Advent Already?? (Original Post 11/23/2010)

Advent side barIt is hard to believe that Advent is upon us. The name Advent is derived from the Latin term Adventus meaning “coming”. The season of Advent in the church is intended to help the believer become filled with expectancy as we wait for the coming of Christ. As a believer we are called to use this time to rekindle our faith in the promises that arrive at Christmas and to prepare for the coming of Christ.

I’m sure that you’re expecting the usual, “turn from the secular Christmas,” Advent reflection. I have challenged myself this year to try and have a more peaceable understanding of modern Christmas traditions and even try to have a better relationship with Santa. This isn’t because I am willing to surrender to the cultural pressures, but instead I thought this year I would see if I could bring more meaning to our traditions. Continue reading

Responding to Tragedy… O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (God IS With US!)

     This past week has been a hard one for our country and the world.  While violence is ever present in our lives and we see daily reminders of how shockingly horrible we can treat each other, the events of Friday in Newtown shone a spotlight on just how deep our sin has cut us.  In the aftermath of these tragic killings and many like it, there is always an over abundance of talking heads who seek to use the death of others to advance their positions.  “Gun control” advocates come on and talk about how new laws would  may have prevented this event.  “Gun rights” advocates are on the other side of the split screen talking about how if the teachers had guns they could have stopped the gunman. 

     I agree that in the midst of this tragedy there is a calling to have deep conversations about guns, violence and the mental health system.  Some of my colleagues have chosen this time as that time.  Roy Howard, Pastor of St. Marks Presbyterian in North Bethesda, Maryland for one, made an impassioned response and a call to action against violence and calling for more Gun Control.  Please email me and I can pass along his Facebook post of what he said to his congregation.  Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has chosen to use this situation to draw attention to his beliefs about abortion and homosexuality.  For many Pastors, their judgment led them to use this event as a springboard for what they hope will be meaningful discussions about deep issues.

     I had more than one parishioner say to me prior to Sunday’s service, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes today.”  Continue reading

Practicing What I Preach or Do As I Say Not As I Do?

     Practice what you preach is one of those sayings that is easy to throw around, unless you’re a preacher.  As one who consistently is called to stand before the assembled congregation and proclaim God’s Word, it can be a daunting task.  Not only does it mean that I have to make sure that I am being true to the sacred Biblical text, but I also must ensure that I am a creditable witness to the text.  This isn’t always easy.  The news has many accounts of preachers who subscribe to “the do as I say not as I do” school of thought. 

      I remember when I was a Chaplain Candidate with the Navy and I was taught this very important lesson.  Each summer I would spend time with sailors onboard a ship or other installation.  The first summer I was stationed aboard the USS Anzio.  The Anzio is a guided missile cruiser. For those of you not versed in Naval architecture, a cruiser is not a large ship.  At only 567 feet long and 55 feet wide, this means that the crew live in close quarters.  A crew of 367 people share every space and find themselves in almost constant contact with others.  This context helped to heighten my awareness of just how important it is to be of a consistent character and to ensure that I am practicing as well as preaching.  You can’t be a fake with people when you share a bathroom.  Continue reading

Following The Star Online Devotional Starts this Sunday December 2nd

The Following The Star  Devotional is  a daily online devotional with readings and soft music to help each day of Advent hold a special spiritaul meaning.  Click the logo to be take to the page.  (The Following The Star devotional doesn’t start until December 2nd, the first day of Advent.) 

Click the logo to be taken to the Following the Start online devotional

 

“For Crying Out Loud!”

Once again our liturgical year has come full circle as we enter another Advent.  It almost seems unreal that it was a year ago that we were preparing for the coming of the New Born King with our readings, studies and songs.  Yet here we are, ready to embark once again on a journey to the manger.  The prophet Isaiah has some very profound words to describe what we should be doing during Advent.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Continue reading

Antcipation and God’s Strange Way of Salvation

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Today, invite you to reflect on the reality of what we are anticipating this week as our Advent journey winds it’s way to the manger.

Here is how Paul speaks to the Romans about reality of expectation and the pain that gives way to joy:

“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”

Romans 8:22-25 from The Message