One of the greatest privileges I am given as a pastor is to be able to baptize a brother or sister in Christ. To be the one called to speak those simple words and pour the water over their head is a profound joy for me. These days everyone has their own ideas of what a wedding ought to look like and what sort of things you need to do to make it special, it is rare to even have a wedding in the church these days and normally some romantic setting designed for the perfect photo sessions.

During the season of Advent, he always makes his appearance. We wait with bated breath as the readings of the church year turn our focus from the promised end of all things and the coming of the new heavens and new earth to the voice of John the Baptist. His voice, though, is not sweet and calming. It does not fit with the joyful theme of this time of year. There is no peace on earth and goodwill toward men. No, John is like a bull in a China shop. He shakes things up with an urgent call for repentance. “Repent,” he says, “for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

By Joel A. Hess

You better watch out, you better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town! He sees you when you’re sleeping…. Wow, Santa sounds scary! Why would kids be excited about this guy? Of course, speaking as a parent, this song is brilliant. What better way to get a kid to behave better than tell her she will get rocks in her stocking if she doesn’t shape up?

By Bob Hiller

We have entered the Christmas season full bore in the Hiller household. Lights are up on the house. The tree is decorated. Stockings are hung by the chimney with care. And apart from the 82 degree weather outside, we are primed for the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby danced with Danny…well, you get the idea. My kids love this time of year. Like many of you, one of their favorite parts of the season is the Christmas movies. Lately, they have become addicted to Home Alone. It’s getting to the point where my middle son says, “I don’t want you guys to leave me alone for Christmas—but if you do, I hope someone tries to rob me so I can do all that stuff to them!” Thieves, you’ve been warned.