Sunday, December 28, 2008


1. One who is engaged in or experienced in battle.
2. One who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.

Prayer warriors have always been held in high esteem where I come from. As a boy growing up in the church, I stood in awe of their power, authority and ability to include every person, place and thing, many times over, in a long winded prayer without missing a beat. In those days, during a public meeting, we went down on our knees to pray, it was called a “knee-drill,” appropriately defined: Drill: “repetition of a set pattern.”

And my church didn’t have those plushy padded kneeling benches, just a bare linoleum floor over hard, cold unforgiving concrete, quite the opposite of “forgive those who trespass against us.” You could count upon the same three prayer warriors repetitiously dominating a 45 minute prayer meeting. I must confess that my aching knees, some six decades later, are not as forgiving as they used to be. Nonetheless, my esteem for those warriors hasn’t lessened. In some ways, I long for their return but with one minor condition – knee pads mandatory.

I’ve watched our prayer posture mature over the years, becoming much more dignified, respectable and institutionalized. It’s now called “prayer posturing,” whereby clergy vie for an elevated place at prestigious gatherings, the invocation desirous, with the benediction coming in a distant second. Now there is political maneuvering for those plum spots, closet prayers no longer highly revered. Today these prayers are well structured and carefully worded, spontaneity no longer tolerated, impression everything.

Presently there is a big brouhaha over the Invocator selected for a major inaugural event, where prayer and political posturing have commingled together on the international stage. The secular left and the religious right each have their noses (or is it their knees?) uncompromisingly bent out of joint, both driven by a self-righteous gay agenda.

Ah, how I long for those old prayer warrior, knee-drill days. WAIT A MINUTE! The repetitive theme of those prayers is coming back to me slowly…”Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income” (Luke 18:11-12).
21st Century interpretation: “…or, heaven forbid, like this gay man.”

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Had A Dream!

I had a dream! Last night I dreamt that Jesus changed his plans in order to give us another chance, with another “coming” before the final one. The denomination he chose to identify with was a bit obscured in the dream, but it was definitely hierarchical in form with clearly defined ecclesiastical levels of authority identified by rank and position.

He started at the bottom, following protocol, purposefully working within the system, conforming where necessary and inching up through the layered chain of command, obtaining each coveted title along the way until at long last, in his waning days (3 years before retirement, no extensions), the crowning moment came: “Head Honcho,” be it Pope, General, Archbishop, General Superintendent, Whatever?

Upon reaching that long sought after, hard fought for position, He used that authority to begin leveling the playing field, thereby flattening the hierarchy, thus bringing a semblance of equality and oneness to the Body. His work completed, and while ascending the second time, he said, “You won’t know the time of my next coming, that’s the Father’s business. Be my witnesses in Honolulu, all over America, even to the ends of the world.” In that Spirit the Church began to multiply and prosper, comparably to the period following his first ascension.

Those who followed, several Head Honchos later, began to carefully restructure the hierarchy as it had once been. With increasing levels, titles and infrastructure there came, comparably, an ever decreasing number in followers.

At this point I woke up drenched in sweat; not a dream, a veritable nightmare! In the waking moments of reality, the thought came to me, Were he here, would Jesus even entertain taking on a title: General Jesus or Pope Jesus or Archbishop Jesus?

Kind of a scary thought, isn’t it?

Remember the time when James and John, jockeying for position, approached Jesus asking, “Arrange it so that we will be awarded the highest places of honor in your glory—one of us at your right, the other at your left?”

Jesus’ response in effect was, “Better think this through, boys. You have no idea what you’re asking.” When the other disciples heard this they lost their temper and became indignant, maybe even a teensy weensy bit jealous.

Then we hear Jesus’ great discourse about “rulers who lord it over them and high officials who exercise authority over them,” saying, “It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to first among you must be your slave” (Mark 35-45).

Easy for you to say, Commissioner! I hear you thinking. Hey, I was just as surprised as the rest of you, perhaps more so. And besides didn’t Jesus also say something about the first being last?

Now that’s really scary!