All posts by Benjamin

Some say Christianity is easy in our culture, as in, it's easier to live the Way of Jesus now than in other times and places. Perhaps they’re right. But, much of what I’ve seen has been mirage after mirage — very little Living Water. I intend to map out what I see and what I don’t see. I feel like I’m surveying the way of Jesus within a spiritual desert. My family and I live in Kansas City, KS. We’ve joined friends and live as an intentional Christian community there. The kingdom of God unfolds in vivid ways here and we've enjoyed rhythms of daily prayer, Scripture, and dinners. I am currently (2014) a director of Christian education with the people of Trinity Lutheran Church, in Mission and Shawnee, KS. But now they're sending me to the LCMS Specific Ministry Pastor program (2015).

Annie Dillard’s “The Abundance”

Annie Dillard stopped writing. An NPR story told me. And as I read The Abundance I wondered what Dillard, the writer who stopped writing, wanted to tell me.

Dillard is among a gifted few who notice things so well, who can describe what she notices too. As I read, I too then noticed (I thought) that I was reading a memoir, a slow unfolding of life story, years unfolding like we unfold tablecloths.

Maybe this is what Dillard was telling me: life is lived when you notice the details. Attend to the moment and play out other moments by describing your experience. Turn it all into flowing story, eager, page-flipping story. But not too eager. While we’re excited by the unfolding cloth, we’re also nudged by Dillard to pay attention. Be excited, but not impatient. Dillard’s kind see things because they wait around that extra moment. Most of us wander away just a second before. Then we hear Dillard yell, “Oh look!” We turn. It’s gone.

Attend, my friend. Attend. Stick around for that extra moment. You’re about to see something.

Vicar Ben and a Class on “Two Kinds of Righteousness”

My class on Lutheran Distinctions finished in February. It was the best class in this seminary track so far, in part for the professor’s enthusiasm; in part, I had a lot of questions. One question was how faith and good works play together. How do you encourage one without taking anything from the other? Example: How do you encourage a specific, Christ-like way of life yet never have people wondering if God completely loves them (because he does)?

A better way of saying it might be: How do we live in imitation of Christ, because Christ knows how to fully live (he is the fully human one) yet not put our faith or trust in how we pull that off?

Continue reading

Leading Small Groups in the Way of Jesus by M. Scott Boren (A Book Review)

M. Scott Boren has written another helpful, thought provoking book on disciple making. I appreciate his simple, though meaningful, approach to small group life.

LEADING SMALL GROUPS IN THE WAY OF JESUS is a next-steps book for current small group participants. It answers, “What’s supposed to happen with groups?” and, “How do we actually share a meaningful life together, listening to and practicing the Way of Jesus?” Boren writes several insights and practices, things I resonate with and have even practiced a little. It feels great to read and resonate with something he’s been practicing.

Continue reading

Dear Grandmother

You’d have turned 101 today and we, the family, would have asked again, “Tell us a story from when you were a young girl,” just like Matthew used to ask.

We still ask for those stories, you know, and we flip through pages till we find where we wrote them down. We do. We find them and smile, remembering our childhoods with you, our mother.

The Bare Maple

October’s luminous, flaming maple
stands almost bare
with a few worn, brown
leaves for covering.

Her beautiful red dress
now thin and tattered.
All she had was taken,
blown away.

She, with beauty deep within,
will let go of what she treasured,
what drew our eyes to her,
and she will wait.

There is something God can do
in the season of Lent.

Contemplative Prayer by Thomas Merton (a Book Review)

Merton provided words for what I was experiencing and what I wanted to nurture in the life of prayer. More than devotional stick-to-it-ive-ness, I felt and wanted to continue to feel drawn to simply be with God.

But, while my heart desired more than accountability or discipline, I’ve also known by experience that, for me, the sense of being aware of God’s presence often occurs within the frame of my disciplined life. When I am making space, clearing time, attentiveness to the God who is always present occurs more freely. The opposite happens when I slip out of disciplined rhythms or Continue reading