“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”—New Verses to Beloved Carol

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is a 19th century American carol created in the context of war which addresses its horror directly.

Despite this, it offers hope and a plea for peace.

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Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—New Verses for Advent/Christmas Carol

This beloved carol originated in a 16th century German monastery. Legend
has it that a monk was inspired to create it after a Christmas Eve forest walk during
which he saw a blooming rose. The imagery is based on Isaiah 11:1 referring to
the Branch of Jesse, a central Messianic symbol: “There shall come forth a shoot
from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

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The Troubling Philosophy of Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas”

By Renegade Cut

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is the story of Kirk – playing a version of himself – and his brother-in-law, Christian White. Christian is not in the Christmas spirit this year and has concerns about the rampant consumerism and hoarding of wealth that he believes is antithetical to the season and to Christian teachings in general.

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Every Christmas is a Thin Place – Christmas Eve Sermon

Christmas, every Christmas is a Thin Place. According to the Irish, a Thin Place is a place where the boundaries between heaven and earth fall away. Every Christmas is a Thin Place where the boundaries between our everyday existence and the reality that we are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves, well these boundaries fade away at Christmas. Thin Places are those precious moments in time when the sacred can be seen in the everyday stuff of life. Christmas with its powerful parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols acts as a giant welcoming Thin Place were the boundaries and veils fall away and we are able to recognize the sacred in ourselves, in one another, and in the world around us. I could go on and on about the power of Thin Places to open us to the reality of the LOVE that we call God. But rather than try to explain how the Christmas stories, parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols create thin places, let me tell you a story designed to create a thin place where together we can see the veil between the scared and the everyday fade away.

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Grow Your Heart Two Sizes this Season

Whatever you’re celebrating this month, I encourage you to look around in awe at the many ways we connect with something bigger than ourselves. There is beauty in all of it. In embracing the dark of the solstice and the darkness in us. In rededicating ourselves to a sacred path through eight candlelit nights. In celebrating the light of the world being born in the most unexpected place.

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The Case of Prodigal Job: A Closer Look at Grace and Faith

An important reason for declining biblical literacy, I believe, is spiritual starvation caused by the marriage of fundamentalism and materialistic capitalism in evangelical churches. Many Americans describe themselves as spiritual, not religious; thereby rejecting inflexible moral and religious guidance by churches that measure divine approval in dollars and attendance counts. There are lots of Americans who recognize the difference between genuine piety and marketing success tracked by congregational growth, donations, and merchandise sales.

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‘A different kind of church’: Boulder campus ministry reflects on its 100-year evolution

By Elizabeth Hernandez

Walking into the Wesley Fellowship building on a frigid Wednesday night, the first thing that hits you is the warmth — both temperature-wise and decor.

The voices of the Mosaic Gospel Choir bounce off the wood-paneled, A-frame ceiling. Downstairs, cozy couches with vibrant pillows and floor cushions beckon visitors to kick back with a cup of coffee brewing in the corner.

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Reflections At The End Of A Road

What were the stained glass stories in this church that were based on predominant, traditional, Christian Bible interpretations? Those were the understandings that were given to me as a youth when in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School classes. I decided to walk by each window to take a really close look.

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It’s Not Necessarily So: A Senior Priest Separates Faith from Fiction and Makes Sense of Belief

The title says it all! It’s Not Necessarily So: A Senior Priest Separates Faith from Fiction and Makes Sense of Belief. A wise parish priest and educator not only tackles the problems in the institution of the Catholic Church and the dogma of the Catholic faith, but also offers solutions and spiritual insights.

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If not for our sins, then why did Jesus die?

Sir, with all due respect, you shared well concerning how Jesus did not die because of sins. Please share your views on the reason or why Jesus died.

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Cultivating Wonder

In this hectic season help us to remember,
even the simplest actions count.
Let us pause and take a breath
to feel the miracle
of air filling and emptying within,
as though God is breathing into us.

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I Wonder as I Wander (Appalachia)

Words and Music collected by John Jacob Niles Revised words by Tina Datsko de Sanchez

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus our Rabbi did teach that we try 
To love one another, no you and no I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

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Reverence and Relevance – First Sunday of Advent

On this first Sunday of Advent, consider the new that is coming. Take some time to discover what you are most missing in your life – and then give that thing away. Where you long for a friend to support you, instead be the friend who calls another to find out if they are well. When you long to know peace, instead be the non-anxious presence during times of tension. Where you long for community and connection, be the heartbeat of whatever group you are with. When you long to feel less afraid, be the hand that reaches out with generosity. When you long to know your presence here matters, be the gift of welcoming.

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Some Virgins and a Rabbi meet Sophia: a sermon on the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids and Sophia

The parable of the ten, what??? Bridesmaids??? Really, ten bridesmaids, it sounds like the set up for some elaborate joke. Ten bridesmaids were waiting for a bridegroom, they waited so long that they fell asleep! I don’t know, you fill in the rest! I’ve never been much good at telling jokes, I’m more of a storyteller. Part of the fun of a story is the journey itself, but when you tell a joke you have to worry about punch lines. I tend to forget punch lines, or if I do remember them, I usually manage to mess them up and loose the laugh. So, there were these ten bridesmaids waiting for a bridegroom. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and five of the bridesmaids were foolish. The wise bridesmaids brought along some extra oil for their lamps, the foolish bridesmaids did not. Long before the bridegroom arrived all ten of the bridesmaids fell asleep. Yada yada yada!

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God Is Radical Love

Radical love stops a stranger on the street
and invites her to God’s eternal banquet.

Radical love stays up all night,
plotting ways to make you laugh.

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Paul for the People: John Dominic Crossan Imagines a “Letter to the Americans” in His New Video Series

By Peter Laarman for Religion Dispatches

Crossan follows 201o’s “The Challenge of Jesus” with the newly released “The Challenge of Paul,” available free of charge to up to 1,000 congregations, colleges, or seminaries.

Intrigued by the idea of bringing high-end critical pedagogy to the people, I asked Crossan how his passion for biblical studies led him to want to engage with laypeople – and what that experience has been like.

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For Christ’s Sake! It’s Not About God!

– a sermon on the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25: 14-30

We all know full well that millions and millions are suffering and dying and yet to protect ourselves we bury what has been given to us, because we are afraid of being consumed by the wicked master who will surely banish us into the darkness if we do not keep safe what we have been given. We dare not risk loosing anything at all, lest we end up in the outer darkness weeping and gnashing our teeth.

So, for the most part we play it safe and we don’t take any risks and we spend our lives living in fear of that wicked master. If I had to draw a line between the wicked slave-master and some character, I wouldn’t have that line end up with God. Indeed, I’m sure that the wicked master is not God.

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Learning to Welcome the Dark: Advent 1

By Leah Schade for Patheos

I invite you during this Advent season to spend some time with darkness, even if it scares you a little. I’m not saying you have to plunge in the deep end and risk your safety. Try dipping toe in the shallow end at first. When the sun goes down, don’t immediately turn on the lights. Don’t turn on the t.v. Put away your glowing cell phone. Sit in the darkness for a while. Try it just for 10 minutes at first. Maybe 30 minutes if you’re feeling brave.

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