A GUIDE TO CHRISTMAS FEASTING
Christmas is the first major feast day in the liturgical calendar. It’s time to eat, drink, celebrate, dance, and sing. What God has done is so marvelous, so beautiful, and so good that the liturgical calendar gives us a season of twelve days to ponder and revel in the mystery of the incarnation.
Most of us are unfamiliar with the practice of feasting. We associate serious religion and earnest faith with somber practices like fasting. But God’s people are encouraged to practice both – fast and feast. As the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 writes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” And Christmas is a season of serious feasting and serious joy.
For almost 1500 years, Christians have been celebrating and feasting during the 12 days of Christmas (also known as Christmastide). In 567, the Council of Tours proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas Day to Epiphany (Jan 6) to be a sacred and festive season. And so it began!
ALL IS CALM, ALL IS BRIGHT
The Christmas carol Silent Night begins with these familiar words:
Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, All is bright...
but Christmas is anything but calm and bright. The weeks leading up to Christmas are often marked by an outer frenzy of activity that makes our anxiety ramp up. This outer hurriedness creates an inner frenzy that makes us feel like we can't catch our breath. The days are also marked by a diminishing light. The days are getting shorter and the nights longer as we head towards the winter solstice on December 21, which ushers in the longest night of the entire year. But, if we can paused for a moment, we might discover that Christmas is a calm center for the tired soul. Christmas is also a bright light in a sin darkened world.
Lectio Divina is an ancient practice that helps you catch your breath and pray through Scripture using the four "R's" - Read, Ruminate, Respond, Rest. This devotional takes you through Luke chapter 2 one verse at a time to help you center and open your heart to the light of the world.
All is Calm, All is Bright - An Advent Devotional - Coming 2021
HAIKU BIBLE STUDY 2020 - 2021
When it comes to our bodies, certain exercises increase our endurance, tone our muscles, expand our lung capacity, and lower our blood pressure. Our soul too, needs exercise in order to grow. Certain exercises or "practices" can open up space and give the Holy Spirit time to work in our hearts to grow our love, expand our capacity to stay grounded in faith, and increase our ability to hold on to hope in the midst of life's troubles.
Haiku Bible Study is a "practice" and a small group experience that explores the lectionary. The idea is simple: Start by summarizing each of the four scripture passages for a given Sunday. Then write a haiku based on the common theme. Gather together with others and share your creative insights. Here's an example:
The big story says God is making all things new.
The small story says we bleed while we wait.
THE JESUS QUESTIONS
The Jesus Questions is a small group study that helps people engage with and ponder the questions of Jesus. Believe it or not, Jesus asked over 300 questions in the gospels. In every situation, Jesus had a specific and thoughtful question to ask any potential disciple. Questions such as:
Why are you so afraid? (Mark 4:40) Who do you say I am? (Mark 8:29) What do you want? (John 1:38) Will you really lay down your life for me? (John 13:38) Do you love me? (John 21:16) Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)
For this study, the leader prints 20 Jesus questions, cuts them into individual strips, and puts them in a container. Each person draws one question to reflect on and pray about for a week. Gather together and share thoughts, ideas, prayers, and questions. Reflection questions are provided for each question to help deeper engagement.
The Jesus Questions is simple to lead, and highly participatory. It engages people of all ages and encourages a journey of authentic response.
The things we put out during the holidays fill our homes with light, joy, remembrance and festivity. When the time is right, they are carefully wrapped and lovingly put away until the next year. My hope is that you'll read this book of poems during the weeks leading up to Christmas. As you read, I hope they stir in you the rich joy and sweet hope that can be found during the holiday season.
Godbirth is a collection that began as a series of Christmas presents to friends and family. A total of thirty-four poems written over a period of three years collected into a book of poetry to read on a quiet evening by the fire during the holiday season.
THE JESSE TREE
The Jesse Tree helps us enter more fully into the church season of Advent, which anticipates the coming of Jesus and is a season of expectation. The Jesse Tree provides us with a tangible way to count down and look toward Jesus’ coming through the stories of the Old Testament. Written by Matt Timms and illustrated by Sam Gutierrez, the Jesse Tree is a great way to enter this beautiful and special season.
Buy the book and find a link to download the symbols to cut out and hang on your tree!
READ THESE POEMS ABOUT DAVID
Throughout the biblical narrative, we discover that David is the receipent of God's choosing and promises. David prays a beautiful prayer of response after receiving the news that his house (lineage) will last forever. David is overwhelmed and knows that he has done nothing to deserve this (2 Samuel 7). This unmerited favor is what the Bible calls "Grace." Grace is heaven shining down on you. Grace is the smile of God. Grace has nothing to do with being a good person, being perfect, trying hard or even trying at all.
David wasn't perfect, and his tragic flaws remind us that the blessings poured out on him are not because of his virtue, but because of God's overflowing goodness.
This collection of poems is a thoughtful and sometimes funny look at the life events of King David.
THE REASON LOVE REACHES
A collection of poems for the season of Lent.
Lent is a 40 day season in the church calendar that calls us to name all the ways we wander - some obvious, some subtle. Then, to turn towards the God who loves us and has been eagerly waiting for our return. Not only does God patiently wait for us to turn toward home, God actively goes out and searches for us.
Forty poems - one for each day. Poems to shed light on your path as you journey home, one foot in front of the other.