Music is a powerful force. It touches hearts more than minds, but the messages carried by music can be powerful. That's why we sing in church. It helps us connect with God and with one another. Music also has cultural components, which means that not all music touches us in the same way. Rap and Reggae have now been with us for some time, but I came of age prior to the advent of rap. I'm not sure the style hits in the same way as it does others, but I appreciate this essay because invites us to listen to how music can be a vehicle for creating alternative visions of reality. So, I invite you to read and contemplate this essay from Sightings, written by Noel Leo Erskine of Candler School of Theology.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Thursday, February 11, 2016
40 DAYS, 40 PRAYERS,40 WORDS: Lenten Reflections for Everyday Life. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016. Xvi + 85 pages.
Lent is a season of forty days, mirroring Jesus’ forty-day sojourn in the wilderness. Lent is supposed to be a season of prayer and contemplation, and it is useful to have guides for the journey. Westminster John Knox offers us this guide authored by Bruce Reyes-Chow, a Presbyterian pastor, writer, and cultural critic. He is a Senior Consultant with the Center for Progressive Renewal and served as the youngest ever Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly. In this brief book, Reyes-Chow brings together forty brief prayers and meditations focusing on forty words. Although the book is offered as a Lenten reflection, it can be used at any time of the year.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’”
5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’
‘On their hands they will bear you up,so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jesus was filled with the Spirit when he left the Jordan and headed into the wilderness. Led by the Spirit, he spent forty days in the wilderness fasting and praying. This time of fasting is the basis of the forty days of Lent. Lent is traditionally a time of when we give something of value so as to better focus on the things of God. I doubt many of us fast for forty days. Indeed, I expect that most of us, myself included, haven’t given much attention to fasting at all. We may have even found the tradition of giving something up for Lent to have little meaning, though I do like the idea suggested by Pope Francis that during this Lenten season we give up indifference. That might actually make a difference in the lives of people.
Monday, February 08, 2016
I am reposting this essay, which I wrote for the Energion Discussion Network. Energion is publisher of a number of my books. As noted below, they have accepted for publication a bible study guide titled (tentatively) Marriage in Interesting Times. The book isn't specifically about the subject below, but it is written by one who accepts/affirms same-gender marriage.