Jesus was growing in popularity. His list of accomplishments and feats was already the stuff of legend. He had already turned water into wine and cleansed the temple. He clandestinely explained new birth to a Pharisee and caused a commotion through one woman in Samaria. He had already healed the son of a nobleman and a man at Bethesda’s gate. He fed 5000 and walked on water. By the time we read John 8, Jesus has amassed a huge following, and in so doing has become a problem for the Pharisees.
As I have stated in this space before, so much of the Christmas season is not related to Christmas at all. (This year’s foolish distraction? What Starbucksdoes or does not put on their cups.) As the Christmas holiday approaches this year, my mind is stuck on questions of ontology and causal determinism. To put it more simply – the importance of Christmas seems to me to not be found in the study of the when and the how.
As I have stated in this space before, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In my home, extravagant Christmas celebrations faded as I grew older, but Thanksgiving is the one holiday where my family is the most disappointed when we can’t all come together and thank God for his blessings of the past year. However there is a special feeling to Thanksgiving this year, as it is the first that I celebrate as a parent. Both my wife and I still feel the surreal nature of being parents to a new life while at the same time feeling like our daughter has been around forever.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.
Over the past month, the story of Kim Davis has taken up a fair amount of the news cycle. The story of the Rowan County clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and spent time in jail for contempt of court dominated the headlines for more than a week. For those who study and comment on religious liberty in this country, Kim Davis seems like the perfect storm.
I already wrote about the biggest news to come from General Conference (GC) session, now almost two months ago.
Conservative Christians reacted predictably in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell that ruled same-sex marriage constitutional.
As we approach the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session, I have been thinking about the many issues we face as a church. I have written in other places about the way we in the church relate to each other. Now my thoughts have turned to how we relate to those who wish to become a part of us. Any church worth its salt has to be bringing people in. The whole point of the Christian movement is to make disciples (Matt 28: 19, 20).
While I was in Waco, TX I had the opportunity to regularly preach at my local church. The church we attended is very small and part of a district, meaning that our pastor had other churches and was not in attendance every week. I would give the sermon on the weeks he was away. Although I did not come to that church in 2010 with any thought of being involved in church life in that way, I admit now that it was of benefit to me personally (and hopefully to them) to formulate my thoughts and share and defend them within a church community.
On April 28, 2015, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether states can ban same-sex marriages, and if so, whether states that ban same-sex marriages must recognize same-sex marriages from states that perform them in the case Obergefell v. Hodges.