Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

In our culture we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ by leaving toys under trees and candy in socks and his resurrection by seeking colored eggs hid by a bunny rabbit. Just like our celebrations of Christmas and Easter are far removed from those of Christian antiquity, it may be hard to imagine how shamrocks, leprechauns and green beer honor a legitimate Christian saint. Our world may be mixed up but that doesn’t mean the real person didn’t live a life on mission devoted to spreading the Gospel.

For more on the real life of Maewyn Succat (aka St. Patrick) click here. 

Or enjoy this short film from the animated series Veggietales; Fun for the whole family and you might just learn something.


All Saints Day

all saints Today is All Saints Day, which might not mean much if you are not either Catholic or Episcopalian. The November 1st date of All Saints is why Halloween was last night, and the reason Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the church at Wittenberg on October 31st – he knew that practically every person would see it the next day as they attended mass to celebrate All Saints.

Whatever you may have heard about Halloween being the celebration of Satan’s birthday (a created being that was not born) the origins are uniquely Christian, whereas the celebrations of Easter and Christmas are actually pagan but that’s another story. Richard Donohue, vicar of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Birmingham, offers the clearest explanation of Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day I have ever read, including bits on the Book of the Dead and the Latin American tradition of “day of the dead” as well.

“All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are related, but they are two separate celebrations,” Donohoe said. “On All Saints’ Day there’s a call to live as saints, to remind us how we’re supposed to live. On All Souls’ Day, we’re talking about all souls and asking God’s mercy for them. We’re talking about those people who have died before us, and their process of getting to heaven, through Christ.”

This article was written by Greg Garrison for AL.com based on his interview with the Rev. Richard Donohue. I highly recommend clicking the link and reading it in full.

Happy Memorial Day

memorial day

I’m going to post this today and then Happy Monday as usual tomorrow. This is an update from an archive post dated 5/18/2009. 

Memorial Day is traditionally the first long weekend of summer, so maybe for you it’s just another excuse to break out the grill and water toys.  If you have to work that day, maybe it’s an inconvenience that that the Post Office and banks will be closed.  Some people will simply sleep in that day and not care why.  The American dream lives on. Continue reading

The Bible on History

Bible, on HistoryI said the same prayer for the History Channel’s presentation of the Bible that I did for GSN’s Great American Bible Challenge last summer: please Lord, don’t let it be stupid. For the sake of Christian’s everywhere, I hoped it would not be something I had to apologize for to non-Christians/ unbelievers.

The Bible premiered tonight on History. For the most part, I would have to say that I liked it. Getting the story of all scripture into ten hours is an ambitious undertaking. Some things must be left out, and other parts of the story condensed. But if that’s the case, then why add anything that is not included in scripture? For all the drama the Bible contains, why add anything for dramatic effect? The producers must have known that some of us would be watching that know the Bible well. For our sake, why not remain as true to the original as possible? Continue reading

To Whom Are We Giving Thanks?

I was reading a blog post debunking several historical myths about Thanksgiving (original link no longer available).  At one point he has this to say about George Washington:

“George Washington, as the first American president, declared November 26, 1789 as a national day of thanksgiving and prayer, and a few months after his inauguration issued his famous ‘Proclamation Number One’ stating that it was a ‘duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God.’”

But the last “myth” he identifies is Thanksgiving is a religious holiday, and he reasons this way:

“While some would like to believe that the Thanksgiving holiday is religious, and George Washington did issue a proclamation bringing God into the picture, this is not only an invented holiday, but its correlation with football and rescheduling to enable better economic performance for merchants makes it clear that Thanksgiving is a secular holiday.”

Then who are you giving thanks to?

It has become a tradition at this time of year to list things we are thankful for, but we sort of read off the list without directing our thankfulness in any particular direction.  Perhaps families go around the table and each member takes a turn, which forces children to think about the things they have and teaches a lesson about being thankful.  It is no doubt safer in our politically correct culture for elected officials, public school teachers and others to say “we should be thankful” than to make a religious statement.  But seriously, who are we thanking when we list the things we are thankful for?

George Washington didn’t bring God into the picture.  It is God’s picture, and we should be thankful he included us.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
(Psalm 115:1 ESV)

Patriot Day

Patriot Day, September 11 each year, is a day of prayer and remembrance for all the victims and their families of the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001.  This is a reprint of  What Makes Us Stronger: Perspective on 9/11, written last year for the 10th anniversary.

The goal of terrorism is to disrupt the normal activities of a group by paralyzing its members with fear.  A decade later we can look back on the terror attacks of 9/11 with both historic and Christian perspective. Continue reading

Lord of History

When God speaks to Moses from the burning bush, he knows that Pharaoh will not let the Hebrews go “unless compelled by a mighty hand.”  God has a series of signs and wonders in store for Egypt.  There comes a point when Pharaoh would have been willing to let them go and we’re told that God hardened his heart, because he was not done demonstrating his power.  It was all part of God’s plan.

I did not intend to preach a sermon featuring 9/11 on the 10th anniversary.  I decided to use text from Genesis 15, when God met with Abram (not yet Abraham) and renewed his covenant to make of him a great nation.  God explains that it will not happen right away; as a matter of fact it will not happen for another 400 years.

Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Gen. 15:13-14

Continue reading