Proposed Inauguration Benedictions

The inauguration benediction offered later today has received considerable attention.  More specifically, the spotlight has been on the one who will voice those words - including why Louie Giglio stepped aside and Luis Leon was chosen as a replacement. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor for the Huffington Post, recently shifted the focus to what words could be spoken with a blog post featuring his own proposed benediction alongside two dozen additional submissions by religious Read More …

Restoring Perspective: A Prayer

Yesterday a 20 year old man chose to use a gun to do harm to others and to himself.  Today 27 people are dead, including 20 children and the young man who is responsible for the deaths.  While many have opted to use social media to forward a specific political or theological agenda rather than to address the tragedy directly others have called any conversations about those matters inappropriate.  Regardless of personal preference or perspective, prayer is an appropriate and powerful response. Read More …

Review of Help Thanks Wow

Meet the Author Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels and five best-selling nonfiction books.  She was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has taught at the University of California - Davis.  Lamott’s biweekly Salon Magazine “online diary,” Word by Word, was voted The Best of the Web by TIME magazine. Book Basics Help Wow Thanks: The Three Essential Prayers is simple, honest, and personal.  Lamott shares her understanding of and experience with prayer at its most basic, Read More …

Praying for Our Nation

Jena Lee Nardella offered the benediction on the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.  Nardella is the co-founder and Executive Director for Blood:Water Mission, a nonprofit focused on overcoming the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa. While the full text of her prayer is worth reading, the middle portion focused on the opportunity available to all Americans over the next nine weeks is especially powerful: I pray for our country in the next nine weeks leading up to this Read More …

Ecumenical Prayer Cycle

The World Council of Churches suggests that prayer is at the heart of the ecumenical movement.  The ecumenical prayer cycle is designed to encourage people to pray for every region of the world by focusing on a specific region each week of the year.  This week's focus is This week we pray for   So What? There are many ways your congregation could encourage participation in the ecumenical cycle of prayer, including prominently displaying a visual reminder on your Read More …

Prayer of Dedication for Sunday, August 12

God of unexpected provision and unending love we place before You our offerings and our lives. Multiply what we bring and change who we are for the sake of advancing Your realm. Open before us the possibilities of ministry and guide our community of faith in the way of Jesus. Amen. Read More …

Prayer of Consecration/Blessing for Sunday, August 5

God of new beginnings, we approach your table desiring an enduring connection with you.  In the blessing of this bread and this cup, bring the way of Jesus into focus. Enlarge our view of the abundant life.  Remind us of the call to follow, and strengthen us to travel that path.  May our hunger be fully satisfied with the extravagant provision of the Bread of Life in whose name we pray.  Amen. Read More …

Review of Kneeling with Giants

Meet the Author Gary Neal Hansen is an ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister who earned a Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1998.  He joined the faculty of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 1999, and currently serves as assistant professor of church history and the chair of the history and theology division.  Hansen has published articles in several journals including the Princeton Seminary Bulletin, Teaching Theology & Religion, and Presbyterian Outlook. Read More …

Just Going Through the Motions

Thom Rainer, President & CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently shared several statistics from Brad Waggoner's The Shape of the Faith to Come (2008), including "47 percent of Protestant churchgoers admitted to just 'going through the motions' often during the singing and prayer portions of worship services." So What? How might your congregational leadership begin a conversation about this matter?  What is an appropriate response to the statistic that roughly half of those Read More …

Prayers of the People – A Different Approach

At Naples United Church of Christ the pastoral prayer follows the same basic pattern each week: Pastor provides a prayer focus and invites people to pray Time of silent prayer Pastor offers the prayers of the people Musical response Yesterday, we chose to do things differently. The Rev. Catherine O'Connell, Associate Pastor, and I co-wrote then co-led the prayers of the people, which included a congregational response.  The pattern we used was: Pastor provides a prayer focus Read More …