For those wanting to see our guide for d

September 22, 2012

For those wanting to see our guide for devotions you can now find it on my new website
http://transforminggrace.org/prayer/ Use away.

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Renewing Contemplation

July 18, 2012

I just finished a week long silent retreat focusing on centering prayer (which is a method of prayer that leads into the prayer of contemplation). It was great. I must say that I was so deeply impressed by the wisdom contained within this simple practice and the possibilities of transformation that it holds.

The part the I especially connected with was the ways in which, by opening our self in silence to God’s presence and action in our lives, our deepest injuries, our false selves and sin begin to emerge from our unconscious and are healed. I was amazed as I could watch this happening with in me, and now as I am back at work, how this continues to open me up to God’s grace.

It makes me wonder what a church, rooted in contemplation, would be like. I wonder if this is a part of our path to renewal. That we can be renewed when each of us, in silence, opens the core of who we are to be healed by God’s grace, so that that grace can flow through us to heal each other.

Perhaps it is the structures of our false self that need to be transformed so that there might be new life.

To learn more about centring prayer visit contemplative outreach


Holy Spirit: Renewal

June 26, 2012

Lately I have been wondering more and more about the Holy Spirit.  In a conversation the other day with Preston, he mentioned something quite important along the lines of – “Every renewal movement of the church has been a movement of the Spirit and rooted in a renewed piety.”

I am sure that this is enough to send chills down many a Lutheran spine.  Yet there is something profoundly true about it. We try to restructure churches, we try to reason out new theologies, but it is usually only people’s experience of God that moves and motivates people. Further, one of the things I learned from my research into transformation is the importance of habits. It is not great decisions or great treatise that change our world; rather it is the ongoing daily patterns that, like the water of a stream, move mountains.

So where do we turn first? There is only one place, to again turn to God’s Spirit, to pray that we might be open to its movement, open to its renewal and that we renew this commitment in daily prayer, in daily reading scripture and in our daily practice of love. 


Convention – and I am excited.The church

May 22, 2012

Convention – and I am excited.The church is in upheaval, the rescue plan is dead on arrival and the faithful gather. Its Holy Spirit time!


Models of Vibrancy

November 14, 2011

I have been spending some time pondering how the wider church could most effectively help congregations renew. The challenge is that most of us don’t even know what renewal could look like. Lets face it, most of us have grown up in and been trained in a model of church that seems to be struggling. As a parish pastor, what would help me is to see and lean from other churches that have found ways of thriving in their mission and ministry.

What we often forget is that there are many congregations out there that are thriving and in the process learning things about what it takes to thrive in our present age. What we need is for people to learn about these congregations and make available the lessons they have learned and the models that they have created. Thankfully someone has started this process. Luther Seminary and the Lilley foundations are undertaking such a project. It is called the Vibrant Congregations Project. It is still in process, but well worth keeping an eye on. Perhaps it is also something we could think about doing in our own contexts.


What If – We Trained Pastors Differently

November 1, 2011

I was just sitting with one of my parishioners, working on how we can rework an old website so that it can be more interactive. Before this I was visiting a parishioner who had been in hospital. Before that I was leading a bible study and before that a staff meeting. While I did use a few bits of knowledge that I gained in my seminary education,  I must admit that both what I learned in seminary classroom and and the very setting of a classroom somehow antiquated or perhaps out of touch with the reality of contemporary pastoral ministry that I experienced in this one day. The skills that I used today involved working with and leading a team, facilitating discussions, creating a healing relationship and technologically based communication. I must admit that I am not sure how any of these skill can even be taught in the setting of a traditional classroom. Perhaps it is time to not only rethink what is taught in seminaries, but even how we teach. What if seminary education was moved primarily out of classrooms and was instead in sites of practice. What if the focus shifted from knowledge learned to skills and competencies gained? This is now a question that many seminaries are exploring. If you want to read more you can read this article in the Washington Post.


A Journey from Church to Neighbourhood

September 23, 2011

In July of 2010 I resigned from the congregation I was serving. It felt good to be out from under the pressures that characterized my ministry in that place. It was good to breathe again without someone breathing down my neck. But after a few weeks of relaxation the question of “What Now?” popped up.

My wife suggested trying something new and I took here advice like an good husband should. I took a course totally unrelated to being a pastor and discovered another world. I sought out other jobs, but soon discovered that ageism was indeed the number one form of discrimination today. By December I had discerned that my calling to follow Jesus was in and through the church in some form.

So for the last nine months I’ve waited (not always patiently) and prayed (not always fervently) for an invitation to serve somewhere. For nine months the institutional church doors have been shut to me.

I’ve wrestled with the silence and at times been depressed that no one would want me. However, through this time I’ve practiced living missionally where I am.To live missionally is not only about being “Christ-like” where I am, but also listening and watching for God’s presence where I am.

Over these months I’ve visited with my neighbours and gotten involved with my neighbourhood. I’ve brought my neighbours together for fellowship. I even set up my barbecue one evening and offered free hot dogs and hamburgers. I’ve tried to practice a ministry of presence to the people around me. In a way, I’ve tried to live out my calling as a follower of Jesus where I am and with the people around me.

All of this neighbourhood ministry has made me wonder what would happen if upon graduating from seminary new pastors were sent to some neighbourhood and said, “Go therefore and make disciples…Be Christ’s presence and his voice calling people there.” I wonder how well we would do and how many of us would be able to survive.

I’m still looking forward in hope to a “community” call, but I realize now that the most important calling we all have is right where we live and move and have our being. In our neighborhoods and wherever we journey God is there inviting us to participate in the good news God is unfolding.

Perhaps that’s the lesson I needed to learn.