best interests. (The Atlantic)

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A Prayer for Sunday (Macrina the Younger)

The older sister of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, Macrina the Younger was an influential figure in our own right, becoming one of the leading monastics of the early church and deeply shaping the theology and writings of her two significant brothers. Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina describes her as an impressive woman with a tremendous intellect and a passion for following Christ.

Macrina died on July 19, 340. In honor of her amazing life and ministry, this morning’s prayer is the prayer that she prayed on her deathbed.

“O Lord, You have freed us from the fear of death;
You have made the end of life here the beginning of a true life for us.
For a time, You give rest to our bodies in
…..sleep and You awaken us again with the last trumpet.

The dust from which You fashioned us with Your hands
…..You give back to the dust of the earth for safekeeping,
and You who have relinquished it will recall it
…..after reshaping with incorruptibility and grace
our mortal and graceless substance.

You redeemed us from the curse and from sin,
…..having taken both upon Yourself;
You crushed the heads of the serpent who had seized us
…..with his jaws in the abyss of disobedience.
Breaking down the gates of hell
…..and overcoming the one who had the empire of death,
You opened up for us a path to the resurrection.
For those who fear You, You gave as a token
…..the sign of the holy cross for the destruction of the Adversary
…..and the salvation of our life.

O God everlasting, towards whom I have directed myself from my mother’s womb,
…..whom my soul has loved with all its strength,
…..to whom I have dedicated my body and my soul from my infancy up to now,
prepare for me a shining angel to lead me to the place of refreshment
…..where is the water of relaxation near the bosom of the holy Fathers.

You who broke the flaming sword
…..and compassionately gave Paradise back to the man crucified with You,
remember me also in Your kingdom,
…..for I, too, have been crucified with You,
…..having nailed my flesh through fear of You and having feared your judgments.
Let the terrible abyss not separate me from Your chosen ones;
let the Slanderer not stand in my way
…..or my sins be discovered before Your eyes
…..if I have fallen and sinned in word or deed or thought
…..because of the weakness of our nature.

Do You who have power on earth to forgive sins forgive me
…..so that I may be refreshed and may be found before You
…..once I have put off my body,
…..having no fault in the form of my soul,
but blameless and spotless may my soul be taken into Your hands
…..as an offering before Your face.

Saturday Morning Fun…Word Crimes

Weird Al and grammar policing in the same video? Yes please.

Flotsam and jetsam (7/18)

xmen

Good Reads

  • Fantasy and the Buffered Self: the porous self is open to the divine as well as to the demonic, while the buffered self is closed to both alike. Those who must guard against capture by fairies are necessarily and by the same token receptive to mystical experiences….Safety is purchased at the high price of isolation. (Alan Jacobs)
  • Wonder and the Ends of Inquiry: Wonder is not only a peculiarly human passion; it is also one that, at least on this account, underscores the limits of human knowledge. The more we know, the less we wonder. (The Point)
  • Being a Better Online Reader: The digital deficit, they suggest, isn’t a result of the medium as such but rather of a failure of self-knowledge and self-control: we don’t realize that digital comprehension may take just as much time as reading a book. (The NewYorker)
  • Want to Love Your Job? Church Can Help, Study Says:  Regular attenders who frequent a church that teaches God is present at your workplace, work is a mission from God, or that faith can guide work decisions and practices is a good sign for your career, according to a recent study from Baylor University. (Christianity Today)

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/16)

holding signs

Good Reads

  • My God. My Enemy. My Eating Disorder: I was raised with the understanding that I must better the world in order to enter the pearly gates of heaven. And if the world could not accept me for the overweight child that I was, there was no hope that I could change the world. Therefore, how could I be good in the eyes of this God? (On Faith)
  • Books Are Alive: The worst thing about prophets of inevitable technological progress, besides their obvious myopic tendencies, is their fondness of universalizing the particular. It’s not enough to observe that more people are reading books on their smartphones; you need to announce that The Future of Reading is Smartphones. Meanwhile, 42 percent of American adults still don’t even own a smartphone. (The Baffler)
  • Millennials’ Political Views Don’t Make Any Sense:  Millennial politics is simple, really. Young people support big government, unless it costs any more money. They’re for smaller government, unless budget cuts scratch a program they’ve heard of. They’d like Washington to fix everything, just so long as it doesn’t run anything. (The Atlantic)

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Flotsam and jetsam (7/14)

brain is full

Good Reads

  • Is Evangelical Morality Still Acceptable in America?  And this is a basic tenet of evangelical Christianity, too: Faith must be lived out in the public square; a privatized faith is no faith worth the name. Because of this, the real debate isn’t about whether morality should be public or private; it’s about about figuring out what kind of moral impositions are tolerable and fair in a pluralistic society. (The Atlantic)
  • When Belief and Facts Collide: Mr. Kahan’s study suggests that more people know what scientists think about high-profile scientific controversies than polls suggest; they just aren’t willing to endorse the consensus when it contradicts their political or religious views. (New York Times)
  • How Evangelical Christians Do Money: On Tithing:  He doesn’t need my money. The church will continue to exist without my measly portion of income. But my heart needs to give it, to help me grow deeper in trust, and to extricate myself from the clutches of greed and vanity that pull at me. (The Billfold)

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A Prayer for Sunday (John Wesley)

john wesleyA famous Anglican ministry in his day and ours, John Wesley‘s ministry, the accompanying revivals, and the subsequent rise of Methodism all combined to reshape the church in the English speaking world. For that alone Wesley would be worth remembering. But when you add in his impressive theological contributions and social efforts, his life becomes even more notable.

John Wesley died on March 2, 1791, fifty-three years after the famous Aldersgate experience that shaped his approach to Christian life and ministry. In honor of his amazing life and impact, today’s prayer comes from him.

Forgive them all, O Lord:
our sins of omission and our sins of commission;
the sins of our youth and the sins of our riper years;
the sins of our souls and the sins of our bodies;
our secret and our more open sins;
our sins of ignorance and surprise,
…..and our more deliberate and presumptuous sins;
the sins we have done to please others;
the sins we know and remember,
…..and the sins we have forgotten;
the sins we have striven to hide from others
…..and the sins by which we have made others offend;

forgive them, O Lord,
forgive them all for his sake,
…..who died for our sins and rose for our justification,
…..and now stands at thy right hand to make intercession for us,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

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