Thursday, July 20, 2006

and the living is easy

It is summer. We have come "down from the mountain", after two weeks of relaxation, waking up to to sixty degree weather, shifting from urban frenzy to mountain rural time. And now the shift back. It has been a good week back at work. Some committee meetings, some pastoral visits and a few phone calls to return, a capital campaign to complete, and some logistics to work out in relation to a mission project. I also finished a writing project, and received, in the mail, a copy of my latest book, published by Abingdon: Baptismal Services, Sermons and Prayers. I suggested in an email to my daughter, who is now in China, that if it sells like the DaVinci Code, I will establish a non-profit for her. Or maybe Oprah will read it and invite me onto her program to talk about creative ways to preach or celebrate baptism? Or maybe UNC Chapel Hill will choose it as the book that every entering freshman reads?

Don't could happen.

Regarding the world beyond myself, I am discouraged by the recent events in Israel and Lebanon, having planted my feet in the soil of each of those countries. Last summer our church hosted a videoconference on peace in the middle eas, with Father Hesburgh and Leighton Ford and others speaking, including local rabbis and imans. But there is little desire for peace among Israeli leadership, or the Iranians, or the Bush Adminstration, for that matter.

I am at work on a series of sermons on the Lord's Prayer. It strikes me as odd that we discuss worship in terms of traditional and contemporary (matters of style) rather than focusing on the content---how do we pray, why not pray as Jesus taught us, etc. Imagine a child attending worship all of his or her life, and learning to pray the Lord's Prayer. Imagine that he or she learns the meaning of the words, over time. And then imagine that the prayer begins to shape his or her life: there is attention to God's will, a reminder that God provides, a command to forgive, etc. Would that not be a worthy outcome from having spent time sitting in worship services? You can check out these sermons/meditations as they emerge, right here on the blog. For further reading on the Lord's Prayer, I suggest recent books by N.T. Wright, Roberta Bondi, and the tag team of Will Willimon and Stanley Hauerwas.

Tonight I am going to see the Charlotte Knights (Triple A) with my friend Frank. Later in the summer I plan to see the Greensboro Grasshoppers (A), and who knows, maybe I will catch the Asheville Tourists and the Greenville (SC) Drive. It could happen. A baseball summer. There are worse ways to pass the time.

Not much heavy content in this blog, I realize, nothing profound. I am currently listening to Willie Nelson's You Don't Know Me. Now that is both heavy and profound. I recommend it. In fact, go get it now.

In the meantime, stay cool. Head for the mountains, if you can. Altitude affects attitude.


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