Manuscript of The Annunciation to the Shepherds, courtesy of Wikipedia

Denton Mystery Worship Eleven: Reflections on The Messiah and Methodism

[Note: I am working on assignment for the Denton Record Chronicle to visit different places of worship weekly and write about my experiences. Those columns can be found here. Full disclosure: I am affiliated with the church described below and … Continue reading Denton Mystery Worship Eleven: Reflections on The Messiah and Methodism

Photo courtesy of http://creativity103.com

Denton Mystery Worship Nine: Incense, Bells, Exclusion, and the Economy

“Advent is not Christmas. We want the celebration of the day without the hard work of preparation.” With these words, the Rev. Kathryn Thompson, Rector, began her first Sunday in Advent message at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in … Continue reading Denton Mystery Worship Nine: Incense, Bells, Exclusion, and the Economy

Christmas: It’s Worth Celebrating

It’s about the poor and left out. That’s the main message of Christmas–doesn’t matter what religion or beliefs you hold, the center of this crazy, shopping-exhausted, fueled-by-adrenaline partied, frenzied decorated, over-the-top worship-extravaganzad day is that invisible, lonely, cast-out, poor and powerless people matter. We just tend to forget that in the stampede for the “perfect” Christmas, be it gift, meal, family, event or decor. Christmas is about the minimum-wage person who exhaustedly checked you out on the last-minute shopping. Christmas is about the “undeserving” poor, who are currently the object of much disdain. Christmas is about the people who are … Continue reading Christmas: It’s Worth Celebrating

The Bleak Midwinter: Why Sad Music at this Time of the Year?

I wrote this column last year and it turned out to be a huge hit on this blog, so decided to run it again this year. Dear Christmas Advice-Giver, Why are some of the religious Christmas Carols so sad when this is the season of happiness?  I mean, really, “In the Bleak Midwinter?” Nothing like a downer.  Aren’t we all supposed to be just super joyful right now?  And what does “bleak” mean anyway? Signed, “Bleakless” Dear Bleakless, Here’s the situation:  For much of Christian church history (i.e., before advertising took over the world), the four weeks before Christmas Day … Continue reading The Bleak Midwinter: Why Sad Music at this Time of the Year?

The Crusty Poinsettias; The Crusted Over Soul

Yearly, members of the church I serve order poinsettias to decorate the worship center during Advent and into Christmas. We purchase them through a local non-profit agency that helps the impoverished in the area as part of their yearly fund-raising efforts. This year, I jokingly challenged the congregation to order lots of them to make sure that I got my December exercise, since this will be my last year to undertake the task of KEEPING ALL THOSE POINSETTIAS ALIVE UNTIL CHRISTMAS! Yes, all caps on that one. Poinsettias are tropical plants, and grow in rainforest areas.  They want damp air … Continue reading The Crusty Poinsettias; The Crusted Over Soul