Puritan Prayer

Move over Pentecostals:

> After the people had gathered in the meetinghouse, “men with their heads uncovered the women covered,” the pastor opened worship with prayer, wh ich lasted “about a quarter of an hour.” …

>The major prayer wa alwo about equal to the sermon in length. Thacher wrote on one occasion that he “stood about three hours in prayer and preaching.” On another: “God was pleased graciously to assist me much beyond my expectation. Blessed be his holy name for it. I was near an hour and half in my first prayer and my heart much drawn out in it and an hour in the sermon.”

>Jasper Danckaerts likewise attested to the length of the prayers. “We went to church, but there was only one minister in the pulpit, who made a prayer an hour long, and preached the same length of time, when some verses were sung. We expected something particular in the afternoon, but there was nothing more than usual.” On a fast day he even reported that “a minister made a prayer in the pulpit, of full two hours in length.”

> In the afternoon “three of four hours were consumed with nothing except prayers, three ministers relieving each other alternately.” THe norm on a common Sabbath seems to have been a major prayer of sixty to ninety minutes, with the sermon about the same.”

This is from Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe’s classic on New England Puritan devotional life, [The Practice of Piety](http://www.amazon.com/Practice-Piety-Devotional-Disciplines-Seventeenth/dp/0807841455). I’d heard of the Puritan practice of 3-5 hour church services, complete with ushers armed with hot pokers to keep the parishoners awake. Even as somebody who *loves* long services, it was a little unnerving for me. I never realized though, that approximately half of the service was consumed with a single public prayer. I know it probably aims to high for today’s culture, but honestly, this is something I could really get behind. Continue reading “Puritan Prayer”

A Means to an End?

Nick, a member of Chesapeake Church, a Sovereign Grace church near Baltimore has made some very pointed comments regarding my “roadmap” post from about a month ago. He dearly loves the Sovereign Grace movement, particularly the King of Grace church in Methuen, which has received a lot of support from his home church. My post seems to have struck him as taking a lot for granted from an organization I barely even know, and so he suggests maybe I’m going about it the wrong way. The biggest concern is the impression that I’m looking to Sovereign Grace Ministries as merely a means to an end. I felt his thoughts were significant enough for me to make a new post by way of reply.

Reading back through what I wrote, I can see how it might strike a passing visitor that I was being flippant, even arrogantly presumptive, especially from the perspective of a member of the community upon which I am declaring intentions to inflict myself. And to a certain extent I was being flippant, but my intent was for it to be self-directed. Continue reading “A Means to an End?”

Roadmap Part 2: The Long Term

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?….
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet;
so Romeo, were he not called Romeo,
would retain that dear perfection which he owns
without that title. Romeo, doff thy name
and for that name, which is no part of thee,
take all myself.

–Romeo and Juliet

By any other name, “long term planning” is really just fantasizing, isn’t it? Very well, in the long term, I plan to have a large, rambling house in a wooded, sparsely settled area. We’ll have eleven children, of whom six will be girls and five will be boys. One of them will be a medical doctor, one a lawyer who works for a major religious organization, one a physicist, one an engineer, and one a theologian. The theologian, of course, will be the oldest. I myself will be the president of a conservative seminary, and Valerie will be head and founder of the nation’s largest midwife association. People will love us and greet us by name as we walk down the street.

Right. Did I mention I’m a direct descendant of Jonathan Edwards? Oh yeah. We Fr… uh, Edwardses have a long history of excellence. (The Frenches and Dobbses, by comparison, are famous for hardheadedness and hyperbole. I have none of these traits.)

Actually, it’s a little embarrassing how close my actual long-term hopes for the future might match the above. Continue reading “Roadmap Part 2: The Long Term”

Roadmap

Princess, I – – Uh, how’s
it going, first of all? Good? Um, good
for me too. I’m okay. I saw this flower
and thought of you because it’s pretty
and – – well, I don’t really like it,
but I thought you might like it ’cause
you’re pretty. But I like you anyway.

–Shrek

Since I seem to be currently unable to provide any of the kind of content that I would like to read (i.e. erudite ruminations), I thought maybe I’d say something that interests everybody else. (But I like you anyway.) So I would like to announce that (once again) I have my whole life planned out. I’m sure this is a relief to all parties. Continue reading “Roadmap”

In Search of Teh Greek

One of the most frustrating experiences for me as I continue in my pursuit of learning has been that the more education I get, the greater the sense of being behind. I’m already some five years behind the stereotypical track of burning right through to grad school. I’m 27 with the knowledge that some people are “right on track” coming in to my learning level at 22.

But that doesn’t get me too much. On a track to pastoral ministry, you could probably use a little age and experience on you. At the same time, though, I’m learning that those learnéd men of the past, up to whom we look so much, were much younger still. Continue reading “In Search of Teh Greek”

On Calling

Those of you who know me have probably heard me agonize over my prospects of becoming a “professional Christian” at some time or another. With his famous “don’t muzzle the Ox” line, Paul makes it clear that it isn’t *wrong* to receive financial remuneration for ministry, so that isn’t it. But there’s always been something unnerving for me about treating the role of pastor the same way as a management career. Somewhere the parallels between the MBA and the MDiv just go away.

Our church right now is going through what seems to be the standard process of looking for a new pastor. The old pastor announces that he’s retiring (like ours) or leaving the church for whatever reason, and then the church begins to oil the machinery for searching out and appointing a new person to be in charge. I know this is the common procedure, but it’s jarring whenever I think about it. Especially when I think about myself as the prospective “new person in charge.” I can’t imagine sending out resumes asking to be overseer of a church I’ve never before attended. Why is it that it’s only the pastor who joins a church by application? Who else ever actually applies for membership and is politely declined in favor of another candidate? It’s *odd.*

And so I’m predisposed to make tents. Continue reading “On Calling”

Preaching

I’ve always had a hard time with “preaching.” I’ve always associated it with the role of the evangelist. And then, I’ve always associated the role of the evangelis with a certain kind of preacher – the wild-eyed, impassioned, unthinking kind.

He proclaims what he has received from his forbears without any kind of seasoned alalysis, and blasts those who disagree with him *because* they disagree with him, again without any inquiry as to *why* they might think differently, or consideration about whether some small part of his opponent’s line of thought might be right. This is not to say my preacher isn’t smart. He’s smart all right. But he’s so confident in what he knows that he directs his intelligence to invective, with lancelike force skewering his opponent by means of a superior way with words.

He sounds like a rat, but that’s my envy talking. Continue reading “Preaching”

What I was trying to say was…

My Uncle John put up a very interesting response to the last important post that I put up (no not the one about the snow). I realized that I had probably not completely made myself clear when I read his first line, “Your anger concerns me.” Oops. I did not mean to sound angry by any means, a little upset about a flaw I perceive about the medical system, but not angry. Instead of simply copying, pasting and responding to what Uncle John said, I decided to simply write a follow up in response to the issues he brought up. So here goes.

First, I would like to say that I do not want to reduce the amount of choices in medicine. On the contrary, I want to increase choices for everyone involved. Continue reading “What I was trying to say was…”

What I was trying to say was…

My Uncle John put up a very interesting response to the last important post that I put up (no not the one about the snow). I realized that I had probably not completely made myself clear when I read his first line, “Your anger concerns me.” Oops. I did not mean to sound angry by any means, a little upset about a flaw I perceive about the medical system, but not angry. Instead of simply copying, pasting and responding to what Uncle John said, I decided to simply write a follow up in response to the issues he brought up. So here goes.

First, I would like to say that I do not want to reduce the amount of choices in medicine. On the contrary, I want to increase choices for everyone involved. Continue reading “What I was trying to say was…”