Sweet Spots

Ideas and messages from Len Sweet.

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Pastor’s Prayer for 13 January 2019

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who of thy great mercy didst save Noah and his family in the ark from perishing by water; and also didst safely lead the children of Israel thy people through the Red Sea, figuring thereby thy holy Baptism, and by the Baptism of thy well beloved Son Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, didst sanctify Water to the mystical washing away of sin; We beseech thee, for thine infinite mercies, that thou wilt mercifully look upon this Child; wash him and sanctify him with the Holy Ghost; that he, being delivered from thy wrath, may be received into the ark of Christ’s Church; and being steadfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity, may so pass the waves of this troublesome world, that finally he may come to the land of everlasting life, there to reign with thee, world without end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–1789 Book of Common Prayer (Baptism Prayer)

On Reading Well

On Reading Well:

Finding the Good Life Through Great Books

by Karen Swallow Prior

–Review by Teri Hyrkas


Do you like to start the New Year with a consequential book? If so, allow me to recommend a title that I think would be a worthy choice for 2019 — On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life Through Great Books (Brazos Press, 2018). A book about virtues, this recent release by Karen Swallow Prior is a marvelous commentary on how great novels can demonstrate what it means to recognize and pursue the abundant life, and contrarily, how literature enables us to vicariously experience the trials of someone whose life is less than virtuous.

On Reading Well offers descriptions of thirteen works of literary fiction that illustrate twelve different virtues. All of the featured virtues are applicable to daily life and, as Prior explains, even reading, if one chooses to read well, is virtuous. “[While] reading for virtue means, in part, reading about virtue, in a deeper, less obvious way, reading literature is a way to practice virtue.” Prior tells us that the definition of virtue is many layered, “… but in general, virtue can most simply be understood as excellence. Reading well is, in itself, an act of excellence, and it is also a habit that cultivates more virtue in return.” read more…

Follow the Jesus Star

Follow the Jesus Star Lectionary 6 January 2019 The Epiphany of Our Lord Isaiah 60:1-6 Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 Ephesians 3:1-12 Matthew 2:1-12 Text to Life Today is Epiphany, the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas we call Christmastide. It’s the day when the Star of Bethlehem, a very…
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Sealed and Sanctified

Sealed and Sanctified Story Lectionary 6 January 2019 The Magi Visit Bethlehem The Priest of God Most High Melchizedek (Genesis 14) Joseph is Given Asenath Daughter of Potiphera the Egyptian Priest of On to be His Wife (Genesis 41:41-52) and They Bear Ephraim and Manasseh Moses Marries Ziporah the Daughter…
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A Beautiful Constraint –Review by Vern Hyndman

A Beautiful Constraint

By Adam Morgan

Book Review

–by Vern Hyndman

Constraints have always rankled me, chaffing my sensibility like rough iron manacles. Whenever possible, I have reduced the constraints in my life, always leaning towards the open range of possibility. Imagine my surprise when reading “A Beautiful Constraint” that in thwarting constraints, I have also thwarted important creativity.

Morgan says that the human response to constraint is initially victimhood, and after victimhood, we can progress to acceptance of the constraint. The real magic of the constraints is beyond acceptance; the real magic of constraint is a mindset that sees opportunity in a constraint. Morgan frames the entire book in real-world examples of the progression from victim to acceptance to opportunity.

Past the obvious stories of companies beset by an unexpected constraint, Morgan suggests that creative people benefit by deliberately imposing constraints on themselves. read more…

Pastor’s Prayer for 6 January 2019

“We adore you, Christ, Son of the living God. In triumph you rose from the grave and bore in your hands the keys of death and hell: we rejoice in your almighty power and glory. Raise us up with you above all earthly desires. Inspire us with thoughts of joy, hope and love. Enter within our hearts and say, ‘Peace be with you.’ Give us grace to see you with the eyes of understanding so that we may know you walking by our side on our earthly pilgrimage. Come to us and dwell within us; stay with us and make yourself known to us in the scriptures and in the breaking of bread. Teach us, as we sail our boat through the darkness of life, to see you standing on the everlasting shore of peace and let us come to you across the waters.” 

–from Downside Abbey Prayerbook, by David Foster (2001).

Calling All Wide Receivers!

Calling All Wide Receivers! Story Lectionary 30 December 2018 The Birth of Our Lord Celebration The Birth of Sons and the Favor of Abel (Genesis 4) Joseph and His Multi-Colored Coat (Genesis 36 and 38) Moses and the Pleasure of the Lord (Exodus 33) The Favor of the Lord Upon…
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