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Posts from the ‘Advent/Christmas’ Category

I’m Not Ready for Christmas

It is December 21, 2012; four days from the day we celebrate the birth of Christ. The forecast calls for bitter cold and snow, so we may just have a white Christmas this year after a mostly brown and warm December. The malls are teeming with chaotic life and ravenous spending (I survived my one and only foray into the temple to consumerism with the kids last night!). The end of the madness draws nigh. I know this to be so because, aside from the aforementioned evidence, I have also reached my customary level of perplexed irritation at being asked the tired old question, “So, are you ready for Christmas?” Read more

Merry Meaningless Christmas!

The story of Christmas is little more than one enormous fiction. So I was grimly informed by an essay from a while back that I chanced upon today. Emmanuel, “God with us,” the “humble king” and all that—just pleasant illusions that we entertain ourselves with each year on our naively hopeful and recklessly irresponsible way to the mall to anesthetize our miserable selves with shopping and candy. Read more


My daily prayers throughout the Advent season thus far have been guided by the second volume of Take Our Moments and Our Days, which runs from Advent through to Pentecost. One of the readings for Morning Prayer today was a familiar one from the Gospel of Luke: Read more

Nothing New?

I was reading a book recently—I don’t remember exactly when—when, after reading a particular paragraph, I closed the book in irritated frustration. “I’ve read about a hundred paragraphs just like that one,” I thought. I had the same experience on my morning walk today, listening to a sermon. I heard the preacher breathlessly declaring the wondrous significance of some Greek word and what it meant for us today, and thought to myself, “I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard something like that before and it contributes precisely nothing to my understanding of this text.” So many words—in print or out loud—saying the same old things, again and again and again…

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Far From God

Last night as bedtime approached, my daughter was sitting at the kitchen counter casually thumbing through one of those Bibles that has a “Where to Find Help When…” indexes in the front. It’s quite a resource. Whatever your problem—“Sleeplessness” or “Difficulty in Witnessing,” “Tempted to Envy” or “Choosing a Career”—there are 3-5 verses conveniently listed to address it. The Bible as self-help manual, apparently. Or something like that. It’s an approach to Scripture that irritates me, in many ways, and breaks any number of exegetical/hermeneutical principles along the way, but I suppose these things must occasionally do some good. I guess. Read more


Gratitude was the topic du jour on my morning commute today. CBC Radio’s The Current had a psychologist from Northeastern University on the program to talk about the “upward spiral” of gratitude and generosity that can result if we cultivate these attitudes and behaviours, and how this upward spiral can be passed down our social networks leading to strengthened relationships and healthier mental well-being. Sounds pretty good! Read more

Children as Gospel

This past Sunday evening was our children’s Christmas program. It was a wonderful and wonderfully diverse production. From pre-schoolers playing “Silent Night” on hand bells to high schoolers’ strumming “Jesus Messiah” on electric guitars, to little Marys and Josephs in housecoats and shepherds and angels and botched candle-lightings and memorized poems and rousing renditions of familiar carols, it was a delightful collection of parts that contributed to a marvellous whole.   Read more


One of the texts that I spent some time on during last Sunday’s sermon was Isaiah 40:1-11 which speaks of good things coming from the wilderness. Words of comfort for beleaguered exiles, words of hope in the God who raises the valleys and brings low the mountains, words of good tidings to be proclaimed from the mountaintops, that the Lord comes to his people with strength and with compassion. Good words, from the wilderness. Read more

It Is To You My Heart Calls

One of my trusted companions throughout each Advent Season over the last few years has been a little reader put together by the folks at Regent College called The Candle and the Crown. Each day there are two Scripture readings and short reflections by Regent faculty, alumni, and others—one for the morning and one for the evening.

Among the Scripture readings this week was the twenty-seventh Psalm, which has long been one of my favourite psalms. The combination of joyful, expectant hope, longing, and raw honesty has made this psalm a frequent destination for me. As with so many of the Psalms (and Scripture in general), I find that these ancient words narrate and interpret my own experience so many years later. Read more

“Love Cannot From its Post Withdraw”

As another week nears its scrambly conclusion, and as the pace of life begins to pick up as it inevitably (and unfortunately) does each year around this time, and as I begin to turn my heart and mind towards themes of Advent—themes of waiting, expectation, longing, hope—and as I begin again to ponder once again what it means to affirm and follow a God who I believe has come, continues to come, and will come, it was wonderful to hear Derek Webb’s version of  William Gadsby’s classic hymn “The Love of Christ is Rich and Free” come through the random iTunes shuffler this morning.   Read more

Faith is Patience

So Advent has come and gone and with it, the liturgical theme of “waiting” for God. Every year, we rehearse the story, we light the candles, we read the Scriptures, and we wait for the Christ child. Every year, we are told, Jesus comes to us anew. Every year, our waiting ends on Christmas day only to begin again next year. Waiting, it sometimes seems, is endless. Read more

Hope Goes On

I came across this image today and couldn’t resist posting it.

There are probably a number of ways of interpreting it on this Christmas Eve, 2010. Does it portray the decreasing relevance of Christmas in a mostly secular culture? The slow demise of the hope and faith of the season into a sea of nihilistic postmodern despair? The long overdue demise of  the confused mixture of pagan and Christian imagery so prominent in our culture this time of year? Some combination of the above? Read more

Christmas Confusion

I couldn’t help but chuckle at the conclusion of tonight’s edition of Coach’s Corner on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. Cherry’s shtick was his usual combination of lightly-informed, opinionated bravado and Canadian hockey machismo, but as is increasingly often the case, it was also the opportunity for him to step up his soap box. Read more

The Risk of Birth

This poem came through the inbox today and I thought it was too good not to share. In a season where the words that fill our days are so often kitschy and sales-pitchy, it is refreshing to come across better ones—words that are simple, beautiful, and true. Read more


Once a month or so, a few of us head over to the local Presbyterian church to help out with their weekly community lunch. Every week, this church opens its doors to the community for soup, sandwiches, conversation, or just a chance to get out of the rain. The church is located right beside a high school, so they get a lot of high school students, but they also get a small contingent of folks who don’t have a whole lot and could use a hot meal. Read more


A friend sent this to me yesterday and it made me smile. There is probably no shortage of insightful theological/cultural commentary that might be offered on this—something about the irony of the music that once graced the cathedrals of Europe being brought into our modern cathedrals of consumption and hedonism, about the subversiveness of importing the themes of this piece into a secular context, about the potential reorientation of our conceptions of what is important at Christmas etc, etc. Read more

Optimism vs. Hope

This week I have the happy task of preparing a sermon on the very seasonally appropriate theme of hope. “Hope” is one of those words that is overused, abused, and reduced to marketing slogans or political campaigning, but which is nonetheless a vitally important word to retain. In my reading, I continue to make my through Miroslav Volf’s Against the Tide and was intrigued to come across his distinction between optimism and hope. Optimism, according to Volf, is based on “extrapolative cause and effect thinking” whereby we “draw conclusions about the future on the basis of experience with the past and the present.” Hope, on the other hand, is based not on situation-dependent possibilities or predictive accuracy, but on the character and trustworthiness of God. Read more

A Christmas Story

Tuesdays are usually a bit different than other days for me. My wife works from 2-9 pm so I pick the kids up from school and work from home. Or at least I try to. Of course, there are inevitably numerous distractions, minor crises and irritants to put up with, as well as such essential tasks as dinner preparation, help with homework, the circus of bedtime, and any number of other things to deal with. Suffice to say, that Tuesday afternoon/evening is not typically the most productive time of my week. Read more