No Magi Allowed

As I set out to write one last epistle reflection of 2015, there is one meme that I have seen again and again in subtle, and not so subtle, ways on Facebook. Jokes pointing toward the status of characters in the Christmas story who don’t fit with our comfortable sensibilities. Just take a look at this one highlighting who the Magi were. Others have pointed out the refugee status of the Holy family escaping to Egypt, or the poor and lowly status of Shepherds coming in from the fields. All political joking aside, there is an important and oft overlooked theological truth lurking behind these cartoons—God chooses the least expected people to play the role of heroes of the faith. Again and again, the Bible highlights God working through people like Mary—an unwed teenage mother; the Magi—foreign religious leaders from what is modern day Iran; Shepherds—perhaps the modern day equivalent would be migrant farm workers. All of these are people

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A Good Soundtrack for Your Wait

Let’s take a moment and talk Christmas music. Many of my colleagues in ministry are quite adamant that using Christmas music right now during advent is uncouth, inappropriate, or anathema. I understand where they are coming from—we need to spend advent as a season of waiting, we need to prepare ourselves before we welcome the Christ Child, and we need to resist the temptation of the culture to start the Christmas season in October. All that being said, I think we need Christmas Carols earlier than December 24th. Now, I always cringe when I hear that first Christmas carol in a department story in late October, and I am always tempted to write cranky letters when that inevitably happens. When I hear those tunes so early, I begin to feel that the purpose of the music has nothing to do with the coming holiday, and everything to do with an out of control capitalistic system that wants to turn the

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Stop. Listen. Think. Then Let’s Talk.

Here we are again. I write to you in the wake of yet another bout of mass violence in our country. Information is still coming in as to what exactly happened in San Bernardino, but suffice it to say, it should not have happened. Of course, in the wake of those shootings, the usual politicians and pundits are lining up to use this to support their cause, whether that be arming everyone (from the right) or gun control (on the left). We could all learn a thing or two from our scripture passage this week. Instead of trying to be the first one to say something clever, or being the one to start the Twitter storm and get all the attention, perhaps it is better to stop and listen. This week we are looking at the story of Zechariah. Now, many of you may not be familiar with this story, because unfortunately, it is left out of the lectionary and

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