Monday, October 28, 2013

Christians and Halloween

A lot of people ask me, “Jeff…should Christians celebrate Halloween?”

Okay, nobody asks me that.

Still, Christians in our larger society do ask that and people provide a lot of different answers. Many shy away from it or denounce it, declaring it a pagan holiday or by citing the day’s emphasis on the scary, the gruesome, and the deadly, things that just shouldn’t be glorified in any way by Christians.

In order for us to make a good decision about this, we should first do a little history homework. First, Halloween does have some roots in paganism. It originated as a Celtic festival in Ireland called Samhain, meaning “End of the Summer.” The Celts observed that November 1st was the beginning of the dark half of the year, which to them also symbolized death. So on October 31st they believed that the lines between our physical world and the spiritual world blurred as that transition between seasons happened. The exact customs observed in each Celtic region varied, but they generally involved the lighting of bonfires and setting up boundaries to keep evil spirits from crossing over into our world.

Eventually, the church borrowed some of the themes associated with this festival. In 609, Pope Boniface IV consecrated a day to honor Mary and the Christian martyrs. A few centuries later, Pope Gregory III moved this celebration from the middle of May to November 1st, which to this day in the church is known as All Saints’ Day. October 31st, then, became All Hallow’s Eve, or Halloween, the day before All Saints’. And so, whether Christian or not, October 31st has been associated with spirits and the dead for quite some time.

Of course, Halloween as we know it in America has more of an emphasis on scary movies, candy, trips to haunted houses, costumes, and so on. The religious background hardly ever gets mentioned, except perhaps by pastors trying to make a point in blog posts. Nevertheless, the day does have religious origin, some of it Christian.

So where does that leave us and the question of whether Christians should celebrate it?

I am reminded of Paul’s answer to the Corinthians when they declare that “all things are permissible.” Paul responds, “But not all things are beneficial.” I personally see nothing wrong in a neighborhood trick-or-treat or dressing up or even the rush you might get from a good spook. I make no secret of my love for The Walking Dead and other scary TV shows or movies, partially for that rush but also for what commentary they may offer--consciously or no--about the human condition.

So people see Halloween as a great time to be together in creative ways, and that can be beneficial.

Can it ever become something else? Sure it can. More serious pranks meant to injure or destroy aren’t beneficial. Glorifying or rejoicing in death is hardly ever beneficial. When taken to extremes, Halloween can and does feature what many Christians cite as reasons not to celebrate it.

But all in all, I don’t think that Christians need to dismiss Halloween out of hand. It can really be a lot of fun and it even retains a little-known place in our Christian tradition. But not all things are beneficial. Where the line gets drawn is up to the individual. But dismissing it whole cloth is, to me, an extreme position.

Friday, October 25, 2013

October Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for October...

1. The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire started last month. I wasn't sure about it at first, as plot points tend to develop very slowly on this show. So that's to say I've never been sure about every season for at least the first episode or two. Since then, however, things have picked up as Capone and Lansky are starting to step up more and more, and as a new villain, Dr. Valentin Narcisse, looks to make trouble for Chalky. Narcisse is quite different from last season's crash-and-bang Gyp Rosseti, as he is more cold and calculating. In addition, there's a plotline where Nucky goes down to Tampa to buy some land, but I don't see what the point of that is yet, and another with Nucky's nephew whom they may be slowly making into the new Jimmy. Like I said, it took a few episodes to get going, but I'm now enjoying it as always.

2. We've also been watching the new Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which picks up right after the Avengers movie and follows the adventures of Phil Caulson, somehow all better from his death in the movie, and his fellow agents as they engage in mostly-undercover superhero-related work. For me the jury is still out on this show. Much like Boardwalk Empire, it's been a slow start, but the bigger narrative has yet to develop a whole lot. Besides that, however, we have the requisite Joss Whedon-esque humor, some intriguing characters who may no doubt become more captivating the further the season goes. So with that combination, I'm predisposed to give this one more time.

3. And we've also been watching Sleepy Hollow, which fits the time of year very well. Ichabod Crane does a Rip Van Winkle sort of thing, dying during the Revolutionary War and brought back to life in the modern era. Unfortunately, the Headless Horseman is also revived and their old battle (Crane is a soldier and college professor) is renewed, except there are a bunch of people in present day Sleepy Hollow who seem to have knowledge of the situation and are pulling for one side or the other. They're slowly but surely explaining this plot point, but in the meantime Crane runs around in a buddy cop relationship with a police lieutenant solving supernatural cases-of-the-week, some of which seem to tie in to the larger narrative, which is emerging as a play on the four horsemen in the book of "Revelations." We enjoy it enough to keep watching, and again it's perfect for fall viewing, but it does get a little irritating when trying to wax theological.

4. I've been reading Ganymede, the fourth book in Cherie Priest's Clockwork Century series. This takes place mostly in New Orleans, where Josephine, the mistress of a...ahem...boarding house with benefits, needs to have a submarine moved from where it is hidden to a pickup location for the Union army. She enrolls Andan Cly, an airship captain who has appeared in previous books, to help her out. And there's zombies. Always zombies. I think I still liked Boneshaker the best, but they've all been very enjoyable.

5. I contributed to the Kickstarter of a colleague, Rob Leveridge, who recently completed his first worship album, Dancing on the Mountain, now available for public consumption. Rob is one of many contributing to a growing catalogue of praise music with more progressive and thoughtful themes, and he's produced a wonderful set of offerings toward that purpose. If you're a worship leader in search of new material to teach the congregation or just need your soul uplifted, this is great for both.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Small Sips, Because Why Not?

The Big Scary Unknown Future of Ministry. Still. Again. Jan at A Church for Starving Artists writes about it a lot. In one of her latest, she describes a possible future of the ministry vocation:
Many of us who serve as professional ministers have one job. We are The Pastor or The Chaplain or The Theology Professor or the Middle Judicatory Executive or The Bishop. But the future of 21st Century professional ministry might well involve an assortment of “calls” all juggled, more or less at the same time.   
I’m not talking about traditional bivocational ministry (if we can even call bivo ministry ‘traditional’). I’m talking about serving smaller churches, creative projects, community endeavors, teaching gigs, and social media outlets as a cornucopia of ministries that support us financially and spiritually. 
I’m talking about the pastor who supports herself by serving a congregation 15 hours a week while serving a community ministry for LGBTQ homeless kids a couple hours a week while teaching occasional social media for churches while offering spiritual direction to 3-6 individuals. Yes, it sounds exhausting, but I’m wondering if it isn’t our future.
I wonder, too, whether I'm really going to be able to serve as a pastor full-time for my entire working life. It isn't necessarily that I'll want to, it's whether I'll even have the option. The increased need for pastors to be bi-vocational due to declining full-time positions is very real; it's happening around my own Association left and right.

But Jan is talking about something more than bi-vocational work. She's talking more about individuals cobbling a bunch of stuff together in order to make a living: a class taught here, spiritually directing a few people there, etc. It'd certainly be a very uncertain way to live.

If I was younger and/or didn't have a family, I'd probably be more excited about this sort of vision. But that's not my situation, so I'm not immediately jumping up and down about this. But I will keep pondering it, because the possibility is very real.

Behold, my first ever use of the word "squee." Five Iron Frenzy's long-awaited album, Engine of a Million Plots, comes out next month, and they've released the first single, "Into Your Veins:"



Did I mention that I'm also seeing them in concert next month? Ahem: SQUEE!

More video. The Michigan drumline:



Marriage lessons by experience, i.e., the best way. Rachel Held Evans recently celebrated her 10-year wedding anniversary, and has shared ten myths about marriage coupled with ten things that she's learned actually work:
Myth #1: The best way to prepare for marriage, and to thrive in it, is to learn the differences between men and women so you will know what men/women want.  
Reality Check: The best way to prepare for marriage, and to thrive in it, is to learn about your partner so you know what your partner wants.  
You don’t marry a gender; you marry a person. And yet the majority of Christian marriage books dole out advice based on gender stereotypes: “men need adventure,” “women need security,” “men like quiet time,” “women process verbally,” “men crave respect and control,” “women crave love and emotional intimacy,” “men are like microwaves,” “women are like ovens.” But even before we got married, Dan and I realized that just as often as we fit these generalities, we don’t. Dan knows I’d prefer tickets to a football game over a nice piece of jewelry and that too much security and not enough adventure leaves me feeling bored. I know that Dan is better at nurturing friendships than I am and thrives creatively when he has the chance to collaborate with other people.
This one kind of sums up the others: you marry a particular person, so learning his/her personality, quirks, and habits and figuring out how best you work as a particular couple will go way further than rigidly adhering to a bunch of idealistic advice given in a vacuum. Go figure.

Misc. Brant presents a handy template for writing complaint letters. Jamie on our tendency to use the phrase "better when." Matthew Paul Turner with some crazy things Christians apparently actually do for Halloween.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vintage CC: Smart Ministry

I've had this post from May 2012 on my mind lately. Obviously the time reference needs to be adjusted, but that's no big thing. The bigger issue I meant to cover here is whether the ministry in which one is engaged is reactionary and rushed, or intentional and thoughtful. The results you hope for usually depend on the difference. I can't say I've always engaged in smart ministry, which is why I wrote this to begin with. I like to think I'm getting better, but not always.

When you've been in the same ministry position for nearly 7 1/2 years, you start to wonder about some things. Maybe you don't start wondering; maybe that wondering just becomes more amplified. Or maybe you were always wondering and you just keep wondering. Whatever.

One thing I've started to wonder about is whether I've been engaging in smart ministry.

What do I mean by that? I don't really know. But since I'm intending to publish this post for others to read I should probably take a stab at it.

By smart ministry, I mean the type of ministry that is well thought out; that isn't done out of desperation or poor planning or a sense that you have to rush into something before a moment is gone forever. I mean the type that gets others on board and excited so that you aren't trying to make something succeed on your own.

I've been wondering lately about my track record in this sense. I've been around the church my entire life and I like to think that I knew some things going in to becoming a pastor. I like to think that by virtue of being a PK, having seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that the church has to offer, I'd have some heightened instincts regarding how to navigate this terrain. Of course, I've discovered that the terrain has changed, and that involves a certain amount of on-the-job learning...okay, a lot of that. But in the midst of such a discovery, people in ministry positions are bound to make some desperate, poorly-planned decisions.

There was the time I hurriedly scheduled a youth event on alternative worship, thinking it would surely begin to galvanize those who think we can or should be doing some different things on Sunday mornings. I initially and unthinkingly scheduled it the night of November 18th, 2006, which was the night of the biggest Michigan-Ohio State game in the rivalry's history. I rescheduled it at the last minute, and it lost what little momentum it might have had.

There was the time I hurriedly scheduled a get-together on a Sunday night for young adults to discuss what sorts of things around the church they'd find meaningful. The particular Sunday night was December 30th. It was quite an intimate gathering.

We recently passed out a congregational survey to gauge what people are most passionate about faith and church life in the hope that the results can somehow be translated into a new mission statement and accompanying vision for the future. There wasn't anything rushed about this. I'm just wondering if it was the best tactic. The jury is still out.

Failure and learning from mistakes is an inevitable and essential part of ministry. Not everything is going to work, not everything is going to inspire people or create desired results. But a certain amount of this is due to not being smart about what you're doing. If you do your homework and are deliberate about what you're doing, there may be a better chance that you'll produce something. There are also factors you have no control over, which may result in retooling or simply learning a lesson and moving on. Admittedly, it may also result in frustration, disillusionment, or burnout, and then you may have other decisions to make.

I don't know what the point of this post is. Really, I'm just wondering how well I've been doing smart ministry. Would this initiative have done better if I'd waited longer or planned it better? Would this program be thriving if I'd taken more time to cultivate interest? Some of this wondering is in reference to things I actually thought I'd planned out pretty well.

But what about those other things?

Did I do my part? Have I done my part?

Have I been smart?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Resurrection is True

There was quite an interesting debate last week between Tony Jones and Marcus Borg regarding the nature of the resurrection of Jesus. Jones, as he often does, fired the first shot with a blog post entitled Dear Marcus Borg: Please Reconsider the Resurrection.

Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Jones' first shot really was in a casual mention during an earlier post, during which he makes the claim that Borg's view is that the resurrection "only happens in a believer's heart," rather than in any literal, material, or physical sense. Borg caught this mention and responded at some length:
[The resurrection] means at least the following. Jesus lives: he is a figure of the present who continues to be known, not just a beloved figure of the past. Jesus is Lord: God has vindicated Jesus and made him both Lord and Christ. Thus the lords of this world, including the powers that killed him and the lords of culture today, are not. Imperial execution and a rich man’s tomb could not stop him, could not hold him. He’s still around, still loose in the world, still recruiting for the kingdom of God. What he began continues. He is with us still. He is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.” 
I do not understand how this view can be construed as meaning that the resurrection happens only “in the believer’s heart.” I don’t get it.
In addition to his response above, Jones posted a bunch of quotes about why belief in the physical resurrection is important, including this one that seems best to sum up his position:
“It was not just that God defeated death, but that God did so in human flesh, and this has profound implications for flesh itself. It bursts from the tomb, the same but different: a flesh no longer made for cleaving nor for oblivion. … For a Christian, death does not even threaten the end of bodiliness, but rather becomes a physical experience/encounter with the divine.” -Elizabeth Stuart, “Queering Death”
And Borg posted his own follow-up with a very important point about Paul:
I appreciate the replies that emphasized that Paul’s use of “body” (soma in Greek) means something different from the common modern meaning of “body.” In I Corinthians 15 in which Paul not only affirms that the resurrection of Jesus as essential (……..), he also says near the end of the chapter that the resurrected body is not physical but spiritual – a glorified body. What that means I do not know – but Paul contrasts it to a body of flesh and blood. I think it is doubtful that Paul can be cited as an authority for a material physical bodily resurrection.
So, what's the issue here? First, Jones provided Borg with a great opportunity to clarify and correct what his view of the resurrection actually is. Many will still find such a viewpoint problematic, as he does affirm something other than a literal bodily resurrection. But he at least is able to say in a public real-time sort of way to a relatively younger quasi-Evangelical audience what he does and doesn't actually believe, among other things that it is more than a metaphorical heart-experience.

The series of quotes that Jones posted point to what's at stake for those who affirm a literal resurrection: it shows that God is very much concerned with redeeming physical creation in a real, tangible way. Jones also cites other concerns such as remaining in tune with "historical Christianity" and the accounts of scripture. Borg addresses the latter well enough above in his discussion of Paul, and I actually think the point he makes there helps address Jones' other concern.

It's part of Earth Science 101 that there is a cycle to creation. Plants and creatures come into being, grow, mature, and eventually die. If this death occurs naturally, it presumably will have meant that the organism was able to live a full life, using and enjoying the body they were given. But eventually, that body wears out. To put it in a slightly more crude way, it comes to the end of its usefulness. It has lived, and now it is done living. To put it in yet another way, bodies were created to die.

Oftentimes, before that cycle reaches its natural, best-case conclusion, bodies give in to other ways of death. They seemingly betray themselves by developing cancer or contracting other diseases, some cases of which are preventable according to lifestyle. And in other cases, as with Jesus, life is cut short by human cruelty. And again, in those cases, that body becomes irreparable, riddled by violence of one sort or another.

Jones and many others who believe in a literal resurrection hardly ever seem to clarify the specific metaphysics of their point of view. Jones does post one final follow-up where he talks a little more about the nature of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, but stops short of describing this new-yet-old body in which Jesus was/is dwelling. Belief in a literal resurrection insists that there really was an empty tomb, and a bodily Jesus complete with crucifixion wounds appearing to the disciples and to others, with quick caveats that this was more than a mere resuscitation. It was the same Jesus people knew from before (except when they didn't recognize him in Luke 24 and John 18, but this point gets heavily downplayed), in the same body, yet different.

I often sit with people in pastoral situations where they are struggling with disease and old age. It has been interesting to note how often they express a desire for the suffering to end. To be clear, they don't wish to miraculously become younger or healthier. They want to get out of the body in which they are trapped. They want to leave this earthly, imperfect body behind. Imagine how a resurrection promise would sound to them if we insisted that they would need to reclaim that particular body at some point, in some way. To be fair, belief in a literal resurrection would say that that body would be redeemed, without the marks of suffering...yet insistent that Jesus still carried his wounds. Almost any discussion of the resurrection--particularly where a position arguing for a literal resurrection is concerned--plays games with words and concepts in this way.

Returning to the discussion of what Paul wrote, he wrote about a new body, a "spiritual body." By nature, that term is contradictory. A "spiritual body" is neither a ghost, nor a zombie. It is a new thing that somehow retains the essence of the person, is somehow physical, but is also new and different from what came before. It is a sign of a truly transformed, redeemed being, no longer privy to or trapped by the laws of nature, the cycle of life and death, that came before. Again, to be fair, belief in a literal resurrection affirms this in some sense, but also insists that at least for Jesus, it was still the same body as before, yet different, yet the same, yet different.

I've told the story many times on this blog of one of my darkest faith moments. As it happens, that moment centered around the issue as to whether the resurrection really happened; whether this central claim in which we as Christians are meant to trust was trustworthy. My ability to trust in it came during a moment of desperation where I was pointed to a verse in Luke 24: "It is true!"

The facticity of the resurrection involves reading a scriptural tradition that is richer and more diverse than some people think. It also very much involves redemption of creation, but not by pouring new wine into old, worn-out, meant-to-die wineskins. Resurrection is about spiritual bodies; a new us, a new creation. It is true.

How is it true? At its core, the resurrection means that death is not the end. It is a natural, unavoidable stop on life's journey, at which point one body gives way to something else, a new transformed and redeemed way of being just out of reach of human conceptualization. It means that the suffering of old is past, and is completely left behind, no longer bound by the former rules.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

All About Eve

As soon as we walked into the kennel, she started putting on a show. She rolled onto her back, her head upside-down and almost pressed against her cage, while she stretched a paw toward us through the bars. All of this while a constant stream of meows burst forth, as if she couldn't get them out quickly enough to tell us everything that she wanted to say.

There really was no debate that day about who would come keep us company at our new apartment in West St. Louis County. We'd just moved off of Eden's campus and in short order wanted to take advantage of our newfound freedom to have a non-human companion help to transform our new space into a home. And she did, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, as she'd wake us frequently in the dead of night with a series of sandpapery kisses. No matter how many times she'd be gently removed, she'd be right back again. In hindsight, we were her new family and maybe she was just joyful to have one.

We named her Eve. It's common to think that since I'm a pastor, this was a reference to the Biblical character. Actually, the allusion is a little more obscure and clever than that: since she was black and white, it was suggested by the psychology major that we name her after the first documented case of Dissociative Personality Disorder whose personas were known as Eve White and Eve Black. Maybe that explanation is more interesting or more disappointing. But we liked it.

Of the three cats we eventually acquired, Eve was always the most affectionate. Those uninvited middle-of-the-night wake-up calls never stopped, although they did become less frequent as she learned to be satisfied with lying between legs or up against someone's back. More notable, perhaps, was the way she'd seize the opportunity to take up residence on your lap shortly after you sat down. All the subtle hints given that you wished to get up would only be met with wide-eyed stares, the rest of her body only slightly adjusting so that she could remain.

This was one of her greatest gifts, the way she'd get you to slow down for a while and just enjoy the warmth of her company. This is a common behavior with cats to be sure, but neither of the other two do it like she did. She had a better way of sensing when she was needed; of sharing herself when we were most harried or upset.

There's a Calvin and Hobbes strip where the two title characters are getting ready for bed while expressing disappointment that the day's play couldn't have lasted longer. But then one suggests to the other that they can keep playing in their dreams together, so they make plans to do so. Maybe I, too, can hold out for such a hope that rough-tongued kisses and warm laps may still happen where dreams dwell, the gifts of a special friend still enjoyed.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

"You Extend Our Horizons" - A Prayer for World Communion Sunday

It is hard to see what you see.

We look out across churning oceans,
across the dunes of desert sands,
into thick green jungles and forests,
and eventually, always, our sight reaches its limits.
Our horizons drop off.

It is hard to see what you see.

We look out across waiting rooms with anxious faces,
across streets into impoverished neighborhoods,
across cultural lines into the stark experience of another,
and eventually, always, our sight reaches its limits.
Our horizons drop off.

It is hard to see what you see.

So you set a table.
You set out bread and wine,
You assure us that there are enough chairs for all,
You invite us to sit, one across from another, until all are ready.

And you invite us to look
beyond our own prejudices, our own fears,
our own small notions about the way things are or should be.

You invite us to look again
and this time, in between bites of grace,
our eyes open wide.

We see what was always there:
Beloved creations stumbling along,
In need of healing,
understanding,
guidance,
challenge,
love,
and we count ourselves among them.

You extend our horizons across the table into each others’ lives
and it is here, together, that we are saved.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Small Sips Always Looks Forward to October

A special week. October always brings with it several commemorations of justice issues that I like to highlight. First, next week is Mental Illness Awareness Week:
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness. 
MIAW coincides with the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 8) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10.)
Those particular days mentioned in the second paragraph are more recent developments as part of this week. There are plenty of resources at the NAMI site for each. Mental illness remains an incredibly stigmatized and underfunded issue in the United States.

Also a special month. October in general is Fair Trade Month:



But don't just take the word of the precocious yungin in the video. Click the link and find out more about all the good stuff that purchasing fair trade products can do.

So, get a life, basically. Jan at A Church for Starving Artists notes the importance of pastors having friends outside the church:
Maybe you were loved deeply. Maybe your personal identity and life’s purpose were based - mostly – on your role as The Pastor. Maybe your biological clock is based on the liturgical calendar. Maybe you were blessed with enough years to retire from your church, honored and adored. But now you are retired. 
Maybe you have lost your reason to get up in the morning. 
Your friends are all in your (former) church. Your spouse’s friends are all in your (former) church. Your kids are even (still) in your (former) church. 
What’s a retired pastor to do? It’s hard to make new friends in your 70s. It’s impossible to make lifelong friends in your 70s.
That's the setup for why such things are important, and honestly it's a little frightening to me. If as a pastor your entire world is the church, what will your world be after retirement? I know that such things are a long way off for me, but Jan goes on to encourage pastors my age to set the groundwork now. Even aside from retirement issues, it's good for pastors to have such hobbies and friends aside from church. If we could only find the time...

I thought this before it was cool. Ridley Melbourne has a blog post entitled "The Rise and Fall of Hipster Churches:"
Nevertheless, I am concerned that some of these churches may have already sown the seeds of their own destruction. 
Seed 1: Consumerism. The first seed derives from the strong appeal to the highly refined tastes of a group of consummate consumers. Instead of challenging these consumer instincts these churches appeal to them. Make no mistake; this is a demanding group not known for loyalty. The vast majority of members were in another church previously and a proportion moved because they were disaffected. Hipster churches have set high expectations that will demand constant creativity. Staying on the cutting edge is time-consuming, difficult and ultimately exhausting.
There are a few other "seeds" listed as well. Essentially, these "bucking the trend" churches are in danger of falling to high expectations, establishing poor organizational methods, and not accounting well for retaining members when they move into the next phase of their lives. But the thing is, maybe they don't care because, like, they're hipsters.

For your meditation. A cartoon from nakedpastor.


Nothing to add, really.

Misc. Brant on being a radio guy with Asperger's. Gordon Atkinson with a new Foy Davis story. These are always some of his best entries. Leadership Journal on clergy generally being more depressed than laypeople.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Introducing From the Psalms to the Cloud by Maria Mankin and Maren Tirabassi

I'm pleased to share news of a new resource for prayer and worship co-authored by mother-daughter team Maren Tirabassi and Maria Mankin called From the Psalms to the Cloud: Connecting to the Digital Age.

Here's the blurb from Pilgrim Press:
Do you or your worship team need to jump-start your prayer life?  Do you want your worship to be more inclusive of people wherever they might be on life's journey?  From the Psalms to the Cloud: Connecting to the Digital Age can help you to connect people, prayers and new possibilities for worship. Maria Mankin & Maren Tirabassi bring together worship and prayer elements for both traditional and contemporary worship, and your private prayer life as well.  Mankin and Tirabassi share resources from a diversity of gifted writers, and invite you to create your own prayers  and worship services. From the Psalms to the Cloud will help you to offer acceptance, embrace, connection, hope and healing in your worship and prayers.
Maria and Maren are notable writers in their fields and I regularly use other resources that they have written. But in full disclosure, part of the reason I'm letting you know about their latest offering is that I was privileged to contribute several prayers to it. The resource will be very good and you should order it regardless, but I'm excited to say that I was a part of it.

The book actually releases in November, but you can click the above link to pre-order it.