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The Beginner’s Mind

In my yoga practice, the instructors often talk about having the beginner’s mind.  “Begin your practice today as if for the first time,” they say.  And, “Your body is never at the same place.  Don’t judge where you are today based on where you were a few years ago or where you want to be.” I remember reading about the beginner’s mind, for the first time, while reading a book by Thomas Merton.  He wrote, “One cannot begin to face the real difficulties of the life of prayer and meditation unless one is first perfectly content to be a beginner and really experience himself as one who knows little or…

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Learning How to Pray

“How do I pray?”  Sometimes people ask me this question.  The best response to the question, “How do I pray?” may be to ask the question, “What is prayer?”  Prayer is a conversation with God.  Sometimes we talk and sometimes we listen.  In silence, we might reflect on a few verses of Scripture and apply them to our lives today. Prayer is more than just getting what we want from God.  At times, prayer is approaching God like a child and pleading for whatever we need.  Eventually, as we pray more often, we ask differently.  We learn that prayer is discovering more about God. For me, the ultimate prayer is…

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A Difficult Lesson

Spiritual leaders teach us that moments of pain and disappointment, even tragedy, will be the greatest opportunities for learning about the world and ourselves.  Rabbi Kushner writes about the death of his son, in the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.  He states, “I am a more sensitive person, a more effective pastor, a more sympathetic counselor because of Aaron’s life and death than I would ever have been without it.  And I would give up all of those gains in a second if I could have my son back.”[1]  Anyone who has lost a child understands these words by Rabbi Kushner. As a pastor, I have learned…

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My New Blog

I recently moved my blog– dougmcmahon.org — from TypePad to Word Press. I’m planning on posting more regularly once again. I have thought about the focus for my new blog and I have decided on the following description. My blog is about becoming spiritually awake and simply asking, “What does it mean to be human in this world?” I write about hope, wisdom, grace and purpose. Someone once taught me that hope is believing that some of our best days are ahead of us. Wisdom is discovering new ways of looking at our problems. Grace is knowing the love and forgiveness of God while also finding strength to love others.…

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All Our Losses—All Our Griefs

Sometimes the most important lessons in life are simple. Because they are simple, they may seem insignificant. That the Easter message has something to say about loss and grief may seem obvious, but the challenge is to apply the Easter lesson to our daily lives. The message of the Easter season isn’t a magical pixie dust experience making us all better or turning life into a Disney dream. Earlier today, I preached at the Sunrise Service at the Downtown St. Petersburg Pier. I said that the Gospel Lesson reminds us that in the midst of deep grief there is hope. The message of Easter assures us that in the midst…

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Easter Sunrise at The Pier

On this Holy Saturday, I wish all of my Christian readers a Blessed Easter season.  I will be preaching at the Sunrise Easter Service tomorrow morning at 6:30am at the Downtown Pier in St Petersburg.  The following is adapted from the poster for the event. Greet the sun on Easter morning, Sunday, March 31, 2013, when Resurrection House welcomes guests to a public celebration of Easter Sunrise at The Pier, 800 Second Avenue NE. The ecumenical worship service will begin at 6:30 a.m. Parking in the City parking lots approaching the Pier costs $3. Trolleys are available. The Salvation Army Band and the Unity A Cappella Gospel Ensemble will offer…

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Blessed Are You Who Are Poor

 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:‘Blessed are you who are poor,   for yours is the kingdom of God.  ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,   for you will be filled.‘Blessed are you who weep now,   for you will laugh.  (Luke 6:20-21) These are words of hope.  These words affirm the humanity of the poor and insist that every person be treated with human dignity.  This blessing, spoken two thousand years ago by Jesus of Nazareth, affirms the worth of all people.  Biblical scholar, Obery Hendricks writes, "So deep and so debilitating was the effect of impoverishment on the pyscho-emotional health of his people that Jesus found it necessary to explicitly affirm…

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A Wedding Sermon

Yesterday, Robin and I were in Winter Park at the wedding of some good friends.  The parents of the bride were the first couple to unite with our new church in Oviedo back in 1991.  The bride, who was a preschooler back at that time, grew up in our new congregation along with her brother, cousins and our two boys.  With much joy, I preached the wedding semon that follows, based on Colossians 3:12-17 and Mark 10:6-9. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate. Let no one separate? It seems like everything falls apart.   I’m not just talking about marriages.  I mean all over the place, it…

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A Friend Retires This Weekend

Rev. William “Bill" Cooley was granted the status of honorably retired at the most recent meeting of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, on Thursday, May 26, 2011.  His retirement takes effect this weekend.  I was given the opportunity to speak to the presbytery.  As I reflected on my friend's retirement, I thought about what it means to be called to ministry in the first place.   I give thanks for Bill's many accomplishments.  I also knew that this would not be the end of his ministry but a transition.  Here is what I said on Thursday: It is my privilege to speak about the ministry of my friend, Bill Cooley. …

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Eckerd Commencement Prayer

Yesterday, I enjoyed participating in the 48th Commencement of Eckerd College.  I was able to congratulate all of the students who received their diplomas including a 90 year old PEL graduate, Ellen Nizzi. I also was grateful to be able to offer the invocation, which follows: O God, our Creator and Redeemer, how do we express the joy in our hearts this day?   Our hearts are full of memories and of hope! On this new day, we take this moment to breath to look up and look around to give thanks–   for your goodness your faithfulness for family and friends for faculty, staff and others who have walked…

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