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What Does It Mean to be Baptized?

As a child, I once sang a well-known Christmas song's verse like this, "Deck the halls with balls of bolly fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la." At the time that I misguidedly sung that verse, I was sure that the words were all correct. But when somebody explained to me that I was singing the wrong words, I listened to them as they sung them correctly, "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la."

Acknowledging and Embracing the Epiphany

How do we acknowledge the appearance of God in our lives? This question may seem redundant especially after we have, not long ago, finished the introspective period of Advent, where we pondered the ways that we can live better lives as God's children before the second coming of Christ in divine glory and then joyously celebrated the blessing of the first coming of the Christ child at Christmas only 10 days ago.

The Advent Message

The Advent Season is coming to its' end in a few days. Yet, we are always living in the promise of Christ's return at anytime. And in that light, we are looking to prepare ourselves to live as children of the One who loves all people equally and follow God's teachings as true believers in loving obedience. Do the words loving and obedience seem incompatible to you? Or, do they flock together like birds of a feather?

Giving Joy Over Dread

Gladness and joy are similar emotions - contentment and delight on the one hand and praise and cheerfulness on the other. We have these sibling emotions in each of us in varying degrees, depending on the effects of outward circumstances that are hard on us and our capacity to achieve a state of genuine well-being despite internal conflict.

Preparing for God

The season of Advent is the time for waiting, preparing, and introspection. Waiting for the return of Christ to gather up the Church into God's realm. Preparing our minds and spirits, as well as those around us, to be changed into the godly people that God created us to be. Introspection means to examine ourselves to see if we have within us a real desire to allow God to show us our true selves and thus our need for repentance and to seek forgiveness for our sins.

Christ Reigns

Power. Authority. Rules. For many, it's hard to think objectively about any of these words. Our experience with each impacts how we respond when we talk about them. As people who are members of communities from families to congregations to workplaces, we navigate power, authority, and rules each and every day of our lives. Who has authority in your life and how did they get it? Is that authority based on title? Is it based on action? What positions of authority do you hold and how do you feel about them?

Watch for the Deceiver

We live lives that are made easier by the trappings of our reality. We may say that we are not very wealthy, but we are just that when compared to the worlds' population. The prosperous routine of our lives gives us comfort and a measure of insulation from the cares of this world. We know there are dangers all around us but it's simpler to avoid thinking about them because of the stuff we own and the protection we've been accustomed to until someone we trust makes us aware of something that shakes us to our core - something that could threaten our peaceful existence.

Honor Through Sacrificial Giving

The spirit of giving and the various ways that we give is a key part of our relationship with God. The desire to give of our time in service for ministry, our talents to further God's freedom from bondage to self, and our possessions is admirable. Add to those, the desire to give our prayers for those in need and the study of the Bible as an offering to God means that we have learned to do those things as a holy habit from someone we have held or still hold in high esteem.

Who Are the Living Saints?

The idea of a saintly person recalls on the one hand a very blessed, positive, and inspirational example of our humanity and on the other hand a judgmental, outdated, and unattainable persona that for many people is not taken seriously as an aspirational achievement. I think that most people not only see a saint as someone who has died but someone who must be dead to be considered a real saint.

Crying Out to God

"Hello, can I help you?" We are used to having people from a variety of places that serve both a public and private clientele ask this question when greeted. Most people respond differently to this question based on their level of urgency or desire to obtain what is requested of the representative of the company or organization offering to help them. If the need is critical or life threatening, the response is intense and overt. If the desire is authentic but not urgent, the response will be measured but not necessarily persistent.

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