Ascension: Our glory & the Bible’s hinge


jesus-christ-ascension-iconToday in the Christian church calendar is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate Christ ascending into heaven 40 days after his resurrection and now sits at “the right hand of God the Father.” (You can read a prayer and poem I posted earlier for this Holy Day)

The Useless Ascension

The idea of “Ascension” doesn’t seem to get a lot of play nowadays in the Church. This, in spite of the fact that it is an essential part of all the Church’s earliest doctrinal formulations, and the subject of the most-quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament:

The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Compared to other, non-creedal things like Hell, homosexuality, and “attacks on biblical authority”, the Ascension isn’t really talked about. Maybe this is because the Ascension isn’t really a “doctrine”–it’s an “event” and a “declaration”.

And we western Christians love our systematic “doctrines” that we can pick apart as nauseam and/or figure out how we can “apply it to our lives” in such a way that we can feel like we’re “good Christians.” But honestly, the Ascension doesn’t have many direct applications for today.
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A night so holy and silent | Carols in Prose


winter-snow-trees-bwFor my Advent series this year, I am going through Christmas Carols and unpacking them, re-writing them in prose, hoping to pull out more of their meaning, theology, significance, and beauty. Here’s today’s source material.

As holy as that night was–as anointed, blessed, prophesied, and sacred as it was–it was just as silent. You know in winter when find yourself in the midst of falling snow, and it almost has a loud silence? It was like that.

Who knew that this utter holiness and cosmic in-breaking would be so quiet? So…uneventful? Yes, there were angels and such, but they were far away with us. There at the manger? Silence.
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May God give rest to you weary, happy souls | Carols in Prose


flinks-angels-anouncing-the-birth-of-christ-to-the-shepherds

For my Advent series this year, I am going through Christmas Carols and unpacking them, re-writing them in prose, hoping to pull out more of their meaning, theology, significance, and beauty.  Here’s today’s source material.

I pray that God may give rest to all of you. Those of you that are tired and in need of rest, and yet you doggedly hold on to a soul-merriment and joy that cannot be taken from you. I pray he grants you rest and lets nothing steal your soul’s joy.

Especially in this season, I pray he strengthens that joy as you remember that he has come among us in Christ, our Savior, whose birth we celebrate during this time. We remember that he came as a human–but not just that. We remember he came as the weakest and most frail of human forms: one who is born.

But we don’t jut remember that he came, or even just how he came–but also, why.

This Advent season precedes Christmas as Lent precedes Easter–it’s a time to meditate on the darkness, weight, and tension of this world. The darkness and power that drew us away from God as Home; the darkness from which we were saved. And in this, we are given that rest, comfort and joy.

Oh, that we might experience God’s good news of comfort and joy proclaimed from the rooftops of our lives! Just think of that: Comfort. And Joy.

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Hey Philly! I’m hosting an epic House Show on Friday. You should come.


birdhouse-show

I’ve been a little busy recently, but I thought I’d drop a quick post and let everyone in the Philly area know that I’ll be hosting a house show at my place this upcoming Friday at 7pm. There will be opera, fiddles, harmonies, sing-a-longs, food, drink, cider, cheer, and merriment. (Oh, and maybe a little celebrating for my recent engagement.)

It’s been far too long since the last time we had one of these shows, but each has been better than the last. It all started when I first moved into this house in Center City Southwest, and we noticed that there were some birdhouses nailed to our back patio fence (above). And so, The Birdhouse was born, and the music followed shortly thereafter. This time around, we’re having the following artists perform:

Come support the artists and have a good time. For all the info, check out the Facebook Event page.

Ascension: Our glory & the Bible’s hinge


jesus-christ-ascension-iconToday in the Christian church calendar is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate Christ ascending into heaven 40 days after his resurrection and now sits at “the right hand of God the Father.” (You can read a prayer and poem I posted earlier for this Holy Day)

The Useless Ascension

The idea of “Ascension” doesn’t seem to get a lot of play nowadays in the Church. This, in spite of the fact that it is an essential part of all the Church’s earliest doctrinal formulations, and the subject of the most-quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament:

The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Compared to other, non-creedal things like Hell, homosexuality, and “attacks on biblical authority”, the Ascension isn’t really talked about. Maybe this is because the Ascension isn’t really a “doctrine”–it’s an “event” and a “declaration”.

And we western Christians love our systematic “doctrines” that we can pick apart as nauseam and/or figure out how we can “apply it to our lives” in such a way that we can feel like we’re “good Christians.” But honestly, the Ascension doesn’t have many direct applications for today.
Continue reading

Weekend Photo Challenge: Illumination (of Richmond & my Soul)


Richmond-GrandIllumination

This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Illumination“. One of the biggest benefits of this weekly photo challenge is the chance to go through some of my old pictures and bring to mind favorite memories from the past.

The picture above was taken in 2006 in Richmond, Virginia while I was in college. It was after one of my favorite Richmond traditions: the Grand Illumination.

Throughout the winter holidays, the skyscrapers in Richmond are all lined with lights, lighting up the skyline in a way that it is not during the rest of the year. These lights are turned on all at once at something called the Grand Illumination, which takes place in early December. Not only are the skyscraper lights turned on, but the annual Christmas display at the Omni Hotel is turned on also. This display has lit-up mechanical reindeer, a giant Christmas tree, and the bell tower plays Christmas music on the hour.

After watching the Grand Illumination lighting from the bridge to Belle Isle, one of my favorite spots in all of Richmond (see picture below), we drove through the streets to see everything up close. The picture above was taken around the Omni Hotel as we passed their display.

But that’s not all this made me think of…

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving


Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us on this Thanksgiving and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks:

We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

We thank you for all the graces and blessings you have bestowed upon us, both spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage, our food and shelter, our health, the loves we have for one another, our family and friends.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things.

Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year.

Amen.

(modified from The Book of Common Prayer)

Labor Day vs. My Fiction-Writing Plans


Well, today was supposed to be the first day of my participation in StoryADay September, in which I post an original fiction piece each weekday this month. Well, today’s Labor Day, so not many people will be on the internet, and even fewer will be on it for long enough to want to read a “full” piece. So, I will follow today’s writing prompt suggestion of the StoryADay founder to write “Twitter fiction”: a story in 140 characters of less. Check back soon for that piece (or pieces if I’m feeling really creative), and come back tomorrow for my first “full length” piece. Oh, and while you’re at it, bookmark the dedicated page of the blog for this. Thanks.

Hey! It’s Still Easter!


When I had appendicitis last week, our preaching pastor visited me in the hospital. Having missed the service that Sunday–the first after Easter Sunday–I asked him what new sermon series he had started, now that Easter was over.

He looked at me a little surprised (as I’ve been so into liturgy and the Church Calendar the past couple of years) and informed me of something that I had apparently missed:

Easter is an entire season that is 50 days long.

(Wikipedia confirms.) Oh why do we shorten our time to rejoice and celebrate? This season is our excuse to go crazy and be joyful, bold, secure, and confident before our God and this world.

We have 33 more days before we celebrate Pentecost.
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you can always tell the health of an urban neighborhood by…


… the number of trick-or-treaters.

I just frustrated a few middle schoolers (way too old to go trick-or-treating) who knocked on our door and were miffed that we had no candy to give. They were probably also confused by the fact that both my roommate and I had yelled “come in!” in reply to the door-knocks.

We had done this because last year my roommates and I bought a big thing of candy in anticipation of the trick-or-treaters and none showed up. And so we expected this year to be the same. We didn’t even think about the chance of any trick-or-treaters coming. But, alas, they won’t stop knocking on our door tonight; the street is teeming with them. At this point, we’re just ignoring the knocks, not wanting to incur the wrath of any more children.

So much must have happened in the past year in our particular neighborhood of Graduate Hospital in Southwest Center City Philadelphia. It’s exciting to watch all that is happening in this amazing city we call home.

My Fav Monday #1: What will it be?


Well, it’s Monday, so it’s time for My Fav Monday, my new weekly post where I plug or review one of my favorite things. I’ve been thinking all week what would be the first thing I would talk about to kick this whole thing off. I had some ideas early yesterday: a podcast, TV show, or musician, perhaps?

me & wawaAnd then I got some lunch. And I saw it. And it was then I knew what I was going to write about.

Wawa Eggnog.

It only comes out for a few months out of the year, but when it does, I go kind of crazy. Seriously, it’s one of the best drinks I’ve ever had and every year it’s as good as the year before. No joke. It’s so thick and creamy and not too “noggy”. It comes in two varieties: Original and Pumpkin Spice. The latter is good to at least try once in your life, but really, Original is where it’s at.

Every year my brother and I have a bonding moment over our mutual love for this fine delicacy. We almost grow physically ill while we’re home with our parents from ingesting so much dairy. And it’s worth every bit of it. So drop by your Wawa today and pick up some of it to try. Or, if you are in Philadelphia and have never had it before, I’d be glad to buy you your first one.

Future posts in this weekly series will be more substantive, don’t worry. Next week I’ll probably plug a podcast. Which one? We’ll see.  Maybe I’ll hide a hint somewhere in this post.