Epiphany: Thoughts on Art

screenshot 2019-01-04 at 10.45.06 amEpiphany celebrates the wise men or Magi finding Jesus. They arrived sometime after his birth in Bethlehem, possibly a year or two later though this is a subject of much debate. Western Christians officially recognize Jan. 6th as the traditional date of Epiphany but it is increasingly common to celebrate on the first Sunday after Jan. 1st. This year January 6th actually falls on Sunday. Continue reading

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The Shepherds as a Model of Evangelism

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

 

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20 Continue reading

I Must Decrease

He must increase, but I must decrease. -John 3:30 

The ministry of John the Baptist preceded Jesus’ public ministry. People had speculated all kinds of things about John the Baptist but he was clear that another was coming after him that would be greater. John compared himself to a friend of the bridegroom. We might say today that his spotlight was fading and Jesus’ was coming up. His statement indicates that his popularity and even his ministry would be decreasing as Jesus’ ministry rose in prominence. It was his time. We sometimes apply this idea to our own lives. We must make less of ourselves and more of Jesus. I suggest there is more than one way to think about this. Continue reading

Living on Samples

When I was a kid it was a special treat to find them handing out free samples on grocery day. I remember asking my mother to buy whatever brand of sausage they were handing out and she told me that was already what she bought. I then asked if she could cook it in little one inch cubes and serve it on toothpicks because it tasted better that way. She never did that. Continue reading

Illustrations Can Come from Anywhere

Screenshot 2018-03-22 at 9.09.26 AMIf you are a preacher, know a preacher, or for that matter have ever listened to a preacher, you may have heard the oft repeated statement illustrations can come from anywhere. It’s a truism that may cause us to smile but seriously; a funny thing a child says, a misunderstanding in the supermarket line, words said in anger that have to be eaten later, literally anything a professional speaker hears about could become an illustration for a point being made. Be careful sharing those funny anecdotes around your clergyman. You may hear them again from the pulpit. Continue reading

Water in the Bible: Boating and Fishing

Screenshot 2018-01-19 at 11.41.08 AMThe Bible has a lot to say about about water. The message of scripture is framed in many different ways in order that as many people as possible understand. Everything from kings and their armies to a woman sweeping the floor is used to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is like. Jesus told parables about sowing seeds, harvesting grain, searching for pearls, buying oil for lamps, all things that regular people could understand. It should come as no surprise then that water is used in the Old and New Testaments because every living thing needs water. But I want to focus more specifically on the things people do in or on the water. Continue reading

Good Shepherd; Lamb of God

jesus_shepherdIs Jesus the sheep or the shepherd?

Just about every animal has some unique feature that allows it to defend itself from predators. Some have incredible speed, such as deer, while others have sharp claws, powerful muscles or rows of gleaming teeth. Some animals camouflage themselves into the background while the purpose of some camouflage, like that of zebra, make it difficult to distinguish individuals from the group. Even the slow, ungraceful skunk has a very potent defense mechanism. Just about every animal has something, it seems, except sheep. It’s almost as if God intended them to be food for other animals. Sheep are very nearsighted and have to be led to food and water. They cannot drink fast moving water and can actually drown trying. They have to be led to food, led to shelter, and protected from every type of danger. The Bible uses sheep of all things to represent people. Continue reading