Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Thinking - The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation

Here's a thoughtful short from a local filmmaker documenting the struggle for Christians to understand and value racial reconciliation. Good stuff!

THE LAST PRAYER / story from Chitwood Media on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

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Wednesday Words - Foreseeing

Middle age refers more
to landscape than to time:
it's as if you'd reached

the top of a hill
and could see all the way
to the end of your life,

so you know without a doubt
that it has an end—
not that it will have,

but that it does have,
if only in outline—
so for the first time

you can see your life whole,
beginning and end not far
from where you stand,

the horizon in the distance—
the view makes you weep,
but it also has the beauty

of symmetry, like the earth
seen from space: you can't help
but admire it from afar,

especially now, while it's simple
to re-enter whenever you choose,
lying down in your life,

waking up to it
just as you always have—
except that the details resonate

by virtue of being contained,
as your own words
coming back to you

define the landscape,
remind you that it won't go on
like this forever.

"Foreseeing" by Sharon Bryan, from Flying Blind. © Sarabande Books, 1996.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Being Christian

This little book is so accessible and yet so deep. While a theologian, Rowan Williams writes with a pastor's heart and in a style of writing that is as lovely to read as it is easy to understand. I will be recommending this book often and giving copies to new and renewing Christians.

There are four chapters in the book: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and Prayer. I'll share a short quotation from each.

On Baptism:
"Baptism is a ceremony in which we are washed, cleansed and re-created. It is also a ceremony in which we are pushed into the middle of a human situation that may hurt us, and that will not leave us untouched or unsullied. And the gathering of the baptized people is therefore not a convocation of those who are privileged, elite and separate, but of those who have accepted what it means to be in the heart of a needy, contaminated, messy world. To put it another way, you don't go down into the waters of the Jordan without stirring up a great deal of mud!" (p. 6)

On Bible:
"As Christians read the Bible, the story converges on Jesus. The full meaning of what has gone before is laid bare in Jesus. The agenda for what follows is set in Jesus...

"Here in the story of Jesus, is the story in which we see what an unequivocal obedience and love look like. Here is the story where we see a response to God so full of integrity, so whole, that it reflects perfectly the act of God that draws it out. Here is the story in which the speaking of God and the responding of human beings are bound together inseparably. And so if the whole Bible is about the speaking of God and the responding of human beings, then of course it is by looking at the story of Jesus, the luminous centre, that we discover how to read the rest of it. Jesus, living, dying, raised from the dead, breathing his Spirit on his Church – it is in his light that you read the rest of the Bible." (pp. 34, 35)

On Eucharist:
"So as we give thanks over bread and wine in the presence of the Lord we are – with him and in him – seeking to make that connection between the world and God, between human experience and the divine and eternal Giver. And that means that we begin to look differently at the world around us. If in every corner of experience God the Giver is still at work, then in every object we see and handle, in every situation we encounter, God the Giver is present and our reaction is shaped by this." (p. 49)

On Prayer:
"It seems that all Christian reflection, all theology worth the name, began as people realized that because of Jesus Christ they could talk to God in a different way. It was the new experience of Christian prayer that got people thinking, 'If Jesus somehow makes it possible for us to talk to God in a new way, then surely there are things we ought to be saying and believing about Jesus.' And so the great exploratory business of theology began to unfold.

"That newness of prayer is expressed most vividly by St. Paul in Romans 8 and Galatians 4. 'God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father"' (Galatians 4.6). The new way we talk to God is as Father, and that is the work of the Spirit of Jesus. And of course it is the prayer recorded of Jesus himself, the night before his death (Mark 14.36). So, for the Christian, to pray – before all else – is to let Jesus' prayer happen in you. And the prayer that Jesus himself taught his disciples expresses this very clearly: 'Our Father.' We begin by expressing the confidence that we stand where Jesus stands and we can say what Jesus says." (pp. 61-62)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Monday Music - I Press On

I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

I press on through thick & thin
I press on every day
I press on through the lose & win
For I know He's the Way

I press on to take hold of that
For which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

"I Press On" by Dave Burkum (based on Philippians 3:12), from Fireside: Worship & Scripture Songs, © Copyright 2006 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Make Our Lives a Witness

Almighty and everlasting God, we give you thanks for the hope and reconciliation you have given us through Christ. Help us to live in the resurrection power of your Spirit. Make our lives a witness to the faith we profess.

We confess our sins and weaknesses, Lord. We repent of the ways we have disobeyed and turned from you. Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds. 

You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious toward others.

Thank you, O God, for sending your son into the world to save us. We worship Christ Jesus because he is worthy, for he has redeemed, by his blood, people from every tribe, tongue, kindred, and nation.

It’s in his saving name we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Favorites - Wolf Hall

From the PBS Website...
A historical drama for a modern audience, Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, played by Mark Rylance—a blacksmith’s son who rises from the ashes of personal disaster, and deftly picks his way through a court where ‘man is wolf to man.’ Damian Lewis (Homeland) is King Henry VIII, haunted by his brother’s premature death and obsessed with protecting the Tudor dynasty by securing his succession with a male heir to the throne. The cast also includes Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) as the future queen Anne Boleyn.

Told from Cromwell’s perspective, Wolf Hall follows the complex machinations and back room dealings of this accomplished power broker who must serve king and country while dealing with deadly political intrigue, Henry VIII’s tempestuous relationship with Anne Boleyn, and the religious upheavals of the Protestant reformation.

The miniseries is adapted from Hilary Mantel’s best-selling Booker Prize-winning novels: Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday Words - Looking at the Sky

I never will have time
I never will have time enough
To say
How beautiful it is
The way the moon
Floats in the air
As easily
And lightly as a bird
Although she is a world
Made all of stone.

I never will have time enough
To praise
The way the stars
Hang glittering in the dark
Of steepest heaven
Their dewy sparks
Their brimming drops of light
So fresh so clear
That when you look at them
It quenches thirst.

"Looking at the Sky" by Anne Porter, from Living Things: Collected Poems.
© Zoland Books, 2006.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Being Christian

I've heard good things about this little tome by Rowan Williams – just eighty pages, four chapters. Hoping to get it read today.

From the Publisher...
In this simple, beautifully written book Rowan Williams explores four essential components of the Christian life: baptism, Bible, Eucharist, and prayer. Despite huge differences in Christian thinking and practice both today and in past centuries, he says, these four basic elements have remained constant and indispensable for the majority of those who call themselves Christians.

In accessible, pastoral terms Williams discusses the meaning and practice of baptism, the Bible, the Eucharist, and prayer, inviting readers to really think through the Christian faith and how to live it out. Questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each chapter help readers to dig deeper and apply Williams's insights to their own lives.

Walter Brueggemann
-- author of Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks
"Who better than Rowan Williams to be our teacher about the essentials of Christianity! In this clear, accessible exposition, we get Williams at his best - worldly-wise, pastorally gentle, grounded deeply in tradition, acutely alert to the real world of violence where God indwells. Williams ushers us more deeply into our best discernment of the Christian life."

M. Craig Barnes
-- President of Princeton Theological Seminary
"The genius of this little book is that it gets right to the heart of the essential Christian experience. . . . We are simply invited to enter the new life discovered through the core practices of the church."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Music - Music from My Dad

As many of you know, my dad is very ill and is currently hospitalized at the University of Nebraska Medical Center where he is getting care and chemotherapy. So for this week's Monday Music post, I thought I'd share a song my dad used to sing with the Watchmen Quartet. It's especially meaningful right now. Your prayers for my dad are appreciated. Thanks.


I feel the touch of hands so kind and gentle,
They’re leading me in paths that I must trod;
I have no fear when Jesus walks beside me,
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise,
They won’t worry me for I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God;
He walks with me and naught of Earth shall harm me,
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Soon I shall hear the call from Heaven’s portals,
Come home my child, it’s the last mile you must trod;
I’ll fall asleep and wait for God’s new Heaven,
Sheltered safe within the arms of God.

So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise,
They won’t worry me for I’m sheltered safe within the arms of God;
He walks with me and naught of Earth shall harm me,
For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

O yes I’m sheltered in the arms of God!

Words & Music by Dottie Rambo and Jimmy Davis

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Grace in a Weary World

O God, we are so thankful for your mercy. Please be gracious to us when we go astray from your ways. Bring us back to you. Give us humble hearts and steadfast faith. Teach us to hold fast to the unchangeable truth of your Word. Help us to follow Jesus Christ your Son.

Forgive us our sins. Renew us by your Spirit. Show us how to act, think, and live as Christ.
And as you have forgiven us, make us merciful and ready to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Renew us, O Lord, and save us from the things that afflict us. Give us the strength to persevere, and give us hope as we cling to your promises. Forgive us our sins and deliver us from evil. Make us vessels of your grace in a weary world. And as we are surrounded by so much suffering and hate, we ask you to make us a testimony of your saving and transforming love.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favorites - Blossoms in Brooklyn

The Cactus Blossoms are performing at the Brooklyn Folk Festival tomorrow night, Saturday, April 18, 9:15pm. I sure wish I could see that show. If you're one of the lucky people who gets to be there, please shoot some video and post it on YouTube.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Wednesday Words - Bicycle Spring

Windy, sunny, and Sunday,
the afternoon of your father's promise,
you will learn to ride your bike:

your father breathing hard
pushes, runs at your side,
one hand on the handlebars,
the other firm on the seat,

launching you like a glider
to soar long seconds
before wobbling to crash
in the soft green field

until you know how to ride
suddenly except for the brakes
and your father suddenly
is a speck waving way behind.

as you pedal toward strange sights
in blocks where he
has forbidden you to walk.

by Kevin FitzPatrick, from Down on the Corner
© Midwest Villages and Voices.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tuesday Tome - What I'm Reading Now

by Anthony Doerr

Review from Booklist
A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall—and long—­narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.High-Demand Backstory: A multipronged marketing campaign will make the author’s many fans aware of his newest book, and extensive review coverage is bound to enlist many new fans. --Brad Hooper

Revolution of Character
by Dallas Willard & Donald Simpson

Description from the Publisher...
Heart, mind, body, social life, and soul. God is ready to transform every aspect of your life. Perhaps your spiritual life is not all you want it to be. Your sporadic successes, plateaus, and dry spells only lead to more frustration. Spiritual master Dallas Willard believes the main reason we fail in our spiritual life is that we don't examine carefully the roles played by all five elements of our person: heart, mind, body, social life, and soul. Real change comes when we give each element thoughtful and prayerful exposure to God's transforming work. In Revolution of Character, Dr. Willard enables you to dwell meditatively on each of the five elements, understand its role, train it in new patterns, and seek God's transforming power. This powerful, holistic approach will produce new ways of responding to life and will result in profoundly changed character.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Music - Song for the Real World

News, news of a savior I bring;
Beautiful music I sing.
Song, song of a Father and Friend,
Chorus of love without end.

It's a song of peace for the worried and distressed;
It's a song of hope for all who are oppressed;
It's a song of strength for the challenge and the test;
It's a song for the real world.

Sound, sound of a hammer that swung–
Song of the Crucified One.
Praise, praise to the champion who lives;
Sing of the pardon he gives.

It's a song of light for the blinded and confused;
It's a song of love for those who've been abused;
It's a song of grace for the guilty and accused;
It's a song for the real world.

Song, song of the True Living Word,
Music that some have not heard.
Sing, sing where no singer has sung
In every land, every tongue.

It's a song of faith for the ones who will believe;
It's a song of truth for those who've been deceived;
It's a song that gives to all who will receive;
It's a song for the real world.

News, news of a Savior I bring;
Beautiful music I sing.

“Song for the Real World” by Dave Burkum from Songs for the Real World. © Copyright 1991 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Supplication - The Good News

O Lord, help us to answer the call of our Savior Jesus Christ. Help us to seriously and readily seek your will for our lives. Help us, by our words and actions, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus to all people. Help us, and all people in the world, to recognize the salvation he brings.

Thank you for the forgiveness and renewal you have given to us through Christ Jesus.  Help us to extend forgiveness to each other. And help us grow into a redemptive and healing community. Help us to have a saving and healing impact on the world around us.

Life in this world is more than we can face on our own, O God. Help us to navigate our way through the many challenges and conflicts. Help us to live with integrity and care toward others in authentic Christian fellowship. Help our Valley community to be an instrument of your grace, your truth, and your peace. Make us a blessing to the world around us.

Through Christ, we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Favorites - Mill City Market

The final Indoor Mill City Market of the season is tomorrow, Saturday, April 11th from 10 am to 1 pm!  The first regular market of the Outdoor Season, kicks off Mother’s Day weekend on May 9th!
Find out who’s in on theri vendor map!
When: Saturday, April 11 from 10 am to 1 pm

Where: inside the beautiful Mill City Museum Commons

What: A dynamic marketplace of over 40 local vendors where you can expect to find everything from beets and cabbage to artisan chocolates, local honey, maple syrup, hand-milled flour, locally harvested wild rice, specialty cheeses, baked goods, kimchi, preserves, and hand-made artisan ceramics, kitchen utensils, and jewelry.

Produce Planner:  arugula, baby beets, carrots, cilantro, garlic, lettuce, kale, microgreens, mushrooms, nettles, onions, pac choi, parsley, plant starts, potatoes, oregano, radishes, salad mix, shallots, spinach, and more!

Community Booth: The Minneapolis/St. Paul Film Society. Come find out what’s going on at this year’s International Film Festival!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Wednesday Words - Like Wheat That Springeth Green

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain,
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen,
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts, that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

"Easter Hymn 2" by N. T. Wright, © Copyright by N. T. Wright, from the Easter Oratorio, libretto by N. T. Wright with music by Paul Spicer.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tuesday Tome - Home

I finished Home by Marilynne Robinson a couple weeks ago.
What an amazing and moving work. It's one of the best books I've ever read–a book that will stick with me for life. It tops my list of favorite novels.

From GoodReads...
Home is an entirely independent novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale as Marilynne Robinson's earlier novel Gilead, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend.

Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack - the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years - comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.

A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, Jack is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.

Home is a book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith.

Hardcover, 325 pages
Published September 2nd 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux  

Monday, April 06, 2015

Monday Music - Joyful, Joyful

Joyful, joyful, we adore you,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before you --
Hail you as the sun above.

Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day.

All your works with joy surround you,
Earth and heaven reflect your rays,
Stars and angels sing around you --
Center of unbroken praise.

Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flowering meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Joyful, joyful we adore you. Joyful!
Joyful, joyful we adore you. Joyful!

"Joyful, Joyful" words by Hen­ry J. van Dyke (1907), music by Dave Burkum, from the Breathe a Little Deeper CD, © Copyright 2002 by Dave Burkum.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sunday Supplication - Resurrection Power

O God, you gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross for our redemption. And by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of our enemy. We pray that you would help us die to sin so that we might live eternally with him in the joy of his resurrection. By your mighty resurrection power, deliver us from evil.

We confess our sins and weaknesses, Lord. We repent of the ways we have disobeyed and turned from you. Forgive us and help us to turn away from wrong.  Transform us and give us the faith to press toward life, healing, restoration, holiness, and good deeds. 

You are so gracious to us, and we ask you to make us able and quick to be gracious toward others.

You are our salvation, O God. We believe that Jesus, your son, is the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to know him and to follow him closely that we might walk in your truth and grace.

It’s in his name we pray. Amen.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Friday Favorites - SPCO & Kopatchinskaja

We had a fantastic experience at the SPCO concert last Friday night. Their collaboration with Patricia Kopatchinskaja's resulted in one of the most exciting, masterful, and fun classical music concerts of my life!

MPR: Kopatchinskaja Performs in the MPR Studio

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Wednesday Words - Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

"Lines Written in Early Spring" by William Wordsworth.
The Collected Poems of William Wordsworth.