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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

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?

Christmas Advice Column: Why Sad Christmas Music?

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 were weeks of soul-searching, fasting, and preparation.  The formal name for this time is Advent, which simply means “coming toward.”  So, we are “coming toward” the … Continue reading Christmas Advice Column: Why Sad Christmas Music?

Prepare The Way

His voice cries out and says, “Get that road straight—the glory of the Lord is about to appear!” These words, loosely paraphrased, are from Isaiah 40, that beautiful passage that starts with, “Comfort, O comfort my people.” Several of the movements in Handel’s “Messiah” come from these great Scriptures. Rough and ready John the Baptist repeats this phrase hundreds of years later just as Jesus is getting ready to step into the public eye of ministry. John tells people to prepare the way by repenting, because the kingdom of heaven is near. The kingdom of heaven, the glory of God: … Continue reading Prepare The Way

This Time of the Year

Always at this time of the year, I find myself both looking forward to and dreading Christmas. I look forward to the music, to the lights and decorations. They remind me of angelic hosts announcing good news that God enters fully into human experience. I delight in the extra generosity that encourages us to look out for others especially at this time of the year. I am grateful for the parties and those who go to the trouble to host them and for the family gatherings that renew those precious ties to one another. I enjoy the pleasure some of … Continue reading This Time of the Year

Practice Abnormality

Guess what? Scholars have finally figured out that forgiving others is really good for you! An article in a publication that deals in the latest issues in higher education has confirmed this. Since these researchers agree, it must be right. Wow–what a piece of intriguing news–that this whole biblical idea that we really should set down those grudges and resentments might actually pay off! Forgive my sarcasm, but sometimes I wonder why something like this has to be quantified to be believed. This is not rocket science. Forgiveness and reconciliation are absolute basic necessities to forming human communities that actually … Continue reading Practice Abnormality

The Disruptive Birth

It’s nearly here now. Next Sunday, December 23, marks the last Sunday in Advent, that time of waiting and preparation so we are ready to receive the gift of the baby in the manger. Of course, not many of us have taken the time we need to get our hearts fully prepared. I, of course, am one who, though full of good intentions, just didn’t take all the time I had planned so I, too, could be in a state of complete readiness when I come to adore the baby. On the other hand, it is not all that hard … Continue reading The Disruptive Birth

The Hope of Peace

I fixed my washing machine last week. Now, to some of you, that would be no big deal. But for some of us mechanically impaired, this was MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT. Those who were at church on Nov. 25 heard the truly pitiful tale of my complete inability not only to change a flat tire but to even recognize that I had one.  As a friend of mine said, “Christy, there are angels in heaven set aside just to watch over people like you!” OK, to get back to this washing machine. My husband bought it from his parent’s estate. Here’s how … Continue reading The Hope of Peace