Daily Archives: December 30, 2015

William Willimon for Christmas 2015: From a God We Hardly Knew

It’s tough to be on the receiving end of love, God’s or anybody else’s. It requires that we see our lives not as our possessions, but as gifts. “Nothing is more repugnant to capable, reasonable people than grace,” wrote John Wesley a long time ago.

Among the most familiar Christmas texts is the one in Isaiah: “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (7:14) Less familiar is its context: Isaiah has been pleading with King Ahaz to put his trust in God’s promise to Israel rather than in alliances with strong military powers like Syria. “If you will not believe, you shall not be established,” Isaiah warns Ahaz (7:9). Then the prophet tells the fearful king that God is going to give him a baby as a sign. A baby. Isn’t that just like God, Ahaz must have thought. What Ahaz needed, with Assyria breathing down his neck, was a good army, not a baby.

This is often the way God loves us: with gifts we thought we didn’t need, which transform us into people we don’t necessarily want to be. With our advanced degrees, armies, government programs, material comforts and self-fulfillment techniques, we assume that religion is about giving a little, of our power in order to confirm to ourselves that we are indeed as self-sufficient as we claim.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

(WSJ) The Technology That Will Change Your Life in 2016

Entering 2016, the future never felt more within reach.

Science fiction will become science fact this year when you take virtual-reality vacations and your dishwasher reorders its own soap. Are you ready for a drone that follows you around like paparazzi?

When we gazed ahead at the devices, breakthroughs and ideas most likely to make waves, two themes emerged. One is liberation: We’re increasingly less shackled, be it to a phone charger or a cable subscription. The other is intelligence: As processing power and bandwidth increase, our machines, services and even messaging apps become more capable.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

Year in Review: Barna’s Top 10 Findings in 2015

With the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, a jump in concerns about religious freedom and an overall secularization of Americans’ views, 2015 was a year of increasing anxiety among people of faith. Barna conducts tens of thousands of interviews every year, and we’ve compiled our top 10 findings and trends from a vast array of research conducted in the past 12 months….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(FT) Gideon Rachman–Battered, bruised and jumpy ”” the whole world is on edge

In 2015, a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s major power centres. From Beijing to Washington, Berlin to Brasília, Moscow to Tokyo ”” governments, media and citizens were jumpy and embattled.

This kind of globalised anxiety is unusual. For the past 30 years and more, there has been at least one world power that was bullishly optimistic. In the late 1980s the Japanese were still enjoying a decades-long boom ”” and confidently buying up assets all over the world. In the 1990s America basked in victory in the cold war and a long economic expansion. In the early 2000s the EU was in a buoyant mood, launching a single currency and nearly doubling its membership. And for most of the past decade, the growing political and economic power of China has inspired respect all over the world.

Yet at the moment all the big players seem uncertain ”” even fearful. The only partial exception that I came across this year was India, where the business and political elite still seemed buoyed by the reformist zeal of prime minister Narendra Modi.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Terrorism, Theology

The Archbp of Sydney Glenn Davies on Christmas–The light of Jesus overcomes darkness

“This year, the world we live in has been overshadowed by darkness. We are appalled at the dark acts committed in Paris, Beirut, San Bernardino and elsewhere.” Dr Davies said. “We long for light to dispel the darkness. Yet that is exactly the message of Christmas, when God’s light shone into the world and the darkness did not overcome it.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

More Music for Christmas 2015: Carol of the Bells (for 12 cellos) – ThePianoGuys

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Music

A Good Christmas Reminder: A bit of George Lindbeck's review of the Myth of God Incarnate (1977)

“The purpose of religious language”¦is to evoke an attitude…”

You may need to enlarge the page to see it better; I sure did; KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

(TGC) Jeff Robinson–5 Reasons to Read the Entire Bible in 2016

I vividly recall two conversations with pastors shortly after I surrendered to pastoral ministry in the late-1990s. The conversations were pivotal because in them I was exposed to two divergent approaches to ministry, and the Lord used them to convince me that I must saturate my mind with Scripture.

In one conversation I asked a longtime pastor how many times he’d read the Bible in its entirety from Genesis to Revelation. “Never, but I hope to someday,” he replied. I was stunned. I thought, “Then how do you know what you believe?”

Soon after I encountered another longtime shepherd of God’s sheep, a man who retired a few years ago as pastor of my home church in Georgia. I posed the same question, but got a very different answer: “I try to read through the Bible every year. After all, I’ve given my life to teaching and preaching God’s Word, so I had better know it to the highest degree a man can know it.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Peter Kreeft on the Meaning of Christmas

Let’s apply the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world ”” but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

Christmas is so familiar that we sometimes wonder whether anything fresh and true can be said about it.

But there is a way to explore its meaning that may seem new to us today, yet is in fact quite traditional, dating back to the Middle Ages and the ancient Fathers of the Church.
Modern interpreters often argue about whether a given Scripture passage should be interpreted literally or symbolically. Medieval writers would question the “either/or” approach. They thought a passage could have as many as four “right” interpretations, one literal and three symbolic.

These were: (1) the historical or literal, which is the primary sense on which the others all depend; (2) the prophetic sense when an Old Testament event foreshadows its New Testament fulfillment; (3) the moral or spiritual sense, when events and characters in a story correspond to elements in our own lives; and (4) the eschatological sense, when a scene on earth foreshadows something of heavenly glory.

This symbolism is legitimate because it doesn’t detract from the historical, literal sense, but builds on and expands it. It’s based on the theologically sound premise that history too symbolizes, or points beyond itself, for God wrote three books, not just one: nature and history as well as Scripture. The story of history is composed not only of “events,” but of words, signs and symbols. This is unfamiliar to us only because we have lost a sense of depth and exchanged it for a flat, one-dimensional, “bottom-line” mentality in which everything means only one thing.

Let’s try to recapture the riches of this lost worldview by applying the spiritual sense of the Christmas story to our lives. For that story happens not only once, in history, but also many times in each individual’s soul. Christ comes to the world ”” but He also comes to each of us. Advent happens over and over again.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

Holy Child

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.
My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep,
I too must sing, with joyful tongue,
That sweetest ancient cradle song,
Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto man His Son hath given
While angels sing with pious mirth.
A glad new year to all the earth.

–Martin Luther

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frances Joseph-Gaudet

Merciful God, who didst raise up thy servant Frances Joseph-Gaudet to work for prison reform and the education of her people: Grant that we, encouraged by the example of her life, may work for those who are denied the fullness of life by reasons of incarceration and lack of access to education ; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the Day from H. Bisseker

O God, who as at this time didst send thy Son to be the Saviour of the world, teach us to thank thee for thine unspeakable gift. Help us to hate the evil that he came to destroy, and to receive the eternal life that he lived and died to bestow; that so we may love thee with all our power and may serve our day and generation according to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

I John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Per”²gamum and to Thyati”²ra and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to La-odice”²a.”
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden girdle round his breast; his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand upon me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Now write what you see, what is and what is to take place hereafter. As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

–Revelation 1:9-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Billy Graham reminds Christians: Don't forget Jesus Christ after Christmas

It is all well and good for people to remember Jesus Christ during Christmas to celebrate His birth.

However, American evangelist Billy Graham believes it is very important to honour the Saviour not just once a year but every day throughout the year.

“Just as we celebrate our children’s birthdays every year, I believe it’s entirely appropriate for us to celebrate the birth of God’s own son, Jesus Christ, every year. Why not join every year with the shepherds on that first Christmas, ‘glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen’ (Luke 2:20)?” he writes on his advice column for the Kansas City Star.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

The Gloucester Cathedral Choir sings In the Bleak Midwinter

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship