Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weekend Wanderings

After a couple of weeks off, the links post is back. Now is the time to avoid certain roads if you can. You know, the ones that lead to shopping malls. Schools around here have begun their Christmas break, so parents are wondering what they are going to do with this influx of children.

On to the links:

Good post from Daniel Wells.
Kansas Bob also has a good one.
Advent reflection from John Frye.
Which Christmas?
Beautiful Orthodox church buildings.

Zack Hunt says love is a worthless idea.
Saving Christmas?
The character of the King.
How to have an introverted Christmas.

Evidently, running is good.
Bad reasons for choosing a church.
Seven words.
Finding Christ in Christmas.
Weakness and strength.

Don't block the light.
Retiring the lone ranger.
Christians in Iraq prepare for Christmas.
Into the darkest hour.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blast From the Past: All For One, One For All

This was first posted on February 14, 2011.

"All for one, one for all" was the motto of the Three Musketeers. It could very easily be the motto of the church. As a people who follow Jesus Christ, you could say that we are all for One, and that One is for all of us. At least, that's the way it should be. Sometimes though, it seems that the church has become more "all for us."

I think that Jesus had the same idea as Alexandre Dumas when he established his Church, his Body. Scripture records Jesus teaching the importance of our relationships within a community of his followers. In Matthew 5:21-22, he says that treating others with anger or contempt puts us in danger of judgement. In verses 23-24 of the same chapter, Jesus tells us to get our relationships put right before we come to worship him (Hmmm, I wonder how many places would be empty on Sunday mornings if we really believed that). I think it is interesting that in those verses Jesus tells us to go and be reconciled with our brother or sister if they have anything against us. He doesn't put that responsibility on the one who has been offended, and he doesn't tell us to go if we think we are responsible for offending someone. In Matthew 18, Jesus does direct us to go to those who sin, but again, the goal is reconciliation. And, let's face it, almost all of our problems within a community are due to things other than direct sin (although sin can result because of those things).

In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes the church as a body. To me, this chapter contains a perfect picture of what a community of faith is. It's a body. Think about your body. Does your hand deliberately form a fist and hit your nose with it? Of course not! If your hand accidentally moves in a way that causes it to strike your nose and cause it to bleed, does your hand say, "Oh, well. I didn't mean it, so I don't need to do anything." No, your hand is involved in getting tissues and holding them to your nose and trying to stop the bleeding. Every part of the body is important, no matter how small or weak. If any part of the body is hurt, the rest of the body feels that pain. A bad headache can cause the stomach to feel sick. An imbalance in the feet can cause damage to the knees, or a misalignment of the spine. The body is designed by the Creator to function as one, and when it does we see the glory of a great athlete or a prima ballerina.

Christ's body is also designed to function as one. In John 17:11, Jesus asks the Father to make us one, just as he and the Father are one. When the body of Jesus functions as one, we see the glory of grace, the beauty of love, and the Kingdom of God is built up. When that body stubs it's toe, or when a hand accidentally flies up and causes hurt to another part, that damage must be repaired. If it is not, the result is a deformed caricature of a body that is ugly and repulsive. The result is a body that does not bring glory to its Creator.

All for one, one for all. What would things be like if Christ's body on this earth lived by that motto?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Third Sunday of Advent

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

Rejoice! The King has come and he will come again to make all things right. Rejoice!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent

Veiled in darkness Judah lay,
Waiting for the promised day,
While across the shadowy night
Streamed a flood of glorious light,
Heav’nly voices chanting then,
“Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Still the earth in darkness lies.
Up from death’s dark vale arise
Voices of a world in grief,
Prayers of men who seek relief:
Now our darkness pierce again,
“Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Light of light, we humbly pray,
Shine upon Thy world today;
Break the gloom of our dark night,
Fill our souls with love and light,
Send Thy bless├Ęd Word again,
“Peace on earth, good will to men.”

Douglas L. Rights, 1915

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Weekend Wanderings

I'm taking this weekend off from posting. Our daughter is in town and we're spending time with her, our son, and daughter-in-law.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

Mustard Seed Associates has some good material for celebrating Advent, including this post.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Weekend Wanderings

The Christmas weight gain season has begun. I don't have a whole lot of room to talk, as I put on a couple of pounds Thanksgiving Day. Either that or all my clothes shrank. There has been a lot of talk in the news about the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri. The decision was a surprise and a disappointment to many. It is obvious to me that we have a lot to do in the area of race relations, along with a lot of other areas. Too many folks still refuse to see others as fellow human beings, with worth. Some day, in the new creation.

Here are the links:

Lisa Sharon Harper on Ferguson and change.
Philip Yancey on a great divide.
The God who knoweth none.

Gospel gardening.
Karen Spears Zacharias on Ferguson and the media.
So, does it taste better?
Good argument for phys. ed. classes.

Use a paper towel instead.
Part 1 of a three part series on gratitude.
John Frye on prayer.
Andy Gill on silence.

For the art.
Entering the story.
Eric Carpenter on one anothering.
A good ambition.
I have one of these pamphlets. Should I be worried?

This Sunday is the beginning of the Advent season. If you have never taken part in Advent activities, check them out somewhere. You might enjoy them. I've found that it is a good antidote to the craziness that sometimes surrounds the American celebration of Christmas.

Have a blessed week!