1. Christmas music, Advent words
I entered parish ministry with a fair amount of idealism, particularly liturgical idealism. Inconveniently, the liturgical proclivities I picked up in seminary were not especially popular with my first congregation.
This became clear as a sleigh bell during our first Advent season together. I showed up on the first Sunday of Advent with a sermon manuscript on an eschatological text. I referenced the disparate ways the culture and the church prepare for Christmas—the culture jumping right into the fray with garish decorations and bald consumerism, the church solemnly observing a season of waiting and preparation.
...continue reading at The Christian Century.
2. Uncomfortably Faithful to the Resurrection: a Feature Review of Katherine Paterson's A Stubborn Sweetness
If you should ever happen to find yourself magically transported into a Katherine Paterson’s A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season, I have some very important advice for you: pick up the hitchhiker. It’s true that not every pedestrian making his or her way through a bone cold Christmas Eve night is actually an angel in disguise. One such lonely figure actually pulled a gun – okay, a fake gun – on the kindly gentleman who stopped to help her (see the title tale). But even on those rare occasions when the stranger does not mean well, there will inevitably be a Really Important Lesson hidden in his or her back pocket (along with the phoney weapons, apparently).
3. The Person Playing Alongside MeI played trombone for eight years, from fifth through twelfth grades. I was okay, I guess. I would have been better if I ever practiced, but thankfully the genes I inherited from my father, a professional musician, carried me through. This is the odd part: I didn’t especially like playing the trombone, but I loved playing the trombone. When I say I didn’t especially like playing, I mean the actual playing. But when I say I loved playing the trombone, I mean the people.