Christmas gift giving should be a simple matter, but often isn’t. What gift to give? What gift will bring the person joy? How much should I spend? Continue reading
O God of wondrous grace and holy love, we give you thanks and praise that you entered into our world to share our messy humanity. In this holy season we are quick to speak and sing of your majesty, mystery, glory and might. Yet this season reminds us that you are not a distant God, but come close to us in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and in and through him you are with us in all the comings and goings, the beings and doings, of our days. Continue reading
The Swiss theologian Karl Barth, who many (among them me) consider the greatest Christian theologian of the Twentieth Century, never stopped being a pastor among the people. In his years as Professor in Basel, he frequently preached to the prisoners at the local prison. Those sermons and prayers are available in a fine little collection called “Deliverance to the Captives.”
Here is a prayer from Christmas, 1958, which to me, has a sad but profound resonance with our own time:
We remember before thee all darkness and suffering of our time; the manifold errors and misunderstandings whereby we human beings afflict one another; the harsh reality which so many must face without the benefit of comfort; the great dangers that hang over the world which does not know how to counter them. We remember the sick and the mentally ill, the needy, the refugees, the oppressed and the exploited, the children who have no good parents or no parents at all. We remember all those who are called on to help as much as men can help, the officials of our country and of all other countries, the judges and civil servants, the teachers and educators, the writers of books and newspapers, the doctors and nurses in the hospitals, the preachers of thy word in the various churches and congregations nearby and afar. We remember them all when we implore thee to let the light of Christmas shine brightly . . . so that they and we ourselves may be helped. We ask all this in the name of the Savior in whom thou hast already hearkened to our supplications and wilt do so again and again. Amen. (p. 143)
(Photo: R.L.Floyd, 2016)
Why “Wolves and Lambs”? Here’s a snippet by Quinn G. Caldwell from the Introduction:
We’re calling this year’s Advent Devotional “Wolves and Lambs” because we think that the image of a wolf and a lamb lying down together should be comforting, yes, even sweet.
But it should also be deeply unnerving.
As the first Christmas was. As this one will be, if Isaiah and God—and we—have anything to say about it.
The Miracle of Christmas
He came to earth that winter night
to share our human frame.
A choir of angels took to flight
to glorify his name.
Some shepherds in a field nearby
were summoned to his birth,
And heard the angels raise the cry
of peace upon the earth.
They went to where the babe did lay,
and found a manger bare.
Some sheep and oxen in the hay,
and Mary, Joseph, there.
O mysteries no eye has seen,
no human ear has heard,
That God should come to such a scene,
and we should call him Lord.
The world’s vast empires rise and fall,
great Caesar lost his claim,
But Mary’s babe is all in all,
and Jesus is his name.
© 2001 Richard L. Floyd
Suggested tune: “Winchester Old”
(Photo: “Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst)
My friend and former Pittsfield colleague Karen Gygax Rodriguez is the Pastor of the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wisconsin. On the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, the baby Jesus figurine was stolen from the church’s nativity scene.
The police investigated, but had no leads. They speculated that the thief was from outside Green Lake, since “everybody knows everybody here, and it would have been returned by now.” Continue reading