New Here?
     
Prayer

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

In Defense of Thoughts and Prayers

Tragic school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida this week are becoming an all-too-common occurrence in our culture. Ubiquitous screens and news outlets surround us as we encounter these tragedies, in a second-handed fashion, in a strange collective way (only those directly affected can experience them). As with any repeated and communal form of storytelling, the presentation of the events in the media take on a familiar, almost ritualistic form. As different as the various tragedies are, their presentation to us can seem more and more the same. Familiar breaking news graphics, talking heads, pundits and policy advocates are…

Read More > > >

The Crown, Season 2: Reconciliation and Her Majesty

The Crown, Season 2: Reconciliation and Her Majesty

This piece contains possible spoilers from the Netflix Original Series The Crown, Season 2, Episode 6. 

The second season of The Crown is just as beautiful as the first, and more complex. As we watch the marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip ever-so-slightly unravel at the seams and Princess Margaret’s love life take dizzying turns, the Queen still has to hold down her day job, which is to rule over the British Empire.

Peter Morgan, the creator of The Crown, was recently interviewed on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” NPR summarized their conversation:

He says, “Let’s just stop thinking about them as a…

Read More > > >

Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Vulgarity, Anguish…and Truth

Punksters and non-punksters alike will be able to relate this one by Cole Hartin:

I’ve always had something of a penchant for punk rock. Anything gritty, really. This eventually extended itself into post-hardcore. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, though. I only listen to it once in a while, after sneaking glances over both shoulders, to make sure nobody is looking at my iPhone. I do feel a smug sense of pride in my curated list of higher pop: Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, S. Carey, Novo Amor, Julien Baker, and the like. But my love for Say Anything, Blink-182, and Brand…

Read More > > >

When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

It’s that time of year again! Oh, you thought I was talking about the holidays? Nope, I’m referring to the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, known as Engagement Season: the month and a half where your social media feeds seem to consist solely of diamond rings and “YES!!!! I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend!!!! #helpweneedaweddinghashtag.”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love engagements and weddings, maybe a little too much. I will stop whatever I’m doing to scroll through engagement photos or watch a wedding video, and I’ve been planning my own imaginary…

Read More > > >

Spiritual Healing and Alzheimer’s

Spiritual Healing and Alzheimer’s

We’re very grateful for this piece written by Gail Baker.

On a day with the sky blue and high and the smell of hyacinths in the air, everything began to crumble. I picked up the phone to hear crushing news. My Mom, Pat Baker, was experiencing her first signs of memory loss.  

The family remained cautiously optimistic, refusing to jump to any conclusions. Fearing a possible Alzheimer’s diagnosis, we refrained from mentioning the “A” word altogether. Many patients lose so much function from the outset that they never reach the stage of conscious acceptance. Mom, as it happened, had…

Read More > > >

When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

When Kiss Means Kill: Reflections on the Apocalypse of Language

“As the cool stream gushed over one hand, she spelled into the other the word water, firstly slowly then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motion of her fingers. Suddenly I felt the misty consciousness as of something forgotten—a thrill of returning thought; and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that “w-a-t-e-r” meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened by soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free… Everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought….

Read More > > >

Running from Law, Running from Grace

Running from Law, Running from Grace

There’s enough indication in Scripture to make the case that we naturally run from law when it confronts us in everyday life: in the preached Word of God as a ‘first word’ and when we experience its damning effects and accusatory sting in the midst of our relationships. But more subtle and implicit is the notion that we also, in a sense, run from grace.

In the book of Jonah (Jonah 1:1-3) we see that the renowned “Prophet to the Nations” runs from the law…but in Jonah 4:1-2, we see that he despises the grace of God. Jonah ran from both……

Read More > > >

From The New Yorker

Hopelessly Devoted: Exodus Chapter Two Verses One Through Ten

Hopelessly Devoted: Exodus Chapter Two Verses One Through Ten

I live over 250 miles away from the path of Hurricane Harvey, but the stories have hit close to home. In the hours leading up to Harvey’s arrival as a Category 4 just north of Corpus Christi (my hometown), I did a lot of anxious calling and texting with members of my immediate family who had decided to ride out the storm. Thankfully they all avoided serious damage and harm, but not so their neighbors just to the north as Harvey plowed through Rockport and Houston and beyond. So many of us have been wrecked by the photographs – water…

Read More > > >

"Mark Yourself as Safe"

“Mark Yourself as Safe”

Greetings from the heart of Houston, and the heart of Hurricane Harvey. For the past few mornings, I’ve woken up, glanced at my phone and the multiple flash flood warnings that came through overnight, and scrolled through a few dozen pictures of whatever fresh hell visited my city the night before. Then, I write some post for family and friends from all over the country who are worried about us: “Checking in as safe, dry and grateful in Houston this morning.” We have been spared the worst of the devastation in our little pocket of Houston. Our house has not…

Read More > > >

Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

Jesus Comes Aboard the Ship of Fools: A Sermon for Charlottesville

The following incredibly powerful and comforting sermon was delivered yesterday by Paul Walker, Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville (next door to the rallies from this past weekend).

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the…

Read More > > >

The Prayers of the Phoenix

Another fantastic excerpt from Eerdmans’ forthcoming reprint of the 16th century Four Birds of Noah’s Ark. This is the introduction to the fourth and final bird, the Phoenix, a collection of prayers relating to death and resurrection. 

The fourth bird is now flying out toward you; spread, therefore, your arms wide open to welcome it, and this Phoenix will carry you up and on to a second life that shall be ever, everlasting.

Among all birds, the Phoenix lives the longest–so must our prayers fly up in bright flames all the days of our lives. We must be petitioners even to the last hour and last minute of our breath. The Phoenix has the most beautiful feathers in the world, and prayers are the most beautiful wings by which we may mount into heaven. There is but one Phoenix upon earth, and it has but one tune in which God delights, and that is the prayer of a sinner. 

When the Phoenix knows she must die, she builds a nest of all the sweetest spices, and there, looking steadfastly at the sun, she beats her wings in its hottest beams and between them kindles a fire among those sweet spices and so burns herself to death. So, when we desire to die in the vanities of the world, we must build up a nest and fill it with faithful sighs, groans, tears, fasting and prayer, sackcloth and ashes–all of which are sweet spices in the nostrils of the Lord–and then, fixing our eyes upon the cross where the glorious Son of God paid the ransom of our sins, we must not cease till, with the wings of faith and repentance, we have kindled his mercy and in that sweet flame have all our fleshly corruptions consumed and purified. Out of those dead ashes of the Phoenix does a new Phoenix rise. And even so, out of the ashes of that one repentance shall we be regenerate and born anew.

Out of the purest flames of love, Christ kindled a fire that drank up the wrath of his Father, a fire in which all people should have been drowned for their sins, and in that fire did he die to redeem us who were lost. Yet he did not leave it there. To have died for us would have been worth nothing if he hadn’t also, like a true Phoenix, been raised up again. As a grain of wheat is cast into the earth and there first rots and then comes to life again and after yields itself in a tenfold measure, so was our Savior cast into his sepulcher, where his dead body lay for a time and then came to life again and then was raised up. And in that rising did he multiply those benefits that before he sowed among us, when he was torn in pieces and scattered on the cross.

When he died, he died alone, but when he did rise, he did not rise alone, for in his resurrection do we all ascend…