Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Holy Gospel: September 30, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 9:38-50 Meditation: “The Paradox of Generosity” Today’s lesson seems to go from one extreme to another—from leniency with those who are not “inside the circle” of apostolic fellowship, to severity with respect to self-discipline.  The first part of … Continue reading

Posted in The Holy Gospel

Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (3)

The third transforming disposition is obedience.  As de Waal points out, it is related to the disposition of listening.  But it is an active listening—that is, listening with the intention of enacting what is heard. If you’ve followed Oboedire for … Continue reading

Posted in Benedict's Rule

Ministry Musings: Micro Discernment

Last week we explored macro discernment—that is, the discovery of our life’s purpose and our dedication to it.  But even when we have a sense of our calling, there are innumerable little discernments (decisions) which we must make.  I call … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: The Call and Humanity

Our exploration of personal and congregational values is one way of showing that God uses our humanity to communicate His call upon our lives.  As Parker Palmer has put it, God takes our lives seriously; so must we. Every aspect … Continue reading

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Gleanings: The Grand Reversal

Richard Rohr’s daily e-letter has a powerful writing on mystical love, showing how it is a grand reversal of our tendency to think about the God-human relationship… Ordinary Christianity has emphasized that we should love God. This makes sense, but … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Weariness

I am so glad that Bunge included this section in his book.  He rightly shows that even the most-devoted people of prayer undergo periods of profound weariness.  He writes, “Nevertheless, as with any art, from time to time there are … Continue reading

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In-Sight: A Call to Prayer

Within the last 24 hours, I have found myself “sacked” (football term) between two huge facts: the superficiality and sensuality of the Emmy Awards on one side, and on the other the National Catholic Reporter’s article indicating that deaths from … Continue reading

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Listenings: “Not Knowing”

The emptying/filling experience we looked at last week is not an easy thing for us, in a time when mastering and controlling are the usual marks of expertise. Nouwen addresses this paradox in an excellent way (pp. 4-5), showing that … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: September 23, 2012 (Year B)

Read: Mark 9:30-37 Meditation:  “Understanding the Lineup” Whether its traveling or shopping, there’s something in us that wants to be at the head of the line when the doors open.  Competitiveness flares up among an otherwise quiet group when it’s … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (2)

The second foundational element in the Rule of St. Benedict is stability. In today’s incessant “new and improved” culture, it is a concept that’s all but lost.  But it is an essential disposition in the spiritual life.  Esther de Waal … Continue reading

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Ministry Musings: Macro Discernment

I have found it helpful to think of discernment in terms of its macro aspect and its micro aspect.  Today, we look at the macro dimension. The macro aspect means discernment in relation to our life purpose—our calling.  We live … Continue reading

Posted in Ministry Musings

Shepherd’s Care: Congregational Values

As those engaged for the spiritual leadership of communities, we can never limit our understanding of values to those that we hold personally.  We must realize that we move into communities that have corporate values. Sometimes we learn this the … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Continual Prayer

Fixed times of prayer are the “marker points” which bring us back to attentiveness to God, and which train us toward an increase of unceasing prayer—the ultimate goal for any plan or program of prayer. Bunge rightly notes that the … Continue reading

Posted in Desert Wisdom

Listenings: Journeying “From”—“To”

Spiritual formation invites us on a journey:  “from”—–“to.” Nouwen takes one of those metaphors—emptying/filling—and uses it to talk further about abandonment. There are other images that convey the same message:  dying/rising, darkness/light, death/life—-“from”/”to.” Notice that every image begins in renunciation … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: September 16, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 8:27-38 Meditation:  “From Confession to Call” When I visited the Holy Land, one of the most moving places for me was Caesarea Philippi, the place where today’s lesson occurred. I have always viewed this exchange between Jesus and … Continue reading

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Site Update: Current Common Texts

I’ve been asked to provide the list of books we are using as common texts for the various weekly postings.  Here they are…. Monday, “Listenings”—-Henri Nouwen, Spiritual Formation (HarperOne) Tuesday, “Desert Wisdom”—-Gabriel Bunge, Earthen Vessels (Ignatius Press) Friday, “Benedict’s Rule”—-Esther … Continue reading

Posted in Site Updates

Benedict’s Rule: Transforming Dispositions (1)

When we look at The Rule of Benedict, or any other classical Rule of Life for that matter, it can easily look like pages-and-pages of regulations and details.  But that is to misunderstand the reason for a Rule in the … Continue reading

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Gleanings: Praying Always

Richard Rohr provides this helpful insight into Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing”…. We pray always whenever we live in conscious union with God. Then every action is a prayer no matter how secular, mundane, or ordinary it might appear. … Continue reading

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Ministry Musings: The Way of the Heart

There are multiple images that will help us to understand and experience discernment.  My favorite is the phrase “the way of the heart.”  I was introduced to this phrase by Henri Nouwen in his book by the same title.  I … Continue reading

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Connections: A Pocket Guide to Prayer

I’m sure that somewhere in the Oboedire archives is a previous “Connection” posting that announced the publication of A Pocket Guide to Prayer by Upper Room Books.  It’s a book I wrote to provide an actual resource for prayer (particularly … Continue reading

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Shepherd’s Care: Vocational Perspective (5)

One of the maxims of the spiritual life is that God uses everything and wastes nothing.  Parker Palmer has said essentially the same thing in his book, Let Your Life Speak, when he writes that God takes our lives seriously, … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Times of Prayer (3)

Bunge notes that a full-blown pattern of fixed prayer arose in relation to the psalmist’s declaration, “seven times a day I will praise thee” (Psalm 119:164). We have explored five such times:  morning prayer, 9 a.m. (Terce), Noon (Sext), 3:00 … Continue reading

Posted in Desert Wisdom

Gleanings: Transformational Prayer

I read the following reflection from Richard Rohr earlier today.  It is so powerful, I did not want to delay in passing it on to you…. CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER “Contemplation,” or meditation as it is called by some, became more popular … Continue reading

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Listenings: Being Mastered, Not Mastering

I have worked professionally in theological education for thirty years.  I believe in an educated clergy. But if I could change one thing, I would re-name the seminal degree.  We call it the “Master of Divinity.”  I know why it’s … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: September 9, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 7: 24-37 Meditation:  “Everyone is Eligible” The two stories which comprise this week’s lectionary reading combine to tell us that no one is excluded from the mercy of Christ.  The first story takes place in Tyre and Sidon; … Continue reading

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Benedict’s Rule: Shaped by the Gospel

Esther de Waal uses the phrase “shaped by the Gospel” (p. 12) to describe the purpose of Benedict’s Rule—indeed, the purpose of any Rule of Life. This reminds us that a Rule is a means, not an end.  All kinds … Continue reading

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The Teaching Life: A Way of Love

It’s an old adage, but as I come to the end of a long teaching ministry, I think it’s true:  people care how much you know when they know how much you care. Students get used to being “passed around” … Continue reading

Posted in The Teaching Life | 3 Comments

Ministry Musings: Experiencing the Ordinary

When I wrote the book Talking in the Dark, I was trying to show the place of prayer in our times of crisis, confusion, and challenge. But we don’t live “in crisis” all the time.  Most of our days are … Continue reading

Posted in Ministry Musings

Shepherd’s Care: Vocational Perspective (4)

I want to spend another week on the relationship between vocation and location, sharing with you a mistake I made early on in my ministry—a mistake that I continue to see made all over the place today.  It is the … Continue reading

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The Teaching Life: Living With Mystery

This post comes on the day I begin teaching the Fall semester—my final semester at Asbury Seminary before I retire.  In a way, I guess I’m pondering what “final word” I’d like to give in relation to teaching.  And this … Continue reading

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Desert Wisdom: Times of Prayer (2)

In addition to the pattern of creation (evening and morning), early-Christian praying also followed the passion of Christ. The fixed prayer times which have come to be called Terce, Sext, and None are in relation to Christ’s words from the … Continue reading

Posted in Desert Wisdom

First Day: Looking Into The Fall

Yes, I know it’s not September 1st.  🙂 I took the weekend off from my computer.  At first I thought I’d skip this month’s “First Day” post, but I remembered that I did that last month.  There are some things … Continue reading

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Gleanings: The Nature of Truth

Richard Rohr has given us a helpful perspective on the discovery of truth in relation to paradox… Truth lies neither in the total affirmation nor in the total denial of either side of things, but precisely in the tug of … Continue reading

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Listenings: Emptying Before Filling

Henri Nouwen puts forth “emptiness” as the first step in the early movement of spiritual formation.  Using the memorable story of the empty tea cup, he says that the primary blockage to our formation is the simple fact that we … Continue reading

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The Holy Gospel: September 2, 2012 (Year B)

Read:  Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 Meditation:  “Beyond Appearances” Jesus pulls no punches in this week’s lesson.  In what must have been a scathing denouncement of superficial spirituality, he made it clear that reality is born from within.  It’s possible to … Continue reading

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