Richard's Food for Thought

Knowledge Is Food For the Soul-Plato

Food for Thought-Richard’s Rules for Praying in Public Before Meals — August 7, 2015

Food for Thought-Richard’s Rules for Praying in Public Before Meals

dear lord baby jesus

• Avoid the Ricky Bobby Method: Pray. You’re not there to preach. Be brief. Get in and get out.

• Be sincere. Avoid clichés. Stale prayers and stale food are a no go.

• In public, don’t be a show off! Don’t try to witness to every nonbeliever in the room. Would Jesus have prayed for 8 minutes, in an ostentatious style over some fried chicken because this might be the one and only chance the tourists at the back table get to hear the Gospel? Keep it Christian but don’t go all Billy Graham over the potato salad. Not cool.

• If you want to pray like Jesus, you better tip like Jay Gatsby. Sunday church goers are notoriously bad tippers. Christians should be good prayers and good tippers.

Food for Thought-Buddha is Not a Storm Trooper and Other Religious Confusion — August 6, 2015

Food for Thought-Buddha is Not a Storm Trooper and Other Religious Confusion


1. The Buddha is not a storm trooper. Buddha isn’t on the dark side. He’s not into hurting anyone.

2. Allah doesn’t want to take your job, kill you, or marry your daughter.

3. Jesus isn’t intent on forcing you to marry a gay person.

4. Krishna isn’t planning to stop you from enjoying a night at Outback.

5. Confucius says some incredibly wise things that are worth reading, but no one really says, “Confucius says…” before quoting him.

6. Christians in Palestine use the word Allah for God. Why, because they speak Arabic and that’s the Arabic word for God. Allah, the word, or God, the concept isn’t property of one faith.

7. Moses wasn’t really anything at all like Charlton Heston.

8. Just because you don’t know someone who is of a different faith doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how they worship or what they believe. Chances are, there are more people who believe in their tradition than yours.

9. Prayer and respect for the dead are common to most religious traditions.

10. Darth Vader is on the Dark Side. The similarities between the “Force” and Buddhism are vague at best.

Food for Thought-What I Learned from Dean Richard Hays — August 4, 2015

Food for Thought-What I Learned from Dean Richard Hays


In December of 1983, my maternal grandfather died of pancreatic cancer. His death was a long, slow, and painful. Although I was young, I remember it clearly and the toll it took on those in my family who arranged for his nursing care and attended to his needs when nothing more could be done. It was a devastating illness. These early memories came to the fore recently when I learned of Dean Richard Hays’ diagnosis with the same illness. Dean Hays has been a with the Duke University community for many years, a scholar or the early church, and shepherd of the growing divinity school community. My heart sank.  Medicine and treatment have changed much in the intervening years. Hope and healing are realities which people of faith willingly embrace. We do what women and men called to witness and serve have always done; we remain hopeful through our prayers and re-telling the stories which define us as a people.

Dean Hayes taught me to tell and re-tell the story of Jesus. Despite the costs or collateral damage, people like me needed to tell the sacred story of Jesus Christ. Richard Hays taught me that Jesus’ story is one in which we participate. A participatory story best told in community where our ethics and morality are best shaped by the retelling of Jesus’ final meal with his earliest disciples. The dichotomies and divisions plaguing the Church (who’s in and who’s out) can be unified by the very story of Jesus’ life (and death) itself. For me, after each lecture, I kept hearing this question, “Will we take these ideas to their logical conclusion?”

Richard Hays takes the Gospels and their greatest interpreter (Saint Paul) to their logical conclusions. He taught me what Jesus meant and what the earliest church knew he would become: the definitive moral standard for how faithful people live in community. When it came to violence, there would be none (on our part). The whole community of believers, the entire body of the faithful was called to embody his practice of loving one’s enemies. If you’ve truly given all authority under heaven and on Earth to Jesus, turning the other cheek makes all the sense in the world. We are participants in Jesus’ story. Richard Hays taught me this.

The world is not yet redeemed. Despite the heat, humidity, and mosquitoes on Ocracoke Island I am not ready for redemption. I relish the continued opportunity to work in the kingdom being built around me. As we wait and work, we participate in the ongoing acts of redemption, love, and witness to God’s faithfulness in our world. This is how Jesus’story continues to be told. It’s what I think Dean Hays wants all of us who’ve been through his classes to keep doing, as best we can.

Get Well, Dear Brother in Christ.

Food for Thought-Dying Was Possibly Part of the Deal — June 20, 2015

Food for Thought-Dying Was Possibly Part of the Deal


Dying was possibly,
Part of the deal,
When I signed up,
To follow Jesus,
Not for meetings,
To hear people squeal,
At mediocre praise choruses,
And marvel at sound bites poorly delivered,
but to die,
if need be,
part of following Jesus,
is being called to die,
that’s one the big reasons,
we knew it when,
we knew it then,
martyrdom was what he asked,
to bear a cross,
and die with him,
it’s become too easy,
to live this,
Americanized sin,
21st century Christianity,
Sanitized worship,
A deodorized Jesus,
No different from Santa Claus,
Where no one remembers,
Or gives a moments pause,
At what he said,
Or what he taught,
How he lived,
From the day he commenced,
Forgive and you will die,
The kingdom of heaven,
Making no earthly sense.

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-Benediction To Be Delivered at Ocracoke School Graduation 14 June 2015 — June 14, 2015

Food for Thought-Benediction To Be Delivered at Ocracoke School Graduation 14 June 2015


May you leave this place bearing the dreams, hopes, and aspirations of those who brought you to this moment. May you always remember the lessons learned, the friendships cherished, and the dreams nurtured by this place. May your pilgrimage be sustained by faith, hope, and love.  May God bless your journey in darkness and light, in storm and calm, and may you know that you are loved.  Amen.

Food for Thought-A Prayer for Memorial Day — May 22, 2015

Food for Thought-A Prayer for Memorial Day


Today is the day,
we remember those who died,
beyond the places only sacred stones recall,
we mourn their loss and sacrifice made,
those who passed in distant lands,
and those who bled,
on these very sands,
In Christ there is hope,
In hope we pray for tomorrow,
That the violence of yesterday,
May give way to peace today.

In Christ,

–Richard Bryant

Food for Thought-A Prayer To Be Delivered At the Dedication of A New Baseball Field — April 24, 2015

Food for Thought-A Prayer To Be Delivered At the Dedication of A New Baseball Field

Excelsiors You are the God of base hits, pop flies, stolen bases, home run moments, and missed opportunities. For in Baseball we see glimpses of our better selves and your grace; urging us to keep moving forward to the next base, when we would rather stand safely in the past. You call us, like outfielders, to be constantly aware of our surroundings and the actions of those around us. You tell us, like a good coach, we work better when we work together. May these lessons be heard and remembered in this place. May the summer sun which warms the faces of each player, remind us of the love you hold for each of us in your well worn heavenly Baseball glove. May the spring rains which will nourish this grass, remind us a community has sought to grow young people strong in body, mind, and spirit. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Food for Thought-Christ is Risen, Walter Scott is Dead — April 9, 2015
Food for Thought-Prayer for Holy Saturday and Easter Morning — April 4, 2015

Food for Thought-Prayer for Holy Saturday and Easter Morning


We wait in the rain and gray of a Saturday that seems to never end. Our broken hearts, numbed by the images of your suffering, seem to re-shatter each time we move our bodies. How can we live without you? Grant us a steadfast hope which is more than any understanding we possess. May our lives be replanted and renewed beyond the fetid air of death that stalks our souls. May the promises you made in life be more than words we remember at your death. May the festering wounds of this week be healed and offer strength for the journey, not simply proof for those who doubt. Create within us space for wonder, amazement, joy, and love. For if we are not moved by love, we do not see the risen Christ or hear your words of comfort-the reality of the resurrection does not become real.

In Jesus Name,

Food for Thought-Maundy Thursday Sermon (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) — April 2, 2015

Food for Thought-Maundy Thursday Sermon (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)


It’s been one of those weeks.  Jesus has been all over the news, in one way or another.  Whether in documentary form, docudrama, or the news; his name and his presence have been invoked at every turn.  Jesus seems to be everywhere.  Yet, is it him? Certainly, people are talking about him.  I’m not so certain everyone is on the same page.  It’s easy to talk about Jesus.  However, it is very difficult to gather in a small room and sit down at a table, face to face with Jesus.  With that degree of intimacy, we cannot hide.  We are forced to be honest with Jesus and ourselves about the meaning of this evening. We come here not to speak, not to put words in his mouth, or to talk on his behalf.  We are here to listen to him.  What does Jesus want to tell us on this night?

He wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”.  Why does he want to say this? We are never more vulnerable as people of faith than we on Maundy Thursday. This is the night when our worlds will spin so far out of control.  They’re already headed in that direction.  Our natural instinct will be to reach for something to control, a decision to make, or a person to hold onto. Those things that we think we know and rely upon aren’t going to be there.  To this table, where we are gathered, we bring this crumbling charade of control.  Beside the chalice of wine and plate with the bread we dump our garbage, junk, mess, and general personal chaos.   Jesus, on this night, when the world seems to be spinning out of control, you see us for who we are and what we are.   We are never more vulnerable than when we come before you at this table. We are a mess.

For some reason, despite the mess we’re in (and the mess you’re in) we are here together.  You’re with us, at this table, in the midst of our overwhelming messiness.  Jesus, we can barely understand yesterday.  We have no way to put words or thoughts to the immensity of tomorrow’s events.  Yet, there is something about the present which you are telling us to transform into a new way of living.  It’s all wrapped up in what’s on the table.  In the good memories we take in and the bad we leave behind; this table is the place where we realize the ugly memories of our lives do not define us in the eyes of Jesus.   We do, in remembrance of Jesus.  It is not, “what we have done”.  It is at the table where we see Jesus most clearly; can we embrace the aching vulnerability to make that same sense of clarity a two way street?

How do I know Jesus wants to tell us, “It’s going to be ok”?  John 15:12 and beyond seems to answer this question clearly.  Jesus tells his disciples to love one another as he has loved them.  They are to take care of each other and love one another. In verse 15, he goes one step farther, “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends.”  He calls them friends. In the hours before his death Jesus calls his disciples friends.  It’s a strong enough statement to be recorded in John’s gospel.  We are friends.  We share this table.  In our vulnerabilities, flaws, darkness, and light, this is the space where the memories of yesterday become the ministries of tomorrow.  This is where everything gets left.  Take nothing home but the grace of God.

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