“Let It Be” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

The following is the second of two lectionary commentaries on the Gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday of Advent.The first is titled “Hail Mary, Full of Grace” and focuses on the first part of this week's this week's reading from Luke 1.Focal Question 1: What would Christianity look like if the focus were birth, not death; human flourishing, not suffering; and this world, not the next?Focal Question 2: How is God inviting you in the coming days and weeks to echo some form of Mary’s words of h … [Read more...]

“Hail Mary, Full of Grace” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

The following is the first of two lectionary commentaries on the Gospel lesson for the 4th Sunday of Advent. The second is titled "Let It Be" and focuses on the final five verses of this week's reading from Luke 1.Focal Question: How is God calling you this Advent season to slow down, open your eyes in wonder, and expectantly wait for is already in the process of being born?I’m always wary of using the word “countless” — as in “She’s been in countless films” or “He’s scored countless touc … [Read more...]

Dear Rick Perry: “Learning to Love Liberalism and Religion”

Texas Governor Rick Perry released a new thirty-second presidential campaign ad yesterday titled, "Strong." Here's the transcript: I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a Christian. But you don't need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there's something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can't openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school. As president, I'll end Obama's war on religion. And I'll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage. F … [Read more...]

Best Response to, “I think I don’t believe in Santa anymore.”

A few months ago I made an aside in my review of the book Will There Be Faith? A New Vision for Educating and Growing Disciples that the author Thomas Groome, a master in the field of Christian Education, includes one of the best responses I've ever heard to the statement from his nine-year-old son, “Hey, Dad, I think I don’t believe in Santa Claus anymore” (300-301). In the spirit of the holidays, I will share Groome's response.Groome calls his model "Life to Faith to Life," and it include f … [Read more...]

Top 10 Best Books Read in 2011

The following are the top ten best books I've read so far this year in alphabetical order by the author's last name (because agonizing over a precise order would take all the fun out of making this list):Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart:I have been a fan for many years of Bourgeault's work, including her most recent book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity and especially her … [Read more...]

How is God coming into the world this Advent? A Theoblogger Challenge

Patheos recently invited responses in 100 words or less to the question, ‎"How is God coming into the world this Advent?" My response was the following: At the first Advent (so to speak), the angel said to Mary about the still-unborn Jesus, "Blessed is the fruit of your womb" (Lk. 1:42). (See the precedent in Dt. 28:4.) This Advent, God is being birthed into the world again wherever there is what Paul called the "fruit of the Spirit . . . love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fa … [Read more...]

#OccupyAdvent: Befriending Darkness, Letting Go, and Letting Be

Whatever is foreseen in joy / Must be lived out from day to day. / Vision held open in the dark / By our ten thousand days of work. / Harvest will fill the barn; for that / The hand must ache, the face must sweat.And yet no leaf or grain is filled / By work of ours; the field is tilled / And left to grace. That we may reap, / Great work is done while we're asleep. / When we work well, a Sabbath mood / Rests on our day, and finds it good. —Wendell Berry, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems … [Read more...]

Magnificat! Learning to Sing Mary’s Song (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary on Luke 1:46-55)

I love that the Revised Common Lectionary includes the Magnificat as the alternative Psalm reading for the third Sunday of Advent. Mary was bold to sing about God, “You have brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly / You have filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” And this Advent season, I invite to consider, "How is God calling you to sing new lyrics to Mary’s song?"How are hope, peace, joy, and love being birthed in you this Christm … [Read more...]

Highlights from Marcus Borg and Diana Butler Bass Lectures (Part 7 of 7)

The introductory post to this blog series is available here. The highlights from Bass’ three lectures are available here, here, and here. Borg’s first two lectures are here and here. My musings on the lectures are in brackets. Marcus Borg's third and final lecture was titled: Reclaiming Christian Language: Compassion and Justice … [Read more...]

Musical Setting of Jesus’ Greatest Commandments?

Diana Butler Bass helped popularize the term "Great Command Christianity," and I'm on record as agreeing with her about how central Jesus' "Greatest Commandments" should be for progressive Christians.When asked, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus could have selected from the Torah any of the commandments. He could have chosen one the passages that have been used to justify patriarchy, xenophobia, or violence; but he chose the commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 that, “You shall love th … [Read more...]