The Animals Teach Us Advent Expectation

‘Tis the season for expectation. Pregnant waiting. Yearning flavored with confidence. Confidence born of experience.

Advent has always been a favorite time for me. Of course, as a child, it all led up to that moment when we drove home from Christmas Eve pageant, past the colored lights on the homes and along the runways of […]

More "Us" and Less World in Prayers

Of course, we all know it is a travesty for prayers and sermons to chant on about this and that abstraction. We heap up metaphors but cannot, for the life of us, speak in an apposite way or about practical truths. Saved by the blood of the cross? We explain it using ten more abstractions, and in […]

Evangelism as Deprogramming

 

 

Last night was a night of inspiration. Six motivated laypeople and I were discussing what good doctrine might teach us about current practices in our congregations, and the conversation turned to evangelism.

We returned to two ideas we had begun with five weeks before, as we began our look at “Lutheran Creeds and Confessions;” namely, […]

Christmas Eve Reflections

On this Christmas Eve Connie and I have been touched once again by the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College, Cambridge, England.

 

Two bits of verse from the carols especially touched me.

 

Here is the last verse of  “In the Bleak Midwinter” words by Christina Rosetti and music by Gustav Holst:

 

What can I […]

Handling the Primal

“I want to hold her,” Connie pleaded with me.

 

She rolled up her shirt and undershirt and took puppy Number One from me. An hour or so before I had called to Connie, “We’re losing her.”  

Puppy Number One is so small lying on Abbie’s foreleg. Photo by John

 

 

Tiny, black, with just a half of a […]

Empty Lambing Pen--Empty Tomb

           Saint Matthew’s account of the Empty Tomb contains this angelic message: “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples, […]

The Woman at the Well

The famous dialog between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is part of a series of beautifully crafted dialogs in the Fourth Gospel. Several themes appear repeatedly in this series.

 

Spiritual knowing or seeing is one theme. Jesus is operating on the highest spiritual plane and he works to lift others up—something that […]

A Test of Wills before Bedtime

Before bedtime we always give our seven sheepdogs one last run around the farm to do their business.

Last night it was rather typical weather for this winter: about 9 degrees Fahrenheit and a sharp wind of around 20 mph, so I was bundled in Muck Boots, long underwear, fleece-lined pants, wool shirt, down vest and […]

Joseph's Fear and Ours

The following is a sermon I prepared for Advent 4–December 22 at First Lutheran Church in Lee, Illinois. Icy roads caused the cancellation of the service, so, I offer this sermon for the members of Lee and for anyone interested. I pray it adds to Christmastide reflections.

 

If an angel of the Lord appears before you […]

Jim Smith, Julie Cork, and Real Faith

A 26 year-old hipster comedian held forth on Comedy Central a couple of weeks ago. My wife and I laughed at him for a few minutes as he did his impressions of drunk young women and his friend who acted the gangsta’, even with his first words on getting up in the morning.

 

 

Then he launched […]