Showing posts from December, 2012

Like Grass

My lawn is kind of brown.

This time of year, that's to be expected. Depending on the type of grass, it turns brown while going into hibernation just like a lot of animals, lying dormant and awaiting spring. That's the basic earth science answer.

A couple weeks ago, I stood at my window for a while, coffee in hand (of course), just looking around at my yard. I certainly wasn't watching it grow, both because it wasn't going to and because that'd be about as exciting as watching paint dry. No, I was just having one of those moments where I felt moved to just look out at my little subdivision landscape, contemplating the small fir trees in the far corner and the frost evaporating in the morning sun.

It's not completely brown, you understand. There are just patches of it here and there and, by my assessment, those patches have been there since the scorching summer temperatures turned them that way. I barely had to mow but two or three times during those months with…

Year-End Pop Culture Roundup 2012

It's the last Roundup of the year, which of course means my top picks for what I've experienced over the past 365 days or so. Numbers are for convenience purposes only. [And the movie section has been updated. - ed]

Five Books I Enjoyed in 2012

1.Bossypants - In this at times funny, at times touching memoir, Tina Fey recounts her early life as well as the span of her career by mixing hilarious self-deprecating anecdotes and more serious lessons that she has learned, all with an easy-flowing writing style and great humor throughout. Fey particularly focuses on her experiences as a woman in comedy, which many still consider a man's world, gently exposing some prejudices and giving advice for any female readers looking to break into the business, as well as her discoveries as a mother. I could easily hear her voice as I read, which somehow added to the book's whimsy.

2.Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - In this work of historical fiction (obviously...or is it?), Seth Grahame…

Christmas Eve

Why do you not think of him
As the coming one,
Imminent from all eternity;
the future one,
The final fruit of a tree
Whose leaves we are?
What keeps you from projecting
His birth into times
That are in process of becoming
And living your life
Like a painful and beautiful day
In the history of a great gestation?
For do you not see
How everything that happens
Keeps on being a beginning?
And could not it be his beginning
Since beginning is in itself
Always so beautiful?
If He is the most perfect,
Must not the lesser be before Him,
So that He can choose Himself
Out of fullness and overflow?
Must He not be the last,
In order to encompass
Everything within Himself,
And what meaning would we have if He
Whom we long for had already been?
Celebrate Christmas
In this devout feeling
That perhaps He needs
This very fear of life from you
In order to begin;
These very days of your transition
Are perhaps the time
When everything in you is working at Him.
Be patient and without resentment
And think that the least we can do
Is to make Hi…

Small Sips Shares A Lot of Pictures

So...I didn't need to write a Christmas Eve sermon? The weather forecast looks a bit ominous:

Darn it, Mayans.

Preach, sister. Rachel Held Evans drops some theology on the "God isn't allowed in schools" types:
Or, most recently, you might have heard the rumor from Mike Hucakbee or a friend on Facebook, saying that God abandoned the children at Sandy Hook because, though children have every right to pray in public schools, those schools cannot sponsor prayer events out of deference to religious freedom. When asked where God was on that awful Friday morning, these Christians have said that God did not show up at Sandy Hook because “God is not allowed in public schools,” because “ we have systematically removed God” from that place. Brothers and sisters, let’s call this one for what it is: bullshit.  God can be wherever God wants to be. God needs no formal invitation. We couldn’t “systematically remove” God if we tried. If the incarnation teaches us anything, it’s that Go…

Rejoice, Rejoice

Since Friday afternoon, I've been feeling a bit numb.

I can't even really say that the day started all that well. I went to the church and sat, pondering the immense amount of packing that I'd need to start before too much longer. I went ahead and packed up some files that I knew I'd want to keep but wouldn't be needed in the next few months. That in itself was a moment that further communicated to me the finitude of this ministerial adventure I've been having for the past eight years.

Sometime that afternoon, I began reading about Newtown, Connecticut. The mentions of it on social media trickled at first, and then there was a deluge of conflicting news reports and raw reactions.

Senseless violence and death at an elementary school, many of the casualties a year or two older than Coffeeson. This was far from the first mass shooting in 2012, but my reaction to this one was quick, surprising, and all-encompassing. You're not supposed to drop off your kinderg…

Pop Culture Roundup

I recently finished reading God Is a Gift by Doug Reed, the review of which you can read here.

I also recently finished reading The Awakening of Hope by Jonathan Wilson-Hartsgrove, the review of which you can read here.

The season finale of Boardwalk Empire aired the other week, and it was as good of an ending that could be hoped for. Things got pretty bleak for Nucky heading into this episode, but things started looking up with the arrival of Capone and some muscle to help back him up. The show really seemed to come of age and find itself this season. In the first two seasons, it didn't always seem sure of what it wanted to be, much like its main protagonist. But this season, both he and the show seemed to figure things out. Gyp Rosetti ended up being a better foil than I initially thought he would, and Richard Harrow provided some much-needed heart to a show filled with people looking out for themselves. I greatly look forward to next fall when the show returns.

The video for &…

By the Light of the Tree

I slowly amble down the stairs, sleep still in my eyes, a hungry cat underfoot. Coffeewife's alarm has woken me as usual. Rather than fight it, I've become accustomed to starting my day when she does. Actually, I start mine earlier: she'll hit the snooze button four or five times before actually getting up.

The timer on the coffeemaker is one of my best friends. Gone are the days when I'd fumble around sleepily with filters and grounds; I'm able to just pour myself a steaming cup. I savor that first sip, and fancy a second. Third. Okay, I can do other things now.

The newsletter from my hometown church sits on the kitchen counter not yet read. I pick it up along with a small devotional booklet that the instructor of my spiritual direction program gave to the class, and sit on the couch right next to the Christmas tree.

Aside from the modest ones under the kitchen cabinets, I haven't turned on any lights. The tree stays lit at all times. It's just something …

Book Review: The Awakening of Hope by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

As a pastor, I read a lot of theology. I read it in preparation for my sermon each week. I read it while planning Bible study. I read it while preparing for my next spiritual direction class. I read it to stay caught up on new trends developing in response to society and culture. And occasionally, I read it for fun.

There come points, however, when I get sick of theology, especially in its abstract form. How many different ways can I read basically the same things about God's love, grace, forgiveness, presence, and on and on and on? It all blends together and, quite frankly, gets boring. There's only so much of it that I can take, especially if it doesn't seem very tied down to something tangible; some way it's being lived out in real time. I'll admit that reviewing the last book by Doug Reed was difficult for that reason: I'd hit one of those points where I was tired of bodiless ideas about God.

The irony of such bodiless ideas might be obvious to some: we cl…

Book Review: God Is a Gift by Doug Reed

Some say God has no needs; He is complete in and of Himself and could be perfectly happy if He were alone. From a certain perspective, this is true. However, if God is love, He does have one need: Love needs to give itself away. Love needs a beloved. - Doug Reed, God Is a Gift

As a pastor, I'm asked every so often about what book I might recommend to someone curious to hear more about the Christian faith. What would I give to someone who barely has even a minimum understanding of the faith culled from Sunday School 20 years earlier? Or what would I give to someone struggling with traditional Christian ideas; seeking a different way to think about God?

Strangely enough, I'm usually stumped by this question. Outside of recommending one of the Gospels, I've never been very certain about an answer. Sure, I could point to favorite books that have aided my own faith journey, but they're mostly the sorts of books that may shock, scandalize, or confuse someone trying to get a be…

Comfort and Joy

"You seem to want to be left alone. It's not bad, I've just noticed that before class you're very turned inward. I can shut up if you want."

I have some very perceptive classmates in my spiritual direction program. This is what one said to me a few weeks ago. The observation surprised me, both because of its direct nature but also because I wasn't fully aware that I was acting like that.

At the time, I was holding some news inside that I couldn't yet share with very many people: that of my upcoming transition. And really, not only that but also everything that would need to happen as a part of that: navigating goodbyes with my current call, home buying and selling issues, worries about how Coffeeson will react to the move. All of that had been swirling inside me for weeks, so it really shouldn't have been much of a surprise that it was affecting my behavior.

One thing that provided comfort in the midst of that was the appearance of Christmas decorati…

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