Spiritual Homework July 28

July 29, 2020 

Hello, church! We seem surrounded by negativity, and I understand that. There is so much happening in the world that is painful, wrong, and sad that it is hard to keep our focus on anything but the negative side of life. I encourage all of us to make room to grieve and mourn, but I also hope that we intentionally train ourselves to celebrate the good of life as well. Intentionally celebrate one another, your friends and family, and your blessings, big and small.  I hope that my recommendation of poetry below can you help both process the negative and celebrate the positive. 




I don’t know about you, but I had more than a few bad experiences with poetry when I was growing up. It was forced upon me at school, and I was expected to analyze, break-down, and not enjoy poetry. I have since checked myself into a self-made poetry rehabilitation program, so to speak, and have found time and ways to enjoy and appreciate poetry, which is very important for spirituality. So much of scripture is poetry, our prayers and hymns are full of poetry, and even the way we talk and think about God is drenched in poetry. I have the book Reading for Preaching to thank for this wake-up call, and I recommend the book for anyone who is interested in exploring how a variety of literature intake expands your theology. But what has helped me most is subscribing to the Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day, which will get you one poem a day sent to your email inbox. I don’t like every poem, or even many of them, but the exposure to more poetry has helped me better appreciate poetic portions of scripture, given me new language to use, and every so often I find a poem that expresses a theological truth that I could not have expressed myself. I think poetry is critically important for spirituality, and I highly recommend reading more, even if you already read a lot. 

Family Activities 
Here are  couple of word scrambles for our kids.  Work with them on this and then pick your favorite and share with them the story. 

As you prepare for this Sunday’s worship 

Included here are the scriptures, reflection questions, and prayers that are thematically matched to our Sunday worship outline. 

Scriptures: Gen 32:22-31; Ps 17:1-7, 15; Matt 14:13-21; Rom 9:1-5 

Questions for Reflection: 

“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak” (Gen. 32:24). Why do you think God allows times of struggle in our lives? How have times of struggle affected your walk with God? How does your relationship with God affect your view of overwhelming problems in the world, such as hunger, poverty, violence, or injustice?  

Morning Prayer:  

God of daybreak, thank you for holding me through the night and awakening me to behold your likeness in this brand-new day. Go with me now as I walk with you.  Show me the world and its people through your eyes of compassion. Bless me, break me, and move through me to heal and feed those who hunger for you. Amen.   

Evening Prayer:  

O God, tonight I lay my failures, anxieties, struggles, and unfinished business at your feet. Hold me, bless me, and change me as I rest in you. Amen. 

Previous Links 

Below are the links to resources I have mentioned in previous emails for your continued reference. 


Weekly Lectionary 

Daily Lectionary 

Bible Gateway Reading Plans 

Phyllis Tickle’s, Divine Hours 

The Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen 

Breath Prayers 

Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth , by Walter Brueggemann 

The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun 

The Discernment of Spirits and workbook by Timothy Gallagher  

Blog on Prayer Labyrinths  

St. John’s Bible  

Christian Classics Ethereal Library 

Prayers for a Privileged People 

Shattering the Illusion: How African American Churches of Christ Moved from Segregation to Independence by Wes Crawford 

Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman 

The Road Back to You by Ian Cron 


Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God, by Brian Zahnd 

Dead Sea Scrolls 

What Was Wrong with Cain’s Sacrifice? 

What Is Worship? 

Sacred Places: In Search of Ebenezers 

Backwards: A Dangerous Reading of Matthew 6