Reflections for the Sunday Lesson

Over the next weeks at I will be offering some thoughts for reflection on the Scriptures that follow the International Sunday School Lesson Cycle for 2019-2020.

Head over to The Lectio Room, read the first reflection and see if it is something you want to follow.



{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

What will you “see” today?

A very good and most excellent friend has often reminded me of the distinction between “chronos” and “kairos”. I invite you to read these words from Henri Nouwen to begin the catch the difference and perhaps get a glimpse of “kairos.”

What We’re Looking for is Already Here

To start seeing that the many events of our day, week, or year are not in the way of our search for a full life but are rather the way to it is a real experience of conversion. We discover that cleaning and cooking, writing letters and doing professional work, visiting people and caring for others, are not a series of random events that prevent us from realizing our deepest self. These natural, daily activities contain within them some transforming power that changes how we live. We make hidden passage from time lived as chronos to time lived as kairos. Kairos is a Greek word meaning “the opportunity.” It is the right time, the real moment, the chance of our lives. When our time becomes kairos, it frees us and opens us to endless new possibilities. Living kairos offers us an opportunity for a profound change of heart.

Another perspective on the Damascus Road

Yesterday I came across a new devotional book (on sale at $2.99 for a couple of days) with readings from “classic” Christian writers. It includes writings from Frederick Buechner, Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Eugene Peterson, James Bryan Smith, A.W. Tozer, Dallas Willard, and N.T. Wright. Maybe some of those you have not heard of and maybe some you don’t think of as “classic” Christian writers but in my estimation they all have something to say to us.

The title of the book is Faith That Matters: 365 Devotions from Classic Christian Leaders.

For example the reading for February 2 from Frederick Buechner is –

PAUL’S PIVOT from Frederick Buechner 
As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice. ACTS 9:3–4 
I t was about noon when he was knocked flat by a blaze of light that made the sun look like a forty-watt bulb, and out of the light came a voice that called him by his Hebrew name. “Saul. Why are you out to get me?” And when he pulled himself together enough to ask who it was he had the honor of addressing, what he heard to his horror was, “I’m Jesus of Nazareth, the one you’re out to get.” If Jesus of Nazareth had what it took to burst out of the grave like a guided missile, he thought, then he could polish off one bowlegged Christian-baiter without even noticing it, and Paul waited for the ax to fall. Only it wasn’t an ax that fell. “Those boys in Damascus,” Jesus said. “Don’t fight them. Join them. I want you on my side,” and Paul never in his life forgot the sheer lunatic joy and astonishment of that moment. He was blind as a bat for three days afterward, but he made it to Damascus anyway and was baptized on the spot. He was never the same again, and neither, in in your way. Amen.

When has God knocked you flat, figuratively speaking? What was the result in your life? 
Father, use light, wind, confrontation—whatever you have to—to keep me walking in your way. Amen.

You might want to check out the book while it is on sale at Amazon, Google Play Store books and Faithlife ebooks.

Just a thought –


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Silent Saturday = ??

On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.

This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat.

Everybody knows Saturday

Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why.

Today is called by some “Holy Saturday,” and if “holy” means set apart, I guess it really is. The ultimate “day-in-between.” The day that stands after, and maybe before, but do we know before what?

I have felt for a while that as a group those of us who claim to fellow Jesus, have failed to live with his disciples on this Saturday. And if don’t live this day, we not only fail to be with his followers, we fail to understand his absence, and we fail to have something to say to anyone else.

Let’s give it try today to live in the silence of “Silent Saturday.”

This post started with a quote from John Ortberg. You can find more of his thoughts on “In Between Joy and Despair” here. Please give it a slow, careful read. From there, maybe seek out some others’ thought on “silent Saturday.” But most of all, for at least a while today, be in the silence of the day.


{ubi caritas et amor …… }

In the Home Stretch?

We are in Holy Week, the end of another Lenten season, another time of “prayer, almsgiving and fasting,” and/or what other Lenten practices we have seen fit to take up. So, we are “in the home stretch,” heading to Good Friday and Easter Morning.

Is the home stretch where we pick up speed , bear down on doing/completing our Lenten practices right? Maybe we experienced a mid-Lenten slump (as many of us did) and see these last few days of Lent when we catch-up and finish well, maybe at the head of the pack. We’ll go all in on our spirituality, put out the extra effort and all will be well for another Lent. Maybe many of us at times feel this sort of pressure?

But is that what our Lenten practices are about, or for that matter any spiritual practice or discipline?

Rather, is it a matter of focusing on how we make room for God in our lives, how we not only carve out a space in our soul but how we give that space fully over to God to empty and fill as we need?

The prayer of Richard of Chichester is a good refrain to bear in mind during Lent, the Easter season and during each day. Maybe what this prayer and Lenten practices offer is a reminder that we are called to focus on the essentials of a life in which we walk with Jesus.

Day by day
Oh, Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day


{ubi caritas et amor, deus ibi est}

Street Corner Vision

Last week in several posts, in several ways, I wondered with you if Lent might be a time to practice opening our eyes to what is around. I don’t claim I am open to my surroundings all the times I should be and I know that often it is only later that I get a hint of what I might have missed. We can be encouraged by the experience of others, such as Thomas Merton who did catch a glimpse of who was around him as he stood on a busy corner in Louisville, Kentucky. March 18th is marked as day Merton had his “4th and Walnut Epiphany.” As you read over his words do they connect for you with the first feast mentioned in our Lenten prayer.

In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . . 

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.

Plaque in Louisville, Kentucky, where Thomas Merton had his “Fourth and Walnut Epiphany.” Photo by Kim Manley Ort (


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

On the Feast of St Patrick – Second Sunday of Lent

Feast or Fast?
On this St Patrick’s Day consider a few words from the prayer known as St Patrick’s Breastplate –

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

Was it there?

How have your days this week been filled?

Has it been a busy week, a slow week, a week that dragged on, a week that flew past? A routine week? A week with surprises or is it hard to recount the week because it was just like so many before?

Maybe one of the chief benefits of Lent is that it can help us be present in each day and consider what we are doing. It just might take us off automatic pilot and we see and hear and feel as we walk through another week.

Maybe as we consider the week past, we can take to heart our Lenten prayer’s encouragement to “feast on purposeful silence.” And in that silence notice what we otherwise missed in the week past.


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

What can you see today?

Several years ago I was in a study group at a local congregation and it was our custom to start each evening with “on-board time.” – A short time when we went around the group to check in on what was happening during the week since we last got together and to help us move any of that out of the way during our time together that evening – On one particular evening we started with the question, “Where have you seen ministry these last few days?” As we each had time to answer the question each person mentioned an event that stood out to them – except one person, who said “I haven’t seen any ministry?” I was surprised by his answer, maybe even more surprised by his honesty, and sadden for him. Later that night, when we were into our study for the evening, he said, “Now I remember!” We paused our study to let him tell us what he had seen. I suspect he had not been “paying attention” to our study that evening, but also suspect he was doing an more important work; a work that probably was much more profitable than whatever we were otherwise talking about.

I invite you to look back over the prayer we have been thinking about, pick a moment of feast mentioned in the prayer and look back over you last few days or last week, and see if you find moments of feasting.


{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

What’s in front of you?

I hope you took some time to read over the prayer I left with you last week. I would like to start these several days of posts with two questions.

First, which pair(s) in the prayer stand out to you the most? And Second, why do you think that is?

If you don’t have the prayer in front of you, you can find it here.

Another way of framing the question might be, “Where is the energy in the prayer for you?”

As you think about those questions, I offer the closing lines of the prayer to take into your day –

Gentle God,
during this season of fasting and feasting,
gift us with your presence
so we can be a gift to others in carrying out your work.