Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Senator's Prayer

Senator Obama has been on the move lately--traveling throughout the Middle East and Europe over the last few weeks. Kind of makes me sad, actually--we have heard a lot "about" him, but not much "from" him, since he's been on a whirlwind tour of photo-ops with the world's leaders. I respect what he's doing, though, trying to shore up his foreign relations credentials ahead of the fall debates, when his lack of experience will be a sure target for Senator McCain.

What dismayed me, though, was this article, and others like it, which reported that someone intercepted Mr. Obama's prayer to God (placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem), and printed it in a newspaper. Now, I regularly pray prayers that lots of people hear, and even sometimes print out prayers for others to use, but the prayers in the Western Wall are meant as direct intercessions to God, not as public fodder. What I pray on Sunday mornings out loud from the pulpit and what I pray privately on Monday mornings in my office are two different prayers altogether. We can be thankful that the Senator seems to have almost been mindful of the fact that his prayer might have been intercepted, because he actually kept the contents pretty genuine and general (No mention of "please help make me President in '08").

This incident, and all the hullabaloo about Mr. Obama's church in Chicago have gotten me thinking--to what extent do we want our politicians in this country to be genuinely religious? We want them to have the outward appearance of religion--to say the right words ("God bless the United States of America" at the end of every speech), but not to use challenging words of faith, or to be challenged by prophetic preaching (witness the Rev. Wright incident). We have what is called a "civil religion" in America, that is about 80% America, 10% Religion and 10% superstition (more on that breakdown another time), and Senator Obama is not the only victim of this. Though I do not see eye to eye with President Bush on almost anything, I can sympathize with him for facing persecution in some quarters when he talks about what I believe is a genuine faith in God's salvation. And, I felt sorry for John Kerry in '04, when he faced being evicted from his church's communion because of some of the positions he holds.

What we should be doing in this country is praying for our leaders--all of them, not just the ones we agree with--asking that God will give them the wisdom that they need, and that they will have the courage to do what is right for this country and for the good of all humanity.

So, let's spend less time worrying about what's in Obama's prayer, and more time worrying about what's in our own.

Prayerfully yours,


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tuesday @ the Mall

I spent my first Tuesday afternoon at the mall this week. It was a bit uneventful--I talked to about a dozen families about VBS, got two prayer requests, and had one man ask me where the restrooms were! All in all, I think it's going to take time to build up a "presence" for our congregation at the mall, so I'm going to try to keep up the program for a while.

Next week starts VBS, so it will be pretty busy around here. I am playing the part of Flame, the Flamingo (he's a puppet with an outrageous French accent!), and the Bible storyteller. Looking forward to the fun!

I've posted a new picture of me in my ordination gear here, and I also posted some ordination pics on my MySpace page:

That's all for now,


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Post Ordination Wrap-up

I know, it's been a long time since ordination!

Problem is, I usually blog at the office, and my ordination pictures are all on the computer at home--sometimes that can be the longest hundred yards in the world when it comes to getting something from over there over here, and vice versa.

Here are some pics from the conference website. Check out the Retirement and Commissioning Service to see me receiving the mantle from Liz Spiker. The ordination service pictures have some nice shots, including several angles where you can see my bald spot prominently. And, the Wednesday afternoon business session has one picture of me doing a report for the Urban Ministry Team. As Aunt Sara has wisely stated, "Why not just cut down the whole tree. . ."

Ordination was a very moving experience for me. To be surrounded by so many who love and care for me, who have supported me through these many years, and who continue to support me in ministry was truly an honor. It was also very moving to have the Bishop place his hands on my head and call down the Holy Spirit to enable me to do the work I do. "Take authority" are the words the Bishop speaks to every Elder, while placing the stole around the neck. Those words--and that garment--come with some heavy-duty responsibility. I pray that I will continue to have the strength, by the grace of God, to fulfill those obligations.

As soon as Kelly e-mails me some pictures, I'll post them here.

In the meantime, I am gearing up for a week of vacation next week--just the kids and me, since Kelly will be going to "The Promised Land" (also known as the Usborne home office in Tulsa, Oklahoma) for her national convention.

While I've got the attention of about three people in the world, let me ask a favor: Please keep my friend, David Rittgers, and his family in your prayers. David is the pastor of one of our new church starts, "The Orchard Path." He just started on July 1, has no congregation, and his wife is serving as the church secretary. Keep them in your prayers, that they might be able to reach many people with the message of Jesus' love.

In Christ,