Well, I’d planned to do a lot more blogging over the Christmas break, but stomach bugs have ways of changing one’s plans, and my wife and I spent most of Christmas and the days immediately thereafter awash in nausea and/or poop as one by one we all fell to the virus.
On that lovely note, Happy New Year! To ease back into the swing of blogging, I’m going to follow the crowd and list the most viewed posts from 2012:
For all the talk about post-Christian societies and all the fear mongering about impending secularization and persecution, the reality remains: If you are Christian in America, you are most likely comfortable, accepted – and extremely powerful.
The question, then, is what do we do with this power?
The men didn’t get it. They betrayed, abandoned and hung him on a cross. Yet while he was there, who stayed with him? The women. They got it. They stayed at the cross. They returned to the tomb, and as a result, were the first to see the risen Christ. The crucifixion and resurrection stories do not have a “masculine feel.” Indeed, the whole life of Christ is decidedly opposed to the masculine norms of his day.
Two weeks ago, our church did communion down front, “Catholic style.” We all stood up and took the crackers and the little plastic cups from servers at the front of the auditorium. I brought my daughter, mostly because I didn’t want her getting into trouble way in the back while we were at the front. After I had taken communion, the sweet older ladies who were serving us leaned down to my daughter’s level and said (paraphrasing): “Jesus loves you very much, and this is the life he gave for you.” And she took her first communion.
Often when I discuss politics on here, I cast it in terms of morality and compassion. What does a moral, compassionate society look like, and how do we as Christians work to achieve that? I firmly believe one way is quit supporting organizations whose positions are morally repugnant and uncompassionate. The NRA is one such organization.
This insidious notion of the “deserving” versus the “undeserving” poor has infected every level of our discourse. It determines whether we roll down the window and give change to the guy with the cardboard sign. It shows up in our attitudes toward the impoverished who live in the neighborhoods around our churches. And it reveals itself, sometimes more surprisingly honest than others, in our political discourse.
6. Love Wins
Many Christians would likely condemn Les and Scott GrantSmith for their relationship. There was a time I would have, too. But love is a mighty, inexorable power. It leads a man to accept his partner’s new identity, and it leads a man to sacrifice himself for a people who despise him. It saves us all from the slavery of sin and death.
It’s no coincidence that Christmas occurs so closely to the winter solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year. In premodern rural cultures, the lengthening of the days (i.e., the “rebirth” of the sun) was a significant sign of hope for the coming spring and reason to celebrate. The parallels between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son were simply too easy for the church to ignore them – and indeed why should it have?
[O]ur professor certainly advocates a return to the way things used to be, and that’s a fairly conservative position, even if what he envisions would be considered a radical change from how things are practiced in most churches today.
I’m not sure I agree with him – culture often has defined worship services more than any particular doctrinal stance.
[R]ather than spend my morning turning exquisite phrases of outrage, allow me to focus on something positive. This weekend, I read an amazing story from The Washington Post‘s Petula Dvorak about a transgender 5-year-old. Yes, you read that correctly.
The prophets in each case argue the technical aspects of the worship simply don’t matter – the songs, the offerings, the feasts, the prayers – it’s all worthless compared to how the congregation treats the poor, upholds justice, opposes oppression and loves others.
It was a good year for the blog; thanks for coming along for the ride. I’m grateful for your readership this past year and in the one to come.