Sharp About Your Prayers

the challenges, absurdities, and joys of an urban faith

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Shelter From The Stormy Blast

September 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment · Faith and the City

It’s good to be home. 

My summer travels have taken me to North Carolina for a preaching gig, to Minnesota for study and family time, and to Atlanta for the funeral of a dear friend. After all the miles, it feels downright comforting to be buffeted by the rhythms of Manhattan.

It’s good to be home.

Those of us who call New York “home” are a peculiar crew. We like our dinner late, our art edgy, and our community served up with a double helping of diversity.

My favorite book about this city — I recommend it all the time — is E.B. White’s Here is New York. White wrote this essay in 1948, but it still snaps with relevance.

Consider this: 

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something… It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high-strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements. Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.

Of course, the dynamics that attract energetic, inventive, and fascinating people to New York can also make this city isolating and exhausting. Gotham can be a lonely place — a hard place.

This Sunday is Homecoming Sunday. We will gather at Fifth and 55th to mark the unofficial end of summer. We will sign up to sing in the choir, serve Meals on Heels, and teach Sunday School during the coming year. We’ll lean over pews and hug on each other. We’ll celebrate being together again — being home!

This grand old church is “home” in that it is a familiar place. Yet it is also home in a deeper sense; for it is here that we focus on the One who grounds us in this life. 

Isaac Watts, that stunning hymn writer, put it this way: Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home. 

Come “home” this Sunday, my friends!

See you in worship,


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  • JohnNo Gravatar

    Thanks Scott, my wife and I read this together this summer on your recommendation. Fittingly, we read it on the hottest day of the year. One of our favorite quotes from that essay ( among many) is, “New Yorkers are willing to be lucky.” We have said it many times to each other since then in response to some events. I think those seven words say a lot and may parallel my faith path.

    For me, I work at being willing to let God play a part in my life and be surprised. Some my call that luck but I see it as a beginning ( and/or continuance ) of a dialog. God has presented events, things, and most importantly, people in a way that shows a conversation with me that could be initially viewed as luck. However, when I look back at the thread of events ( both joyful and mournful) that lead up to that event , I see a truly divine hand at play. I just have to be willing to feel at home.