Season of Hope

I opined in my sermon last week that Paul might have been right that love was greater than faith or hope; however, I suggested, that without hope neither love nor faith was possible. Fareed Zakaria noted recently in the Washington Post that middle-aged whites were dying in increasing numbers from suicide, drug overdose and alcoholism. The American Dream has died for those without a college degree and with it hope has gone and been replaced by despair. E.J. Dionne in an article published six weeks before had much the same, sad story to tell. In this age of global competition and computerization, we have to find a new way to run the economy to provide hope to those at the bottom. In this season of hope it is a tragedy that some see nothing but despair.

Christmas

Our first Christmas in South Africa for many years. We knew we would be warm but expected the northern hemisphere to be cold. We were surprised when the north was as warm as the south! I got to preach on the first Sunday in Christmas. My son was in the congregation — the first time that he had heard me preach so it was a very special time for me. I commented on how wonderful it is to have these twelve days to ourselves. The malls have stopped playing carols and given up muddling Advent with Christmas. Now, we the church, can celebrate the birth of Christ in peace and quiet.

The man on a donkey

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” These words from Isaiah 9 are often used as an illustration of how the Old Testament foretold the New. Yet, when we think about it, Jesus did not come a a Prince, or Mighty or even Wonderful to many people. He came humbly, almost unobtrusively, quietly and willing to die to demonstrate the love of the Everlasting Father for us. He came not on a royal steed but on a donkey, humbling himself to be with us — Emmanuel.

Blessed are you

visitationOur text for this first Sunday in Advent was Luke 1:39-45 where the very young and expectant Mary goes to visit the very elderly and also expectant Elizabeth. We often read past this wonderful paragraph where the mothers of these two men who will change world history meet. And we forget those words, Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child that you will bear.

University upheavals

One of those times when one asks oneself “What would Jesus do?” There have been protests by students across the country recently, demanding that university education be free. The immediate question this old bookkeeper asks is who will pay for it? Continue reading

Debtors

Tomorrow is Stewardship Sunday and this old accounting professor gets to preach. My essential theme is that in accounting lingo we are debtors — debtors to God. Or, in more familiar language, all that we have comes from Thee. Continue reading

Choral Evensong

Evensong has to be loveliest service in the Anglican prayer book. Coming, as it does, at sunset, it is a wonderful time to pause and meditate on the day that has passed. The service is even more beautiful when sung as it was this evening by the choir at St. Thomas in Rondebosch. One comes away feeling completely uplifted. Continue reading

At the coal face

Life in Dallas, for me at least, was relatively protected. I moved, almost exclusively, among white middle-class friends and acquaintances. Economic events, for the most part, happened to someone else. What makes life here so different is that one is challenged daily by what happens in the world. Continue reading

Nature’s Cathedral

66ef2cf15097000f90d974155fcdec18In our children’s talk this Sunday, we talked about the clouds and how by looking up we see God’s world. We saw some truly amazing cloud patterns on the slides that went up. It was all a nice reminder that while we tend to worship in cathedrals (or the equivalent) made by human hands, if we just step outside, we enter a Cathedral that the good Lord made for us. Continue reading

Bands — Wind & Brass

Inevitably when one leaves a place there are many regrets, many things that one misses. One of those for us is the Wilshire Wind Band. I commented in an earlier note on the power of the scent of lavender to open our hearts for worship and argued that we needed to use more of our senses in church more often. But, of course, music is one of the major ways in which we do just that. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow congregants and singing hymns to the accompaniment of a grand organ really does seem to lift the soul. And listening to Wilshire’s Wind Band did just that for Nancy and me. We miss them. Continue reading