Sunday, 5 December 2010, 23:00 | Category : Religion
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Mary and Jesus

With Christmas approaching, the Methodist church turns to thoughts of Advent. For Methodists, the fourth Sunday before Christmas begins the church year. Advent is generally presented as a time of waiting and anticipation, symbolically representing the approach of the birth of Jesus. A former pastor offered a different interpretation – that of a period of darkness before the coming of the light. The Advent story obviously includes Mary, with what I suppose is the traditional teaching of a young woman with the dreams that a young Jewish girl would have had in ancient Israel, and having all of that changed through an angelic visitation. That was the gist of our lesson today, but as I sat listening, I started to wonder what sort of hopes and dreams a young Jewish girl would have had then. There would have been the corporate dream of the Jewish people, awaiting the long-promised Messiah, of course. But on a personal level, what would a young woman in Israel have to look forward to? Mary certainly didn’t come from a wealthy family, so she would anticipate marriage to someone who also wouldn’t be wealthy. Her life would probably center around raising and feeding her family. I don’t mean to trivialize marriage and family, but the thought came to me today that maybe she didn’t trade one dream for another. Maybe that sort of life wasn’t something you dreamed about, it was just what you assumed would happen. Maybe her anointing by God gave her a dream for the first time.

The Church And Gays

Friday, 3 March 2006, 23:47 | Category : Religion
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I recently had an email conversation with a fellow blogger. Part of what I said to him was:

I’m not gay, I can’t say I really understand being gay. I have problems with many of the gay activist groups – but I’ve found that on a personal level, I don’t have a problem with accepting gay friends either as friends or as gay. Does that make sense?… I have conflicts reconciling some of the language in the Bible with how I think I should feel. And yet, I feel strongly that, for instance, you and your partner should be able to have the same legal, medical, societal rights as my wife and I.


Yes, Biblical language about homosexuality gives me some trouble. I’ve read enough through the years to know that what we think the Bible is saying isn’t always what it was actually saying. I just haven’t been able to settle the debate in my mind. But keeping gay people out of church is, to me, obviously wrong. Even if I take the extreme side and say being gay is a sin, there are plenty of sins mentioned much more often. I used to think being gay was just wrong. I guess most every gay person, at some point, thought of it as wrong. The change in my attitude hasn’t come so much from a new understanding theologically, but from knowing gays through the years and understanding they’re different in a way I can’t quite understand, but like me in so many ways. In other words, people. So I guess what I’m saying is, I haven’t found the theological rationale to set aside Biblical language, but I’m aware of the possibility that there may be one. Is that fair enough?”

Tonight, I went to a blog that I read sporadically, far less than I should – Real Live Preacher. And I found an entry that talked of how he reconciled this issue. In that post, he referred to an article written by Dr. Lewis Smedes, a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church, in which he compared how the church once treated divorced Christians with how they now treat homosexuals. It was, for me, a pretty convincing argument. I can’t say it has resolved all my conflicts, but it’s given me the basis for a new understanding. In the end, redemption, salvation, justification aren’t for us to decide. We are, most of us, doing our best to make it through this life with the light we have. In the end, that’s what we have to work with. Peace.

The Words We Say

Monday, 28 November 2005, 18:55 | Category : Life, Religion
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Joe Carter at The Evangelical Outpost has a Christian Critique Of Swearing that makes some interesting points, applicable to soem degree even to those outside the Christian realm. I had read of Tony Campolo’s statement before:

“I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

Christians aren’t alone in reacting to the wrong stimuli, of course, but we have, as a part of the faith we proclaim, a burden to care for the needy as a part of our doctrine. There isn’t such a clear call to purify our language, although there’s enough there to tell us we shouldn’t swear like sailors. But when I hear someone say that Christians shoudl never swear, under any circumstances, I’m reminded of my college English Lit professor, who I know to have been a fine Christian lady. She said curse words were like spices in food – overuse either caused too much of a reaction or dulled the senses, but properly timed would add just the right flavor to your statement. Carter writes “A word

The Joy Of The Box

Monday, 25 August 2003, 8:45 | Category : Religion
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Every Sunday, our pastor, after finishing the Children’s Time where he calls the younger kids down front and has a short message for them, gives The Box to one of the kids. It’s a brightly decorated shoebox, and the kid will bring it back the next Sunday with something in it – the only rule is, nothing alive or recently alive. The pastor then uses whatever is in the box as the basis for his message to the children that Sunday. Since he doesn’t know ahead of time what’s in the box, it makes for some interesting moments on occasion, like yesterday when the item was a Mickey Mouse bobblehead.