The real story of the Christmas angels

Luke tells us that on the night Jesus was born, shepherds near Bethlehem were watching their sheep. Suddenly, an angel appeared before them -- radiant, shockingly luminescent, and bright. Awash in the otherworldly light, the glory of God pooling around them, the shepherds were terrified. “Do not be afraid,” said the angel, “for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (2. … [Read more...]

What a stomach bug taught me about Christmas

It started the the day before with Felicity puking. Then Fionn came down with it.After he threw up more than a dozen times, he woke up several more times with night terrors. And then Jonah joined in. Ah, yes. There's nothing quite like a stomach bug for the holidays.The next morning, while I was cleaning things up and getting ready for the day, Pandora played carols in the corner. "Silent Night" started. Don't mock me, I thought. It was not a silent night. All was not calm. And all was not … [Read more...]

In Christ we ascend beyond the angels

It is sometimes easy to focus on how sinful we are. Our frailty and failings stand in stark contrast to the life we hope and believe we can live in Christ. Focus on these things too long and we can become very discouraged. But there are reasons for encouragement, and one example can be found by looking at a song about Jesus’ mother.Orthodox and Eastern Catholic believers sing a short hymn about Mary called the “Axion Estin,” or “It is Truly Meet,” which declares her “more honorable than the … [Read more...]

Is the virgin birth really predicted in the Old Testament?

Did the Old Testament prophet Isaiah actually predict that Mary would conceive Christ while still a virgin?In Guy Ritchie's 2000 movie Snatch, Benicio Del Toro plays a diamond thief named Franky Four Fingers. As the story begins, Franky and his fellow workers of iniquity are in Antwerp for a heist, disguised as Hasidic Jews.As part of the ruse, while guards check for weapons and surveillance cameras roll, Franky rambles on about the veracity of Scripture:The Septuagint scholars … [Read more...]

Angels: Friends of the faithful

Jacob wasn't hanging around long. After scheming his brother out of the family blessing, he had to get some distance from his vengeful sibling. His mother arranged a pretext for his departure, and Jacob lit out. The roads were rough, and after several hours the weary traveler arrived at a place called Luz just as the sun dipped beneath the horizon. Jacob's mind must have been churning over the recent events. He had deceived his dad and arguably defrauded his brother, who now wanted to kill … [Read more...]

‘Proof of Heaven’ echoes ancient insights

Since I originally posted this piece, Esquire has published an exposé of Eben Alexander, very much worth reading. However close his vision is at places with a traditional Christian vision, there are significant problems with his testimony. When the neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander slipped into a seven-day coma, he could scarcely imagine the visions that awaited him.Bacterial meningitis had attacked his brain and shut down his neocortex, the part of the brain that enables consciousness. … [Read more...]

Where you go to meet with God

During the Last Supper the disciple Philip asked Jesus show him God. "Lord," he said, as recorded by John's gospel, "show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied" (14.8).Did Philip know what he was asking? Surely he was aware that Moses asked a similar question, to see God's glory. "[Y]ou cannot see my face," answered the Lord, "for man shall not see me and live" (Ex 33.20).God allowed Moses a glimpse nonetheless, but not directly. Instead of seeing the Lord’s face, Moses was permitted a … [Read more...]