Christmas blessing

First century manger   "In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be … [Read more...]

If it’s good enough for Oprah…

        An energetic blogger I follow put together a list of favorite things, a la The First Lady Of All Media, Oprah. Both women's lists got me thinking about what I might include in my imaginary Michelle's Swag Bag, 2010 version.Leonard Sweet's book will change the way you think about symbols and stories - your life and God's message. Every sentence is a revelation.Purple Birkenstocks! How fun is this? Though I don't read much fiction, this book stayed … [Read more...]

God’s man for the job?

Tony* was building a career he really enjoyed when a leadership crisis at his church erupted. His steady, calm, servant-hearted personality and peacemaking gifts played a huge role in helping to settle the chaos. The elders at the mid-sized congregation invited him to join the church staff. "You'll be able to use your skill set for kingdom purposes," they told Tony. "We believe you're God's man for the job." What a vote of confidence! The request was both surprising and flattering to Tony. … [Read more...]

Review: Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50something woman

Dr. Sharon King created a pithy little spiritual self-assessment and coaching tool for midlife women modeled after the physical exam we're all supposed to have at this point in our lives. (Thankfully, there's no mention of a colonoscopy in Dr. King's booklet!)The Spiritual Fitness Checkup for the 50something Woman: Ten Steps Toward Midlife Spiritual Health (Healthy Life Press, 2010) is a 58-page tool containing 11 brief chapters a mid-life woman or small group could use to spark some … [Read more...]

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...]