Showing posts from December, 2023

David, Goliath, Taylor Swift & Jesus

MEDITATION #1 Taylor Swift wasn’t always the megastar she is now. In late 2006, Swift was a 17-year-old burgeoning Country artist trying to make it big, signed to an independent label, then the tiniest in Nashville. She was the first and only artist signed to that label and knew even at her young age the odds were not in her favor. Country music then and now is controlled by mammoth record labels, namely Universal and Sony. They produced the hits and the stars. A tiny independent label with its 17-year-old singer-songwriter didn’t stand a chance. It was a David versus Goliath story in the making. Out of the context of this underdog story, Taylor Swift began writing a song titled “Change,” her kind of retelling of the David and Goliath story. Here’s a live, acoustic version of that song from 2008 [Goliath] got closer and closer to David, and his shield-bearer was in front of him. When the Philistine Goliath looked David over, he sneered at David because he was just a boy; red

A Christmas Meditation

Were you there when he first breathed in this world? Were you there when he first breathed in this world? Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when he first breathed in this world? Maybe you were one of the shepherds, eking out a life when that good news of great joy flew from the voices of angels; a shepherd knowing a quiet desperation, invisible, seen as lesser-than in society, feeling excluded, longing for belonging, perennially kept on the outside looking in, then welcomed in to the story of God. Maybe you were one of the magi, those wise ones from afar, on a journey elsewhere but pining for a home you left behind; a magi, a vagabond void of magic going into the great unknown, presumed to have all answers but really just rich with questions and thirsting for truth, then, once at his feet, in his face, you experienced the truth of love. Maybe you were Joseph, a working man, a common man, not sure of what to do, where to go, how to fit into the

Three Kings, One Present

  When I was maybe in the 5 th or 6 th grade, I played a trumpet solo for the Christmas Eve service. I played the old Christmas carol “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” As famous as the carol is, it’s not so biblically accurate. According to Matthew 1, magi, three or more, visit Jesus. They were not kings. Magi were priests and practitioners of the Zoroastrian faith. That said, there are 3 kings to be found in the story of Jesus’ birth. And Palestine was then considered the Orient, a term we no longer use. So, there are 3 kings there in the so-called Orient. Who are these 3 kings? One king is obvious. The other two kings are more implicit in our wonderful narrative from Luke 2.  Who are they? Well, the first one, as I said, should be obvious to us, though not at all obvious to those who meet him in the story. Tomorrow is this king’s day, this newborn king lying in a feeding trough for the farm animals. Jesus, even as a newborn, is the king of his people. But what’s even mo

Variations On the Theme of the Gospel

The angel said to them, “Don't be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy. Our reading from John 1 mentions the making straight of the way of the Lord. The passage from Luke 2, mentions the bringing of good news. How is the way of God and the good news related? Well, the way of God is the good news. The way of God and the good news are in many ways interrelated terms. So, you’ll hear those terms interrelated in this reflection A larger question is this what is the way of God? What is the good news? If you look at the Bible both Old and New Testaments, there are variations, variations on how the way of God, the gospel is defined. That’s right, variations on the theme of the gospel. There are three overarching variations. The first variation comes from the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament to Christians. This is the BC, Before Christ, variation. In the Hebrew Bible, the OT, the gospel, the way of God, amounts to God’s covenant with an enslaved and oppressed

Trinity As a Wheel

What do you envision when you think about the Trinity? Is there an image that pops into your head? Maybe a triangle? Maybe that Rubin painting of the Trinity? I will say, that I do envision something when I think about the Trinity. The image that pops into my head is a fairly new one, but one that has stuck. The image of the Trinity that pops into my head is that of a 3-spoked wheel and one that is self-propelling. Now you know the rationale for the image in your bulletins. The 3 spokes ought to be clear – Father Spoke, Son Spoke, Holy Spirit Spoke… no pun intended. But why a wheel? Why the image of a wheel? Well, there’s movement and we might say traveling involved in the story of the biblical God, right? God isn’t confined to moving around in the heavens out there. God doesn’t simply act and move and progress outside of and separate from creation. No, God travels from heaven enters earth and moves within it. According to the Bible, we have two big examples of God travel

The Comings of Christ

  Maybe you’re wondering what our gospel reading from Mark has to do with the beginning of Advent, the time in the Christian calendar when we wait for Christ to come. First of all, Jesus is speaking, meaning there is no waiting involved. And that's only the beginning. Have you ever noticed how with the Christian calendar, time overlaps, intersperses, and intermingles? Advent begins our wait for Christ, a Christ who is already here and has been since the beginning. We call this paradox, and paradox is a thing in our faith. I mean, Communion is a part of our Christian calendar. In fact, we just remembered and recalled the real spiritual presence of Christ’s body and blood. Yet we also honor today the beginning of Advent, the time of waiting for Christ’s presence on earth to arrive. Time for us as the circle of Christ-followers isn’t perfectly linear. This is not an a to b to c to d faith. A, b, c, and d overlap, intermingle, sing together! This should be no surprise. God i