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Pope Debunks Christmas?

Pope Benedict recently prompted blazing headlines across the front pages of America's news outlets by making what some pundants seem to imagine are shocking assertions: Jesus was not born in the year 0, he may not have been born on December 25, and there is no mention of "cattle lowing" in the Biblical narratives of the birth of Jesus.  No mention of livestock at all.  It doesn't even say that the little Lord Jesus did not cry.  Some go so far as to suggest there was no little boy playing his drum for Jesus.

Stay tuned next week for another shocking papal announcement: it has been discovered that Jesus was a Jew, we don't actually know the number or names of the Magi, and,, yes, it has also been proven that the Pope really is a Catholic.

The Threadbare Edge

Kryie eleison.  Lord, have mercy.

We demonstrate our significance to one another by being busy.

Important people are busy.  Productive people are busy.  Industriousness, not holiness, is the identifying halo of sainthood among the professionals of the modern American church.  The man or woman who works tirelessly twelve or more hours a day, particularly if the work is productive, is introduced to an audience with admiring illustrations of astounding self-discipline, along with a litany of personal accomplishments.

Underwater Prayers

A room used for baptisms.
The main gathering room is larger,
but the wall art did not survive.
In the barren Syrian desert, near the Euphrates, are the ruins of a once-thriving Roman settlement: Dura-Europos.  The town was destroyed by Persians in the middle of the third century, never to be rebuilt.   Around the year 235 the houses along the inside of the western wall were vacated and incorporated into widening and strengthening the city wall.  Ironically, it was this very act that means several of these houses, complete with wall art, were buried under rubble and preserved for 1800 years.  A few of the houses have been painstakingly restored.

Thanksgiving Baskets

Mrs. Miller?  Mrs. Samantha J. Miller?

Mrs. Miller, I’ve got some great news for you.  You’d better be sitting down. 

Are you sitting down?

I’ll wait.

Drinking Poison Together

The outbreak of serious illness and deaths at a local congregation has now been traced to a bizarre religious ritual that involved the ingestion of food and drink at a series of recent church dinners.  The tragedy has touched a number of families in the church.

Matters were made worse when people from a conservative congregation in another state showed up outside the church this morning carrying signs that read, "This is the judgment of God on the people of this congregation."

A reporter from the major local newspaper asked the church's pastor about this: "We're confident we will get to the bottom of this.  But, I can assure every one of you right here and now that this is simply an accident and no one is to blame."

The pastor got it wrong.  The illnesses and deaths in the church were no accident.  Some people were being regularly poisoned.  And, at least part of the blame points directly at God.

Thank God and Pray for President Obama

What must politically conservative Christians do with the results of the recent elections?

The answers are clear and unambiguous: Thank God and pray for President Obama.

First, we should thank God.

We should thank God because the promise that all things work together for good applies to more than just stubbing our toes or not getting the job we wanted.

Juicy Communion

Did you ever find yourself wondering, when you are in a church communion service: Why grape juice and not wine?  Why all the little cups?

Yeah, this post is hardly revolutionary or inspirational.  But, since the questions do come up from time to time, a little lesson in recent (by church history standards) events will answer our two questions.

When No One Showed Up for Church

The two old pastors braved the deep snowfall and made their way to church.  They also shared a similar dilemma.  It had snowed eight more inches that night and both of their congregations had recently started a third, and very early, Sunday morning worship service.  Neither thought it was a great idea.  And, in both congregations, the early service attendance was usually so low only a handful of scattered people were sitting in the sanctuary.

One final thing the two pastors shared in common: On this cold snowy morning, the stood there in front of an empty sanctuary.  No one was there.  Not even the musicians.  It was clear to both of them no one was coming to the worship service.

Worshipers and the Wrathful God, Part 2

The question of the worthiness of God's wrath as a cause for worship was introduced in the previous post.  The subject is complex and there is no doubt blog posts are not the venue for detailed theological discourse and analysis.  Here I will simply raise two questions: