Monthly Archives: March 2011

Member Lenten Reflections: 4

Many thanks to Cynthia Hobbie for this thoughtful reflection on prayer.

Prayer, an Enigma

"Prayer Painting" by Kitty Pechet

For years I have struggled to understand what prayer is, where it comes from and where it goes. Is it an anguished cry in a moment of frustration or deep insecurity? Is worrying  a prayer? Is it that breathlessness that comes when one is looking at a beautiful piece of art or listening to music? Is it sharing a moment of laughter with someone you love? What does saying the “Lord’s Prayer” with others in worship mean? What does it mean when someone says they will pray for you? I have approached the meaning of prayer and circled around it, but honestly, I just don’t get it.

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Member Lenten reflections: 3

Thanks to Russ Hobbie for this photograph of prayer flags on St. Simon’s Island, GA.

Member Lenten reflections: 2

This beautiful post comes from Kris Felbeck, who writes about the profound experience of loss and grief in the family.










In Fall 2000 my father was dying.

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Member Lenten reflections on prayer: 1

Thanks to Kathy Haskins for contributing the first selection, a poem written for the occasion of Ash Wednesday.


Ashes to ashes and

Dust to dust

Star dust and Earth dust we are


Of death come to fleeting life

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Baptism: the conversation continues

Depiction of baptism in an early Renaissance tapestry

Recently, Clyde Steckel, emeritus professor of theology at United Theological Seminary and First Church member, responded to my post about baptism.  You can read his response below.  He makes  a compelling case for retaining and exploring the symbolism of “washing clean” in baptism, rather than shying away from it.  Thank you, Clyde, for deepening the conversation!  Readers, stay tuned for more words from First Churchers as we consider our Lenten theme, “Teach us to Pray.”

Clyde’s response:

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Ash Wednesday reflection

Ash Wednesday reflection delivered by Abigail Henderson on 03/09/11 at First Cong. Church of MN.

Psalm 51:1-17; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Psalm 51 is a tough one.  It uses the “s-word” five times.  You know the one I mean.  Sin.  These verses even declare that sin is original—“I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me.”  Yeesh.  That one’s hard to swallow.  Yesterday afternoon, I read a book about animals to my niece, aged fifteen months, and she fell asleep right in my arms.  As I felt her little body breathing against mine, sin was about the farthest thing from my mind.

And you know what?  It was a moment of rest and relief, because I actually think about sin quite a lot.  Not sin as it’s popularly understood or described—the sin of pride, the sin of lust, the sin of… whatever. It’s risky to talk about sin because it’s a loaded term, one that’s been used as a weapon in so many unjust crusades.

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Baptism question of the week

This week I’m addressing this question:

Are there parallel rituals or events in other faiths?

Hindu ritual washing

I should first admit that an anthropologist would probably answer this question better than I can!  But the short answer is yes.  At its most basic, baptism is a rite of passage, and many cultures, of course, have rituals to create and mark transformative experiences.

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