A Prayer by Walter Brueggemann – “Sustained by Angels”


Maybe we have not thought much about Satan,
either in glib self-regard,
or in rejection of such silly speculation,
or in a way more urbane and benign
than to imagine such a character.

Except that as we begin our strenuous Lenten trek,
we are aware that the power of resistance is at work in our midst,
that the force of negation is alive and well,
that our best will is contradicted
by stuff that surges
against our best selves,
that we, even we, are prone to our
several addictions that render us helpless.

So we pray in the Lenten season,
give us primitive freedom to
take full stock of Satan and the power of
evil still among us in our prosperity
and pride an sophistication,
and give us primitive openness
to your ministering angels
who are present with care and gentleness
and great nourishment.

In the Lenten season, give us freedom
to reconfigure our lives
as a testing field between the force of Satan
and the food of your angels.

Enter our lives with power for newness,
deliver us from a sense of naïve mastery,
and give us honest contact with our vulnerability.

Enter the deep places of our life and claim us for your purposes.
We would be more free than we are,
more bold than we dare,
more obedient than we choose.

We wait for the gift of your large gift of life
that will wrench us away from death
to the miracle of Easter joy. Amen

By Walter Brueggemann, biblical scholar and teacher, from Prayers for a Privileged People.

The Weekend Wanderer: 25 March 2023

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.

1*IwPK78lLbKgZbDx-Asl3ZQ“The Well at the End of the World” – Kenneth Tanner: “Jesus is tired and thirsty, not only from walking since daybreak but from the sun’s full strength at noon. The One who made the sun and all stars, now sweats and is parched. The One who faints not, who never grows weary, needs a breather. And he continues to thirst until everyone and everything is reconciled to God. The fastest way home to Galilee from Jerusalem runs straight through a town in Samaria, right by the land and the well of his ancestor Jacob. His feet dusty and sore from the road, Jesus sits down on the well. Wherever there’s water in the universe, he is its source and yet at Jacob’s well he has no means to get to its subterranean flow, some 100 feet down and fed by a spring. The rabbis talk in the Targums of a time when Jacob rolled away the stone that capped this well and it geysered water for twenty years but now you need a skin and a long rope to get the water to your lips. A woman approaches the well with a large pitcher on her shoulder and when she arrives, Jesus asks her for a drink. There are layers of complication around this meeting, this moment, and this request for water.”

042023-autism-church“Five ways your church might already welcome autistic adults” – Victoria Wick in The Christian Century: “My first year serving as a full-time pastor was also the year I was diagnosed with autism. I was 28. Pandemic burnout sent me on a search for mental health support—a search that ultimately led to the discovery that I’m neurodivergent, a nonmedical umbrella term that encompasses those whose brains work differently than most. Autism is one form of neurodivergence. I was surprised that someone could be an autist their whole life and not even realize it. I’ve since learned that there’s a good reason for that: most of the existing research on autism was conducted with preschool-age boys, but autism in girls—not to mention adult women—looks very different. Neurodivergent girls often face more pressure than their male peers to socially conform throughout their development. Many autistic girls learn to mask autistic traits so well that even we don’t realize we’re navigating more challenges than our non-autist peers. But once I learned I was autistic, I made more sense to myself—my love of ritual and routine, my special interest in words, my near-constant analysis of social dynamics and meaning, my unassailable trust that other people have honest intentions. My call to ministry made more sense too. A lot of autistic adults really like church, and not just because of widely held stereotypes about autism and rigid beliefs. Every autistic person is different, but because autistic brains have more neural connections than the average human brain, many autistic people are drawn to explore nuance and complexity. When a congregation succeeds in fostering theological curiosity and encouraging a variety of perspectives, it assures me that my differences might be welcomed and celebrated, too.”

Alan Jacobs - Laity Lodge“Letting Go to Be Repaired” – Alan Jacobs in Echoes: “When I get ready to drive from my home in Waco to Laity Lodge—perhaps to lead a retreat, or perhaps just to have some time on my own—I always pack some sturdy hiking shoes, a bag of books, a notebook and pen, and a plan. It’s about a four-hour drive from my house to the Canyon. During that drive I listen to podcasts or music, but I’m always thinking about my plan—about how to make the best use of my time. But as I turn down the dusty road that drops to the Frio, I feel that my grip on the plan is not quite as firm as it had been. As I drive through the river, the grip loosens a little more. This is troubling. When I get to my room at the Lodge, I re-focus on my plan. I set out the books on the desk. I open the notebook and put the pen across it. But then, because I’ve been in the car for a long time, I need a walk. So, I strap on the hiking shoes and head out onto one of the trails, and as I do, with the Frio below me, the birds above me, and the cedars around me, something happens. Gradually, and without meaning to, I start to let go of my plan. It no longer seems to matter that much. I take a deep breath of the clean air, and then another. I walk; maybe I stop and just breathe for a while. Thus, I begin—for the first time in a long time, I perceive—to listen. And when I start to listen, God begins to speak to me … or maybe it’s better to say that when my own mental babble quietens for a moment, I realize that God has been speaking to me all along.”

Dante Bowe“Dante Bowe Navigates Worship in the Spotlight” – Kelsey Kramer McGinnis interviews Dante Bowe in Christianity Today: “Grammy Award–winning worship artist Dante Bowe is starting a new chapter. After years with some of today’s most influential worship music collectives, Bethel Music and Maverick City Music, Bowe has launched TRUE Music, a label and management company that he hopes will become a hub for creativity and spiritual growth for emerging artists. Bowe has shared a worship stage with the biggest and hippest names in the industry: Chandler Moore, Upperroom, Housefires, We The Kingdom, Crowder, Pat Barrett, and Brandon Lake. He’s known for his soulful, raspy voice and powerful performances on ‘Old Church Basement,’ ‘Take Me Back,’ and ‘Yes and Amen.’ His energetic stage presence and emphasis on spontaneity in worship make him a dynamic and sought-after performer. Bowe left Maverick City Music in September 2022; a social media post by Maverick City announced the departure, citing ‘behavior that was inconsistent with [its] core values and beliefs.’  The 29-year-old singer has reemerged after a social media hiatus with a new song “Hide Me” and a clear vision and a desire to foreground authenticity in his new project. His prominence has put him in the realm of Christian celebrity, though his heart is still to put Jesus at the center.”

pastor trauma

“A Rule for Pastors to Live By” – John P. Burgess, Jerry Andrews and Joseph D. Small in Outreach Magazine: “How can pastors thrive amid the demands of being a preacher, therapist, administrator and CEO? We need a contemporary pastoral rule: a pattern for ministry that encourages and enables pastors to focus on what is most important in their pastoral task. Written by three veteran pastors, this book gives examples of pastoral rules in communities throughout the church’s history, providing concrete advice on how pastors can develop and keep a pastoral rule today. In our many years of working with and serving as pastors, we have observed that the pastoral office today is increasingly held hostage to a multitude of competing demands. The pastor is supposed to be, among many other things, preacher, teacher, therapist, administrator, personnel director, organizational manager, business entrepreneur and CEO—all at the same time. Each of these functions is critically important; moreover, they belong to the reality of pastoral ministry today. We cannot pretend that pastors are immune from the multiple pressures that increasingly define every kind of work in a digitalized, globalized world driven by values of efficiency and productivity. There is no going back to an era in which the pastor could imagine “himself” (as was the case in those days) to be nothing more than the congregation’s resident theological scholar who would be honored for his educated sermons and wise pastoral counsel, while others took care of the church’s ‘business.’ But pastors also have a responsibility to shape our reality. We are not simply passive servants of the marketplace; we are called to live in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We can make choices about what is more or less important. We can strive for a measure of order that honors God even as we remain flexible in responding to the needs of the day as they come at us. We can seek to exercise our service with integrity, in the sense of wholeness, by reframing all that we do in light of what God has done and continues to do for the world in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will benefit by having a ‘rule,’ a disciplined way of life that keeps us grounded in the principal calling of a pastor: to be faithful to God and God’s will for us and the people we serve.”

_129040037_gettyimages-1124433825.jpg“UN climate report: Scientists release ‘survival guide’ to avert climate disaster” – Matt McGrath and Georgina Rannard at The BBC: “UN chief Antonio Guterres says a major new report on climate change is a ‘survival guide for humanity.’  Clean energy and technology can be exploited to avoid the growing climate disaster, the report says. But at a meeting in Switzerland to agree their findings, climate scientists warned a key global temperature goal will likely be missed. Their report lays out how rapid cuts to fossil fuels can avert the worst effects of climate change. In response to the findings, UN secretary general Antonio Guterres says that all countries should bring forward their net zero plans by a decade. These targets are supposed to rapidly cut the greenhouse gas emissions that warm our planet’s atmosphere. ‘There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,’ the report states. Governments had previously agreed to act to avoid global temperature rise going above 1.5C. But the world has already warmed by 1.1C and now experts say that it is likely to breach 1.5C in the 2030s.”

Music: Johann Sebastian Bach, “O Sacred Head Sore Wounded,” King’s College Cambridge (2011).

Waiting: Journeying through Lent with Noah

For forty days the rain fell on the earth as Noah and his family watched aboard the ark. Slowly, the sin-cursed world was covered with water until nothing else was visible. For 150 days after this, the ark surged over the waters of the earth. Dull views, the weary rocking back and forth on waves, and the tiresome work of caring for animals and the boat. And the waiting…

I imagine the waiting was perhaps most difficult for Noah and all on board. When would these rains and flooding end? When would God act to restore the earth? How many days would this animal barge float on the waves before land could once again be visible? That basic question that all children seem to ask on long trips: “Are we there yet?”

Waiting is perhaps one of the most difficult things in our lives. Waiting for results from a medical test. Waiting for a friend to come for the weekend. Waiting for a job during unemployment. Waiting for an answer to questions we carry deep within.

The journey of Lent is also a journey of waiting. Our world was aching with unknown waiting when Jesus came upon earth as the Messiah. Paul the Apostle tells us, “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). But until then, there was waiting and longing and watching for God’s chosen one.

Our Lenten journey today is also characterized by waiting. We remember and once again enter into the waiting of the earth for a Savior. This journey is also a one of waiting for God to act in our own lives. God’s timetable, as is often said, is not our own. Knowing such a thing to be true does not necessarily make the waiting easier. We still wait: for relief, for our needs to be meet, for deliverance, for friendship, for freedom, for…something or anything.

But in all the waiting, we come to the Lord who is God both of our movement and our waiting. We speak from the depths of our souls the words of the psalmist:

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
     making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:1-3, ESV)

Lenten Prayer from Nigeria


God in heaven,
You have helped my life to grow like a tree. 
Now something has happened. 
Satan, like a bird,
has carried in one twig of his own choosing after another. 
Before I knew it he had built a dwelling place and was living in it. 
Tonight, my Father, I am throwing out both the bird and the nest.

Unknown source from Nigeria