2016, You’ve Been A Handful

This year is being dubbed a true annus horribilis (year of disaster) by many. I'll be frank. It hasn't been my favorite for a variety of reasons, both cultural and personal. As it often does, the horribilis has the odor and consistency of fresh bat guano. In other words, it can serve as some Grade A fertilizer.I'm not given to putting together end of year recaps, but it helps to step back a few paces in order to see the growth sprouting from the guano, I thought I'd do a bit of reflection … [Read more...]

Blue Christmas

Contrary to the song lyrics, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for many of us. The jingle bell merriness of the season is like an out-of-tune gong for those grieving the deaths of family members or friends, struggling in the wake of a divorce, suffering the effects of broken relationships, experiencing financial hardship, or dealing with the effects of physical or mental illness in themselves or their loved ones.My family has been marked in recent years by each one of these l … [Read more...]

Why Advent Is More Jewish Than You Think

ne memorable Advent, I wondered if I was going to set our kitchen table on fire when I started lighting all the candles amassed on its surface. There were four thick pastel candles on our Advent wreath and six slender primary ones in our nearly-full Chanukah menorah, properly known as a chanukiah. My husband and I are both Jewish followers of Jesus and wanted our children to connect with the hope and history embedded in both observances. It seemed like a good idea until I realized that our … [Read more...]

“Chrismukkah”: 1 thing to learn, 1 thing to taste

So many people are interested in being more intentional about learning about the Jewish and Christian calendars, but don’t quite know where to start. I’m very happy I can commend a resource that offers a thoughtful historical and devotional overview of each calendar, but also know that many people feel as through attempting to participate will be a pile-on of extra stuff to do (and extra guilt to feel if they can’t do it).Well, every once in a while, the lunar-based Jewish calendar and the so … [Read more...]

“Thank you for your service” at Church

Popular speaker and author Jen Hatmaker’s recent interview with Jonathan Merrittaffirming same-sex relationships led Lifeway to stop carrying her books. The uproar surrounding both this interview and Lifeway’s decision kicked off a helpful conversation in the blogosphere about, among other things, the way in which conference events have served to outsource women’s ministry from the local church.Jesus Creed-reading women, I’d love to hear from you. Have your congregational leaders recognized a … [Read more...]

The Uncomfortable Circumstance That God Uses To Form A People

One distinctive of the missional movement is the emphasis on fully inhabiting the community in which we’re planted, and to shift from viewing our neighbors in terms of us (saved) and them (unsaved) toward a “we” orientation. This emphasis can be seen in books like Smith and Pattison’s Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus, The New Parish: How Neighborhood Churches are Transforming Mission, Discipleship and Community by Sparks, Soerens, and Friesen, and Staying Is The New … [Read more...]

Advent: 1 thing to try, 1 thing to taste

So many people are interested in being more intentional about learning about the Jewish and Christian calendars, but don’t quite know where to start. I’m very happy I can commend a resource that offers a thoughtful historical and devotional overview of each calendar, but also know that many people feel as through attempting to participate will be a pile-on of extra stuff to do (and extra guilt to feel if they can’t do it).And there is no time of year when the pile-on of "to do's" hits like an … [Read more...]