Tag Archives: repent

Inside, Outside, from All Sides

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, February 19, 2018

St. Paul on Damascus road, medieval

Inside, Outside, from All Sides

As my Lenten devotional, I am reading a book of short reflections called Meeting God in Paul by Rowan Williams. I have such respect for Rowan Williams’ leadership in not only his Anglican Church, but also the wider ecumenical church worldwide.

For years—for decades—I have been fascinated by the Apostle Paul, reading books and articles on his writings and theology. Since becoming a local church pastor almost four years ago, I haven’t had the time to really dig into the life and ministry of Paul. I miss that part of my thought-life, and wish I could revisit more of Paul’s writings, in depth. Since I can’t take the time right now to dive deep into Paul’s thoughts and theology, I felt the least I could do was to read this excellent little devotional on the life of Paul, written by the wonderful theological scholar Rowan Williams.

The reflection for the first Sunday of Lent highlights Saul of Tarsus. He was “staunchly committed to maintaining the boundary between those who were ‘inside’ and those who were ‘outside.’” [1] Of course, this was before his Damascus Road encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. It was afterwards, with God’s influence and help, that he became a champion of the Gentile converts to Christianity.

However, I was intrigued and moved by Professor Williams’ expression: maintaining the boundary between those ‘inside’ and those ‘outside.’ How much of the Church Universal today is (rightly or wrongly) committed to maintaining similar boundaries? How much are local churches similarly keeping those boundaries—or walls—or other kinds of barriers firmly in place? I think Williams would agree with my serious questioning of this practice.

I am hesitant to name-call or cast aspersions on other Christians or others of different faith traditions. All the same, two adjectives came to mind when considering those who are ‘inside’ and those who are ‘outside.’ First, shortsighted. Second, divisive. Yes, shortsighted in the sense of missing a goodly portion of what Jesus preached in the Gospels. Yes, downright divisive, because of the innate fear, anxiety and stubbornness inherent in us frail, faulty human beings. Oh, how much humanity has to answer for…over the centuries, over the millenia. (And, I fully admit I am right there, amidst the rest of humanity.)

Dear Lord, are we ever to grow beyond this casting of stones and calling of names? This shunning behavior and distasteful attitude? Lord, have mercy. Help me—help us—to repent of our sins (both inside and outside). Lead us to amend our ways and walk in Your path of truth, righteousness, love, caring and sharing. Amen.



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meeting God in Paul: Reflections for the Season of Lent, Rowan Williams (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), 87.

Repent and Believe!

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 20, 2015

Repent and believe the Good News Mark 1

Repent and Believe!

As I am here at the mission conference, I am hearing lots of bible verses each day. Every day, during the conference. Yes, I was moved by certain things each day. However, what I am consistently moved by are the words of the Gospel writer Mark.

I love Mark. If Mark had been born in the 20th century, I suspect he would have been a journalist. He has the attitude, “The facts. Just the facts, ma’am.” I know his Gospel was directed more towards a Roman audience. The Romans had a much more direct attitude and approach toward life, as well. Not with as much elaboration of description as Dr. Luke.

Have I mentioned how much I appreciate my book Praying the New Testament as Psalms? We,, I do appreciate it. I need to give this modern verse to the readers who read my blog.

“The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near./Repent and believe the Good News.” [1] This is taken from the first chapter of Mark.

Lord, as I’m here at the conference, I regularly hear about people delivering the Good News. And, I am so glad! These words of Mark convict me, Lord. Convince me, encourage and empower me that I get involved, so that. I can tell others about Jesus. Amen!


Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Praying the New Testament as Psalms, Desmond O’Donnell, OMI, and Maureen Mohen, RSM, (United States of America: ACTA Publications, 2002.), 166.

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 21, 2015

repentance a gift from God

Repent! Repentance! Prayerfully.

Repentance is the word for today. Repent! Reminds me of seeing stern, dour-faced street preachers with bullhorns, standing on street corners, crying, “Repent! For the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

But, that’s not quite what our prayer guide, Rev. Howell, had in mind for today. Actually, it’s not precisely what I think Jesus had in mind, either, in the verses that accompany this short chapter in the book The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray: Mark 1:14-15. Moreover, this is from the passage I am considering and praying over, from which I will deliver a sermon on Sunday.

Yes, the Hebrew word “repent” (or, shuv) means to turn around, or make a 180-degree turn. It’s like I am going the wrong direction, so I make a u-turn. Go the right direction, instead. And Mark was Jewish; so was Peter, his friend and mentor, and presumably the source for most of the material in Mark.

Except, the Gospel of Mark was written in Greek. The Greek word for “repent” is metanoia. This word has a slightly different focus, or vector. Yes, the simple definition is “change one’s mind.” However, when expanded, this word can also mean changing one’s behavior, reorienting to new insights and understandings, framing new objectives and making new goals.

I am greatly relieved to hear this! This means that I do not need to grovel and crawl in the dust. Like a worm. (From somewhere back in my memory, a long time ago, I am remembering a state called by some pastor “Christian Worm-ism.” Pretty descriptive, if you ask me!)

So, I am reorienting myself, from the inside out. What a positive thing this can be! Not negative, laden with guilt and shame. (Especially shame! We have recently talked about both of these, yesterday and the day before.)

Reminder to self: God does not want to make me feel small or insignificant or guilty or especially shame-filled. No! But I know who does—sin, the devil, or Satan, or evil tendencies or wicked spirits. Whatever or however you may want to describe those negative feelings and emotions and urges that are not of God. Instead, we can be positive, and look forward to new opportunities.

Yes, we are angry and sad that we messed up. Yes, we can feel hesitant, even shy of going forward in life. But we can have confidence that—with God’s help and support—we will go forward with God at our sides.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.