Showing posts from December, 2013

Light and Darkness

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1
There is something very powerful and poetic about the beginning of John's gospel.  John proclaims that in the beginning (echoing Genesis 1:1) God's Word was sung over creation and creation sprang forth dancing and responding in harmony.  God's Word brought forth all that is seen and unseen in this life. One of the amazing truths of Genesis 1 is that there are three things present when creation got going and growing: God, the Word, and Chaos.  The chaos swirled and sloshed and stirred arrhythmic-ally.  And while chaos eventually fades into the background, it is never fully erratically.
And when God slips into skin to walk among us, chaos will…

Merry Christmas!!

May the hope, peace, love and joy of Christ's birth be born anew in you this day.  And may the warmth of Christ's light guide you every day for the coming year.   This is the day we feel more than a trace of God's grace.   Merry Christmas and God's blessings ~


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people  Luke 2:10
No matter how many Christmas services, Bible studies, pageants or plays I participate in, the above line belongs solely to the wispy voice of Linus from the Charlie Brown Christmas special.  You remember, right?  Charlie Brown, as he is oft wont to do, loses his cool...that probably sounds familiar when you were out shopping this weekend right?  He screams, "Doesn't any body know the true meaning of Christmas?"
That moment captures the modern day experience.  We try searching for the meaning of Christmas every year.  We know it is not found in stores...but we still check, just in case Target got a supply of Christmas meaning this year.  We know it is not found in racing from party to party to some other event until we fall exhausted into bed at night...but we still keep going because of social pressure.  Unfortunately, even the church, does not al…

Love part two...Joy part one

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
This is one of my favorite carols.  First, and foremost, we can be almost certain that Jesus, being born in the Middle East, did not have a white Christmas.  To be sure, it can be very cold in the evenings when the sun goes down, but snow is not the norm.  Second, for someone who has spent most of his life in the Northern part of the United States, I know what it is like to celebrate Christmas in a different climate than Jesus lived.  Here snow has fallen snow on snow, and we anticipate getting more tonight.  The earth is hard, frozen by pellets of rain that fell yesterday.
Winter slows you down.  It slows you down in terms of how fast you can drive.  It slows you down when you try to walk on icy sidewalks.  It slows you down as you take refuge in your home to escape the frosty winds that swirl around.   It was perhaps…

Peace Part Two...Love Part One

For lo, the days are hastening on, by prophets seen of old, when, with the ever circling years, shall come the time foretold, when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, and all the world give back the song which now the angels sing.  It Came upon the Midnight Clear There is an acute awareness of time as people of faith approach the manger.  We are awaken to the reality that it is the final month of the year.  We are alert to our own age, that there was another candle on our birthday cake.  We are aware that no matter how many calendars we receive in the mail or buy...we don't control our time as much as we like to believe.  There is a vulnerability this time of year.  Perhaps that is why we hustle and bustle every where, trying our best to cram life into the dwindling days of the year.  Yet, when we gaze upon God's love dancing in the Christ's eyes as he lay in the manger we confront God's vulnerability.  God who chose downward, rather than upwar…

Peace Part One

And he will be called     Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,     Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6
There is a competition in my mind over which of the first two Advent words: "hope" or "peace" really is more elusive and odd for the church to proclaim in our current world.  On the one hand, hope is fleeting and fading.  The nightly news seems bent on sharing story after story that awaken hopelessness within our hearts.  On the other, peace might as well reside on Pluto for it feels that distant from our world.  There is too much violence and reliance on the military out of fear for us to really embody/live peace.
Part of the Advent paradox is that what the church is proclaiming is the already and not yet.  Hope is here because of God's willingness to slip into skin and walk among us.  We feel peace in moments when we encounter an unceasing grace and unconditional love in hugs of others.  But the reality is that hope and peace are not full time residen…

Hope ~ Take Two

 The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined.  Isaiah 9:2 The first week of Advent is grounded and guided by the single word and light of "Hope".  In the English language we often use the words "hope" and "wish" interchangeably.  As a random example, I hope I get a new ipad for Christmas...oh how I wish my wife reading this blog post would heed my not-so-subtle wish for a new ipad.  See how that works?  Hint...Hint...Hint. Yet, within the life of faith, I think there is a difference between hope and wishes.  It is a difference rooted in what God is doing in our midst right here and now; and what we wish God would do at some future point to conspire/conform to our expectations. I realize this might be splitting syntax hairs or playing with words, but I also think that it matters as we journey to Bethlehem.  What exactly are we expecting when we step inside the stable this ye…


The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:5 The four Sundays prior to Christmas are part of the church season called, "Advent".  It is a time to prepare for the birth of Jesus.  But how exactly do you do that?  What kind of game plan or plotting would you come up with to prepare to welcome Jesus?  Do you need a banner for that?  Maybe a band?  Or is this just some kind of intellectual exercise? During Advent we use words in church like, "awake", "alert" and "aware".  It sounds like we are being hyper-vigilant or overly anxious about all of this.  Especially when we think about all the other items on our to-do list like: shopping, sending cards, making cookies, attending parties, listening to and singing carols.  And that is just what I hope to do this week! Do those activities help you prepare?  Do you dread some of those tasks?  Maybe the company Christmas party causes you to have a pit in your stomach that …