Spring Training–Sermon for First Sunday in Lent

This past Sunday I introduced our Lenten series,”Spring Training.” Though it is hardly original, this is the first time I have connected Lent with spring training. Lent is still a confusing time for a lot of Protestants. Many of our forebears, particularly the rationally oriented congregationalists, did away with all the practices that even hinted at the mysterious side of spirituality. Frankly, much of their concerns were driven by blatant anti-Catholicism. In the past fifty years or so it seems we all are becoming more like each other, in some ways. Catholics have done more to emphasize good preaching, and us Protestants are praying more.

Each week during Lent I am going to suggest a Christian spiritual practice to try during the week. Or to use our sports analogy, a new exercise for spring training. This first week we handed out  Mala beads to everyone and talked about prayer beads. This is way out of the comfort zone for many of us. I have never used prayer beads, but thought I would give it a try, and so invited everyone in church to join me. I chose the mala beads mostly because they come as a bracelet and so are easy to carry around. I am definitely not ready for one of the long strings of beads that many Buddhists and Catholics use. I usually do not like to blatantly borrow from a different faith tradition, but there is a long-standing Christian tradition of prayer beads (rosary) and so the actual bracelet may come from Buddhism, but the practice is almost universal. One interesting note is that the word “bead” originally was the word for prayer.

Spring Training Sermon

I am looking forward to the reactions from people next week when they tell me what they thought of praying with beads.


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