Monthly Archives: December 2019

December 27 – Happy New Year

Our God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home. 

The words are from Isaac Watt’s hymn interpretation of Psalm 90. They have spoken to the hearts of God’s people since the Psalmist first wrote them and for 300 years as English speaking Christians have sung them.

Should the Lord honor our plans, 2020 will be the year I cross the finish line as my 45 years of full-time ministry come to an end.  Becky and are looking forward with eager expectation to the next season of life with our faithful God; he is, indeed, our hope for years to come. The year undoubtedly will bring reflections on his help in years past, as well. Continue reading

December 20 – A Christmas Homecoming: Chaos and Confusion

First, the graphic.  Ornamental cinderblock that reminds me of home.  My family’s 1960s house in suburban Southern California had the stuff all over the place, and it was meant to look modern.  It still reminds me of that house where we lived.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas Eve, and will say more about it in Sunday’s sermon.  Not so much the nativity account in Luke’s gospel, but the ways we remember and celebrate Christmas Eve in the church.  This coming Tuesday may be my last time leading a Christmas Eve worship service.  By rough count I think I may have attended nearly a hundred Christmas Eve services of various sorts and I have led or helped lead around 75 of those services.  That’s a lot of Christmas Eve experience.  I have an idea of who’s going to show up on Tuesday and what to expect from them.

I don’t remember much if anything about Christmas Eve, 1969 – fifty Christmas Eves ago, except that I am pretty sure I went to the worship service at our church with whichever of my brothers and sisters my parents could persuade or coerce to join them, and that I must have been more confused that Christmas Eve than I have been any Christmas Eve since. Continue reading

December 13 – A Squatters’ Christmas

Last evening in our Faith Acts adult class we attempted to answer the provocative question, “Is it time to take Christ out of Christmas?”  We ran out of time, as I knew we would, and I’m not sure we answered the question.  I’m pretty sure no single answer to the question is to be found.

Christmas has always been a problem for Christians.  We talk about the “real meaning” of Christmas and then hurry back to our shopping lists.  We love this season of joy, but then find ourselves irritated by the unreasonable demands of the season.  We want to keep Christ in Christmas, but forget to read our Christmas devotional or find ourselves five days behind in opening the Advent calendar windows.  Everyone knows our wait is for Christmas morning stash much more than for Christmas Eve worship.

At its best our Christmas is schizophrenic, Christian Christmas and Cultural Christmas waging war within and without.  There’s a war on Christmas, some say.  It rages on every front.

Things aren’t looking good on the battlefield. Perhaps we should retreat before we must surrender.  The culture owns Christmas.  We might as well go underground – committing acts of sabotage when we are able, refusing to cooperate with the occupying forces as best we can. Continue reading

December 6 – In Praise of Having Done Nothing

The headline, well, actually the subhead, caught my eye.  The headline read “Pete Buttigieg, Progressive Saint,” and I need not comment on that.  The subhead added, “He hasn’t done a lot, but then neither has your minister.” I think I need to comment on that.

The writer of the column, a guy named Kyle Smith, wanted to make the point that the 37-year old candidate’s rise in recent polls has more to do with his way with words, which can be impressive, than with his accomplishments as mayor of South Bend. The saint part of the headline has to do with the fact that Mayor Buttigieg often refers to his Episcopalian understanding of Christian faith, sometimes irritating his conservative critics. I’ll let the critics have it out on that one.

But why drag me into the argument? And, yeah, I want to take issue with the comparison. Do-nothing politicians are a lot like ministers; do-nothings if there ever were do-nothings. Continue reading