The Work of Christmas
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.
This poem was written by Howard Thurman, I can not tell you when or where I first read it. I was reminded of it this last weekend while attending the Winter Concert at North Scott High School her in Eldridge. It was part of a piece sung by the North Scott Singers that brought a tear to my eye. With all that is going on in our cities, states, country and world, I thought it was of value to share.
I am because We are -Ron
For those of who think this is a cheap trick to get clicks and bring people back to my blog- you are correct. In June I became a grandpa for the first time. People had told me it was like no other job in the world, and they too were correct. The six months or so that I have had the title of grandpa have been like no other. We are blessed by Owen and hopefully we will be able to bless him as well. Here is one of my favorite pictures of this wonderful boy.
In August I had the great joy of being part of his baptism. I get emotional at any baptism, but I literally jumped at the chance to be a part of his big day.
We have a great time Face-timing with him. It usually consists of Grandma waving at him, singing to him and suggesting that he eat again. He is adorable and we love this modern communication. He was a scarecrow for Halloween.
When the whole family gathers, which is not often enough, Owen is at the center of our attention.
Here are more pictures.
Finally be Owen is hard work.
Grandpa is definitely the greatest title I have ever received.
As I am preparing for next week and the second Sunday in Advent, I am reading the Gospel passage and related commentaries and preaching helps on the message of John the Baptist. I understand that in the Christian calendar Advent to be a time of waiting and looking forward. In the second verse of the text we will be using in my churches, John demands that we repent. In the very same verse he tells us why, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near. To my understanding, John is making a pretty difficult demand; he wants us to look backward, but st the same time, move forward.
I am not sure how I will use this observation on Sunday morning, or if I will use it at all, but this idea has caused me to reflect (which is never a bad thing!) Much of this reflection comes out of the article written by David L. Bartlett in the preaching book Feasting on the Word Year A Volume 1 for this week. I will read other commentaries and listen to other podcasts as I continue to prepare for Sunday, but right now I am struck by the idea of looking in one direction and moving in another.
Repentance involves something that has happened in the past. To repent we must look at what has already occurred. In churches that I have served, looking back often turns to nostalgia. By that I mean, when we look to the past we only see things that we remember fondly and we do not always see the whole picture. We often do that in our personal lives too, hindsight is not only 20-20, it also often times uses rose-colored glasses.
When I am moving, I have found it best to watch where I am going. I also realize that knowing what is behind me is important too. I have used the metaphor of the rear view mirror in comparison to the front windshield of a car to describe this idea. If you are looking in a different direction than you are traveling, difficulties can appear.
As I sit here trying to decide what to do with this idea, I am struck by how this looking to the past while moving to the future moving to the future capture a part of our human condition. Sunday I will explore this more, but today where do you see this playing out in our common lives? Is there value in this, or can we redeem what we see as of little value?
For the last few months, I have been looking at this blog. I have wondered if I should blow it up. If I were to do that, it would not be the first time, that is what happened to my seminary blog Jokers to the left, Clowns to the right of me. That seemed wrong, so now I am left to figure out what to do in this space.
Looking back, I haven’t posted since January 2016, and did not post in 2015 at all. If you last checked in in 2014, what would you have said had I told you then that Donald Trump was going to be our next president. I know what I would have thought, and come to think of it, I think something similar today. For many reasons, some I may write about, and others I will not, I am ready to give this another go.
My goal is to write once a week. I will not write every week. My hope is to interact with friends who have been here for all of the years I have been in this space, and for new friends. I will look at important things. I will look at silly things. Truth be told, this may be my last post for another year. Hopefully it will be the first of many as we journey together. -ron
With the coming of a new year I am very predictable. There are some things that I do at the beginning of every new calendar year. Every year I do the same things, I think that I do the same things every year because my follow through is poor. I realize that I need to do a few things better and the beginning of the year is a good time to address those issues.
I need to be better organized. I need to lose weight. I need to get into better shape. I want to do my job better. I want to be a better father and husband. I want to find more joy in my life. The list goes on and on.
To address some of these things I do the same things at this time of the year. Most of these things will not last until February. Hopefully this year will be different we will see. I join a gym. I start a diet, if for even a few hours. I clean my car. I clean my office. I start to blog again…
I often have said, and I truly believe that one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in the United Methodist Church is that of Bishop, closely followed by those who fill the role of District Superintendent. These faithful men and women often are charged with playing the role of Bad guy as they faithfully live out their ministry in as best trying times. They get the blame and they are often seen as adversaries of the local church. It is easy to find fault with those tasked as leaders.
In the Des Moines Register’s opinion page there was an opinion penned by the Bishop of the Iowa Annual Conference. It is insightful and timely. The letter can be found here. I appreciate the Bishop leading us in this manner and hope that he continues to lead us by example and through timely instruction.