Unto Us a Child Is Born

The Brief Observance of a Holy Nativity

Even non-theists and progressive Christian types love to sing Christmas carols. And, as the British atheist, Alain de Botton, once said, “Religions are intermittently too useful, effective and intelligent to be abandoned to the religious alone.” The annual observance of one holy nativity is the perennial reminder to respect and beatify the dignity and sacredness of every birth, everywhere.

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Are we Christians or “Biblicans?”

In this article, I would like to point out 3 crucial problems that arise when one begins with “plain truths” about the book rather than the Christ, the Logos, the “structuring principle of reality.” (John 1:1–5)

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All I Want for Christmas Is an AK-47

When the Reason for the Season Goes Missing

This is the season Christian faith communities of every sort prepare in one way or another to observe the nativity of something deemed to be holy and salvific. We recall ancient prophecies that foretell a “prince of peace, and wonderful counselor” comes around each year with a message to save us from ourselves. (Isaiah 9:6)
Once born into a world of violence and terror not unlike our own, the message remains unchanged. Regrettably, so too has been the obstinate ways in which we have collectively refused to live with one another in response to that message.

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A Guide to Worship at College Heights Church

Written January 2002

Worship is a ‘receipt’ given to God in return for the divine gifts of life which we receive…. It is an artful response to our awe and wonderment at the miracle of creation which surrounds us…..

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What Shall We Overcome? Getting Atticus Out of Egypt

Racism, the Imbalance of Power, and the Response of the Prophetic Voice

The literary world is in an uproar, learning that a prequel to Harper Lee’s great American novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” depicts the beloved Atticus Finch as a southern white racist. Is it possible that, like the fictional character, we can ever evolve and change?

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Worship Materials: Darkness and Light

From the Celebrating Mystery collection

THEME Two Faces of the One God –the One Life Force
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION
1. Darkness is the womb of the light, nothingness the womb of all things.

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ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs”.

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The Radical Abandonment of Self-interest

Civilization defines justice as retribution – payback; an eye for an eye. But the deeper meaning of justice is distributive: the rain falls on the good, the bad, and the ugly without partiality. Civilization does not use that definition except in cases where there is clearly injustice if partiality enters the picture.

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Power in the Blood – Easter Sunday

(Excerpt from Theology From Exile Vol. III, The Year of Mark by Sea Raven, D.Min.) Acts 10:34-43; Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 118:14-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8 For Christians who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, Year B’s readings …

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Taking the “Christ” Out of Christmas

The challenge for a progressive Christian who has moved beyond such notions as virgin births and gods disguised in human form come to save us from ourselves is to remember that it is as much a historical development, as it is a theological one. That is, the attribution of a “Christ” title accorded a very human Jesus constitutes the imaginations — if not machinations — of an early Church; consisting of very human, second-generation followers of a 1st century Galilean peasant sage and itinerant preacher. And who all but drowned out the authentic voice of the one who was once born and dwelt among humankind.

Such an assertion is simply based on the fact the historical Jesus never self-identified as the “anointed one,” the Christ.

As such, if one were to remove the Christ-title from the various birth narratives of those secondary traditions of this religious movement, what would remain of the “Christmas story” that has become as prevalently assumed, as it has been unexamined? If we took the Christ out of Christmas, what might remain of the voice of one who was born and dwelt among us?

You can read more here.

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Worship Materials: Advent

From the Festive Worship Collection

Theme: Dreamtime Reality — Season of Hope
Thoughts for Reflection
To travel hopefully is the mark of a pilgrim. To believe one has arrived is the mark of the insecure.

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The Geometry of Time – Sermon Video

The three major western religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, teach that time is linear but goes on for eternity. Many eastern religions tend to view time in repeating circular patterns. Both are guilty of undermining the message of environmental scientists who are telling us that we are simply running out of time. We have no reason to be certain that we will have an infinite number of chances to try again or that God will enter history and take us all away from a dying planet. The savior we are looking for is staring back at us from the bathroom mirror.

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Celebrating God’s Light: A Progressive Christian Solstice

This past year, at my congregation on Cape Cod, we began to celebrate the seasons of the year as part of our affirmation of this good Earth. Our congregation’s proximity to the ocean sensitizes us to the …

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Heaven

Hebrew Scripture’s View of Life after Death It wasn’t until after the Babylonian Exile that the Pharisees accepted the idea of heaven and the resurrection of the faithful, but the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the community of …

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Grace and Salvation

For Christians grace is God’s gift of pardon. According to William Barclay the Greek word for grace was originally a military term. When an emperor came to the throne or celebrated a birthday, he would give his troops a donatirim (donation), which was a free gift that they had not earned; it was given out of the goodness of the emperor’s heart. This idea was picked up by the Christian scripture writers when they wrote about the grace of God. Grace is something that is unearned and undeserved – unmerited pardon.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – End Times

Eschatology is the study of last things, the final events in history, the ultimate destiny of humanity, the end of the world. Major issues in eschatology include the rapture, the second coming of Jesus, the tribulation, Millennialism, and the last judgment.
Most of the Christian books I have read do not seriously concern themselves with eschatology, but the Left Behind series of books made it a popular topic. All twelve novels in the series made the New York Times bestselling fiction list – note: the fiction list. Prior to the Left Behind novels of the 1990s, Hal Lindsey’s 1970s bestselling books, including The Late Great Planet Earth, were also bestsellers.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Crucifixion

One of the most reliable facts concerning Jesus is that he was crucified during the reign and by the action of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who served by appointment of the Caesar from 26-36 CE. The Roman senator and historian Tacitus referred to Jesus’ execution by Pilate in his Annals, which was written circa 116 CE. Beyond that, however, there is not much historical evidence.

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Body of Christ: Body of Life

The church sign can be easily read by anyone driving by: “You can’t be a devoted follower of Jesus unless you are part of a local church.” Does the church that posts this sign not trust the people with Jesus’s message? What is the meaning of “incarnation” if not “embodiment” by individual persons of the spirit of the Christ? Is the “Body of Christ” for members only?

The Apostle Paul created the metaphor of the “Body of Christ” as the community of followers. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, he explains the meaning of the ritually-shared meal: “The cup of God’s gracious benefits that we consecrate means that we are involved in the blood of the Anointed, doesn’t it? The bread that we break means that we are involved in the body of the Anointed, doesn’t it? That there is one loaf means that we who are many constitute one body, because we all partake of the one loaf.” In Romans 12:5 he says, “Just as each of us has one body with many parts that do not all have the same function, so although there are many of us, we are the Anointed’s body, interrelated with one another.”

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