Food for Thought-A Celtic Benediction for Lent

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A Celtic Benediction For Lent

As the sun sets on another day,

May the flames of the spirit

ignite a passion for justice in my heart

may the words of today bring me

to righteous actions tomorrow.

May I seek out those who are hungry,

those who are homeless, without,

and forgotten.

As you carry me when I am weak,

may I seek to carry others.

Forgive me of my faults.

Heal me of my infirmities.

Empower and equip me to serve others.

Amen.

Food for Thought-Gratitude on a Beautiful Irish Monday Night

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As dusk begins to fall on a beautiful Irish Monday night, I’m writing about the following things for which I am grateful…

I am grateful that the explosive device found here in town today was disarmed before it harmed any civilians or the police.

I am grateful there are men and women who are willing to risk their lives to protect our community.

I am grateful for this lovely spring weather and the mild temperatures.

I am grateful that our clocks have changed and there is still daylight past 7:00 pm.

I am grateful for the most meaningful relationships in my life; my wife, my children, and my parents.

I am grateful for our family’s faithful companion, Ruby.

I am grateful for the other family and friends we know and love between Ireland and America.

I am grateful for the friends right here on our doorstep.

I am grateful for the congregations I serve.

I am grateful for the women and men who greet the visitors, polish the communion rail, balance the books, wash the dishes, and much more.

I am grateful for the opportunity to live out my calling in this time and place.

I am grateful that my calling provides a home for my family; a home with warmth and running water.

I am grateful we have food to eat and share with others.

I am grateful we can obtain our food locally and have the resources to do so.

I am grateful that we have the freedom to do my job without fear of landing in prison.

I am grateful for my health and well-being.

I am grateful for the health and well-being of my wife and children.

I am grateful that my parents are in good health.

I am grateful for the moments that force me to ask what is truly important in life.

I am grateful for all life around me.

Food for Thought-3 Leadership Lessons from Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks is one the icons of the American civil rights movement.  Her action, the legal challenge to bus seating policy in Montgomery, Alabama, and the bus boycott which followed marked a true beginning of the movement in the eyes of many in the American public.  Stepping back, what we can we learn from one woman, one bus, and one action on December 1st, 1955?

1.  Leaders have to go first.  Someone must lead the way.  When we acknowledge there are problems that demand solutions that no one else is willing to approach or solve, it is up to a leader to go first and take the initiative.  The willingness to take that decision may be painful.  It may result in isolation in the short term.  However, if others (our team, colleagues, friends, family) are going to follow, someone must refuse to move to the back of the bus first.

2.  Leaders make important decisions when they are emotionally and physically exhausted.  Rosa Parks had worked a very long day when she was asked to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus.  She was tired.  Leaders don’t always have the luxury of a good night’s sleep, a comfortable office, a conference call on Skype, and a list of well-thought out options.  Sometimes leadership decisions are called for at dusk, amid our own fatigue, with only minimal facts at hand, and we are faced with the opportunity to make a decision that will impact far beyond our own lives.  This is why preparation is they key.  Are we making good decisions when our lives are not in crisis or chaos,  honing our skills, so when those moments do arrive, we can stand our ground?

3.  Ultimately, it’s not about the leader, it’s about the team.  Rosa Parks knew it wasn’t about her.  She took the first step.  The real journey would begin when anyone in Montgomery could sit down anywhere they wanted to on a bus.  She was a catalyst for change.  Rosa equipped and empowered others to follow a path she created.  That’s one of the most basic definitions of leadership.  Are we equipping and empowering those around us to be leaders in their own right?

Food for Thought-A Night Prayer Inspired by the Those in The Trenches of World War One

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Night Prayer from the Somme

As I descend into the trenches and darkness falls,

the fear of tomorrow rumbles above.

To my right I hear the songs of my past.

To my left prayers are being said.

As I prepare to sleep, may my life be truly yours.

May the steps I take into the unknown light beyond the trench be led by you.

May the words I say be words of life and hope.

And amid the chaos I encounter,

may I clearly see all the joy you have waiting for me to see.

Amen

Food for Thought-Gratitude on the Fourth Sunday in Lent

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As the time has changed and the sun has still not set in the west of Ireland, I am writing about these things for which I am grateful…

I am grateful for the day that has passed.

I am grateful for the services this morning.

I am grateful I asked others to share what they are grateful for.

I am grateful we celebrated Mothering Sunday.  (In the UK, it’s Mothering Sunday!)

I am grateful I spoke with my own mother today.

I am grateful that some of those who were unwell have made steps toward recovery this week.

I am grateful for the most meaningful relationships in my life; my wife, my children, and my parents.

I am grateful for our faithful friend and family companion, Ruby.

I am grateful for our family members and friends who are spread between two continents and one ocean.

I am grateful for our friends who are live right here on our own doorstep.

I am grateful for the congregations I serve from day to day.

I am grateful for the men and women in the church who read scripture, bring flowers, lead singing, clean kitchens, wash dishes, and pay the bills.

I am grateful for the opportunity to live out my calling in the unique time and place.

I am grateful for the home I am provided; for it’s warmth, shelter, and clean water.

I am grateful for the food we share as a family.

I am grateful our food is available locally and we can afford to buy it.

I am grateful it is not illegal for me to do my job.

I am grateful for my health and well-being.

I am grateful for the health and well-being of my wife and children.

I am grateful that my parents are in good health in body and mind.

I am grateful for the moments each day I can stop and ask what’s really important and what really matters.

I am grateful for all life around me.

Food for Thought-3 Life Lessons from Alain Badiou

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Alain Badiou is a 77 year old French philosopher and one of the few remaining greats of post-war French philosophy.  There is hardly anything he hasn’t written about.  He is a thinker on par with people like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, or Louis Althusser.

1.  Evil is the moment when I lack the strength to be true to the Good that compels me.  How tired are we? Have we ever considered that how well we take care of ourselves, how much we sleep, our diets, and our overall well-being might impact our ability to do good?  If we don’t have the strength (physical and emotional) to compel ourselves to action in given situations and can no longer depend on ourselves, what happens next?  Badiou defines this very moment as evil, not just subsequent actions which may stem from our inaction.  Are there things in our lives occurring right now that because of our lack of strength we may be unaware of our own complicity in things turning out poorly?

2.  “Love without risk is an impossibility, like war without death.”  Love, life, and leadership without risk are all impossibilities.  There is only so much risk we can manage in our lives and careers.  We are going to have to take certain risks to work and to live.  Do we love our work enough, love what we do and the people we work with to risk sharing our ideas and time?  Do we love our families, our spouses, and significant others in ways that show we are willing to risk-like soldiers on a battlefield?

3.  “Love is not a contract between two narcissists.”  Badiou says that love has got to be something that pushes both people to move beyond their individual narcissism.  Yes, it’s about work and to some degree it’s about reinvention of the self.  A new relationship can’t sustain one, let alone two narcissists.  You work hard to build something that will endure, day after day.   Love (and this can be read for other types of relationships as well) is about encountering someone and then building something-creating a new event with that person.