The Walgreens Prayer

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I pray a lot.

That is not a statement about my personal piety, but more about my function as a pastor.

It seems that I will be tasked with opening a meeting with prayer, or closing it.

Or both.

Some days I’ll pray 9 or 10 times for this gathering or that event.

And I don’t mind.  I kind of like it, actually.

Usually I’ll thank God for gathering us and being with us.  I’ll pray for our community.  I’ll ask God to guide us as we move from here.

That kind of stuff.

Recently, a certain phrase began creeping up in my prayers.  “May we be happy and healthy…”

“Keep us all in your Good Graces Lord, and may we be happy and healthy until we gather together again.”

That kind of thing.

That’s a nice sentiment, right?  One day I just started using it, wondering how those particular words had come to me.

Last week, I found out.

There it was, staring up at me from the prescription bag I held in my hands:

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Good Lord.

Had I been praying the slogan of a pharmacy???

Was that even legal?

I’m convinced that the Walgreen’s slogan had seeped into my subconscious and made its way into my prayers.

My main questions was this:  Does Walgreens have a corner ON Happy & Healthy?

I mean, isn’t that what the church is offering, too?  We want people to be happy, to find joy in their lives, to know Christ in a life-changing way.  And we want people to be healthy, too.  To care for their bodies, minds, and spirits.

I guess it just surprised me that a pharmacy’s mission was so similar to our church’s.  But I soon realized that while Walgreens offers a certain level of happiness and health, it is the church that helps people dig deeper, developing their faith, discovering Christ, leading New Lives.

So, I’ve decided to allow myself to use that phrase whenever it pops into a prayer.  I’m not breaking a trademark (am I?) and I’m speaking to something real and deep in our Christian experience.

And if the store gets a little more business, well good on them.

We’re not in competition with Walgreens.

We just happen to be set up…

on the same corner.

Have a great week,

Mitch

happy-and-healthy

A Room Without A Roof

Have you heard this song?  Take a listen.  Guaranteed to brighten your day.


Question:  Have you ever felt like a room without a roof?

I don’t know that I ever thought about it, until I heard this great song by Pharrell Williams.  (It was nominated for Best Song at the Oscars)

My Answer:  I’m not sure, but I know someone who has:

Once upon a time, there was a guy who was paralyzed.
He was confined to bed all day long.
It made his friends sad.

One day, they heard about a guy in town who could do amazing things.
Work miracles, even.

So they gathered up their friend on a stretcher, and they carried him to the man’s house.

There were so many people at the house,
they couldn’t get in through the front door.
So… they climbed the roof.

And then they began to pull off the thatch ceiling.

And there below, inside the main room,  was the healer, Jesus.
He looked up at them, and smiled,
and allowed them to lower this man down through the ceiling.

Jesus turned to the man and said, “Your Sins Are Forgiven.”
And the man stood up, and walked.

There he was, in a room without a roof,
and that’s exactly how he felt.
Like the sky was the limit.

He felt happy.  And so did Jesus.  And so did his friends.

Wow.  What a great story.  (Mark 2)

Nothing that dramatic has ever happened to me,
but there have been some times when I’ve experienced so much joy
I felt like raising the roof and putting my hands together.

Maybe that was Christ at work inside me.

How about you?  Ever felt that way?

Good.  Then…

Clap along.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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4 lies I’ve told from the pulpit

When it comes to lying from the pulpit, I’ve heard some doozies.

I’m happy to say I’ve avoided most of the big ones, but I must confess I’ve told a few of my own.

Here are the four I could think of (or am willing to own up to):

Lie #1: “THIS is what it’s all about!”

This has to be my most common lie from the pulpit. Whatever I’m preaching on that Sunday, that becomes the most important aspect of Christianity.

“Stewardship is what it’s all about!”

“Small groups are what it’s all about!”

“Worship is what it’s all about!”

The Truth: I don’t know what’s most important. Love? Jesus? The Kingdom of God? Discipleship? It all seems really important to me.

The Verdict: It’s all connected, all related, and all… important. So I’ll probably keep telling this weekly white lie.

Lie #2. “So-and-so from the Bible was just like us.”

An easy way to make a sermon come alive is to point out how much we have in common with the characters in the Bible story.

”Moses was on a journey to the promised land, just like us.”

”Paul saw the light, just like us.”

”Martha learned to not be so busy all the time, just like us.”

The Truth: Moses had a difficult life filled with more conflict than we’ll ever see. Paul wrestled with his faith far more vigorously than most of us ever will. And Martha? She’s gotten 2000 years of grief because she lost her cool at a dinner party!

The Verdict: Yes, there’s a bunch we have in common with Bible folks. We can learn a lot from that. But their world was not just like ours. It was very different. We can learn a lot from acknowledging that, too.

Lie #3. “I’m really happy to be here today.”

I just have to come clean on this one.

On Sundays I’ll stand up front, flash a great big smile and welcome everyone to worship. And say “I’m glad to be here with you today.”

The Truth: Sometimes, I’m not. I know! Sacrilege! The truth is, some Sundays I have a headache, or 3 baptisms, or a sermon that doesn’t ha

ve an ending yet. Remember, I’m not just worshipping, I’m working.

The Verdict: I’m almost always happy to be at church. But on those rare days when I’d rather be at home in my pajamas, my hope is that you’ll never know. I’m gonna lie. It’s my job.

Lie #4. “Together, we can change the world.”

This one’s tough, because when I say it, I’m not just lying to the congregation. I’m lying to myself.

”If you invite your neighbors and co-workers, together we’ll change the world”

”We are the Church. You and me. Let’s go out there and change the world.”

You get the idea.

The Truth: We probably won’t. Didn’t Jesus say, “The poor you will have with you always”? It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight poverty and injustice. It means real, lasting change in this world is a rare thing.

The Verdict: The world has already changed because of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we make big changes, sometimes we just get by. Always we’re asked to be faitfhul. It doesn’t sound as glamorous, perhaps, but it’s more truthful.

Whew. It feels good to get those off my chest.

I’ll keep them in mind the next time I preach from the pulpit.

Okay, The Truth?


I haven’t preached from a pulpit in years.

Have a great week,

Mitch