Another Poem for Lent: Affliction by George Herbert


by George Herbert

My thoughts are all a case of knives,
Wounding my heart
With scattered smart;
As wat’ring-pots give flowers their lives.
Nothing their fury can control,
While they do wound and prick my soul.

All my attendants are at strife
Quitting their place
Unto my face:
Nothing performs the task of life:
The elements are let loose to fight,
And while I live, try out their right.

Oh help, my God! let not their plot
Kill them and me,
And also Thee,
Who art my life: dissolve the knot,
As the sun scatters by his light
All the rebellions of the night.

Then shall those powers which work for grief,
Enter Thy pay,
And day by day
Labour Thy praise and my relief:
With care and courage building me,
Till I reach heav’n, and much more, Thee.


Can we see Jesus? Do we see Jesus? A Sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, 2018

We are at a turning point. Lent is drawing to a close; those of you who have been following Lent Madness are watching as the tension builds and the saintly competition comes to an end. If you’ve given up something for the season, you are probably counting the days to Easter and the end of your fast. Here in the office at Grace, we are preparing for Holy Week as you can tell from the notices in the service bulletin.

As we were reciting and chanting the verses from Psalm 51 this morning, I was reminded that we had said this same psalm on Ash Wednesday, after the imposition of the ashes. Then, I and you were hoping for a Holy Lent, a time when we might deepen our relationship with God in Christ, experience repentance and forgiveness of our sins and grow spiritually. Now, as Lent draws to a close, those verses remind me of all the ways my actions and discipline in Lent have fallen short of what I had hoped for, another missed opportunity. I am grateful again, and continuously, for God’s mercy and grace. Continue reading

On contemporary evangelicalism, race, and President Trump

A couple of important recent articles explore the support of white Evangelical Christians, and their leaders, for President Trump. Michael Gerson, who worked in George W. Bush’s White House, offers some historical perspective and is hard-hitting in his criticism of Trump’s Evangelical supporters and the impact of that support on American Christianity in the long run:

It is remarkable to hear religious leaders defend profanity, ridicule, and cruelty as hallmarks of authenticity and dismiss decency as a dead language. Whatever Trump’s policy legacy ends up being, his presidency has been a disaster in the realm of norms. It has coarsened our culture, given permission for bullying, complicated the moral formation of children, undermined standards of public integrity, and encouraged cynicism about the political enterprise. Falwell, Graham, and others are providing religious cover for moral squalor—winking at trashy behavior and encouraging the unraveling of social restraints. Instead of defending their convictions, they are providing preemptive absolution for their political favorites. And this, even by purely political standards, undermines the causes they embrace. Turning a blind eye to the exploitation of women certainly doesn’t help in making pro-life arguments. It materially undermines the movement, which must ultimately change not only the composition of the courts but the views of the public. Having given politics pride of place, these evangelical leaders have ceased to be moral leaders in any meaningful sense.

As several commentators have pointed out, Gerson’s analysis overlooks racism’s role in the rise of Evangelicalism as a political movement. An article in the New York Times, sheds light on African-Americans who are leaving white Evangelical churches.

Many progressive Christians cheer such developments because they think that exiles from evangelicalism will find new homes in mainline denominations. I doubt whether that will happen in large numbers. I suspect its more likely that such exiles will leave organized Christianity entirely. In addition, it is increasingly difficult for those of us who proclaim a gospel of love and inclusion to have our voices heard above the cacophony in our current culture, and also to resist the temptation to find our salvation in progressive politics and “resistance” rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is how God loves the world: A Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent, 2018

Is there any verse of scripture more familiar in our culture than John 3:16? It may be that for many in our culture it is the only verse they know, or at least, the only verse they know the reference for. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Over the years, we’ve seen it displayed at athletic events; on bumper stickers or decals on cars, emblazoned on all matter of Christian kitsch.

For that very reason, many of us find its ubiquity and overuse problematic or even offensive. It’s as likely to divide or put people off as it is to attract people to Christianity, for not only does it seem to reduce the truth and beauty of Christianity to a slogan or formula, also, by the over-emphasis on belief, seems divide the world between believers and unbelievers, saved and unsaved, and those of us who struggle with doubt and uncertainty, wonder whether we are included among those who will inherit eternal life. Continue reading

Poetry for Lent: “Repentance” by George Herbert

Today is the commemoration of the Anglican priest and poet, George Herbert, who died on February 27, 1633


Lord, I confess my sin is great;
Great is my sin. Oh! gently treat
With thy quick flow’r, thy momentany bloom;
Whose life still pressing
Is one undressing,
A steady aiming at a tomb.

Man’s age is two hours’ work, or three:
Each day doth round about us see.
Thus are we to delights: but we are all
To sorrows old,
If life be told
From what life feeleth, Adam’s fall.

O let thy height of mercy then
Compassionate short-breathed men.
Cut me not off for my most foul transgression:
I do confess
My foolishness;
My God, accept of my confession.

Sweeten at length this bitter bowl,
Which thou hast pour’d into my soul;
Thy wormwood turn to health, winds to fair weather:
For if thou stay,
I and this day,
As we did rise, we die together.

When thou for sin rebukest man,
Forthwith he waxeth woe and wan:
Bitterness fills our bowels; all our hearts
Pine, and decay,
And dropp away,
And carry with them th’other parts.

But thou wilt sin and grief destroy;
That so the broken bones may joy,
And tune together in a well-set song,
Full of his praises,
Who dead men raises;
Fractures well cur’d make us more strong.



Difficult conversations on our journey with Jesus: A Sermon for the Second Sunday in Lent, 2018

One of the things about my job that is both wonderful and at times frustrating is that among many other things, I get paid to talk to people. And while some of those conversations can be uncomfortable and difficult, many of them are opportunities to get to know people, to hear about their spiritual journeys, to learn about their struggles, their hopes and passions, and sit with them in the midst of their pain and suffering.

This week, I’ve met with a number of interesting people, among them a college student who wanted to talk to me about his senior thesis (that’s something I haven’t done in almost ten years); a young Roman Catholic woman who is searching for a new church home. There were also several homeless or nearly homeless people There were also conversations with people curious about the proposed development project on our block. Continue reading

Some resources for the Daily Office, Bible Study, and the Daily Examen

I led an adult forum at Grace last Sunday during which I offered brief introductions to the Daily Office and the Daily Examen from the Ignatian tradition. I’ve collected some of those resources here, as well as links to the Bible and the lectionary.

The Book of Common Prayer online: 

The Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer, Daily Devotions)

Morning Prayer Rite I BCP 37

Morning Prayer Rite II BCP 75

Evening Prayer Rite I BCP 61

Evening Prayer Rite II BCP 115

Compline BCP 127

Daily Devotions for Families BCP 136

Daily Office online:

This site includes the psalms, readings, and canticles for each office, so you don’t need to look through the lectionary, or have a bible. Daily office app available on itunes or android.

The Daily Office podcast:

The Bible

For many years, I have used this site: It offers a number of different versions, but defaults to the New Revised Standard Version (with British spelling), which is the version we use in worship.

The Lectionary.

If you want to know the readings for Sunday in advance, they are all available at The Lectionary Page:

A great resource for exploring each week’s Sunday readings is

The Daily Examen

An alternative to the Daily Office is the daily examen. From the Jesuit tradition, meant to offer you an opportunity at the end of the day to look back over your day for signs of God’s presence and grace.

A brief overview:

  1. Become aware of God’s presence.
    2.Review the day with gratitude.
    3. Pay attention to your emotions.
    4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
    5. Look toward tomorrow.

From Ashes to Glory (the daily examen for Lent):