Judah Maccabee, Simeon and Anna

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish Feast of Dedication. (To learn a bit more about the holiday, click here, here or here.) The miracle of the oil spoke of a greater reality. The Temple was once again dedicated to proclaiming the glory of God on the earth in 165 B.C. after it had been desecrated in the hands of pagan kings for generations. It is also the first week of Advent**, the four week-long time of spiritual preparation leading up to Christmas. Though we typically focus on … [Read more...]

Christmas cookies on Thanksgiving

I've dragged myself into mid-December mode the last few weeks, buying gifts and addressing cards. I am a little out of sync because of my upcoming shoulder surgery; it hasn't been easy to skip past Thanksgiving and Chanukah, and without passing go, head directly to Christmas. I feel a little clumsy about this. The rhythms of time and the habits of celebration imprint themselves on our lives, which is one reason that a gear shift is so hard for many of us. Just when we think we've settled into a … [Read more...]

Review: Englewood Review of Books, Vol. 1

I remember when one of my sons came home a few years ago with an armload of vinyl LP's. "That's dinosaur technology," I said. He disagreed. He loved the warm sound (complete with a few pops and crackles), the cover art, the liner notes and the experience of holding a piece of the artist in his hands. An MP3 just can't deliver that experience. The Englewood Review of Books has carved out a niche for itself in cyberspace as a thoughtful and wide-ranging book review site, with a side of … [Read more...]

Happy meal

I remember the stage of life where a wave of "We're pregnant!" announcements would sweep through my circle of friends and acquaintances. It seemed that babies came in clusters, like sweet little grapes. One of the joys of being a grandparent: walking in the woods and swapping storiesWell, I've now come to the part of life where my friends are proudly announcing to the world that they're about to become grandparents. I had coffee and a bowl of cabbage soup (there's a grandma version of a … [Read more...]

Review: Transform A City

The prayer Jesus prayed at the conclusion of the final Seder he shared with his disciples has been debated, parsed, over-theologized (no, that's not a real word), misapplied and ignored. And it has gone largely unanswered. True, some of us have experienced some appetizer-sized moments of brilliant oneness with other believers, but for the most part, the 35,000+ identified denominations, along with the countless other individual independent congregations, house churches and miscellaneous … [Read more...]

Not this, but that

Last week, I wrote about a pastor who'd insisted that his congregation pastor him by, among other things, shielding him from their problems so he could concentrate on visioneering. (Click here to read my original post.) I got some interesting feedback, particularly from those reading the reposts of this blog on facebook. It led me to ask myself what my understanding is of my responsibility toward church leaders. Rather than doing an exhaustive Bible study here, I thought I'd simply give you … [Read more...]

This is your shepherd speaking…

Church leaders, past and present, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.A facebook friend posted this link on his wall a couple of weeks or so ago. (It'll take you about sixty seconds to read it. Go ahead. I'll wait here.)Did you read it? Your thoughts?In my exchange with the guy who posted the link, I suggested that nowhere in Scripture do you find that the the flock is charged with protecting their pastor's faith, working to keep him optimistic and shielding him from problems without … [Read more...]