Peace in the Neighborhood

This is my second post for Advent 2018. Make sure to check out the first post and the second post.

Over the last few years I have come to appreciate Fred Rogers more than I did as a child. The combination of entering into parenthood and exploring Emotionally Healthy Spiritually together with my fellow staff members at Westbrook opened my eyes to what kind of treasure Mister Rogers Neighborhood actually is. He very intentionally and gently walks children through tough situations that they may face in their lives. Everything from being mad to your parents divorcing or even experiencing death.

One of the most wonderful things about Fred Rogers, as well, is the amount peace with which he carries himself. You never get the impression that he is upset or angry with anyone. He always seems to find a way to connect with other people no matter how different they are. From what I’ve heard, this was not only true of him on the show, but in real life as well. It strikes me that this example of peace is precisely the one that we need to reflect on during advent. 

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Our Present Hope

This is my second post for Advent 2018. Click here to read the first one.

My daughter has a lot of things on her Christmas list. She’s almost 5 and it seems like several times a week, she comes up with something new to add to her wish list. She’ll say something like, “Daddy, I want to add this to my Christmas list, I want it sooooo bad. I hope I get it.” I, of course, know exactly what she’s getting from us. Occasionally, she is actually going to get the thing she is wishing for, but many times we have opted not to buy that specific toy. Most of us can remember what this was like. We had things that we were wishing for and hoping for, but never got.

One of the words that is often reflected on during the time of Advent is Hope. It’s a word that we use frequently to describe our wishes. Like my daughter who is hoping for specific presents or when I am hoping that the Colts will be able to win enough games to make the playoffs, we are desiring a favorable outcome that we are unsure of. In terms of Advent, however, the idea of hope is much different when viewed through the lens of scripture.

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Practicing Advent

practicing adventThe hustle and bustle of the holiday season has begun. We are planning, shopping, cleaning, and wrapping. Christmas is almost here. The same can be said for the church. We just put up the Christmas trees at Westbrook. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it’s not Christmas yet. We’re in a season of waiting.

This Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. You’re probably familiar with the term because of Advent Calendars that mark off the days of December leading up to Christmas. Advent is, in fact, an official season in the church calendar that begins 4 Sunday before Christmas and ends with Christmas Eve. It’s a time set aside to wait on the coming of Jesus and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas. We remember how Israel waited for the Messiah and recognize that we are waiting for Jesus to come and restore all things.

It’s a time of waiting and expectation, and let’s be honest, most of us are bad at waiting.  Continue reading

Walking in light of the Resurrection

Walking in light of theMuch like Christmas, Easter tends to be one of those things that we do and move on with our lives. The only difference is that you don’t find a lot of people walking around wishing that we would live every day like it’s Easter. We love the Christmas spirit, the idea of peace on earth, and exchanging gifts. We want every day to be Christmas. Easter doesn’t get the same kind of sentiments. Maybe because it is seen by many as more a specifically Christian holiday, but still Easter just isn’t as big as Christmas. I’m sure some of you do wish that every day was Easter, but the vast majority of our culture has already moved on from Easter even though it was the beginning of this week. Continue reading

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

Even so,My heart is heavy and my spirit is weary. There’s so much happening in the world right now. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year, but it doesn’t feel wonderful. The countdown to Christmas is on, but it also feels like in many ways that the world itself is falling apart.

First, the violence in America (and even around the world) feels like it is escalating. Maybe it’s just more media coverage, but still it’s bad. The more shootings and attacks happen in our country and around the world the more my heart sinks. To make matters worse, every time shootings happen it’s followed by a very predictable set of responses. I can’t help but think our division over these issues only makes matters worse and postpones any kind of an attempt at making things better.

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Gratitude and Greed: The story of Thanksgiving & Black Friday

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Photo Credit: Matt Jones

As I begin writing this post, I’m sitting in Sam’s Club waiting for tires to be put on my car. From the café area, I can see most of the store and it’s stocked to the brim with bulk food, low prices, and junk. I spent some time in the electronics area thinking about getting a Roku TV to replace the old TV/DVD/VCR combo tv we have (yes, we still have a VCR). Because of the time of year, my thoughts quickly jumped to Black Friday sales.

Most of us have the same kind of thoughts this time of year. “What’s on sale? What do I want? Where can I get it? What time do I have to get up to get the deals? I’ll be done with dinner by the time that store opens on Thanksgiving, maybe I’ll just run over and pick something up.” Then, of course, a week later we realize we still have Christmas gifts to buy since we’ve mostly bought for ourselves. Continue reading