Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"From First to Last" - Kurt Nelson

Delivered at the Strafford United Church.  6/19/11
Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a, Matthew 28: 16-20

We’ve heard it all this morning.
The beginning of the universe,
to the end of the age,
in 2 short readings.
Just 39 and a half verses.
From the beginning to the end.
From first to last.
All our questions answered.
All our deepest ponderings pondered.
All our doubts put to rest.
Have the heavens opened?
Are you ready to go forth,
and make disciples of all nations?

Maybe there are those of you out there this morning,
who have always been good about this.
Always willing to share with others,
about God's work in the world,
and in your life.
But maybe not.
Certainly for me,
 this has always been a complicated idea.
The Great Commission.
“Go forth and make disciples of all nations…”
It brings to my mind so many images of televangelists,
and aggressive street-corner evangelists.
It brings to mind,
So many stories of close-minded followers of Christ,
using fear to motivate faith.
Who turn so many away,
in hopes of finding a few more converts.
And of course, it brings to mind,
So many histories of violence,
and colonialism.
And oppression.
In the name of God.

I have wished,
and hoped,
and prayed that those verses simply go away.
But they haven't and they won't.
And I've often,
like I suspect many churches like this one,
left it neglected.
Ceding further the ground,
to those who would use such a call,
to do such seemingly unchristian things.

And so it's time,
this morning,
to welcome this idea back into our fold,
I think.
Because it's right there in black and white.
Seemingly clear.
Not going anywhere.
So we're better to let it speak to us.
And figure out where we might go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commencement Prayer 2011 (Pentecost)

June 12, 2011
Richard R. Crocker, College Chaplain

This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

On this Pentecost day, we remember the promise:
Your sons and daughters shall prophecy. Old men and women shall dream dreams; young men and women shall see visions.

Today old ones – parents, grandparents, great grandparents, in body and in spirit - see their dreams realized.

Today young ones – our students, our sons and daughters, our grandsons and granddaughters - see visions.

We are all full of hope and gratitude.
May God’s spirit rest upon us all, enabling us to listen to the groaning of a fragile, endangered, and violent world, and enabling us to speak with voices of compassion that all can understand.

May the dreams of the old and the visions of the young lead us to a world of justice, mercy, and peace.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Koi Pond

The Chaplain's blog is now proud to offer an electronic Koi Pond for your enjoyment.

Please enjoy a few minutes of reflection with our 5 fish.

(p.s. If you click on it, you can "feed" them.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What Gives Me Hope? - Kurt Nelson

Kurt Nelson
Rollins Chapel, 6.2.11
What Gives Me Hope? 

Hebrews 11:1-3.  Romans 8: 24-25

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
(From Emily Dickinson.  Not me.)

Wouldn’t that be nice?
If we could hear hope’s perpetual song?
I can’t always hear it.
Though I would consider myself a fairly hope-filled person.
That doesn’t,
I suppose, mean that it’s not singing.

I can however,
answer quite simply the question,
What Gives Me Hope?
For what gives me hope,
really and truly,
is Grace – plain and simple.

I have more written,
but we can stop there if you’re satisfied.
And I’d consider my work,
as resident Lutheran,
to be well-done.
But I’m guessing
that saying grace gives me hope,
is just trading one theological platitude for another.
So I will try my best,
to tell you what I think I mean.

Grace means,
at its simplest,
that the good things in life,
and indeed life itself.
That the love of God,
and all that comes with it,
are gifts.
And more to the point,
gifts to which we’re not entitled,
and which we’ve done nothing to deserve.