Practicing Grace

Drumsticks_homeEphesians 4:25-5:2

I remember the day in fifth grade when we got to choose what
band instrument we wanted to play. To this day I’m not sure why I did it, but I
passed up all the shiny brass instruments, the woodwinds with their many keys,
and gravitated instead toward the drums. Well, not exactly drums.

On the table there was no drum, just a pair of thick sticks
and a rubber pad. Maybe it was in my Scots-Irish DNA to want to play something
loud and obnoxious and since bagpipes weren’t available, this would have to do.
Those first lessons were not very exciting. Here’s your pad, which makes
virtually no sound (which our parents were no doubt thankful for at this point)
and all we want you to do is make the sticks bounce. Do that for 30 to 60
minutes every day. I didn’t see drummers on TV like Keith Moon or Ringo Starr
just bouncing the sticks, but, ok. After a few weeks of just bouncing, then we
began to learn rudiments, which were basically just more organized bouncing.

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A Worthy Life

220px-Saving_Private_Ryan_posterEphesians 4:1-16

Well, it’s Veteran’s Day week, time for thoughtful
remembrance of all those who have served. Although it doesn’t seem to be
happening this year, this weekend is usually a time when all the movie channels
on TV show a marathon of war movies from different eras in our history. One of
the movies that I will always pause to watch when it’s on is Saving Private Ryan.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s set during D-Day
when the Allies invaded Europe during World War II. The opening scenes of
storming the beaches at Normandy are difficult to watch because they are so
realistic and make me pray for the day when war is no longer part of the world.

While the Normandy battle still rages on, we learn that a
young soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, Pvt. James Patrick
Ryan (played by Matt Damon), has lost three of his brothers in combat, serving
in other theaters of the war. The War Department decides to send him home, back
to his grieving mother, since he is the only one of her sons left. Problem is,
no one can find him or his unit as they have cut off for some time.

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Living the Verbs: Imagining God’s New World in Ephesians

Editing-ratesEphesians 1:3-14

One of the love-hate relationships that writers have is with
their editors. I have worked with several over the years and, as writers are
wont to do, I have to sometimes grudgingly admit that their input does, indeed,
make my writing a little better. As TS Eliot put it, “I suppose some editors
are failed writers; but so are most writers.” I’m working on turning my
dissertation into a book right now and I’m sure there will be more red ink

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The Real Path to Power and Greatness

Romney-obamaMatthew 20:20-28

Well, we’re coming closer to the end of the political
campaign season. We’ve been hearing the debates, then hearing the pundits tell
us what we heard.  We’ve heard the
arguments from both sides—each candidate’s vision for the country and the
world. A lot of people have invested heavily in this process, trying to make
sure that their guy gets into power for the next four years. The increasing
nastiness of the rhetoric, not just from the political parties but from regular
people on the street and online, makes me look forward to the whole thing being
over in a couple of weeks.

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Unfreezing God’s Assets: A Sermon on Giving

Money-lgMatthew 25:14-30

We know we’re in a tough economy these days, and it seems
like there’s nowhere you can put your money where you know it is safe. Banks
have failed, your 401k or pension is losing your money rather than gaining it,
and the amount of interest you’d get on a savings account is so negligible that
it’s not worth the amount of money you’d pay for in gas to take you to the bank
to deposit the check.

Many people, in fact, are thinking about taking their
grandparents’ advice from the days of the Great Depression: stick your money
under the mattress! Of course, this being the 21st century, we’ve
upgraded that strategy. While people generally still use the bank for most of
their money, many are hiding more of their discretionary cash around the house
these days.

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