collect for the 1st Sunday in Advent

Lord God, heavenly Father, we thank Thee, we bless and praise Thee forever, that Thou didst send Thy Son to rule over us poor sinners, who for our transgressions did justly deserve to remain in the bondage of sin and Satan, and didst give us in Him a meek and righteous King, who by His death became our Savior from sin and eternal death: We beseech Thee so to enlighten, govern and direct us by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may ever remain faithful to this righteous King and Savior, and not, after the manner of the world, be offended with His humble form and despised word, but, firmly believing in Him, obtain eternal salvation; through the same, Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.
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peaceful transition: election perspective

From the reaction of friends, family, co-workers, and social media, much of America and the world woke up in shock at the results of our Presidential election. I freely admit, I was one of many who didn’t think Donald Trump had a snowball’s chance of winning the election. I’m not excited about his Presidency. I admit that I supported neither Trump nor Clinton. I honestly believe they are both pretty awful people, who if common citizens like the rest of us would both be serving lengthy prison terms.

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feast day: St. Michael and all the angels

The observance of St. Michael’s day is one of the oldest in the church liturgical calendar. In the Western Lutheran and Anglican traditions, this feast day celebrates all angels on this day, not just St. Michael. In the Roman and Eastern traditions, these celebrations are split into two separate feast days.

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wisdom and simplicity

The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
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our illegal war against ISIS

As a chaplain, I’m a theologian, not a lawyer. But as a commissioned officer, I’m also trained in military strategy, political science, and the ins-and-outs of making war. I have master’s degrees in both theology and military science but not law. Clearly, I am more interested in the philosophy of war—especially the notion of a just war—than I am the legality of any particular conflict. That said, I am in plainly in the minority among those warfighters, commanders, and leaders in today’s armed forces. In fact, though one of my principal roles is apparently to advise commanders on the ethics of war, I have yet to be consulted by a single leader on the subject. Typically, commanders run to the JAGs to tell them what they legally can do rather than be troubled with what they morally should do.

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on terror and comfort

At times our conscience terrifies us, and our heart panics. It looks for something good in us or some good work—something for our hope to grasp hold of and think that surely God would be merciful to us and forgive us our multitude of sins, if just for this one elusive thing. Usually, our searching is for not, as we realize that we are not good, are not loving, are not anything we hope or want to be, let along what God has commanded us to be.

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a meditation

There is a contemplative in all of us, almost strangled but still alive, who craves quiet enjoyment of the Now, and longs to touch the seamless garment of silence which makes whole.
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why are we so afraid?

I have written before about the fear that grips Americans, including American Christians. Our entire political process is driven by fear—of the other party, of terrorism, of threats from other nations, of (fill in the blank).

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a windows-down road trip

Heading out of Little Rock last weekend for my hometown in southern Indiana the air conditioner went out on our van. While at first our hearts all sank at the prospect of driving 400 miles with the air out through the August sun, it didn’t take long for us to realize that this accident would be the best part of the trip!

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the cross as misfortune

"Suffering" is not a very popular word in the vernacular of contemporary American Christianity. Oh sure, we talk about 'suffering' and 'persecution' from time-to-time, even in our own cultural context, but can be we honest for a minute and admit that such things have really no part our American Christian experience? Seriously, being made fun of or mocked for your faith isn't suffering. Not even close.

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