The Problem with “Finding Christ” in “The Least of These”

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St. John Chrysostom once said, “If you do not find Christ in the beggar at the church door, neither will you find him in the chalice.”For me, the truth of this statement is hard to deny. It points to the root of Jesus' message.However, I find myself having quite a lot of trouble with what I see as the intent of the message.It's a message that I speak of frequently: loving “the least of these.”A simple way of expressing actually seeing and loving those marginalized by society is t … [Read more...]

The Joy of Being a Minister Without a Church at Christmas – or – Why You Should Thank Your Minister

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Probably – without much exception, if you attend church, your minister is walking around with an “it's the most wonderful time of the year” look on his or her face.I mean, what's not to love about this “most wonderful time of the year”?The sanctuary has had a facelift – upgraded with poinsettias, garlands, bows, wreaths, and probably even a beautifully lit and decorated Chrismon tree.Children are vibrating with the excitement of the season as they dress up and reenact one of the mos … [Read more...]

All I Want For Christmas Is…

At our house for the past several Christmases, we’ve had (for us) the unusual joy of not putting up a Christmas Tree...Or lights...Or decorations.We make no production of Christmas at all and, through this lack of production, we've realized a blessing.For most people, Christmas truly has become a production. Granted, it is an enjoyable one for many, but a production none-the-less.Unfortunately, that production has become a framework upon which we hang all our Christmas e … [Read more...]

My Grown Up Christmas List

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What if, instead of celebrating the gift of Jesus by exchanging gifts, we celebrated the life of Jesus by living life the way Jesus taught us?What if, instead of improving the bottom lines of Big Business this gift-giving (and buying) season, we improved the lives of those most in need?“What if,” as even the Grinch concluded, “Christmas, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!”One of the first memories I have of deeply wanting something mor … [Read more...]

10 Things Christians Shouldn’t Do At Christmas

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Ah, Christmas! “The most wonderful time of the year.”A time to gather with family and friends and, with smiles on our faces, pretend we aren’t quietly measuring who received the best present and which of our relatives really, really needs to stop drinking.A time to hang tinsel and baubles from the tree, and time to hang up our hopes of losing that last 10 pounds this year.Such a joyous season!The real point here is that Christmas is what we make of it.For Christians, however, … [Read more...]

This Peacenik Pastor is DONE With “Waiting” For Peace

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2 Peter 3:11-14 "... what sort of people ought you to be... waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.."  “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” -The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   I am an unabashed, unapologetic, unrelenting peacenik.I have this crazy, insane, altruistic, pie-in-the-sky, loving belief that the world would be a better place if when we look into the eyes of others, that som … [Read more...]

The President #Wins With Actual Traditional Values… From The Christian Left

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For far too long, we've been hearing political pundits who lean right and the talking heads on Fox News throwing the words “traditional values” around like a frisbee.To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”When right-leaning thinkers say “traditional values” it's code language for “the things we want in the United States.” If you push them on it a little, they are even likely to concede that they are tal … [Read more...]

#Ferguson and America’s Problem With Justice

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Is it not grievous enough that, two months ago, we left a child in the street to die; but now have placed justice alongside him to perish?How ironic that the Ferguson decision arrived the week of Thanksgiving. Perhaps it is not so ironic. Perhaps it is the not-so-gentle reminder that we need – that we deserve -- as a nation.Maybe it can serve as a reminder of our long and fabled relationship with justice in the United States.I am worried that it is too late for justice now-- by a … [Read more...]

The Rise of “The Dones” as the Church Kills Spiritual Community

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If you listen to many of the people remaining in the Church, you'd think the exodus of folks who have left and now consider themselves “Spiritual But Not Religious” is all about how “those people” just don't get it.It certainly couldn't be about the Church!After all, we Christians have been around for a mighty long time and things have been just fine. Are we supposed to believe that all of a sudden we're doing something wrong when we have this history saying we’re doing pretty good? … [Read more...]

The War on Thanksgiving

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The "War on Christmas" is nothing more than a distraction. It's part of a war-on-the-holidays shell game – a misdirect. While the religious right is up in arms about people saying "happy holidays," the real battle is being fought on Thanksgiving.You? You're watching the wrong shell.We all are.And we are losing the meaning of Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving and its origins have a long and slightly contested history. The thread that runs through all those histories and origins is the t … [Read more...]