Showing posts from November, 2015

Advent 2015, December 1

Christianity is pro-life to the core.The first holiday is about a birth, the second about a resurrection.
Pope John Paul coined the phrase “culture of death.”To be cross-cultural is to be pro-life, in every stage.
We can be pro-life at all times and in all stages of life, and especially at Advent, which is the celebration of a coming birth that shouldn’t have been from all human perspectives.
This week being pro-life will be conflated in the media with being a crazy person who comes out of the woods and holds hostages in Colorado.  Don't fall for it.  Being pro-life  is to be pro-people. 

Advent Day 2, November 30

The following is "borrowed" from the Breakpoint website, which is, as most know, affiliated with the Prison Fellowship ministries.  It’s been a rough few weeks. It seems virtually all of the news is bad. Whether it’s ISIS, Boko Haram, the refugee crisis, or, here at home, the troubling trends in American culture, depression, if not outright despair, seems like a reasonable response.Thankfully, God has provided a remedy for this temptation, and it’s as close as your nearest Church calendar. I’m speaking of Advent, which begins this Sunday.Relatively few Americans, including many Christians, understand what Advent is really about. Here’s a hint, it’s more than just a countdown to Christmas.For nearly two millennia, Advent has been the season in which Christians reflect on the bookends of God’s redemptive acts in Christ: His Incarnation and His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.These bookends are arguably best described in the hymns associated …

Advent Begins, November 29

--> O Come O Come Emmanuel
And ransom captured Israel.
Who mourns in lonely exile here.
Until the Son of God appears.Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I am not without darkness of doubt right now because of the seeming randomness of evil.The young pastor’s wife murdered by burglars in Indiana.How is that so different from slaughtering of Christians and others in Middle Eastern countries where ISIS is pervading?I have to ask, Where was God in both those cases?While I proclaim the gospel and superiority of the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), in the back of my heart I wonder why we have to answer those questions.

Advent is seen as a time of celebration, not mourning, but is it possible to separate them so definitely?The song quoted above does not seem to think so.  It goes on (only two of the remaining verses are quoted here).

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's…

Star Wars Trailer, 1977

This is amazing, and has nothing to do with Advent.  But my son is all excited about the new Star Wars movie, and I found this wasting time on the Internet.

Observation on recent Obama statement

Apparently the president has likened the Syrian refugees to the pilgrims.

Of course, everything is politics with him, and he doesn't let the facts confuse him.  I don't think his timing is so great, but I'm generally go going to give him a pass on this.  Those folks have actually gone through worse, in some ways, than the pilgrims ever thought about going through.  Anglican England wasn't kind to dissenters, but usually didn't behead them. 

The difference, of course, is that the pilgrims came to a wilderness to struggle while the refugees are coming to the most affluent country on earth and will benefit from government programs (that some citizens don't get to benefit from).  But the native Americans of the time were probably more welcoming (thanks to Squanto, who had been educated in England--it's a great story) than some of the people here will be to the Syrians.  On the other hand, there probably weren't any jihadists hiding in the bunch who came in …

Advent 2015

I have developed the practice over the last few years of posting daily to this blog during Advent. Christmas and I have a love-hate relationship.I love its spiritual meaning but struggle with the stresses of finishing up the semester and a sense of darkness around that underlies all the glitz.Shopping gives me a palpable emotion of hopelessness, that we are trying to fill a void with holiday trappings but the void gets bigger the more we try and with every passing year.I realize some of that is the lack of sunshine and childhood memories and the materialism.
So I realized a while back that the only way to combat this semi-despair is to celebrate Advent rather than Christmas.So I will start that Sunday, and hope you will join me and share these and post to your blogs, feeds, etc.

Another Poetry Meets Hymnody Meets Worship

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

 In order to comply with copyright, I won't put the rest, but the lyrics are here.  I thought this was an old hymn but it's actually quite new, so bravo to Stuart Townend.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss -
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;

When Poetry Meets Hymnody Meets Worship

These are the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns.  The music is beautiful, too, but perhaps a little slow and mournful for today's crowd.  The writer, George Matheson, penned it, I am told, when his fiancee abandoned him after he learned he was going blind.   O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that foll’west all my way,
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

When to End Your Writing

"Picasso once said that a work of art is finished not when there's nothing more you can add, but nothing more you can take away." (from an article on reality TV script writing)

This reminds me of the probably apocryphal story about Michelangelo saying that sculpting was removing all the pieces of stone that didn't belong.

Study of Galatians 6:1-10

Instead of looking at all three passages in the book this week I am just going to look at the first one, Galatians 6:1-10, because I realized it is really a core passage about service to the church, the community, and the world.
Let me start with this video that I think wraps up what this passage is talking about.

August: Osage County

One of the great things about NetFlix is that you can see some cool stuff.  One of the not-so-great things is that you can see some not so cool stuff.

I haven't totally decided if the movie in the title of this post is in the first group or the second, although I pretty much lean to the second.  The "that's two hours of my life I'll never get back" remark is the first to come to my mind.  The second is, "Why would you make a movie like that and expect people to pay good money to watch a dysfunctional family being hateful to each other?"  The third is, "What was the point of that?  To make you feel good about your own dysfunctional family?"  It was pretty tragic along with being vile and depressing.  I would say the acting was good but I wonder if that's because there were big stars in it and we are supposed to think their acting is good or if it really was.

However, all that said--it sticks with you.