Reformation Day

Today is the Eve of All Saints, and on this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed a long list of concerns/protests on the door (known as the 95 Theses) of  All Saints Church in Wittenburg.  Though there had been other expressions by other reformers for years before, this particular act has been viewed as the watershed  event that began the Protestant Reformation.

Read the 95 Theses in English

Reading through the 95 protests will give you a look at the Roman Catholic Church and some of its practices at a point in history that show political and economic corruption.  Five hundred years later, Luther would hardly recognize what his faithful act would become.

I suspect that if Luther took a quick look at the North American version of Protestantism, he would find even more protests to nail to the doors of Willow Creek or Saddleback Community Church, or most any big steeple church in the country.

I imagine Luther would ponder many questions, here might be a few…

  • Why has your use of the Holy Scriptures been idolatrous in some respects, and non-existent in others?  We didn’t fight over getting those words into native languages to be used so poorly.
  • What has become of the sacraments? I see that Eucharist is not central to worship in many congregations, and is an afterthought in large portions of the church.  Again, lots of time spent on the meaning of “est” and it is not front and center for the church.
  • Why so many television preachers with so may funding schemes to stay on the air? You heard about indulgences in the 16th century, consider that you have not come that far in 500 years.

A good meditation for the day would be to consider what a modern 95 theses would include

 

Remembering Clarence Jordan

Today is a remembrance day for Clarence Jordan (1912-1969).

I first encountered Clarence Jordan and The Cotton Patch Gospels when I was teenager, because of my crazy Aunt Betty, a good Methodist laywoman who lived in South Florida who came to visit us every summer.  She would read excerpts from my Aunt Myrtle’s front porch with a vivid southern accent.  I learned to read the Gospels with fresh eyes when I heard about the baby born in Gainesville who grew up in Valdosta (nothing good could come from there).

I read Jordan’s biography when I was eighteen and a college freshmen, and read articles about him in Sojourners Magazine in my sophomore year when they did a tenth anniversary of his death issue.  His life and ministry at Koinonia Farms was a challenge to a child of relative privilege from a racially charged part of the world (South Alabama).  I became a student of the civil rights movement and attempted to practice a life of racial reconciliation…not always the easiest thing to do .  Over thirty years later, I am still learning to live in harmony with all of God’s children, and have developed some life-long friendships with persons of many races and colors.  I can say that Clarence Jordan helped me make that step.

It has now been over 40 years since his death, and there have been many changes in the world.  The transformation of the community in and around Koinonia Farms would probably be a surprise to him, having lived through some of the darkest periods in our history.  Seeing an African American president in the White House would probably be beyond his expectations.  But the reality that we have so far to go in race relations, and extending love and concern for folks different than us would still haunt him.

Take some time to today to learn about Clarence Jordan and reflect on his life.  He was one of those saints that could be a briar under your skin.

The December 1979 issue (vol. 8, no. 12) of Sojourners magazine was devoted to the Cotton Patch, Clarence Jordan, and Koinonia Partners. Below are some of the articles:
– Theology in Overalls: The Imprint of Clarence Jordan, by G. McLeod Bryan
– A Scandalous Life of Faith, by Joyce Hollyday
– Where There’s So Much Smoke: Thirty-Caliber Violence at Koinonia, by Will D. Campbell
– Remembrances of Clarence by various persons
– The Dream That Has Endured: Clarence Jordan and Koinonia, by Joyce Hollyday

Video from Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove

Remembering Steve Jobs

When I opened my Safari browser this morning, I was treated with a short video from Apple in remembrance of Steve Jobs.  It was a year ago that he left us.  I suspect that many of our lives would be different had it not been for him.

I remember some of my first experiences with personal computers were with the Apple II.  Primitive, compared with modern standards, but how amazing it was to be able to edit a paper without eraser and whiteout.  The first time I ever worked with a Mac was another eye opener.  To move graphics across a page with a mouse, to develop a page on the computer that printed exactly as I saw it on the screen.  That was revolutionary.

I owned a first generation iPod, that my son affectionately calls the iBrick.  It was quite a thrill to have all of my music library at my fingertips.  I go everywhere with my music, and with iCloud, I can use it in so many ways that I couldn’t before.  Thanks Steve Jobs.

I had several laptops before I ever bought my first Mac.  That was the first one that I was ever satisfied with.  That iBook was a rolling studio for music, photographs, videos, and just plain work.  I carried it all over Asia for a few years, and bought a new one.  I gave the original to my son who used it until it was unable to be upgraded any further.  The second one finally died after about 5 years of hard use.  One Friday evening, we took the guts out of the original and put them inside iBook number two.  It still works 10 years later.  Not as quick, and with some troubles since the last software update was around 2007, but I can’t say that about any of my PC laptops.

I don’t have an iPhone, but I now many who do.  What an amazing possibility to have almost everything on my laptop available in a pocket sized device.  That phone is more capable than all of the computers that were used to get a man to the moon, and better looking too.

Then there was the iPad that revolutionized the world again.  I have found all kinds of ways to use it in everyday life.  They tell me that Angry Birds is awesome on it, but I have never tried.  I am currently carrying around a library of about 20 books on it, with another 50 archived.  It used to take a few liquor store boxes to move them all around and the backseat of my car.

So, today I remember Steve Jobs and give thanks for one who did quite a bit with his 56 years on earth.  We are all just given one life, may we all do something glorious with it.

Feast of Saint Francis

I pulled this from a year ago.  It is a grand day in the life of the church, enjoy!

From October 4, 2011

Today is the Feast of Saint Francis. Even my United Methodist background found room for this saint.  I remember when the Book of Worship came out in 1992, it was amazing to see a service included for the Blessing of the Animals and the suggested date was October 4, or the Sunday nearest the Saint Francis commemoration.

I have read a number of biographies and articles about him, and like much of the world, there is a spark in his life that captures our imaginations. In the earlier version of this website, I wrote a long piece on Saint Francis and included some of his prayers.  Today I am going to link to a few resources and include a more obscure prayer attributed to him.

May this celebration of this saint’s life open you to the possibilities of of your own life.

You are loved by God and invited to respond by loving your neighbor and the whole creation.

Scriptures for the Day:

Galatians 6:14-18
Matthew 11:25-30
Psalm 148:7-14 or
Psalm 121

Collect for the Day:

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant your people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of you delight in your whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

More about him:

St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer in praise of God given to Brother Leo

You are holy, Lord, the only God,
and Your deeds are wonderful.
You are strong.
You are great.
You are the Most High.
You are Almighty.
You, Holy Father are King of heaven and earth.
You are Three and One, Lord God, all Good.
You are Good, all Good, supreme Good,
Lord God, living and true.
You are love. You are wisdom.
You are humility. You are endurance.
You are rest. You are peace.
You are joy and gladness.
You are justice and moderation.
You are all our riches, and You suffice for us.
You are beauty.
You are gentleness.
You are our protector.
You are our guardian and defender.
You are our courage. You are our haven and our hope.
You are our faith, our great consolation.
You are our eternal life, Great and Wonderful Lord,
God Almighty, Merciful Saviour.

 

 

Labor Day

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This is the prayer for this day in the Book of Common Prayer.  For me, it is a day to reflect, rest and be thankful.  I have started the day in a lazy fashion, and have no big agenda. The work-week begins tomorrow. Today I am grateful that I have a job to return to after a long weekend.  I pray today for those who were required to work today.  I pray for those who are unemployed and underemployed.  I offer prayers for a nation that needs to find its way again when it comes to work and economics.

Thoughts on Labor Day at Speaking to the Soul

A Colony of Heaven

From Common Prayer today:

Martin Luther King Jr. said this: “There was a time when the church was very powerful. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But they went on with the conviction that they were ‘a colony of heaven,’ and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest.”

Prayer

Lord God, help us to live out your gospel in the world. We pray for those who do not know your love, that they would be wooed by your goodness and seduced by your beauty. Form us into a family that runs deeper than biology or nationality or ethnicity, a family that is born again in you. May we be creators of holy mischief and agitators of comfort .?.?. -people who do not accept the world as it is but insist on its becoming what you want it to be. Let us groan as in the pains of childbirth for your kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. Help us to be midwives of that kingdom. Amen.