The Hound of Heaven

A young woman once complained, “I get so angry with my husband’s friends!” Why? Because her husband – like her, a newcomer to Christianity – often had non-Christian friends over to watch a ballgame. And during the festivities, a couple of the visiting bros always liked to grab the couple’s Bible from the coffee table,Continue reading “The Hound of Heaven”

Church Is Hard

Most holiday decorations now repose in attics, closets, and basements – yet another season of Yuletide work lingering in savory, still-warm memory. But even without December’s seasonal trappings, the stories of Christmas retain their allure – like bright, red bows still tied atop the already-splendid gift of Christ’s birth. And inside that glittering package clashesContinue reading “Church Is Hard”

Christmas Mourning

Across the 11 years that I’ve served as your pastor, the Christmas season has wrought a couple frustrating mishaps in ministry. Along about 2015 came the Great Glitter Debacle. Sparkling bits of tiny glitter were key ingredients in a faith-formation craft project set up for the church youth, and our Fellowship Hall would serve asContinue reading “Christmas Mourning”

A Letter from Bethlehem

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this,Continue reading “A Letter from Bethlehem”

His Name is Key of David

A high-school chum somehow or other landed an after-school job as a custodian at our school. Now, it goes without saying that his part-time gig came with some very unpleasant duties, mostly involving lunchrooms, bathrooms, and locker rooms. But the job did come with what I thought were some very cool perks – like havingContinue reading “His Name is Key of David”

His Name Is Rod of Jesse

Of the many names for Jesus, the one you very-rarely-if-ever call on is “Rod of Jesse.” Yet, there it is – perched awkwardly atop a stanza of a familiar Advent carol: Rod of Jesse. “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free thine own from Satan’s tyranny.” We lift up the unusual name “Rod of Jesse,”Continue reading “His Name Is Rod of Jesse”

His Name is Desire of Nations

Advent sings of Emmanuel: God With Us, the very Son of God in our very midst, Jesus. As early-winter skies croon with reds, pinks, blues, and purples, Advent further carols the Dayspring, the morning dawn of daily mercies potent and fertile with the fresh possibilities of heaven. This morning, lyrics of Advent chant another nameContinue reading “His Name is Desire of Nations”

His Name Is Dayspring

In his salad days, Croatian theologian Miroslav Volf served as a draftee in the Yugoslavian army. But his hitch brought him no honor. Mr. Volf mustered in with two strikes against him already on the board: He was married to American; worse yet, he was a Christian. Thus, the communist army suspected him a traitor,Continue reading “His Name Is Dayspring”

His Name Is Son of God

Jesus. Immanuel. Immanuel. Jesus. You cannot speak of one without invoking the other. Jesus equals Immanuel. Immanuel equals God with us. Thus, Jesus equals God with Us. Your middle school algebra teacher was correct: A=B, and B=C, therefore A=C. Indeed, the math adds up: Amid profound brokenness and paralyzing fear, you can count on God’sContinue reading “His Name Is Son of God”

His Name is Immanuel

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign – daily living is full of signs. Two black digits painted on white, metal rectangle display a highway’s legal speed limit. A pair of arches signals the availability of fast food ahead. And hopefully you’re not too hungry, because bold lettering on an orange diamond shape warns of road workContinue reading “His Name is Immanuel”