New poem — “The Taking of Jim Smith’s Life”

Short, fun, doggerel — but also true. Read it here.

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Gluttony — We Don’t Talk About It, But We Still Do It

(A Lection Reflection on I Corinthians 6:12)

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a sermon, or a sermon series, on The Seven Deadly Sins. Perhaps the list and the concept are seen by some as “too Catholic.” Perhaps it seems too basic. Perhaps it is too old-fashioned.

But I suspect the real reason is if you preach on any of these, you’ve “done left preaching and gone to meddling.” And one of the prime examples of all-out meddling is preaching on Gluttony. Why? Because we know the truth — we don’t want to talk about it, because we know we are guilty.

I think, though, that there’s more here than we think. More that we need to talk about. Continue reading

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The Work of Christmas

For this morning’s Ephiphany service, we sang a setting of this poem by Howard Thurman. I did not know this poem, or this setting, until we practiced it a few weeks ago — but the first time we sang it, I cried. It is beautiful, moving, and pointed. May we spend 2015 doing the work of Christmas.

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music from the heart.

(setting by Dan Forrest, available through Beckenhorst)

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I’m Back

After many months away from all my sites, after many months of combining work with campaigning, after many months of doing no writing except for campaign blurbs and publicity pieces, I am very pleased and excited to share this important news:

I’m back.

After the election was over, I took some time away by doing one of my “custom Bruce Maples trips” (point the car in some direction, in this case Northeast, and take off). After that trip was over, I had to do some campaign clean-up tasks, and get some music things ready at church, and catch up some things around the house. But now, almost exactly a month after the election, I am ready and eager to begin writing again.

I am cross-posting this to all four sites, so if you follow me in more than one venue you will see it multiple times. After this, though, I should be back to keeping different content on each site.

Thanks for hanging in there while I was away. Thanks for coming back and reading this. And thanks for your encouragements, your friendships, and your willingness to see what I have to say.

Let’s get to writing.

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Seeing Others As Zeros (Luke 19:8)

Years ago, there was a certain band-director who was known for building a winning program, no matter what it took. One tactic he used was to take coat hangers and shape them into a circle, with the hangar part made into a handle. If you messed up the marching drill, you had to put down your instrument and carry one of these coat-hangars, while the other members of the band chanted a little ditty that called you a Zero.

I’m sure that at this moment, many of you are thinking “what a horrible thing to do to a young person!” And yes, it’s certainly not an example from the John Wooden school of leadership.

I submit, though, that every one of us is guilty of the same thing. We see others as “zeros” in at least two ways. Make the jump to see where you fit.

Continue reading

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