prayers

Struggling to Become Human

Walter Wink

WALTER WINK IS known as a lectionary commentator with lucid biblical insight, a chronicler of nonviolent practice, a scholarly essayist, an arrestee in direct action, and one of the most important theologians of the millennium’s turn. He effectively named “the domination system” and its collusive principalities, opened up biblical interpretation to an integrated worldview, and brought the New Testament language of power back on the map of Christian social ethics.

Two years ago he crossed over to God, joining the ancestors and saints. His first two posthumous books have now appeared. They make for good companion volumes. Let me weave back and forth between the two. Walter Wink: Collected Readings is the anthology of his core work. Just Jesus: My Struggle to Become Human is a short autobiography. The second is the more remarkable—because it’s so rare that a world-class scripture scholar should tell his or her own story in relation to encounters with the biblical witness. And all the more so because it was a project undertaken after he was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia.

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Here Comes the Sun ... on Capitol Hill

Photo via WUSA9's Bruce Leshan on Twitter, @BruceLeshan

Photo via WUSA9's Bruce Leshan on Twitter, @BruceLeshan

When I began to read, I started by going through the Psalms. An elderly gentleman paused to listen, and then requested if I could read aloud his favorite, Psalm 91. As I read it, he also began to softly quote the verses by heart, praising God and saying “hallelujah” before thanking me and walking on.

Later, a local pastor from the District Church in Colombia Heights came to read. We met a couple visiting from Louisiana. The wife was a furloughed federal employee with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It was interesting to hear her point of view working first-hand with immigrants in a deportation capacity. She said as a Christian, it is sometimes very difficult to find a balance between desiring to deport violent criminals, and also wanting to keep hardworking, law-abiding immigrant families together. She and her husband thanked all who were participating in the Faithful Filibuster for keeping Christ present during the government shutdown.

As the next speaker from Salvation Army was reading, several teens participating in a rally at the Supreme Court came to ask about what we were doing. After explaining the filibuster’s mission, a young boy thanked us, shook hands, and said “God bless you.”

Today, We Pray for Our Enemies

It is in times and tragedies like those that happened in Boston that our call to pray for our enemies is most difficult. May we be faithful to pray for them despite our circumstances.

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, on all of us, sinners.

Father, we don't know who was behind the tragedies in Boston, but we do know that they were human. And we know we are to pray for our enemies.

In Jesus we see humanities true identity as ones who are to be agents of life, not death. Jesus, as first of New Creation, invites all humanity to reflect and participate in New Creation. 

Prayers for Those in Path of Hurricane Sandy

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

A man watches the waves in New York Harbor from Battery Park, New York City. Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Editor's Note: Sojourners offices, which are based in Washington, D.C., will be closed due to the weather. We pray for the safety of our staff, neighbors, and all those affected by this storm.

God, we pray for all those along the East Coast in the path of Hurricane Sandy. Grant safety to all, including the first responders. We pray for all those who will lose electricity and whose homes may be been damaged. But we pray especially for those who have no homes and no shelters in times such as these. We ask that your hand would protect them and keep them safe. May our paths cross with theirs so that we might have an opportunity to love and serve them. Amen.

"O Lord of LIght" by the Innocence Mission

http://youtu.be/M1WOufjKng8

Chuck Colson in Critical Condition After Brain Surgery

Chuck Colson. Photo via Getty Images.

Chuck Colson. Photo via Getty Images.

Chuck Colson, the evangelical leader and founder of Prison Fellowship, is in critical condition after undergoing surgery following a brain hemorrhage on Friday.

According to The Christian Post:

"Colson is listed in critical condition at this point but has shown some early signs of potential for recovery," said Michelle Farmer, Colson's spokesperson.

The 80-year-old Colson fell ill while addressing a conference in the Washington, D.C. area over the weekend. He underwent surgery on Saturday morning to remove a pool of clotted blood on the surface of his brain. Earlier this week, an update on Colson's Facebook page showed that he did not have a stroke and was resting comfortably.

Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis, who has been on a writing sabbatical since January, offered his prayers for his friend and brother in Christ: "I am in my last days of sabbatical and heard about the critical condition of Chuck Colson. I want to offer my prayers for Chuck and his wife Patty, hoping for his speedy healing and recovery."

A former advisor to President Nixon, Colson was convicted and served seven months in prison in connection with the Watergate scandal. He became a Christian shortly before his time in prison, and since his release has worked with prisoners and ex-prisoners through Prison Fellowship, which calls itself “the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families,” with a presence in 113 countries.

Sojourners offers its thoughts and prayers to Chuck, his family, the organization he has been at the center of for so many years, and all affected at this difficult time. We pray that God’s healing hand would be on Chuck and that his peace would be upon all of those who know and care about our brother in Christ. 

 

Christian Piatt answers, "What is an Evangelical?"

Christian Piatt.

Christian Piatt.

The “E Word” in Christianity is a funny thing.

In one respect, Evangelicals are self-identified, and therefore, self-defined. On the other, popular culture (particularly media) lays its own meaning on what it means to be Evangelical. In the latter context, the word inevitably translates to “Conservative Christian.”

But I think this definition isn’t fair. What’s more, it’s not accurate.

I’m a self-proclaimed “word nerd,” so I tend to turn to etymology for help. The root meaning of “evangelical,” at least as a paraphrase, means “to tell the good news.”

Sufficiently vague, right? Depends on who you ask.

Santa Knows All (Even Your Budget)

"Santa and the girls." By Joe Shlabotnik via http://bit.ly/u6wWMc

"Santa and the girls." By Joe Shlabotnik via http://bit.ly/u6wWMc

*Warning: SANTA SECRETS AHEAD. Shoo the children.*

In rough economic times such as these, we try extra hard to get the kids in our lives a little something special for Christmas. We may have to tighten our belt to the “painful” notch, but it’s worth it for the face you get in return for the Tickle Me Elmo, or the ZuZu pet, or whatever it is this year.

But what about Santa? Does he have a budget? He certainly has a belt, but does it get tightened in harsh (let’s not say LEAN) times? Maybe Santa could stand to lose a few…

Well, according to Fred Honerkamp, Old Saint Knick understands your finances.

Two Thumbs Up for Ebert and "Life Itself"

Mr. Ebert in 2004."I have no interest in megachurches with jocular millionaire pastors," Ebert writes. "I think what happens in them is sociopolitical, not spiritual. I believe the prosperity gospel tries to pass through the eye of the needle. I believe it is easier for a Republican to pass through the eye of a needle than for a camel to get into heaven. I have no patience for churches that evangelize aggressively.

"I have no interest in being instructed in what I must do to be saved. I prefer vertical prayers, directed up toward heaven, rather than horizontal prayers, directed sideways toward me," he continued. "If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must regard their beliefs with the same respect our own deserve."

Tools for Prayer

Yesterday afternoon I found out that ABC news plans to dedicate it programming today to "Hunger at Home: Crisis in America." It precipitated my writing of this post which I had planned to add as a later addition to a series on tools for prayer.

One important item in our prayer toolkit is knowledge of our hurting world. Not knowledge for the sake of knowledge, but knowledge that equips us to respond. Becoming aware of the needs in our world can lead us into a deeper understanding of the ache in God's heart for our hurting friends and neighbors. It can also connect us to our own self-centered indifference that often makes us complacent when God wants us to be involved. And it can stimulate us to respond to situations that we once felt indifferent to.

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