Monthly Archives: January 2012

In-Sight: Confessions of an “Old Buck”

When I was in seminary more than 40 years ago, I can remember times we’d sit in the student lounge drinking coffee and lamenting the mistakes our ecclesial leaders were making.  We were the “young bucks,” and we were convinced … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Love is the Container

A hermit was asked, “How is it that some struggle in their religious life, but do not receive grace like their predecessors?”  He replied, “Because then love was the rule, and each one drew his neighbor upward.  Now love is … Continue reading

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Listenings: Gathering Everything Together

With today’s post, we come to the end of the substance of Evelyn Underhill’s book, The Spiritual Life.  She has a final section of questions and answers that we will explore, but the essence of our examination of the spiritual … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: January 29, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 1:21-28 Meditation:  “Seeing Is Not Always Believing” There was a time in my life when I thought that if I could just “present Jesus” well enough, something would click in the audience, and people would flock to him.  … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Space for Holy Silence

Chapter 52 of the Rule deals with the creation and maintenance of sacred, silent space in the monastery.  The Oratory corresponds most closely to what we today call the Sanctuary. The Oratory was to be a place where monks could … Continue reading

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Ministry Musings: Meditative Prayer (2)

At the Canterbury retreat on Meditative Prayer, we established our working definition of it, based upon Richard Foster’s book, Sanctuary of the Soul—“meditative prayer is inclining our heart unto the Lord, with the intention of enacting what we hear, so … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Off the Rails

Jesus said there would be times when the children of this world would be wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8).  I have come to believe this is the case with respect to busyness, stress, activism, and overload. I … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Holy Value of “One”

I want to continue to ponder with you the matter of ordinary holiness, but today in relation to the danger of “quantifying” ministry and coming to the false notion that “more is better.”  So much of North American Christianity has … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Dying for a Neighbor

We often think of Jesus’ words about laying down our lives for our friends as applying to some kind of heroic loss of life.  In today’s saying (17:10), Abba Poemen extends it into another area of life. “There is no … Continue reading

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Listenings: Evidence of a Serving Heart (3)

We conclude our examination of the three evidences of a serving heart (tranquility, gentleness, and strength) by considering strength. Underhill defines “strength” in a way different from the idea of power.  The “strength” that a serving heart exhibits is the … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: January 22, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 1:14-20 Meditation: “Repent” I wonder why we tend to go to the extremes when we are exploring biblical concepts.  Take repentance, for example.  Our minds can quickly go to “white-knuckle resistance” as the revival choir sings the closing … Continue reading

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Connections: Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Some of you will doubtless already know about Jonathan, his leadership in the New Monasticism, and the Rutba House he and others have established in Durham, North Carolina. If not, I want you to get to know him and his … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Outside the Monastery

Chapters 50 and 51 of the Rule can be combined for our purposes.  Both have to do with monks who have traveled outside the monastery. In all cases, monks are to observe the stated hours of prayer.  Sometimes they may … Continue reading

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Ministry Musings: Meditative Prayer (1)

I had the privilege of joining with 27 others this past Monday at Canterbury Retreat Center in Oviedo to explore meditative prayer, using Richard Foster’s latest book, Sanctuary of the Soul, as our focal text for conversation and reflection. In … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Ordinary Holiness

We have laid down some major planks in the renewal of our hearts for ministry:  recovering the wonder, restoring our personhood, renewing our pace, and reforming our spirits. Now, I want to go back and add some brush strokes to … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: A Seamless Garment

We turn to Book 17 of The Desert Fathers, the chapter that collects sayings having to do with Charity. [Antony] also said, “Our life and our death are with our neighbor.  If we do good to our neighbor, we do … Continue reading

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Listenings: Evidence of a Serving Heart (2)

We are considering the three evidences of a serving heart, as described by St. John of the Cross:  tranquility, gentleness, and strength.  Today, we look at gentleness. Again, Underhill notes that when we work with “fuss” and “intensity,” it is … Continue reading

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Ministry Musings: Introduction

Each Thursday I will post reflections on actual ministries I have recently been involved in.  The post is for those who I have met at these ministry engagements, so that we can continue our reflection about experiences we have shared … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: January 15, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  John 1: 43-51 Meditation:  “Discovery through Experience” When Nathaniel asked Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, he was approaching religion the way many still do—namely, attempting to get answers before making a commitment. But the door into … Continue reading

Posted in The Holy Gospel

Benedict’s Rule: Observing Lent

Chapter 49 of The Rule guided the community in the observance of Lent.  Given that we enter the season on February 22, this is a timely meditation. The first thing we notice is that the season is a reflection of … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Reforming the Spirit

Today, we look at the final element in renewing our heart for ministry:  “Reforming the Spirit.” Roy Oswald at the Alban Institute has said that the majority of clergy have been sent to their places of ministry with minimal training … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Holy Silence

The early Christians connected patience with silence. Poemen said, “Whatever hardship comes upon you, it can be overcome by silence”  (The Desert Fathers, Book 16, Saying 9). This is not the silence of passivity or complacency; it is the silence … Continue reading

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Listenings: Evidence of a Serving Heart (1)

Last week we considered the grand purpose of the church and our part in that purpose as God’s servants. Underhill turns to ask, “How can we know that we are serving in a way that honors and glorifies God?”  She … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: January 8, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 1:4-11 Meditation:  “Many Baptisms” We often hear that baptism is a “one time event,” and I understand theologically what that view means and represents. But today’s passage, coupled with a sermon from Gregory of Nazianzus (Oration 39), expands … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: The Danger of Idleness

Chapter 48 is a long and detailed chapter in the Rule, all aimed at making the point described in the first sentence, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul.” The reason this is so lies precisely in the fact that … Continue reading

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Let Us Pray: Ending the Series

As much as I believe in this particular series, I have decided to cease posting on this topic for now. My time away from Oboedire during the holidays has reinforced my feeling that “less is more.”  So, Thursdays will no … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Renewing the Pace

We continue our exploration of ideas that help us to renew our heart for ministry.  We’ve looked at “Recovering the Wonder” and “Restoring Our Personhood.” Today, we look at “Renewing the Pace.” Years ago, Richard Foster told me that one … Continue reading

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In-Sight: Love the Head—Love the Body

As I begin the new year, I want to do so with the intention to cultivate my love for the Church.  I remain troubled at the ways in which the notion of “churchless Christianity” can creep into view today.  Sometimes, … Continue reading

Posted in In-Sight | 5 Comments

Desert Wisdom: Patience

We turn to Chapter 16 in The Desert Fathers, sayings that have to do with Patience.  I have found this to be another chapter that depicts a topic differently than we usually think of it.  But patience, as it is … Continue reading

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Listenings: The Grand Purpose

Evelyn Underhill brings us to another pivotal point in spiritual formation…. The Church is in the world to save the world.  It is a tool of God for that purpose; not a comfortable religious club established in fine historical premises.  … Continue reading

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First Day: Renewing Our Covenant With God

Good Evening, Everyone! Rather than ponder the Oboedire blog, I simply want to invite you to join me on this first day of the year in doing what Christians have done across the centuries—using this day to renew their covenant … Continue reading

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