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Monday, September 28, 2009

October 4th Bicentennial Communion

Our Humeston congregation is rich in denominational heritage, having deep roots and local history in two denominations, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and the United Methodist Church. We are richly blessed, having been able to come together to form one united congregation. Our very existence is a rich witness to the possibility of Christian unity.

On World Communion Sunday 2009 we will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.

It was September 7, 1809 when Thomas Campbell presented to a small group of unity-minded pastors a document defining the basis on which Christian unity might be achieved.

This document, The Declaration and Address of the Christian Association, proposed the radical notion that all church members, whatever their denomination, should be able to commune at the Lord’s Table in each other’s place of worship.
At its heart is Proposition 1: “That the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one..." Ending division among Christians was the reform Thomas Campbell, together with his son Alexander and his later friend Barton Stone, so passionately sought.

In his fiery eloquence Thomas Campbell wrote, “The cause we advocate is … the cause of Christ and our brethren of all denominations. Are we not all praying for that happy event, when there shall be but one fold, as there is but one chief Shepherd? What! Shall we pray for such a thing, and not strive to obtain it!”

The Stone-Campbell Movement of 200 years ago put forth a vision of Christ’s disciples, serving different callings but meeting at one Communion Table, and there enjoying together on earth a foretaste of the Great Heavenly Banquet prepared for all believers by Christ himself.

Come to the Table, Disciples Together, this Sunday, October 4th.

Help us celebrate how extraordinary our ordinary weekly gatherings for worship are.
Join us as we lift high Christ’s great vision for the church (John 17) “that they all be one.”

# 76 - "Ought" Prayer

There are 2 kinds of “ought” prayers. First, “ought” is a curious word to use in the context of prayer, because “ought” generally carries the connotation of reprimand or judgment. You “ought” to pray can be taken to mean, “Don’t be negligent in your duty to pray.” Q. How can you pray when you feel or are challenged to pray for someone or about something you have little-, no-, or even dis-interest in? Ans. Admit to God where your heart truly is, and ask God’s help to cover your human limitations. Second, Jesus used the word “ought” in a positive, encouraging sense, teaching his disciples who did pray that “they ought always to pray and not lose heart,” inferring that the blessings of God are certain to those who, in faith, will persist. (Luke 18:1) Q. How do you pray a positive “ought” prayer? Ans. Reassure God of the certain commitment of your heart as, “You know my passion for (whatever).” Then ask three things: 1. for God to help you perfect the language of your prayer; 2. that you might recognize the answer already unfolding; and 3. that you might be so transformed as to become the very answer to your prayer.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Butterfly Circus

Apology: Sorry I haven't been blogging much.
Excuse: I spent the summer becoming comfortable with additional social networking tools. Had fun mastering Facebook and Twitter.

On Twitter I especially enjoy receiving messages every day from people whose thoughts and words inspire me. By my own choice I also receive 30-40 one sentence prayers everyday. What a blessing these twitterers are to me. Glad to share them with you if you ask.

On Facebook the other day one of my preacher friends, Natalie, posted a link to a short (20 min) film called The Butterfly Circus. Why I took the time to watch it I'll never know. But, oh my, was I ever glad I did.

In my book it tops all the amazing inspirational stuff out there. It's about HOPE. It's about COURAGE. It's about being an OVERCOMER. It's about VICTORY, dare I say victory in Jesus.

I see Jesus in the ringmaster of The Butterfly Circus, the Jesus who welcomes every person just as they are and transforms them into the glorious gift they were meant by God to be. The film is about how new life "commeth" and then "runneth over" touching others, lifting and healing.

The hero of the movie, Nick Vujicic, who plays the character Will, has lived an incredible life. His foundation offers help and hope to the physically challenged all over the world.

I hope you will take the time to watch this movie. Watch it together with a child, a partner, a friend. Then, when it is over, look into each other's eyes, relish the glow, and dream -- dream of the person God has meant each of you to be.

Monday, September 21, 2009

# 75 - Prayer Center

A prayer center is a place where one can experience the holy. You can establish your own prayer center by simply setting aside some small place in your life, and offering it to God as the place where you will meet often. For it to remain a holy place you will have to honor the space by first using it, and second, by using it only for holy purposes, for prayer. Such a place might be a special floor mat placed at the foot of your bed, a candle and evening chair next to a west-facing window, the passenger seat of your car in the parking lot, the stone at the end of the garden walk, a corner in the office lounge, a special towel you place on a bench in the locker room, a spot on a lamp post you touch while awaiting the bus, or just standing tip-toed at the window in your prison cell. We create holy places. God honors them. They are of our own making, but surprisingly, in times of need, they re-create and sustain us. Where is your prayer center?

Monday, September 14, 2009

# 74 - Tuning Prayer

Just before the orchestra begins to play, the concert master rises, raises his violin, and draws his bow across the strings. Each member of the orchestra then tunes his or her instrument to the exact pitch of the concert master’s violin. Only then can the orchestra produce the most beautiful music possible. The well-rehearsed members of the orchestra know the music perfectly. Their instruments are of brilliant quality. But still they must tune together. And they must tune together every time if they hope to accomplish the will and purpose of both maestro and composer. Soloists do the same, tuning to the perfect pitch of pipe or tuning fork. We are the instruments of God, and as such, must constantly be tuned to God’s perfect pitch. We can only bring high praise and glory to God when we are attuned to God and in tune with all who would serve God. Tune your hearts to God by first listening and then adjusting the instrument of your life to the Master’s. This act of listening and adjusting is called prayer, the Tuning Prayer.

Monday, September 7, 2009

# 73 - Dedication Prayer

The purpose of the Dedication Prayer is to glorify God. From ancient times God’s people have dedicated to God’s glory their holy places – temples, churches and holy sites. The word ‘dedicated’ here means ‘holy’ or ‘set apart for.’ Since the Resurrection of Jesus the Christian church has dedicate the first day of the week to his glory. In some traditions Christian parents dedicate their children to the Lord. Others incorporate this into the Sacrament of Infant Baptism. That portion of one’s income dedicated to the Lord is called a tithe. Some Christians dedicate a portion of their day to prayer and fasting, or disciple-making, or visitation, or burden-bearing. And new believers, knowing that God is glorified when they give their lives to Jesus, are bold to dedicate themselves to him. Ask, “What all have I dedicated to God, set apart for God’s glory? How am I doing at keeping it pure and holy?” So many wonderful ministries for children, for the ill, and others around the world began with one grateful person dedicating all or part of his/her life to continue to others the blessings that had come to them. Use the Dedication Prayer whenever you are ready to seal or renew a commitment to glorify God.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

John L. Lewis Legacy - A Prayer for Labor Day

In 1969 political, racial and economic division shook our nation. A war was raging.

On July 11th of that year, John L. Lewis, the fierce, controversial and often divisive labor leader died, iconic titan that he was.

The prayer delivered at Mr. Lewis's memorial service placed in larger and broader, dare we say heavenly, context his passionate, combative and life-long struggle for justice for the American worker.

That was 40 years ago. Except for its archaic language the prayer delivered that day might be well prayed today.

Eternal God, the source of our life and the father of mankind, we praise thee for the courage
• of those who lead when the way is difficult;
• of those who perceive clarity when the horizon is clouded; and
• of those whose commitment to the cause of justice is greater than the fears that cripple lesser men.
Raise among us men of the future with the power of leadership we have seen in the past in thy servant John Llewellyn Lewis.

Grant that the necessary conflicts of democratic disagreement may not impair the greater unity we share.
Help us to hold fast to our principles when we believe them to be right, and yet to listen with humility and respect to those of another side.

Thou has blest our land with abundance and power.
Grant that our industry and labor, our wealth and our enterprise, may always be placed at the service of justice and peace for mankind, so that thy kingdom may surely come on earth, as it is in heaven. Amen.

This Memorial Prayer for John L. Lewis was delivered by the Reverend John C. Harper, Rector of St. John’s Church, Springfield IL a few days after Mr. Lewis’s death June 11, 1969. Copy of this prayer was donated to the John L. Lewis Mining and Labor Museum by Dr. Ron Roberts. The museum is in Lucas IA.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

# 72 - Acceptance Prayer

This grand prayer is prayer by which the petitioner seeks grace sufficient to accept and welcome others. It asks not only an increase in one’s appreciation for the other, but also the diminishment of oneself and one’s judgments in relation to the other. It is more easily prayed by the youthfully innocent or the spiritually mature than the casual Christian. It is a useful prayer to help one grow in the ability to embrace “outsiders,” to welcome them into the family, the community, the church. It is truly powerful when sincerely employed by those experiencing conflict as it leads to the blessed rewards of obedience to God’s order. Recall Jesus’ injunction, “But I say unto you, love your enemies.” If only the people of God could find it in their hearts to pray daily to be more accepting.