Written for a member at a church I served. Continue reading Prayer in the Midst of Illness
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be updating the blog, which is also a resource for other clergy or religious leaders, with resources I’ve created in the past year or so. Most of these were developed in the context of the First Baptist Church in Henderson, NC, where I served as a pastoral intern. Feel free to use any of the lessons, prayers, or liturgies with proper credit given. I’m all about getting good content out there for churches and not putting it all behind a pay wall that some smaller congregations can’t afford to get over.
The following lesson is an exercise in a process developed by the Benedictine folks who developed the St. John’s Bible. If you haven’t ever checked out the St. John’s Bible, you really should. It’s a beautiful work of art. The process that these Benedictine’s helped modernize they call Visio Divina, sort of remixing the popular contemplative method of Lectio Divina used by religious educators, contemplatives, and tons of other Christians. It aims to use art as a place for spiritual reflection and renewal in conjunction with Scripture. Continue reading “Seeing Peace Lesson”
I delivered this sermon on my last Sunday at First Baptist Church in Henderson, NC where I was the pastoral intern earlier this year. The sermon came in the midst of a time where we were talking about, as a country, things like minimum wages laws, the drought in California (and what it meant for our food!), and the conditions of food workers. The passages were Genesis 4:1-10, John 10:11-18, and 1 John 3:11-24.
“What have you done? Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”
“I am the good shepherd […] I lay down my life in order to take it up again.”
“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death.”
In the first passage we heard this morning, we heard a tale of greed, deceit, and murder. There were two brothers, bound together by blood. Both of them worked with food. They brought offerings to God, charitable offerings meant to assert their faith in and reliance on God. But when one grew envious for God’s favor, he killed the other.
Cain approached his brother Abel and told him, “Come with me. Let’s go outside and see what the world has to offer today.” Abel, suspecting nothing, cheerfully accompanied his brother. In the field outside, the brothers were once again bound by blood … but this time the blood was Abel’s crying out from the ground.
Cain in the moments following Abel’s murder exhibits no immediate remorse and he even denies it. He told God, “I don’t know where he is. Am I my brother’s keeper?” But God knew what Cain had done. God heard Abel’s cry from the blood-soaked soil, ground that would never properly yield food again.
“What have you done?” God asked Cain. “Listen, your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!”
Listen, your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground! Can you hear it? Abel’s blood still cries out from the soil. The earth lurches with his pain, and yet his voice goes unheard. I cannot help but hear Abel’s cry today, because Cain still murders Abel. The story is caught in time, endlessly repeating itself all over the world. Continue reading “The Resurrected Shepherd”