December 2009


What a way to welcome in the new year.

By far the most memorable new year’s eve celebration my wife and I ever participated in was in the 80’s in the interior of the State of Sao Paulo, Brasil. There is simply no better way to experience the first moments of the new year than to be on your knees in the presence of God and His people.

So here is my New Year’s eve prayer -for myself and all those I love in this world, and for all of you that stop by to read the e4Unity blog: sung by a congregation in Wales. May the Redeemer Himself guide your every step throughout 2010.

The Book of Revelation, chapter 21

” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

…And Christians in the middle east.

This Christmas we in the West are focused on the East as never before. Our son David is deployed along with hundreds of thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. But have we neglected to keep our fellow Christians in those lands in our hearts and in our prayers. For a reminder in Arabic to pray for the world-wide Body of Christ and with great humility, I present this Christmas card on Christmas Day 2009.

Dedicated to the faithful in Christ in Iran.

I was thinking of all the ways I could send a Christmas message to all e4unity blog friends and not finding anything that seemed to be just the right one for this year. Then my always resourceful wife suggested I look at the web-site of one of our favorite musicians (he happens to be the best selling Catholic recording artist)- John Michael Talbot.

I think it is time for we Christians to become less defensive and sensitive about so much that is said in the public square and learn to communicate using the world’s categories and thought structures. Here is one of the greatest examples- willingness to admit that the great Biblical narrative fits into the literary genre of “MYTH”. John Michael’s essay perfectly addresses so many issues I have wished I could blog about myself, I’ll give you a sample and hope you will really want to read more.

Merry Christmas to all

“Some of us think that a “myth” is a story that is untrue, or a mere fantasy. But that is not really correct. A myth is a usually story that tells and symbolizes a deep and profound truth. But it often is, and can be rooted in a true story. That is what Christians believe about Jesus. Jesus IS the sacred Story of stories, the Word of words. For us He is the Myth of myths, and the Truth of truths.

What is so special about the Jesus myth? We believe that in Jesus divinity assumed humanity so that we might share in divinity again. We also believe that death is conquered through His dying, and confirmed in His rising. In Jesus God is found in humanity, the Word in silence, glory in humility. These are paradoxes beyond mere human logic that speak a deeper truth that every human heart longs for. The fullness of the human yearning is complemented and completed in Him in a way that is most perfect. Jesus is the fullness of the Mystery of mysteries and the Paradox of all the paradoxes spoken of in the mystical traditions of all the great religions of the world. He is practical human balance and divine mystery all in one life, in one divine action. He is the Perfect Word in a way beyond words. This is the Mystery of Jesus.”

Read MORE

What we hear in the west at this time of year in the most public of places, is some of the greatest music the Christian tradition has produced and loved to present at Christmas. It just may be outside the Scriptures themselves, the most public confession of Christianity- of what is at the very core, for all to hear and see regardless if they consider themselves to be Christians or not. If anyone asks what Christianity is or what it means, the classic carols of Christmas present music filled with the Christian gospel. Perhaps the standard of all time is Handel’s Messiah which is built on the libretto provided Handel by Charles Jennings and is all Holy Scripture. The only interpretation is in the selection of the Scriptures and the order they are placed in to tell the Christian myth as well as it has ever been told outside the Bible itself. Oh, there is also a great deal of interpretation going on by Handel himself in the character of the music which he assigns to each Scripture.

Men’s Basketball back on top at UK.

Thanks for a great Christmas present, Big Blue!

Third Sunday of Advent.  

(Lectionary readings only)     

While joyous expectation has been a motif in the epistle lesson every week so far, all of this week’s readings include that motif in one way or another. The Latin name of the Sunday, “Gaudete Sunday,” comes from the beginning of the reading from Philippians in this lectionary year — “Rejoice!” This text, and the association of the readings with joy, marks the reason some traditions have marked this Sunday with pink or rose colored paraments, vestments and a candle in the Advent wreath (though that’s a much later tradition) rather than purple or blue.  

Zephaniah 3: 14-20: The prophet leads the singing of a new and almost raucously joyful psalm of thanksgiving. God has delivered the people from exile, will protect them from present and future enemies, and promises to make the name of this people renowned and praised everywhere on earth. That’s something to sing and shout about!

How will you help your congregation experience the “raucous joy” of this reading in worship today? Is reading it enough? Or might you be called to use it as a kind of launching pad for praise? How will you help your congregation “Rejoice and exult with all [their] heart” with this text?

Canticle: Isaiah 12:2-6: One joyous song leads into another. This one is often called “The First Song of Isaiah.” 

Philippians 4:4-7:  Paul reminds the congregation that in and through all challenges that may face as a community, from within or without, they can and should rejoice in Christ who is near and offer prayers and thanksgivings without anxiety. As they do these things, they will experience the peace of God sustaining them.

How does joyous praise help you and your congregation “let go and let God” in prayer and in daily life? What happens when you do this? How will you continue to help your congregation to do that in worship today –in praise, in prayers, and around the Lord’s Table?

Luke 3: 7-18: The people grow in joyous expectation because John announces a way out of “viperhood.” They could practice their lives differently. These new practices could help even those with “problematic” careers begin producing good fruit. The baptism they would receive from John would be the effective pledge of God’s forgiveness as they turned away from their former ways of life. In offering such teaching and baptism, John is clear that he’s not the messiah. There is one to come who baptizes with Spirit and unquenchable fire. 

Where have you seen the clarity of coming judgment help people take bold steps to live differently and so rejoice? How will you help your congregation get ready to experience even these hard words as reasons for rejoicing today?

(comments from www.gbod.org)

The American Legion in Atmore, AL is our Santa!

Aimee Todd nearing her 12 birthday visits Santa

” Judy Todd’s husband, Lt. Commander David Todd, is serving in Iraq, so their nine children were chosen with seven being able to attend the event.

Victoria, Micah, Aimee, Rebecca, Christian, Daisy and Lily Todd ranging from 15 years to 22 months were on hand to receive gifts from Santa.

Tammy Fullbright, who made the trip with her mother Debbie Fullbright also got to sit on the jolly ole fat man’s lap along with Abby Kate Helton, who’s grandfather is Staff Sergeant Richard Stuckey is posted in Afghanistan.

Judy Todd said the Legion was very generous for giving gifts to her children as well as the others involved.

“It was all just a generous and sweet thing that they did,” she said. “My husband was extremely grateful that they did this for our family.”

With such a generous event having a tremendous impact, the Legion is already looking to next year. (Read more…)

Aimee is our grand-daughter who is about to celebrate her twelveth birthday. The American Legion post 90 is only one of thousands who deserve our thanks for doing what Santa gets all the credit for at this time of year! This is truly the “secular” spirit of Christmas in America and has been tremendously influenced by another Giver and His audacious Gift to humankind some 2,000 years ago. Merry CHRISTMAS to my blogging friends. 

 

“The ultimate outcome will depend upon the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there.”

                 – President Lyndon Johnson

 This is a re-issue of the 1974 documentary about Viet Nam and though it is painful, I am thinking it would be a good time for me to watch the full two-hour version; maybe even buy a copy for my dvd library.

I’m sorry that after our President’s announcement last evening, and with all the respect in the world for our troops in the field of battle-including one of my sons on active duty in Bagdad, I must register my extreme disappointment and deep saddness. Ironically, it fits in perfectly with the Advent celebration we have just commenced. For what we celebrate is precisely the entering into this war torn world of the promised Prince of Peace. It is because the People of God have not understood the essence of His coming that peace on earth continues to elude our best efforts.

We still have not learned some very basic lessons from the tragedy of Viet Nam.