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Holy Family Values

Luke 2:41-52
First Sunday after Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family

I once lost my younger son in a department store.

He was a toddler, chubby and unwieldy on his feet but, man, did he disappear in a flash. For the two or three minutes it took to find him (an eternity in such situations), my heart was in my throat. The dread was as unbearable as the relief was palpable when I finally found his impish, grinning self.

This weekend offers something of a holiday smorgasbord liturgically: the First Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, the Commemoration of St. Stephen, and the Feast of the Holy Family. There is a wide array of readings and alternate readings, too.

For churches using the text from St. Luke’s gospel, we’ll hear that the infant Jesus is now twelve years old and has gone missing in Jerusalem. Despite the decorous prose (“your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety”), we can imagine the unbearable dread and palpable relief when, after three days (not three minutes), his parents find him safe and sound.  Read more

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A Multitude of Ruptures

The post for the 4th Sunday in Advent is Jim McCoy’s post from 2012.

The word “preachy” has never been a complimentary term, even less so these days. The ministers rightly highlighted in the national news who have been doing their vital and admirable work are described as “compassionate, not preachy.” Those of us who not only have to preach but believe we should preach have been faced with how in God’s name do we preach the last two Sundays of Advent 2012, and how to do so in such a way in which compassion and preaching are not pitted against each other.

Read More…

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Season of Anxiety

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

One of the high-water marks of 20th century culture, an event that I revisit every year, is the 1965 television special A Charlie Brown Christmas. The fact that it continues to air fifty years after its premiere lets me know that I’m not alone in this assessment. And while the conclusion, when Linus strides onto the stage to remind Charlie Brown and all those gathered in the school gym “What Christmas is really all about,” might be the most rousing part of the short film, the opening scenes also speak in a pretty powerful way to the human condition. Read more

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Waiting in a Violent Time

It has not been a peaceful Advent. The news of the past several weeks has been filled with guns, violence, death, and fear. What might we be required to surrender as we wait for the Lord? Who needs to change? Here are two reflections that use this Sunday’s Advent lectionary readings as a starting place: one by Matt Morin, and the other from Fritz Bauerschmidt.

Am I Right or am I Wrong?


In this video, EP endorser Tim Otto discusses his book, Oriented to Faith, and ideas for how the church might move forward even when it seems unable to overcome serious conflict. From the Wipf and Stock page:

Rather than embracing the conflict around gay relationships as an opportunity for the church to talk honestly about human sexuality, Christians continue to hurt one another with the same tired arguments that divide us along predictable political battle lines. If the world is to “know that we are Christians by our love,” the church needs to discover better ways to live out the deep unity we share in Christ as we engage with politics and our world.

In Oriented to Faith, Tim Otto tells the story of his struggle with being gay and what that taught him about the gospel. With an authentic and compelling personal voice, Tim invites us to explore how God is at work in the world, even amidst the most difficult circumstances, redeeming and transforming the church through this difficult debate. With gentle wisdom and compassionate insight, Tim invites all followers of Jesus to consider how we might work with God through these tensions so that all can be transformed by God’s good news in and through Christ.

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Make Peace

Second Sunday of Advent

Luke 1:68-79
Luke 3:1-6

I’d bet that many of you, like me, keep a to-do list or three to prepare for the Christmas season. It’s busy, with priority to any of the following in a given week: light stringing, card sending, cookie baking, tree decorating, gift shopping/wrapping/exchanging, party hosting, open house attending, feasting with friends/family/colleagues. There might even be a few extra church services on the calendar and a parade or two.

In the second week of our liturgical season of preparation (Advent), Luke gives us opportunity to consider who we prepare for and the implications for Christians located in a consumer capitalist, xenophobic, racist, increasingly oligarchic 21st-century nation-state that glorifies violence (have you sung the National Anthem lately?).

Zechariah, priest and prophet, proclaims that his son, John, is Jesus’ opening act. He’ll “go before the Lord to prepare his ways,” i.e. forgiveness, mercy, light, and peace. (1:76-79)

Peace. It’s a welcome word for a world rife with violence, fear, oppression, terror. The global catalogue of injustice and brutality is lamentable and long and lengthening. You no doubt can add to it examples from your own community, household, or congregation. Read more

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A Dangerous Prayer

You may have heard of the decision by a film distributor in the UK not to screen a short video featuring the Lord’s Prayer before the new Star Wars movie this December because some viewers may find it offensive. You may have also heard how this business decision has been received. You may not have heard from the Anglican Bishop of Sheffield, who considers why the powers and principalities have good reason take offense. Perhaps it’s a worthy reminder of the subversiveness inherent in faithfully observing the season of Advent.

Women and children among Syrian refugees striking at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station. Refugee crisis. Budapest, Hungary, Central Europe, 4 September 2015.

Strangers and Aliens

In the wake of the Paris attacks last week, a majority of US governors have stated they will not permit the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their respective states. Several 2016 presidential hopefuls propose barring all Syrian immigrants or selectively admitting only Christian refugees.

It may seem odd that descendants of immigrants and refugees should so forcefully oppose welcoming immigrants and refugees, but here, too, there is nothing new under the sun. Read more

Christ the King

Reign of Christ

For the last Sunday in ordinary time, we have two posts from the archive.

In 2012, the last time through the cycle, Janice Love wrote

It is possible to not be afraid because we as confessing Christians have been made aware of one of God’s great gifts: a telos – an end, God’s intended end.

You can read her post here.

Doug Lee, in his 2009 entry, wrote

Instead of assuming that we can do what is ultimate, what if we gave ourselves to embracing the basic, the flawed, and the provisional as the way forward?

You can read his post here.