Down to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight, Mike Slaughter & Rachel Billups, Abingdon Press, 2016.
In this book for the Advent season, pastors Mike Slaughter and Rachel Billups explore what it means for love, joy, peace, and hope to come down to Earth. The book accompanies a four-week Advent study that opens up Christmas to examine how one helpless baby changed everything.
What makes this a great read during Advent this year, is how relevant it is to current events. While it was written before we had two primary presidential candidates or even an election, reading it post-election is food for the soul. Slaughter and Billups acknowledge that we put too much attention on the wrong things. They write, “Or in arguing about things such as red cups, sexual identity issues, who we voted for, and where refugees should go, are we allowing these issues to create dividing lines between us?”
YouTubevotionals are designed to be used in personal devotion time, with small groups, youth groups, or Sunday school classes. To see other YouTubevotionals, click here.
In 1996 the song “Mary, Did You Know?” written by Mark Lowry, was released. Since then, it has become a Christmas standard, sung by various artists and church choirs. Lowry had pondered questions he would ask Mary if he had the chance to sit down and talk to her. Buddy Greene put music to those questions. It is hard to find a version of the song that is different. In the video below, the Singing Contractors stop their work to sing.
The Redemption of Scrooge, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2016.
There are a few things that are a must at Christmastime. The tree with treasured ornaments. The rich aromas of holiday cooking. The time spent revisiting old memories.
For me, Christmas is not complete without watching Christmas movies. At our house, it’s A Christmas Story, Elf, and Christmas Vacation. And some version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (My favorite is still the Mickey Mouse version.) Dickens’ Carol has captured readers for centuries. His story has been retold on stage, in film and television. Quite possibly because the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is timeless.
Every Season Prayers: Gospel-Centered Prayers for the Whole of Life, Scotty Smith, Baker Books, 2016.
When it comes to prayer, one of the comments I hear often from people of faith often is, “Sometimes I just don’t have the words.” You know what that’s like. You sit down to pray and you are so overwhelmed by life that you just cannot find the words. There are feelings that our words are not elegant enough. Even though we know that God knows what is on our hearts, we are overwhelmed with wanting to give God the best.
In those times we search for a guide to prayer.
Mickey’s Christmas Carol is one of my favorite Christmas specials for a number of years. It is the retelling of the Charles Dickens’ classic short novel, “A Christmas Carol.” It has a large number of cameos from various Disney characters. It is one of those rare animation specials where all these characters from different Disney-Verses show up in the same place. And, the animation is incredible. It is one of the last great animation specials with hand-drawn animation. It feels like a lost art today.
Obviously, Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge, is the main character. McDuck was actually based on Dickens’ Scrooge. Scrooge’s home was in the comics, but was in an animated film once prior to this one: 1967’s Scrooge McDuck and Money. Scrooge is a grouchy, old man who is more concerned about his money than he is the welfare of others.
The Advent season has started. It is the new year of the church calendar, where we anticipate not just the arrival of the Christ Child at Christmas, but the unknown day and time when Christ will return. Diane M. Houdek, one of the authors featured here, writes, “Advent challenges us to step away form the hectic activity of the world, even if only for a short time each day.”
Advent beckons us to slow down during what is likely the busiest time of the year. Advent calls us to seek a deeper relationship with the One born in the mundane of life. Each of the five books listed below are useful tools to a reader or a small group this Advent to slow down and assure that everything – all of us – are rooted deeply in the Christ Child.
This is the sermon I preached at Peakland United Methodist on the first Sunday of Advent. The text was Luke 21:25-28. You can listen on the Podcast app by subscribing here.
We made it! Today is the start of a new year.
We made it through the season of Advent; a season of preparation. We got through Christmas Day with all the unwrapping and the visits with family. And for Megan and I, we got through all the worship services. Continue reading