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Hiatus

For those that subscribe to and/or regularly follow my blog, you’ll notice that it has been a while since I’ve posted something of substance (or at all for that matter). The hiatus has been somewhat intentional, in that I needed a break. Blogging became a chore. It became something I felt that I had to do, rather than something I wanted to do. So I intentionally took a step back for that reason.

That said, I had anticipated a return to regular blog posts a few weeks ago. A great deal of reading and another completed chapter for my doctoral thesis means that I have lots of material to share––lots of quotes, musings, and (hopefully) insightful analysis. However, as much as I’m bursting at the seams to share, I just haven’t had the time. I’ve been busy. Here’s a bit of what I’ve been doing…

I led a group from our church on a trip to the York Rescue Mission. I’ve included videos from a couple of news outlets related to our trip.

10572012_10152537580303657_4435047765054098966_oI’ve been busy promoting, hussling and doing anything and everything in my power to fill seats for our church’s first (hopefully) annual professionally produced Christmas program. I’m extremely excited to announce that the performance is ‘sold out.’ All of the tickets have been claimed. Every seat will be full.

I’ve also made some significant changes to our church’s online presence. I’ve updated our website, been rethinking our Facebook page (and to great success, as we’re averaging over 1,500 views per week) and as I’ve added weekly summaries (which now include audio from the weekend’s message).

I’ve also been tied up with some consulting work; some freelance graphic design work; and, of course, spending some much needed and oh-so-essential time with Crystal and the kiddos.

All of that to say, in the coming weeks, I hope to return to some semblance of normal, as it relates to blogging. So stay tuned. But in the meantime, enjoy the few, sporadic updates and have a very Merry Christmas!

 

Sir Ian McKellan teaches Cookie Monster to ‘resist’

I find this far funnier than I probably should.

Cookie Monster: ‘Me not much of a jewelry guy, me not sure that’s very relevant example (1:17).’

Miroslav Volf reflects on the difference between joy and happiness

Author and theologian, Miroslav Volf, reflects on the difference between joy and happiness. This post seems especially apropos given that this Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)––a day commemorating joy and/or rejoicing.

 

Søren Kierkegaard regarding the Incarnation

If a poet or an artist puts himself into his Productions he is criticized. But that is exactly what God does, he does so in Christ. And precisely that is Christianity. The creation was really only completed when God included himself in it. Before the coming of Christ, God was certainly in the creation, but as an invisible sign, like the watermark in paper. But the creation was completed by the Incarnation because God thereby included himself in it.

From: Søren Kierkegaard, The Journals of Kierkegaardedited by Alexander Dru (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1959), 324.

Advent Resources

1Advent

‘1Advent,’ photo by elbfoto

Good morning everyone. This year I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Advent resources. Here’s are some of my favorites…

RESOURCES TO USE WITH CHILDREN

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas by Ann Voskamp. We’re going through this book with our children this Christmas. Ann crafted a beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated book that utilizes the Jesse Tree as a means by which to mark the days of Advent. We’re only a couple of days in, but couldn’t be happier with our family devotional choice for Advent 2014.

’40+ Advent ideas: simple ways to count the days’ by Kara Fleck. Kara’s post provides some great ideas, links, and other goodies related to Advent.

‘Children’s Advent Calendar’ from Loyola Press. The post offers printable Advent calendars, as well as an e-calendar that can be utilized with a few clicks.

Catholic Icing offers ‘Advent and Christmas Crafts and Activities for Kids.’ The post contains a wealth of resources ranging from printable saint ornaments to recipes.

ADULT RESOURCES

God Is In the Manger.  An Advent devotional that is comprised of excerpts from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I used this last year and appreciated it very much.

Our Savior Come: An Advent CompanionAnother devotional. This one is a collection of essays by various authors. I used it a couple of years ago, and found it thought-provoking.

Loyola Press offers these resources on the IgnatianSpirituality.com website. Personally, I like the weekly video reflections and the Arts & Faith portion of the website.

The Anglican Communion is utilizing Twitter and Instagram to create a global Advent calendar. It’s a great prayer aid and some of the photographs are quite stirring.

Obviously, my list is not all-inclusive. There are plenty of great Advent resources out there––many, I’m sure, that I know nothing about. So, what would you add to the list?

 

Photographs: Quinton playing at the playground

Showing off Showing off 3 Showing off 2 Quinton Quinton upside down Quinton swinging from the monkey bars Quinton swinging from monkey bars 2

The Nones & The Dones: The varied forms of ‘spiritual but not religious’

First, there were ‘The Nones,’1 Now, there are ‘The Dones.’ Thom Schultz provides the following definition of ‘The Dones’:

The Dones are fatigued with the Sunday routine of plop, pray and pay. They want to play. They want to participate. But they feel spurned at every turn.
Will the Dones return? Not likely, according to the research. They’re done. [Josh] Packard says it would be more fruitful if churches would focus on not losing these people in the first place. Preventing an exodus is far easier than attempting to convince refugees to return.

For both ‘the nones’ and the ‘the dones’ spirituality is important. Yet, for both ‘the nones’ and ‘the dones’ the traditional religious expression/routine doesn’t quite work.

If you’re a ‘none’ or ‘done’ I’d be interested in hearing more about your experiences. In what ways have you felt spurned? In what ways has traditional religious experience proved inadequate? What does ‘spiritual but not religious’ mean to you? Why does this designation appeal to you?

  1. See: Linda Mercadante, James Emery White, David Kinnamen (Churchless and You Lost Me), et al.

Health and vitality in ministry

Another John Wesley quote. This one comes from a meeting he had with some of the Preachers of early Methodism. The conversation was about the ideal length of time to minister in one place. Wesley writes,

In the evening I talked largely with the Preachers, and showed them the hurt it did both to them and the people, for any one Preacher to stay six or eight weeks together in one place. Neither can he find matter for preaching every morning and evening, nor will the people come to hear him. Hence he grows cold by lying in bed, and so do the people. Whereas, if he never stays more than a fortnight together in one place, he may find matter enough, and the people will gladly hear him.1

Wesley clearly envisions itinerancy as the ideal. He believed that when the Methodist Preachers stayed in one place for more than two months, they were doing so at great risk to both themselves and the people to whom they were preaching.

Admittedly, I’m not quite sure what to make of Wesley’s statement. He was ministering in a different day. The ministry of the Preacher of early Methodism bears little resemblance to the ministry of the local church pastor of today.

That said, I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

Do you agree with Wesley? Do you have an experience or two that suggests his caution to the Preachers was warranted? Is it possible to stay too long? Can stability and longevity in a particular place be good?

  1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley: Volume 4, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 273.

Pescetarian fun: Salmon baked in foil, bake (sweet) potato & coffee roasted carrots

Carrots slow roasted on coffee beans

Carrots slow roasted on coffee beans

I’ve been vegetarian pescetarian since April 2013. The reasons for our diet are many. None of which are ethical or moral, although Crystal and I both now understand the ethical and moral arguments against our previously carnivorous diet.

It seems that many people think I/we only eat salads and, otherwise, boring food. Most of the meals that we eat in a given month are vegetarian––completely free of fish. (Very few of these meals are actually salad-only.) Occasionally, once every couple weeks or so, we’ll eat fish and/or seafood. Tonight, is an example of what I’d like to refer 2014-11-13 16.57.57to as ‘pescetarian fun.’ A friend dropped off a rather nice fillet of freshly caught salmon the other week. We halved the fillet, sharing part of it with friends, and saving the other half for a night such as tonight.

On the menu this evening is a salmon baked in foil (recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis), carrots slow-baked on coffee beans (recipe courtesy of Daniel Patterson, by way of Andrew Schloss on the Splendid Table), and baked (sweet) potato––the kids are having a baked white potato and I’m having a baked sweet potato.

Another tidbit of homiletical insight from John Wesley

Writing of yet another sermon he sat through, Wesley notes:

The sermon was very sensible; but having no application, was no way likely to awaken drowsy hearers.1

 

  1. John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley: Volume 4, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 272.