By Paul Koch –
Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s time for the decorations, songs, gift buying, and parties. It’s time to celebrate that most wonderful time of year—it’s Christmas time. That means it’s finally time for you to kill the Elf on the Shelf.
By Joel A. Hess –
The house was decorated for Christmas. Santa Claus figurines, branches of evergreen, and ceramic angels were sitting on every table, shelf, and mantel. The mighty Christmas tree stood in the corner with bright greens, yellows, reds, blues, and purples lighting up the warm house while the snow fell outside.
By Graham Glover –
Today is the 10th day of Christmas, and like many of you, I have spent much of the past month meditating on the Nativity and Second Advent of Christ. The Church’s lectionary readings, hymnody, and propers are rich with references to the life of our Lord during this season, all preparing one to celebrate this glorious Feast. This focused meditation will continue for the next several days, culminating on Epiphany, which sets the stage for the celebrations of the Baptism and Transfiguration of Our Lord.
By Cindy Koch –
Mountains of colored paper, wrinkled and ripped, pushed behind the aging tree. Yesterday’s sparkling lights now highlight the dry needles, littering the floor where the presents used to be. Imprints of bows crease the useless frayed ribbons hidden beneath that pile of past promises. That once exciting horizon of a joyful Christmas has quickly darkened into the routine of clean-up and mundane reality. It came for such a short time and has left us no better off than before.
By Jonathan Holmes –
The other day I learned that we are not allowed to “celebrate Santa Clause” at my school. Why? Because he isn’t real. That’s a bad argument, if you ask me. Why? Because he is very real.
By Scott Keith –
Shadows one and all. Gifts under the tree, people singing carols, lights that twinkle, even Santa Claus, are shadows one and all. We rightly celebrate this time of year by getting together with family and friends, eating good meals which take much time to prepare and exchanging gifts meant to communicate our love for one another. We call it the most wonderful time of the year, and so it is.
By Paul Koch –
The sending of the Angel Gabriel to the city of Nazareth in the region of the Galilee is an incredible and shocking move by our God. This isn’t the sending of a heavenly messenger to the holy city of Jerusalem. It isn’t sending the angel into the throne room of Caesar in Rome. This is the sending of God’s emissary to a small backwater town to an unknown and unimpressive young girl who is betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph, who, up to this point, no one but his own parents probably thought all that much about. Now God usually does his mighty deeds by showing up on a mountain top in thunder and lightning, but this is different. Here God comes down, all the way down: down to the lowly and the unimpressive, to the unknown and the forgotten. It is here that He speaks an incredible word to a virgin named Mary.
By Tim Winterstein –
I used to like sentimental-type movies (think Lifetime Channel, tug-on-your-heartstrings, push-your-emotional-buttons type things). Or it would be songs like Randy Stonehill’s “Christmas at Denny’s.” At some point I got tired of having my feelings manipulated, and I wanted something real. If that’s your thing, fine by me. I’m not judging. (Well, maybe a little, now and then.)
By Bob Hiller –
I don’t know about you other preachers out there, but I find myself stressing out more than usual this time of year. I’m not just talking about the shopping and wrapping and the extra work we have. I’m talking about the stress the comes from preparing the Christmas Eve sermon. We all know that Christmas Eve is not just one of the “high holy days” on the liturgical calendar. It is also one of those rare days when it is culturally acceptable, perhaps even expected, for folks to be in church. This Sunday, will see a larger number of church attendees than almost any other day of the year. This Sunday will present a wonderful opportunity for us as the church to give true hope and mercy to folks who don’t typically hear it. We have a chance to play the angels and sing Jesus into the ears of those lost in this world. I mean, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
By Ross Engel – At Christmas we often hear pious and wonderful things like, “Tis better to give […]