TSO’s song “Old City Bar” speaks to a common problem—making Christmas last throughout the year. Understanding Epiphany as the reality of Christ’s presence with us is key to our ongoing experience of the joy of Christ’s Advent.
The song “Mary, did you know” has become quite controversial. But the real question during this Advent season is not what Mary knew but what we know about Mary. As a protestant evangelical I’m aware that some in my circles are suspicious of any focus on Mary. After all, the Gospels are about Jesus, and there is relatively little about Mary in them, and even less about her in the rest of the New Testament. Christian reflection on Mary has produced a detailed Mariology, viewed at times by protestants as mariolatry. In any event, the gospel story of Jesus begins with Mary, so we turn to her in this post in the hope that we can shed some light and turn down the heat.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Mark, mainly because I just contributed a post on Mark for Credo magazine. After writing the post, it occurred to me that what I was seeing in Mark is a huge reason for thanksgiving. As you may have guessed, Mark has nothing to say about turkey and all the trimmings. In fact, although Mark directly mentions giving thanks only a few times, his story of Jesus gives us a profound reason for thanksgiving. In the USA the Thanksgiving holiday is November 28 this year, but Mark’s message gives us something to be thankful for every day of the year. God does not give up on flawed followers of Jesus, and neither should we.
I never tire of listening to Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I’m hooked from the first strum of the Asus2 chord to the ninth time the haunting guitar riff is played as the song fades out. But for me as a believer in and student of the Bible, the most significant part of the song is the question “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?”
Reformation Day is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our use of the Bible. It seems clear that Luther’s 95 Theses were prompted by his careful biblical exegesis. Does anyone out there still do that sort of thing?
In a recent sermon my pastor Joel Wayne said “Social media provides the illusion of companionship without the demands of a relationship.” He was making the point that many who are active in social media acknowledge deep loneliness. Joel contrasted this with encountering Jesus as he is presented in the New Testament in a community of faith. I came away wondering whether Pastor Joel’s comment about social media could be applied to what passes for community in many churches. Paul’s teaching in Ephesians about participation with Christ in authentic community speaks truth to this problem.