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Holy Anger in the Streets

posted Jun 10, 2020, 8:51 AM by Tim Isbell

The protests on American streets encourages me more than anything I’ve seen in my 73 years. The achievement of a favorable future for our nation and the world remains beyond human ability, but it is not beyond God's.

To read this post, please click on Holy Anger in the Streets


Ordinary Time meditations are posted

posted Jun 1, 2020, 8:46 AM by Tim Isbell

Ordinary Time is the seventh and last season of the Christian calendar, extending from Trinity Sunday through Christ the King Sunday (around Thanksgiving). During Ordinary Time, the lectionary fills in the rest of the major themes of Christian faith.

Please click on Responsive Prayer Meditations - Ordinary Time for the complete set.

The Easter Season meditations are available

posted Apr 9, 2020, 8:30 AM by Tim Isbell

The Easter Season begins on Easter Sunday and extends for 50 days, through Pentecost Sunday. It is the time Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the promise of the eventual resurrection of his followers, and the coming of the Holy Spirit into the lives of believers.

Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project not to snatch people away from earth to heaven but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. That, after all, is what the Lord’s Prayer is about. – N.T. Wright in Surprised by Joy

Please click on Responsive Prayer Meditations for the Easter Season. Blessings, Tim 

Holy Week Meditations, including "We could use a little mercy now."

posted Mar 31, 2020, 8:57 AM by Tim Isbell

I just published Responsive Prayer Meditations for Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday and continues for six more days through the Saturday before Easter Sunday. This time I decided to include one of the four Holy Week meditations with this notification. I wrote this one a year ago, but given our current coronavirus pandemic, it is even more appropriate today.

Could use a little mercy now

Holy Week - PYS Holy Week, ch 3, John 11.33-44

Humans are capable of feeling deep compassion, meaning we can share with and share in the suffering of another person. I don’t think we develop this capacity on our own; I think it comes from being created in your (God) image.

Steve Bell points out that compassion robs suffering of the power to isolate. He explains how this is separate from fixing or altering a situation. So in your (Jesus) passion at the cross, you come alongside us, share our vulnerability, and absorb the evil of our sin.

While compassion is separate from action, it often leads to action. After you wept over Mary and Martha’s response to Lazarus’ death, you raised him back to life. At the cross, you passively remained in the hands of your father, who took action to resurrect you to new life.

Still, in our lives, we find ourselves in situations where we feel compassion but don’t have the power to help. Remaining present in the suffering of another is challenging.

Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now” touches my heart. The first verse starts with, “My father could use a little mercy now…” The second begins with, “My mother could use a little mercy now...” The third starts with, “My church and my country...” And the last two verses begin with, “Every living thing... “ Those first two verses touch me because I lost my parents over the past four years, and my wife lost her remaining parent. The rest of the verses continue to weigh on me. The whole song is about situations that we can do little about, except be present.

After several times of listening to this song, I remembered that your heart is more compassionate than mine and that you do have the power to act. Thank you for your solidarity with me, with all of us. I will continue to trust in your compassion and power for acts of mercy.

(Readers: I hope you will listen to Mary Gauthier’s song “Mercy Now.” You can find it at Pilgrim Year Songs, then click on the Holy Week album. then go to Chapter 3 and click on “Mercy Now.”)

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations



The Season of Lent is coming

posted Feb 17, 2020, 8:45 AM by Tim Isbell

I just published eleven Responsive Prayer Meditations for Lent, which begins on February 26 with Ash Wednesday. Lent continues until Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, April 5. I trust that you will find these helpful for your own spiritual formation. 

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations

Blessings, Tim

Paul's Gospel script still fits

posted Jan 29, 2020, 7:45 PM by Tim Isbell

I’m teaching a class on the book of Acts and, at the same time, reading N.T. Wright’s book, Paul - A Biography. Half of Acts describes Paul's travels around the Mediterranean Sea, introducing the good news of Jesus to first-century Jews and Gentiles. Wright's book briefly describes the script's content and peoples' response to it, especially Gentiles.

We adapted Wright's material and used it in our class by packaging the concepts in the three discussion questions shown below. Paul's experience 2,000 years ago is more than interesting theology; it guides us in sharing the good news today.

To read the post, click on Paul's Gospel Script.

Blessings, Tim

Meditations for Epiphany

posted Jan 2, 2020, 7:46 AM by Tim Isbell

The Christian calendar includes seven seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Ordinary Time). I just published a collection of twenty Responsive Prayer Meditations for the third season. To access, click on Epiphany meditations

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations

Blessings, Tim

Christmas Season Meditations - now available

posted Dec 22, 2019, 1:25 PM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Dec 22, 2019, 1:25 PM ]

The Christian calendar begins with Advent and has seven seasons (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Ordinary Time). I have just published a collection of my meditations for the second season of the current Christian year. You can access these, click on Christmas meditations

For an overview of the entire meditation project, which includes links to access all previously published meditations, click on Responsive Prayer Meditations

Blessings, Tim

Advent Season Meditations

posted Nov 28, 2019, 8:39 AM by Tim Isbell   [ updated Dec 22, 2019, 7:35 AM ]

At the start of Advent in 2018, I started writing meditations for a full Christian year. Instead of writing articles for humans, I address each meditation to God. I did it to enlighten my personal prayer life and intending to publish these the following year.

A year later, I counted 71 written meditations, meaning that I spent about five days refining and living in the context of each one. Now in the first year of publishing these meditations, the project remains enjoyable and fulfilling in my own life. Through this year of publishing, I revisit each meditation and find myself adding new ones along the way.

I encourage you to follow along. As the calendar ticks through the year, you can join me in building this project into your spiritual life. Perhaps you will write some reflections of your own! Or you can choose titles from my Table of Contents and jump directly to them. Some of you will need fresh material to minister to someone, or to address your church, or in some other setting. You are welcome to use any of my meditations in any way you like.

To get started, I suggest that you read Responsive Prayer Meditations. It includes all you need to know to take full advantage of the project, and it provides links to access the “Advent season meditations.”

(Also, If you're a minister or worship leader and looking for Advent readings for public worship settings, please check out Advent Readings.)

Blessings, Tim

Politics and The Way of Jesus

posted Nov 3, 2019, 4:39 PM by Tim Isbell

A subset of conservative evangelical Christians believes God wants them to exercise dominion over society by taking control of political and cultural institutions. Such far-right thinking is called dominionism.

  • Dominionists believe that the United States once was, and should again become a Christian nation. They deny the Enlightenment’s influence on the founding of American democracy. (The far-left denies the Christian influence on the founders.)
  • Dominionists generally do not respect other faiths or, sometimes, different versions of the Christian tradition. (The far-left typically rejects all organized religion.)
  • Dominionists believe the Ten Commandments and biblical law should be the foundation of American law and that the Constitution is a vehicle for implementing biblical principles. (The far-left considers themselves non-religious and guided by natural law.)

Religious right-wings are not new. In the gospels, Jesus grappled with the first-century religious right. They were called zealots. They believed God wanted them to make Israel great again by taking back its sovereignty as the Jewish nation governed by ancient Israelite Law. Simon-the-zealot was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. Crowds around Jesus often pressed him to use his miraculous powers to break Rome’s control over Israel. The zealots called for a return of their nation’s sovereignty and had long expected that a Messiah would come to deliver it. Jesus knew that he was the Messiah, and he heard their calls. Instead of ushering in a theocratic state, Jesus went to the cross - and invited all people to follow him. In other words, Jesus understood and rejected dominionism.

So how does the Christian right-wing theologically justify dominionism? Check out Politics: The Way of Jesus.

Regards, Tim 

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