A simple Guide to Prayer This Week

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Thought for Ash Wednesday

We were looking into a shallow hole we had dug with the tractor shovel. We were looking a thin layer of ashes that covered the bottom of the hole in front of us. We were kneeling in the dirt, running our hands through the ashes. My nieces and nephews were standing behind us in nervous somber quiet. “Look here. It’s one of his implants,” I said pointing to a titanium screw and post that was lying in the ashes. “There is another one,” said my brother. “I remember when he got those.” He paused. “That was right after she died.” “We should close this now.” And we did. With a simple pull on a hydraulic lever a flap of earth shut like a book-cover. Pines cover the traces with a gentle dust of needles.

A year later. He stood 100 yards to the south of that spot in a large tent pitched by the barn. He had risen to give the toast a his daughter’s wedding.  As he spoke little brother and I leaned toward one another. “He looks so so much like our Dad right now. I never notice how much they looked alike before. It’s almost eerie.”  

My children and I took a stroll through the grove of pines after dinner. “Do you know this place?” “Yes, dad.” We stood there in silence for a moment. It was time to move on.

It is a grace that we die, that we are dust and that to dust we shall return according to the will of the Father. No generation can arise until the one before falls away and makes room for it. And no generation raises up the next until it realizes that it must itself die and sees to it that it will pass life on to the next. And no generation truly becomes itself until it lovingly runs its hands through the last generation’s ashes and assumes responsibility for itself and others, becomes elders, and accepts the task of being keepers of life. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Potlucks Matter

There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting her things "in order," she contacted her pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. One of her requests was to be buried with her favorite Bible.
Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her. "There's one more thing," she said excitedly. "What's that?" came the pastor's reply. "This is very important," the woman continued.. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say. "That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked.
"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," said the pastor.
The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say,"keep your fork." It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming, like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder 'What's with the fork?' Then I want you to tell them: "Keep Your Fork. The best is yet to come"

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Quest for Happiness

There is a story told about a cat who discovered that happiness was in his tail.
He kept trying over and over to get it, but all he could do was run around in circles.
Exhausted and frustrated, with this endless pursuit, he eventually stopped.
And then, he discovered that if he'd just go on about his life then it would follow him wherever he went.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Parable from the East - keep hope alive do not surrender to frustration

You take a little seed, plant it, water it, and fertilise it for a whole year, and nothing happens

The second year you water it and fertilise it, and nothing happens

The third year you water it and fertilise it, and nothing happens. How discouraging this becomes!

The fourth year you water it and fertilise it, and nothing happens. This is very frustating

The fifth year you continue to water and fertilise the seed and then...take note. Sometime during the fifth year, the Chinese bamboo tree spouts and grows NINETY FEET IN SIX WEEKS

Life is much akin to the growing process of the Chinese bamboo tree.
It is often discouraging. We seemingly do things right, and nothing happens

But for those who do things right and are not discouraged and are persistent, things will happen.
Finally we begin to receive the rewards.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Every day, find a new way to look at things

A water man in India had two big water pots, one hanging on each end of his yoke, which he carried around across his shoulder. One of the pots was cracked. While the good water pot could bring home a full pot of water from the faraway water spring, the cracked water pot could only bring back half a pot. For two years, this happened everyday.
The water man could only bring one and half pots of water to his master’s residence. Of course, the good water pot felt proud of his achievement as he was able to fulfill his duty perfectly. But the poor cracked water pot felt very embarrassed and sad because of its imperfection.
After two years being stressed by such failure, the cracked water pot said to the water man, “I am so embarrassed with myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the water man. “Why are you embarrassed?” “For two years, I have only brought half of a full jug as I have a crack on my side that makes the water drip little by little along the way to master’s house. My defect has brought you disadvantages,” said the water pot.
The water man felt sorry for the cracked water pot and, in his compassion, he told the water pot, “Tomorrow when we return back to our master’s house, I’d like you to take notice of the beautiful flowers along the way.” Later, when they climbed up the hill, the cracked water pot looked around and saw that there are many beautiful flowers along the way and seeing them did console him a bit. But, at the end of the journey, his sad feeling returned as he had lost half the water he carried. Once more, he apologized to the water man.
The water man said to the water pot, “Did you realize that there were flowers along the way on your side, but there were none along the other pot’s side? It was because i have always been aware of your flaw and I made use of it. I planted flower seeds along the way on your side, and everyday as we walked home from the spring, you have watered them. For these two years, I have been able to pick those beautiful flowers to decorate our master’s table. Without you as who you are, our master’s house wouldn’t be as beautiful as it is now.”

Found on

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Feather on the Breath of God

For you who asked about the poem I wrapped my sermon around last Sunday:

"Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along. 
Thus am I, a feather on the breath of God." 

- Hildegard of Bingen, 1098 - 1179