Christmas Story: Fact or Fable?

Over the years I have encountered many passionate people who were not only certain they held the only proper perspective about the Christmas story, but were equally committed to converting others to share such a view.  Interestingly, I have been involved in numerous one-on-one and group conversations with those who were certain the Christmas story is a fact as it is recorded in the Gospels and also with those who are certain the story is just a fable. Marcus Borg, a progressive Christian Read More …

More Church at Easter or Christmas?

Many local churches see dramatic increases in worship attendance at Christmas and Easter.  Perhaps then it isn't surprising to learn that people Google the word church more during Christmas week and Easter week than on any other weeks of the year.  More specifically, over the last ten years more Americans have searched the word church during Easter week than at any other time of year (Christmas, of course, came in second). So What? While many churches do an excellent job of targeted Read More …

Sermon: Look Again

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:13-23 Sermon Excerpt Everyone loves Christmas, or do they?  Just in time for Christmas this year the Pew Research Center released information about how we view the holiday.  According to their latest survey, 92% of Americans celebrate Christmas, but there is considerable diversity when it comes to the basis of such celebrations: just over half (51%) celebrate it as more of a religious holiday, around a third (32%) celebrate it as more of a cultural Read More …

Christmas: Cultural or Religious?

Just in time for Christmas, the Pew Research Center released information about how Americans view the holiday. While 92% of Americans celebrate Christmas, there is considerable diversity when it comes to the basis of such celebrations: 51% - more of a religious holiday, 32% - more of a cultural holiday, and 9% - both/other (which includes those who celebrate but did not comment on whether they felt it was more religious or cultural). So What? Notably there is a generational Read More …

InstaChristmas

Tis the season for preparing.  As a part of your Advent journey, I encourage you to take the less than 90 seconds needed to watch the InstaChristmas video created by Discovery Church (Melbourne, Australia) using 600 Instagram images. So What? The use of many diverse images to weave together a familiar story allows viewers to enter the story in new ways. Which images within the presentation do you still "see" in your mind's eye? What is your main takeaway from the video? How Read More …

Warm Wishes for a Blessed Christmas

The following video by the Officers of the United Church of Christ is a powerful reminder of what this day is all about. The closing blessing is worth repeating: May God's blessings be yours this Christmas. Be filled with wonder. Be touched by grace. Believe in the miracle of God's love made flesh. And may the miracle, glory, and wonder of this sacred season warm your heart this Christmas and through each day of the coming year. Read More …

Christmas Spending by Country

The Economist published a chart comparing the anticipated average Christmas spending in and per person GDP of several countries. So What? American's plan to spend more on Christmas this year than citizens of any country apart from Luxembourg.  Of course, once one considers the spending as a percentage of per capita GDP, the United States leaps well in front of Luxembourg. While there is considerable publicity given to Christmas gift giving and the spending associated with such, Read More …

Please Slow Down

Tis the season for many things . . . atop my list right now are people who simply will not slow down.  Over the last 24 hours I have experienced several examples of this behavior, including: a very coffee-centered individual who asked if I was in a hurry or not because she really was (with my blessing and that of the couple ahead of me, she skipped to the head of the line at Starbucks) people who respond to various forms of communication in a manner that clearly indicates they failed to Read More …

The Christmas Story: Creativity + $500 = 400K+ views

On this the second Sunday of Christmas, I invite you to watch one of the best Christmas videos you may not have seen.  The video was created by St. Paul's Church in Auckland, New Zealand to market their annual Carols by Glowstick event.  According to Joshua Cody, who interviewed one of the creative folks behind the project, the church spent only $500 to produce the video since "everything else was supplied by the individuals, families and businesses of St. Paul’s. That goes for the talent, the Read More …

Why the Incarnation Matters (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday, I shared what others wrote in response to the question: “Why Does the Incarnation Matter?”  Today, I offer my own answer (following the same guidelines of responding in 100 words or less): The Incarnation is the story that reminds us how God is with us (Emmanuel), a story which begins with a baby born in the house of bread (Bethlehem) who is the Bread of Life. The Incarnation is intentionally too rich and filled with possibility to be fully conveyed with human language.  Modern Read More …