Sunday Reads: 12/14/14


elf-on-the-shelf-Well_readHere are five blog posts I found over the last week or so that I thought were worth sharing and pondering on. They appear in no particular order. Happy pondering.

Invite More to the Table by Making Room: Rev. Amy Aspey writes about the ministry of the deacon as sacramental, and the importance of the role of the deacon in extending the Table to create a church that is more welcoming to all.

Dear Christians, May I Share My Heart?: Marketta, who blogs at Simply Faithful, shares a heartfelt plea with her brothers and sisters in the faith regarding the current trend of disagreement and unrest.

“X” in “Xmas” Doesn’t Take the “Christ” out of “Christmas”: In this post Daven Hiskey shares about the symbol “X” (a Greek letter) and its connection to our faith in Christ. Turns out, that “X” might not be marking out Christ like so many have thought.

The Power to Reshape Brokenness: Dori Baker writes on the Fund for Theological Education’s (FTE) blog about Reggie Williams’ book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance. In light of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, this post offers a lot for us to ponder regarding race in America.

Touchdowns for Jesus and Domestic Violence in Big-Time Sports: Rachel Mastin blogs about Marcia W. Mount Shoop’s book Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports. Rachel approaches this book as a seminary-educated church work and sports fan. She highlights many of Mount Shoop’s points in her book about current trends in sport systems and challenges readers to consider these theologically.


Call Me Claus (2001)

Finding the Christmas Spirit

Call Me Claus

Call Me Claus is a simple made-for-cable-TV movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Nigel Hawthorne. Goldberg is Lucy Collins who is a successful TV producer for a shopping network. Lucy is searching for the perfect Santa Claus to bump up the ratings.

Nigel Hawthorne is Santa Claus (Nick). He is forced to search for a Santa Claus replacement. It turns out that every 200 years there is a new Santa Claus, and according to the Elf Board, the current Santa has to find a replacement. Hawthorne’s Nick has exhausted his list of potential new Santas. If he doesn’t find a new Santa by midnight on Christmas Eve, the world will come to an end. (Did I mention this was a made-for-cable-TV movie?) Read More

Why ‘Rent’ Still Matters

Since the early 1990’s the musical Rent has inspired and motivated people to see the world around them as they never have before; to see themselves in others.

Empty Rent

A few months ago, one of the local high schools performed the rock musical Rent. Megan and I attended the show as a number of students in the musical were in my youth group.  They had the audience sit on the stage, to be up close and personal; to be a part of the experience; to live in the story with the actors. It was so well received and popular that the school opened up the balcony at a reduced price to accommodate all the interest.

During the intermission, I overheard two women talking. One of them was expressing amazement that these high school students in 2014 had put together this 1996 Broadway musical about a time and issue that seemed to be so distant from high school students today. I thought to myself, this is what should be happening. Great art – in whatever form it takes – sparks conversation. Read More

Prayer for World AIDS Day

This prayer was used yesterday during worship. World AIDS Day, since 1988, has been December 1 and a day to educate and advocate for those persons living with HIV/AIDS.

REDRIBBON_4620C Read More

Sermon: Yearning and Hoping

Repost: A Crisis It Will Be


I’m reposting the audio of a sermon I preached a few years ago at Peakland. I preached this sermon at the Community Thanksgiving service last night.



Re-Light Your Candle

Ten candles had been lit to remember the saints who had claimed the promise of the resurrection this past year. The candles were flickering throughout the service. The wax dripped along the edges of the candlelabra. 


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Quote: Proactive Faith

Proactive Faith


Holy Communion – Cabin on the James River

A recent WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme was “signs.” I snapped this picture during our staff retreat back in September. One of our church members let us use their cabin along the James River outside of Lynchburg. It is not a sign in the traditional sense, but theologically it is one of our most important signs. The bread and the cup are signs of the body and blood of Christ. They become signs to the amazing grace extended to all of us.




5 VeggieTales Activity Cards

With the release of the new VeggieTales film, Beauty and the Beet, here are five activity cards that would be great for family time or to use in a preschool or children’s ministry setting. 

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Scandal 3.10: A Door Marked Exit


“I’ve committed a sin.”

Last week’s episode ended with Sally calling Cyrus and uttering those words – “I’ve committed a sin.” This week’s episode takes us back prior to that call to show us what exactly happened. Sally is fighting with her husband, Daniel. Cyrus has pictures of Daniel having sex with his husband James. Sally tells Daniel, “You have released a snake into our garden,” talking about Cyrus, who she knows will not be able to let this go.  Daniel tells her that she knew what she was getting into when she married him – aka, “Sally, you knew I was gay.” Then, Daniel tells her that he is done, and that she cannot win without him. Sally can’t handle it. So, she takes a letter opener to his back. And with blood scattered across her face, she calls Cyrus.

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VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet (2014)


Beauty-and-the-beet-cover-art“There are some who are hard to love.”

The family musical group The VeggieTones are starting to make it big when they get the invitation to play at Vegtable Square Garden. On the way, the family is forced to pull over due to a fierce snowstorm. They seek shelter at the inn owned by Mr. Beet. However, they have no money. They have to do chores around the hotel, including being the entertainment each evening.

This VeggieTales story is based on the classic Beauty and the Beast story.  Here, the Beet, much like the Beast, has walled himself off from other people – uh, veggies. His staff is timid around him, careful not to anger him. His inn has received poor reviews (only one star) because of his lack of hospitality.

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