Sunday, January 8, 2012 — The Baptism of Our Lord B — Mark 1:4-11
Or suppose we recorded an episode of “CSI” on our DVR. However, when it came time to watch it, we cheated. We watched the last five minutes first, and then went back and watched the entire episode from the beginning. In both cases, we would literally have changed the story. It would no longer be a “Who Dun It?” because now we would know from the beginning who was the murderer and how the story would end. You would experience the story in a new way. We would have a new story.
→ Continue reading The Last Chapter First
Sunday, December 25, 2011 — Christmas Day — John 1:1-14
Any teacher who is worth his salt knows that he just cannot speak in vague generalities and abstractions to his students. Regardless of how true his teaching might be, he must “PUT SOME FLESH ON IT.” I contend with this problem every time I teach, especially with youth. I must communicate the great doctrines of the Christian Faith, such grand and abstract ideas as sin, grace and salvation, in such way that they understand them. If they do not become flesh in concrete examples or ordinary life, I will lose them to the daydreams of boredom or the chaos of nervous energy.
→ Continue reading God in the Flesh
Saturday, December 24, 2011 — Christmas Eve — Luke 2:1-20
It does not take much for me these days to become an Ebenezer Scrooge about Christmas: “Bah! Humbug!” I feel that way not because I don’t like Christmas but because I dislike what Christmas has become. The materialism, the frenzied excess, the self-indulgence, the Santa without Jesus, and the holiday that seems to have become just another excuse for a party, have become just too much. However, just when I am ready to give up on Christmas, I have second thoughts. I begin to see that maybe things are a whole lot different from what they appear to be. Maybe our culture’s frenzied celebration of Christmas is just the opposite of what it appears to be. Maybe what we see around us is not Christ being driven out of Christmas but Christ’s continuing power among us and his refusal to let this world slip away from his love and into the quagmire of its own self-indulgence.
→ Continue reading Exchanging Gifts
Sunday, December 11, 2011 — Advent 3 B — Luke 1:46-55
I love to sing. That is why the long recovery from my recent vocal cord surgery has so taxed my patience. I have not been able to sing for months. There are times and occasions in our lives when nothing less than a song will do. We cannot imagine having a birthday party without singing “Happy Birthday.” We sing songs on anniversaries. There is nothing like singing the school song at an athletic contest. I have been to rock concerts when the whole audience spontaneously sings along with the performers. We would not think of having Christmas without Christmas carols.
→ Continue reading Let’s Sing!
Sunday, December 4, 2011 — Advent 2 B — Isaiah 40:1-11
One of the greatest pieces of music ever written, The Messiah by Georg Friedrich Handel, opens by quoting words from today's first reading from the prophet Isaiah, "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people . . . the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." The prophet first spoke these words to Israel in exile in Babylon. The prophet insists that even in the midst of their misery, God has not abandoned them. Like a huge bull-dozer, God will level the mountains, fill in the valleys and build a highway through the wilderness so that Israel can return home.
→ Continue reading Returning
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