A Sneak Peek at Monday Muse

Starting on Monday, November 4, I will be posting a new weekly feature here on my blog — Monday Muse — with book reviews, musical inspiration, and creative resources for your worship planning!

But I can’t resist an early preview posting of Monday Muse, because this fabulously hilarious book came in the mail:


You have a section on your bookshelf for devotionals and prayer books. You have shelf space filled with inspirational spiritual memoirs. If you’re a preacher, you have a bookshelf dedicated to biblical commentaries. And if you have children in your household or extended family, you have gentle pastel-illustrated books on the shelf to encourage children’s faith.

Now, clear space on your God-gives-me-giggles bookshelf for this entertaining gem: Dancing with Jesus: Featuring a Host of Miraculous Moves.

The book’s cover is pure joy all by itself! A lenticular illustration of Jesus, standing on water, grooves and swings from side to side with his fingers snapping and his heel twisting as you tilt the book back and forth! No joke. Hours of fun, even before turning a page!

And then — oh! — the pages! Each one provides instruction for a unique dance move inspired by a gospel story. The Water Walk. The Carpenter Clog. The Temptation Tango. The Lazarus Lurch. The Cheek Turn.


And the last dance of the book, with a lenticular line-up of hip-swinging disciples, the Apostolic Conga. I expect to hear your reports after teaching and performing the Apostolic Conga at your next congregational meeting!

No matter that this book was written tongue-in-cheek (and I’m choosing to see the eternally-White-will-we-ever-draw-Jesus-as-a-Middle-Eastern-man illustrations as part of the author’s joke), Dancing with Jesus has fabulous possibilities for ministry! Take the Water Walk to church camp and invite your campers to work some moves near the lake. (Try to ignore author Sam Stall’s error in describing Paul‘s attempt to walk on the water with Jesus — yikes!) Invite congregants to warm up with the Carpenter Clog before a mission trip or a church clean-up day. Instead of nailing paper “sins” to a cross for Good Friday, break the mold and add the Pilate Shuffle to worship.

Or maybe not on that last one. Most of all, let Dancing with Jesus make you laugh and laugh and laugh when your spirit needs joy, when your muse needs inspiration, when your Christology needs a little humor!

Dancing with Jesus: Featuring a Host of Miraculous Moves by Sam Stall (Running Press 2012)

And When You Pray, Say…

Add your own litany to this expansion of the Lord’s Prayer from Luke 11:2-4:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Almighty One, you are our sanctuary.
Love, you alone are holy.
. . . . . . .
. . .

Your kingdom come.
Arrive among us and scour our pride.
Be a healing presence to the outcast and wounded.
Well up with grace in our homes.
Stay close beside . . .
. . . . . . .
. . .

Give us each day our daily bread.
We give you thanks for the food on our table.
We rejoice in the sun and rain and changing seasons.
We savor the fellowship of loved ones.
We lean on your faithfulness.
Thank you . . .
. . . . . . .
. . .

And forgive us our sins, as we ourselves
forgive everyone indebted to us. We harbor grudges.
We demand privileges that we refuse to share.
We hold onto fear more than hope.
Forgive us . . . . .
. . . . . . .
. . .

And do not bring us to the time of trial.
Let us learn peace more quickly than war.
Open our ears to listen for your Spirit.
. . . . . . .
. . .

A Psalm from Marvin

How sweet it is to be loved by you, O God!

You are the warm shelter when we need to hide;
You are our praise through every stress and pain,
every delight and every rest.
Your faithfulness and love are beyond words:
We stop to give you thanks.

How sweet it is to be loved by you, O God!

Your love gives purpose  and definition to our lives;
Your love brings peace to our sleep.
Your love calls us from self-reproach and shame
to boldness and fullness of life. You alone are our God:
We stop to give you thanks.

How sweet it is to be loved by you, O God!

Like sugar to the soul,
Like honey to the lips,
Like candy on the tongue.

How sweet it is to be loved by you, O God!

A psalm based on Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You” (written by Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland).

Is Not This the Fast I Choose

Have we decided,
in this Americanized faith of ours,
that God is too holy to feed the poor through WIC,
too ethereal to be incarnate within Head Start?

Are we so certain
that God cannot work new miracles
through healthcare, medical research and flu shots?
Is God too big — or too little — for such work?

Is God no longer hindered
by covenant but freed to be all-sufficient, because
we have loosed ourselves from participating in God’s plenty
for brothers & sisters in need and without justice?

My God, my God!
This is not faithful fasting but willful gluttony
while others starve, so that our conflation of the one LORD God
with the American Dream can remain intact.

Be merciful and abundant to those
who receive no mercy and only begrudging support.
Unsettle me wholly and compel me into a season of fasting:
mind and body, personal and political.