An online, social media Lenten observance

Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, a time for reflection and devotion. Christ Lutheran Church (LCMS) of Topeka, KS, has devised an ingenious online, social media observance, built around specific words for each day of Lent. The idea is to post a picture that captures each word, posting it on FaceBook, tagged with @christlcms, or Instagram, tagged with @christ_lutheran_topeka, and the hashtag #hearingthegospel.  Then people can contemplate all of the pictures that have contributed.

There was a story about this on Religious News Service.  I contacted the pastor, asking if this is just a congregational activity or if I could put it out there on the Cranach blog.  He gave me permission to do so, so spread the word.  More details after the jump.

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What’s the true meaning of Presidents’ Day?

15928527814_4a9e476e7b_zHappy Presidents’ Day.  What are we really celebrating today?

Originally, it was George Washington’s Birthday, honoring the Father of Our Country.  Then Abraham Lincoln, another great American, was thrown in.

Once the holiday was moved to Monday, to give federal workers a three-day weekend, Presidents’ Day became completely unmoored from the date of Washington’s birthday.  Now we use the day to celebrate ALL presidents.

We have had some good ones, but not that many.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, were from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but they were both iconic presidents who had a big impact on American history.  Then there were notable chief executives–Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower–whose legacy is significant, though sometimes still controversial.  (As for Donald Trump, for all the furor of his first few weeks, his presidency is just getting started.)

But here is my question:  Why do we have a federal day-off holiday to honor the Executive Branch?  If we are going to do that, why don’t we have a holiday to honor the Legislative Branch?  And the Judicial Branch?  If the prospect of the latter two seems ridiculous, why isn’t it also ridiculous to have a Presidents’ Day?

I suppose it’s because that office is held by an identifiable individual, unlike our other branches of government.  Perhaps it has something to do with an atavistic reverence for Kings.  But I’m not sure this is healthy in a democratic republic.

But I suspect I’m missing something.  Can someone explain the true meaning of Presidents’ Day and why we need that to be a national holiday?

And yet, this is our national holiday, so let’s observe it in the best way possible.  What thoughts should it call to mind?  What should we be thankful for?  What should we do to keep the holiday?

UPDATE:  My suggestion after the jump.

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Letter from a Birmingham Jail 

512px-Recreation_of_Martin_Luther_King's_Cell_in_Birmingham_Jail_-_National_Civil_Rights_Museum_-_Downtown_Memphis_-_Tennessee_-_USATo observe Martin Luther King Day, read his classic “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”  It was written to fellow pastors who were concerned that a man of the cloth would engage in protests that would get him arrested.

The letter is interesting in itself for the case that it makes for civil disobedience, under certain very restrictive conditions.  Some of what he says will resonate with pro-lifers and religious freedom advocates.

The letter also shows how it was possible back then in 1963 to continually quote and allude to Scripture and to appeal to moral absolutes.  I don’t know if a person could do that today.  I don’t know if the Civil Rights Movement, with its moral appeal to the nation, could happen today.

Read “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” after the jump. [Read more…]

Have an Epiphany!

Definition of epiphany

  1. capitalized :  January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ

  2.  an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being

  3.   (1) :  a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) :  an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) :  an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure  b :  a revealing scene or moment

Source: Epiphany | Definition of Epiphany by Merriam-Webster

All of these meanings apply to today and to the new season of the church year that we are entering!

Dave Barry’s 2016 Year in Review

Dave_BarryOne of my New Year’s Eve rituals is to read Dave Barry’s annual Year in Review.

The month-by-month breakdown helps me remember and sort of relive the year that is ending.  But it’s filtered through off-the-wall hilarity and on-target satire of all sides.

If you didn’t read it over the weekend, it’s not too late.  I’ll get you started after the jump. [Read more…]

Happy New Year!

Thank you to all of my readers for being part of this blog last year.  Many blessings for 2017!

Here is what you can do:  Use the comments for this post to give your New Year’s resolutions.  Then you can come back next year and check them to see how you did.  Well, I can see that you might not want to do that.  Happy New Year anyway!

 

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Image from Pixabay, Creative Commons, Public Domain