Showing posts from 2015

To Be the Apprentice of a Newborn

Jesus and the Shepherds take their places in our Creche. They go together as they go together in the climax of the nativity story. Jesus and the Shepherds are tied together, and will be so forever. Why shepherds? Why did God first give the good news about Jesus’ arrival to the shepherds? Yes, Jesus’ family of course knew. But the shepherds were the first neutral party to hear the news. Why? There are a few reasons, I’d say. I give them quickly before I get to the heart of what I want to say. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, will later call Jesus "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."  So, the shepherds come to see this new lamb who will change their lives.  Then, there is the even-then revered scripture, the 23 rd Psalm – "The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want."   The Gospels will later point to Jesus as this Good Shepherd.   So, the shepherds are also coming to visit a fellow shepherd, the shepherd’s shepherd, the shepherd of al

Keep Christ in Christmas Creep

So a couple weeks ago, I took Corey to a department store. Of course, we walked toward the toy section. And upon seeing signs of Christmas, what exactly I cannot recall, Corey says, “What!? Christmas stuff already. It isn’t Halloween yet.” I am sure he learned this from me, but it was funny hearing him say it, and so expressively. Who hasn’t said this? Add in the yearly anthem of resistance, which we all can bet on hearing soon – that of Keep Christ in Christmas – and we have a couple examples of unconscious Christmas traditions, traditions that tap into negativity amid the positivity of the season. However, when you look at these two traditional complaints we all either say or hear, they are built on a misconception. Both the “Christmas stuff already?” and “Keep Christ in Christmas” conceits imply that there is something novel, something newly wrong that we need to resist, some traditions we need to preserve. Yet looking at the history of such things, we would see that these

Harry Potter & A Pastor's Reflection

PART 1 READING : I Corinthians 15:22-26 (v. 26 quoted in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows , p. 328 )  For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. REFLECTION So, Harry Potter. I grew up in the Luke Skywalker era, not the Harry Potter era. Star Wars is making a comeback, however, the original era was the late 70s, early 80s. I missed the Harry Potter era by some 15 years or so. At least, I missed it directly. Even grown adults could not miss the phenomenon that was Harry Potter beginning in the late-90s. I

The Shepherd's Leading

There is no more famous refrain as the beginning of our scripture this morning, “The Lord is my shepherd.” The first sentence of this beautiful, timeless, ancient poem provides us a metaphor that is essential in understanding God. The Lord as shepherd. God as shepherd. God as pastor, which is another translation for it. What does this mean? Have you ever contemplated the work of a shepherd? In North Orange where I live it is easier to do, I suppose. I have some sheep and shepherds as neighbors. One actually gets a great picture of a shepherd in the parable I shared with the children. A good shepherd cares for his sheep as if their parent. The shepherd is a guardian, a protector, a watchmen, a caregiver, not to mention a midwife. The shepherd also develops a bond with his sheep. He gets to know them personally, gets to know their personalities, their tendencies, their quirks, and their routines. He even names them. And as the parable shows, when one goes astray, which l

In Remembrance of Fred Mock (1/29/28-12/27/14 )

Etched by my 7 year-old son months before Fred's Passing The first time I met Fred was at a supper Murray and he hosted for Corey, Holly and I along with the pastoral search committee. It was part of my candidating process. We were a bit nervous. But were quickly put at ease. With Fred, no matter who met him I’d imagine , the first impression was clear and true and lasting . I sensed right away that this is a man of profound goodness, a goodness running as deep as the ocean he loved . It wasn’t peripheral or partial. Goodness was the soil of his soul.   Why did I sense this? Why did so many of you here like me sense this?  Where did that goodness come from?   Well, of course, as a minister, I believe goodness comes straight from G od. Goodness is God’s life at work in us. It’s in us all, as bearers of God’s image in real time. Fred simply had the gift of expressing so well that goodness we all have. He also had the gift bringing out that same goodness in oth