Twas the Long, Dark Night Before Christmas // A Devotional for the Fourth Week of Advent, 2016

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“Because of the tender mercy of our God,

by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven

to shine on those living in darkness

and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

— Luke 1:78-79

Mary and Joseph walked for days and miles from their home in Nazareth to the town of Bethlehem.

They walked for 70-90 miles and for 4-7 days depending on who you ask.

Why?  Well, Luke tells us it was because the Emperor told them to.

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One of our favorite traditions is to put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It’s a tree that has been in my family for THIRTY YEARS and the ornaments span from the childhoods of my wife’s and mine all the way up to our own children’s ornaments.  All that to say that putting the tree up means something to us.  It’s an event chocked full of tradition and memories and each year we attempt to create an experience worthy of such an occasion! Continue reading

Dylan’s Advent // The Times They Are A Changin’

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Advent is a time of sitting and waiting, but also for anticipation and preparation.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that our preparation for the coming of God’s great gift is about preparing ourselves, and the world around us, for the change that will take place before our very eyes.  To some, this change will be redemptive – and for others, condemnation.

A prophetic singer-songwriter in our own era heralded similar words.  Bob Dylan, though his singing ability is questionable, has often been spot on with his message:

For the loser now / Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’…

The line it is drawn / And the curse it is cast

The slow one now / Will later be fast

As the present now / Will later be past

The order is / Rapidly fading’ / And the first one now / Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’

One can undoubtedly hear echoes of the Gospel in nearly every line of Dylan’s prophetic tale.  What we often miss, however, is that the heart of the Gospel is beating to the rhythm of Israel’s ancient prophets – especially Isaiah.  What John prepares the people for (remember, Isaiah 40?) is the coming fulfillment of God’s desire for justice.  The Gospels, then, illustrate in various ways how this will come about, but this one thing is clear:

Some will benefit from this coming justice more than others. Continue reading

How (Will This Be)? // A Devotional for the Third Week of Advent, 2016

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I love Christmas!

I love the trees, the lights, the presents.  I love the all the variety of nativity scenes, carols about the coming of Christ, and the profound attempts to discover joy this time of year.

I need you to know that before you read what comes next.

But (you knew it was coming didn’t you?) I’m afraid we’re missing quite a bit of what’s going on this time of year in the original Christmas Story.

One of the things our modern version of the “Christmas Story” misses out on is the uncertainty of the whole enterprise. Continue reading

Waiting on God // A Devotional for the Second Week of Advent, 2016

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3 Things You Can Do While Waiting on God

Kids are so impatient!  Well, at least mine are.

Maybe yours have learned from an early age to sit quietly and wait with hands folded for a response from you – never interrupting conversations between you and another or pulling on your sleeve while you’re responding to a text.

Not only are they impatient, but they are also insistent I acknowledge every time they ask a question or tell me something.  Dad, she won’t leave me alone.  Dad, did you hear me?  Dad, did you hear me?  Dad. Dad. DAD! Continue reading

An Unexpected Gift // A Devotional for the 1st week of Advent, 2016

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Have you ever gotten a Christmas gift that you didn’t necessarily expect? Or maybe one you didn’t even appreciate?

Socks & Underwear, anyone?

I could tell you about the times this has happened to me, but my family might be reading this!  So, instead I’ll tell you about a time it happened to one of my family member! Continue reading

REPOST Advent: Week 1 // Sitting & Waiting

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The bus driver called for the police. She did not move, but instead sat and waited. She did not invoke violence, neither in word nor in deed. Instead, she sat and she waited – sixty years ago on this very day.

Rosa Parks would not have to sit and wait for long, though; the police were on their way. When they arrived, they arrested her and took her to prison – not for sitting in the “white” section of the bus as some have mistakenly supposed – she was not a lawbreaker after all. No, the arrest was made because she refused to move back even further than required by law after the white’s only section of the bus became so full that white passengers were forced to stand. At this point, the bus driver came to the first row in the back section reserved for “colored” passengers and demanded that Parks, and three others, move back. The others moved. Rosa Parks sat and waited.  Continue reading