Five Minutes on Friday (3)


This week, we received word of the stresses the Indian church is undergoing in India.  Mennonite World Conference President, J. Nelson Kraybill writes that anti-Christian and anti-Muslim groups have sought to close churches and mosques with tacit support from government officials, especially in rural areas and the outskirts of larger cities.   The London School of Economics and Political Science has documented cases of intimidation, assault and arson.  Kraybill offered a prayer that God would soften the hearts of political leaders and that God’s spirit would be poured out on all Christians to be steadfast in the face of persecution.    [posted online at Anabaptist].   Let us also pray in solidarity with those sisters and brothers.


Many of us have long been nourished by the writings of Philip Yancey.  Now he has written a memoir, in part, triggered by a serious accident in which his jeep rolled down an embankment leaving him with a broken neck and lots of time to ponder his life story.

Several things stand out for me:

  • His Southern fundamentalist background with its heavy emphasis on judgment which left little room grace.
  • His mother’s unyielding expectations of her sons. When they went to a more ‘liberal’ college than she approved of, she was furious.  I’ll do whatever it takes to stop you, young man. You listen to me. If you find a way to pull off this plan, I guarantee you one thing. I’ll pray every day for the rest of your life that God will break you. Maybe you’ll be in a terrible accident and die. That’ll teach you. Or, better yet, maybe you’ll be paralyzed. Then you’ll have to lie on your back and stare at the ceiling and realize what a rebellious thing you’ve done, going against God’s will and everything you’ve been brought up to believe.

She never relented or apologized for any of her piercing words or    punishments.

  • Love breaks through. Yancey meets Janet and falls in love and turns toward the light of grace which was so often absent in his childhood home.  Sadly his other brother turned toward the hippie and drug culture unable to find the grace he too needed.

The book invites us to reflect on our own stories:  What do we do with the burdens, sins, and pain of our past?

Highly recommended.


In preparing for this Sunday’s sermon on Psalm 13, a prayer of lament and longing, I was drawn also to Leonard Cohen’s last album, finished just days before he died.  The song, ‘You want it darker’  is especially haunting.  Marcia Pally writes that Cohen believes in God but finds it hard to reconcile his own and humanity’s failure to keep covenant with God.  And, provocatively he wonders why God acts the way God does in allowing us our dangerous freedom.

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game

If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame

If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame.

You want it darker.

And then the song closes with the Hebrew refrain:

Hineni, hineni
Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my Lord

Pally writes:  “Three weeks before he died…Cohen answers God with “Hineni”, I am here, present for you. This is Cohen in relationship, who understands that God is the healer whom he sought and resisted throughout life — and that God is now taking him out of it.”

You can access Pally’s full article here: