What Makes Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” a Classic?


What makes Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a classic?For one, it’s written so well. After all, it’s one of Dickens' own creations.For another, Dickens conjures up an ideal setting for his tale—London at Christmas time in Victorian England.Other reasons include people’s fascination with mystery and ghost stories and the enduring appeal of accounts about second chances.Ebenezer Scrooge’s inner transformation from fixation on things and penny-pinching ways to the celebration of pe … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: Get Messed Up in the Mundane


There was no Christmas wrap other than the swaddling clothes that first Christmas. There was no tinsel. No egg nog. No hand sanitizer after shaking hands and cleaning up messes that holy night. And while that night was by no means silent given baby cries and animal noises, the event and its Bethlehem surroundings were truly obscure. No royal pageantry befitting the emperor. No TV crews. No Royal Albert or Carnegie Hall. Just a bunch of angels performing on a lonely landscape for some shepherds … [Read more...]

Mother Mary and Single Moms

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I wonder if Mary raised Jesus as a single parent during his teenage years. Perhaps Joseph died when Jesus was young. There is no mention of Joseph being with his family after the trip to Jerusalem for the Passover  when Jesus was twelve (Luke 2:41-52). Of course, the culture back then was different. Children grew up very early. Still, children are growing up very early today, though likely in different ways and for very different reasons. I can only imagine how hard it would have been then and h … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: God Embodies Justice


God puts a face to salvation. He names it Jesus. Jesus’ story is not once upon a time; rather, at a particular place and time, God engaged real people through the reality of Mary’s firstborn son. I love how Luke presents Jesus’ advent or coming: In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: Little People Loom Large to God


I never cease to be amazed that God chose insignificant Israel to be his very own people, that he chose the shepherd boy David over Saul and all his brothers, that he chose the little town of Bethlehem for the birthplace of the Messiah, that he chose the barren Elizabeth to bear the forerunner and young Mary to be the mother of the Messiah, that he chose the lowly shepherds to receive the lofty angelic proclamation, the aged Simeon and widow Anna to witness the Messiah’s appearance, and small p … [Read more...]

Advent Justice: Embrace the Mystery


One of the reasons why many of us love Christmas so is because there is magic in the air. We just can’t get enough of it. Some of us would like to celebrate Christmas all year round. Businesses promote it earlier and earlier in many places, long before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Still, others of us fear that celebrating Christmas all year round would get old; the magic of Christmas would wear off in August and perhaps never return in time for Christmas Eve.Some people may have the same v … [Read more...]

Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Makoto Fujimura’s Faith

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How often do reductionistic assumptions keep us from encountering God in Christ and experiencing robust biblical faith? This question loomed large the other night at the Portland Art Museum during a feature presentation of Makoto Fujimura and his work.My wife Mariko and I attended the Portland premiere of the short documentary film, The Golden Sea, which chronicles Mako's story as an artist in the United States and Japan. We soaked in the film and listened intently to Mako's ensuing … [Read more...]