With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

Gaudate Sunday...today is an  important anniversary for me.  Six years ago this very morning, around 11:10 a.m., I was baptized for a second time in my adult life.  That day in December was, like today, the third Sunday of Advent, also in the Lectionary cycle Year C.  That day in December, I joined the Calvary Baptist Church and embraced a form of Christian and community identity based in the Baptist distinctives,  a group of beliefs about individual and community practice  that is best described by the charter covenant of the Alliance of Baptists.  It has been the lens through which I have understood my life in Christ for almost ten years now,…
Read More

Wait, it is already Advent?

Yes, I admit it.  I am behind.  Travelling will do that to me.  The end of the semester will do that to me.  Preparing for a concert where I am singing something totally new (like I am next week) pushes all sense of time and season out of the way.  Today, however, I decided to face the truth -- Advent has begun without me. And so, while I am busy getting my act together, I convinced myself that one good Advent devotional activity would be to go back and read some of the things that I myself wrote in years past during this season.  I hope you will not mind…
Read More

Lions, lambs, cows and bears…Advent 2013 Day 21

Lately, I've been introduced to an interpretative school known as the canonical approach to biblical interpretation.  In the canonical method of reading, the Scripture is treated not as some source document to be picked apart and dissected by scholars of all kind, but as a canon of writings that together talk of the experience of people across the ages as they try to live together in a community of faith. There is much that the scholars can say about this text, as there is most of the text in Isaiah, but sometimes you simply have to surrender to the beauty of the poetry and of the metaphors used to carry…
Read More

With what shall I come before the Lord? Advent 2013 Day 20

Little drummer boys, kings, shepherds -- on that night of nights they all ask the question that each and everyone of us asks with every moment that we draw breath as part of God's creation (whether or not we know we ask):  with what shall I come before the Lord... Micah 6:6-8 6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my…
Read More

Choose this day whom you will serve…Advent 2013 Day 19

My first thought when I saw this listed as the passage of the day was -- really?  Joshua?  Advent? But it really turns out to be an inspired choice for an Advent reading (hah). Joshua 24:14-15  “Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as…
Read More

Patiently…Advent 2013 Day 18

One of my favorite pieces of music for this season is a work by Camille Saint-Saens called the Oratorio de Noel.  I was lucky enough to perform it a couple of times; it doesn't get nearly as much performance as Handel's Messiah or Bach's Christmas Oratorio, probably because it is in truth most suited to the kind of worship experience you have at a candlelit midnight service.  It is a piece of music that beautifully captures the sense of peace that we would all like to feel at that moment when we meet the Christ for the very first time, over and over again. In this work, I get to…
Read More

Praise, praise and more praise…Advent 2013 Day 17

I'm sitting here at my computer, letting the past few days unwind and thinking what a long road I've traveled to get to this moment, the end of a semester interrupted by surgery and recovery and changes of all kind.  But I made it...and maybe I can get back to something a little more normal...at least for me. And so I think it is right and fit that I should end this day with our reading -- Psalm 8, the very first hymn of praise in the Book of Psalms: O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the…
Read More

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened…Advent 2013 Day 16

Those are the words I am most familiar with from our passage today because with any luck I have an opportunity or two to sing them each holiday season.  Because of that, I tend to think of them as a stand-alone prophecy, but they are not.  They are part of a long litany of transformation through faith: Isaiah 35:1-10 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord,…
Read More

One more to go…Advent 2013 Day 15

Sometimes, when you set a challenge for yourself like my Advent writing challenge, you have days, well, when you just don't have anything to say...but then you have to write something anyway. Today is the third day of Advent and in my community, this is the day we light the candle of Joy.  I will freely admit that I am feeling no joy right now.  I am living with the emotional after effects of serious heart surgery.  Add to that a bought of seasonal Grinch-ness and the need to finish a paper from a class that I finished before the surgery, and well, I would say that today I am…
Read More

The Great Cloud of Witnesses…Advent 2013 Day 14

I've said it before:  I am a person who loves tradition.  And no time of year is so loaded with cultural and faith traditions than this holiday season at the end of the calendar year, traditions like the singing of Handel's Messiah and the lighting of the Advent wreath candles (although many of these "traditions" are not so timeless as the marketing geniuses would have us believe -- Thanksgiving dating from the Roosevelt administration and our current vision of Santa Clause coming from a Coca-Cola advertisement in the 1930's). You can read our passage for today in that mindset -- that of honoring tradition, honoring the "great cloud of witnesses".…
Read More
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