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The Holy Nativity of a Human Jesus

On the First Sunday of the Advent season this year – for those Christian faith communities that observe a liturgical calendar — the traditional four weeks of waiting on the tiptoe of expectation only lasted until 1:37 PM that afternoon for our family; when my own daughter gave birth to her first-born child.

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A Mystical Christmas

Try and imagine you are a four year old child. On Christmas Eve there are still no packages, there is no Christmas tree and there are very few decorations. In those early days shortly after WWII this was not all that unusual. I have no memory of thinking it was strange. Those were tough economic times for just about everyone. We were going to my grandparent’s house to celebrate Christmas with them and I was told that Santa might leave my present there.

But when this four year old woke up, there was a beautiful tree decorated with sparkling white lights, and tinsel, so carefully strung over the branches that they could be removed just as carefully and saved for the next year. The little living room had lights and white cotton decoration that seemed to glisten. Waking up to this beautiful scene was a wonder. It was magical, and I dare say, even mystical.

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Cuddling with Jesus

I do believe mainstream Christians have a problem with intimacy. I once heard seminary professor and author Carter Heyward describe their God as a “Gentleman God,” embarrassed by sexual passion, yet too polite and dispassionate to be rabidly anti-gay. And the changing position of the Beloved Disciple may have to do with a fear of homoerotic implications.

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A Joyful Path, Year One, Lesson 35: Experiencing God as Joy, A Christmas Lesson

We know true joy when we experience the reality of God’s presence within. The word joy is used at Christmastime so often that it is almost synonymous with the season. When we have an inner awareness of the presence of God, we experience joy. When we celebrate the birth of Christ, we celebrate that living presence born on earth. Joyful day! God’s presence can be experienced in every moment of our lives when we become aware that the reality of God never changes; it is not dependent on circumstance or season.

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Kidnapping Jesus

Progressive Christian Reflections

On several occasions I have persuaded George Lynch to tell his story about fellow students at the conservative evangelical Gordon-Conwell Seminary near Boston kidnapping the baby Jesus from the manger of the Christmas crèche, holding him hostage until the food in the dining hall was improved.

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Advent Prayer

We crouch with Mary on the straw of our messy lives
letting go of everything but this moment.

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Admissions and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Jesus’ Followers

The four gospels divide Jesus’ followers into three groups. The Greek word “ochloi” refers to the crowds who gathered when Jesus preached; “Mathetes” refers to the followers who stuck around for more teaching; and “Apostolos” refers to the disciples, those chosen by Jesus as his inner circle.

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Step Away From the Bible!

Although they’d be horrified to hear it, militant atheists and Christian fundamentalists share one thing in common. They both read the Bible badly. Their interpretive reading skills, at least when it comes to scripture, are stuck in what psychologist James Fowler calls the mythic-literal stage, a cognitive level appropriate for youngsters but not for adults.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Mary and Joseph

What does the New Testament tell us about Mary? Mark, the earliest gospel, did not include a birth narrative, so his mentions of Mary are vague and not very flattering. He says Jesus’ family (the family isn’t specified; does he mean Mary and Joseph or Mary and Jesus’ brothers?) attempted to restrain him because people were claiming he was out of his mind (Mark 3:21). If Mary was present, it seems strange that other gospel verses say she was visited by an angel who told her that she would conceive a special child or to whom Luke says shepherds came in wonder to visit her newborn child or to whom Matthew says wise men journeyed to bring gifts to welcome her wondrous child’s birth.

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A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

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The Donkey’s Dream

A beautifully illustrated story of the Nativity. He was just an ordinary donkey, but on his back he carried a miracle. He carried the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem on the night she gave birth. Along the way he dreamed he was carrying a city, a ship, a fountain, and a rose. He dreamed he was carrying a lady full of heaven–and he was. Barbara Helen Berger’s glowing artwork and lyrical text perfectly convey the beauty and majesty of the story of the Nativity

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