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.
It was a question I heard asked in a Sabbath School class—rhetorically, it turned out, for the questioner also had the answer. He opined that we don’t have many big churches because our faith is too rigorous for most people. There’s too much to give up: alcohol, tobacco, meat, a tenth of your income, and Saturday football. “People won’t make the sacrifices,” he said. In his opinion, the Seventh-day Adventist Church isn’t for everyone. Like the Marines, we’ll settle for a few good men. As for the unreached, well, “strait is the gate and narrow is the way… and few there be that find it.”
Notwithstanding the enormous and consistent development of today’s medicine, disease has not disappeared from our lives. It has just changed form, rhythm and mechanism of presentation. We realistically could just say, compared to other less industrialized cultures of the past and present, that we have invented novel ways of getting sick. This simple, empirical finding should push us to a double attitude. First, to keep resisting and fighting the rampant medical conformism and pessimism that tries to persuade us to embrace a deterministic view of disease.
A scourge that was found in playgrounds everywhere, children feared catching it. Most likely, you or someone you knew in your youth had it at one point or another during your childhood. Highly contagious and communicable by mere touch or even being associated with someone who had it, one had to take extra precautions to avoid the affliction. One could either stay in isolation or be vaccinated to prevent contacting it. Thankfully the shots were cheap and easily obtainable.
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.
I wrote last month about some of the pressures on pastors, and how that’s affecting the profession. There is a bright spot for Seventh-day Adventist pastors, though: if you’re a good pastor, you can leave ministry and still be a minister. In fact, that’s where the best pastors end up: in conference, union conference, division and General Conference offices.
On November 15, 2015, Argentinean and worldwide soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona had a second gastric operation after his doctor warned that the 55-year-old former player is 75 kg (165 pounds) over his ideal weight. In 2005 he had already undergone gastric bypass surgery to lose weight and has since developed various complications but, above all, has uncontrollably kept gaining weight. Dr Carlos Felipe Chaux performed both of Maradona's gastric surgeries. This time doctors put an adjustable width tight apron into the stomach to further reduce its capacity.
Fifty years ago this week, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott. For those less well versed in American Black History, this action is often looked at as a result of happenstance. Ms. Parks was tired. She refused to give up her seat to a white passenger simply because she needed to rest that day. The fact that she sparked a massive movement was more coincidental than intentional. But the truth is, this incident was deliberate and orchestrated. Ms. Parks and her civil rights husband lawyer were part of a team that meticulously planned the moment.
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.
Aside from growing up on a family farm, I’ve never worked at anything except being a parish pastor. When I studied for ministry I was motivated, as most of us are, by a search for answers to the disquieting questions in my own young heart. (Henri Nouwen had it right when he spoke of the “wounded healer” who heals others in the attempt to heal him or her self.) At the time, I didn’t know much about what it meant to be a pastor.