The practice of making New Year’s resolutions, at the very least, dates back to the Babylonian Empire. At the start of each New Year – and for them the new year started with the first planting in March – they would make promises to return borrowed items and pay their debts. The Romans began the New Year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
The setting is strange: a shelter for livestock.
The characters are common: an unwed pregnant woman and her fiancé
The story is simple: a baby is born
The theme is unimaginable: God is with us!
May the strange but common, simple yet unimaginable coming of Christ be experienced by you this Advent and Christmas season, and throughout the year.
Most folks believe our nation’s founders established the separation of church and state in order to keep religion out of politics. Religion, the rationale goes, is messy, irrational and the source of much instability and warfare. Our government would be better off without it. There are those, however, who believe the debate was not so much about keeping religion out of government, but how to best foster religion so it might be a source of wisdom and guidance for the new nation. Some believed a state sponsored religion, like the Church of England, was the best way to accomplish this; others believed religion free from government influence would be most effective. The latter won out.
At the end of a Trustees’ meeting the other evening one of the members observed a recent liveliness in the church. With the nursery school up and running the parish house is filled with the voices and laughter of children. Since the Neighborhood Music School began offering lessons in our church the sounds of stringed instruments have become part of the air we breathe in the afternoon.
Anya Powers is a person with whom we will become well acquainted beginning in September. She is our Yale Divinity School Intern for the 2018-2019 academic year. Anya is in the process of discerning weather or not to become ordained in the United Church of Christ. Her home church is in Boulder, CO. Anya’s resume is rich and varied, but a couple of things in particular leap out at me. She is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps, basic training at Quantico, VA, and will be coming to us fresh from U.S. Air Force basic training in Alabama.
It’s vacation time, has been for a while now. Like many others I’m looking forward to my time away from the regular rhythm of my job. I have a list of things I want to do when vacation rolls around. I want to spend more time with my family, read a couple of books – The Thin Light of Freedom by Edward Ayers and some fiction. I want to get outside more, make good food, swim in the ocean and paint.
Does the name Anya Powers ring a bell. Probably not, but come September she will be our Yale Divinity School intern for the 2018-2019 academic year. She is excited to be among us and learning more about leadership in a Christian community of faith.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-5
Easter is Big! We pull out all the stops on Easter Sunday. The music, the lessons, the communion, the preaching (God willing), even the congregation is big. It is a big and joyful day. Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed! We are taken up in the truth that nothing, not even death, can thwart the all-inclusive love and mighty power of God made known to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Sovereign and Savior. Nothing!
The season of Lent began on Valentines Day this year. As so many churches do we observed the occasion with an Ash Wednesday service and the imposition of ashes on our foreheads. The practice began around the 6th century in what is now France. It was the custom to mark with ashes the foreheads of those who had committed crimes against the community. In this way, they were always marked as sinners and excluded from important communal activities. Local monks believed such exclusion was contrary to the….