Three Elsewhere Posts

I had a spate of deadlines recently, which means that now I have a spate of publications. (The thrill of writing stuff people read never gets old.)

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 Me
I 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.

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