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Showing posts from October, 2018


Recently, I came across these words by Eugene Peterson: "Prayer is first of all a means of listening. Prayer is an act of attention. We are not used to this. We suppose we are in charge of prayer. We aren't. God has spoken. We are required to enter a world of listening to God." [1]

My work requires me to be a good listener. All my ideas, theological insights, and teaching and writing material come from listening. To the biblical texts, to learned and experienced voices, to the whispers of the Spirit, to the extravagant presence of creation, and to my own heart and mind as they move through this world. Sometimes the work is difficult. I feel stuck. And then I realize that I have not spent enough time listening. The same thing happens in prayer. When it feels dull, flat, uninspired, or weak, it usually means that I am not listening, just babbling on and on, caught in my own thoughts and words. Real listening requires what Peterson calls the "cultivation of unhurried …

Love is... patient and kind

When I ask people what love is, they very often mention the list of characteristics found in 1 Corinthians 13. You know how it goes: love is patient, love is kind… Lately, I have been thinking about these two particular adjectives at the beginning of this description of love. One reason for this is because I find it hard to remember what comes next, so I keep repeating “love is patient, love is kind” with the hope that my memory will eventually start functioning. But I also wonder if their placement next to each other might be intentional, if they are connected in some way. Perhaps our understanding of love loses something when we dissect its characteristics into singular, separate ideas. What happens when we join patience with kindness?
The word translated “patient” is makrothymei in Greek. It has two parts to it: the idea of length or slowness and the concept of suffering or anger. The word is sometimes translated as longsuffering or slow to anger. Here are a few examples of how it…