Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection

Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday during the winter? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate his birthday at all? It is not as if we know Jesus’ actual date of birth.

All we know is what the gospels reveal. We know that at the first Christmas, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8). Shepherds in the Middle East only pasture their flocks at night when it is warm out. During the winter, it is too cold. Instead of being in the fields, the sheep like being snuggled together toasty warm in a nice pen. This means that more than likely Jesus was born in the warmth of the late spring, the summer, or the early autumn. This is Read more “Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection”

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The Spirit Doesn’t Protect You From Stupidity

If there is one thing the book of Judges teaches, it’s this:  God’s Spirit doesn’t prevent you from doing something stupid.

Jephthah-full-1

Which turns out to be really good news.

But we’ll get to that. Read more “The Spirit Doesn’t Protect You From Stupidity”

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The Christian community validates Jesus’ legitimacy (or at least it should)

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This is the transcription of a sermon that I preached at Elk Grove Congregational Church on 6/29/14. It is, in fact, the first transcript I’ve ever shared and the form is different from what I normally post on an irenicon.
[Lectionary: Jer 28:5-9   |  Mat 10:40-42]

Good morning, friends.

Thank you, James, for this opportunity to speak and, as he says, “it’s better when we’re together.” It’s good to be with you all.

My name is Allen and, as some of you know, I am a recent seminary graduate. In my past life I was a youth pastor, had even received my bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, but attending Seminary has given me a  new (and ever growing) appreciation for the significance of what we do.

It’s a big thing to speak the words of God.
It’s a big thing to identify as a Christian and claim to know that God would have us do “X” or that God would have us do “Y.” Read more “The Christian community validates Jesus’ legitimacy (or at least it should)”

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Purity Culture, Jesus, and the Markan Narrative

The evangelical obsession with purity.

Reminds me of ritual purity law.

Especially when it determines who is inside the circle.

And who is not.

Purity

The Gospel of Mark is full of little devices I like to call “Markan sandwiches,” though more reasonable people use the term interpolations. The author of Mark creates these textual sandwiches by starting a story, inserting a second, then finishing the first.

If the sandwich in Mark 5 were real, the text would be grilled cheese and the author Alton Brown. Read more “Purity Culture, Jesus, and the Markan Narrative”

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What If I Told You There Was No “Inn”

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:4-7

Manger

It’s a tale as old as time:  pregnant couple travels home for the census, cannot find room at the inn when she’s ready to deliver the bun she’s been baking, stodgy innkeeper sends them out back to party in the barn. Cue baby Jesus, no-crying-he-makes (which is a fairly impressive feat for anyone spending the night among animals… much less an infant).  Read more “What If I Told You There Was No “Inn””

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Praying Like You Aren’t Perfect

This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.

-Augustine

English: 2 men pray next to a camel in the mid...

I guess it’s a bold thing to pray as an imperfect person, for imperfect people.  I understand this so well, in fact, that I often find myself cleaning up my act before I hold conference with the Almighty.

I know I haven’t been doing very good by You, but I swear I’ll change if you listen. Read more “Praying Like You Aren’t Perfect”

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