Welcome to Epiphany. (And a free Mixtape to celebrate!)


epiphany-mixtape-coverIf you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany.

Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.

And don’t misread that. In describing it that way, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone.

Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness. That’s a fancy way of saying that Jesus lived out a righteous life, and his very own righteousness is given to me as my own. And so, with a complete and perfect righteousness in hand, I don’t have to bear the weight of shame or condemnation. This is so beautiful to me.

But this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even at his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father, as the light of his character and life grew brighter and brighter in the midst of our darkened world. It’s this part of his life that we celebrate and meditate upon in this season.

And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the infant Jesus, there would be an essential aspect of our salvation that’s missing. This is why Epiphany is so important.

And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to re-post Epiphany mixtape I first posted last year.

To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

[cover image credit: the photo on the mixtape cover is used with the gracious permission of photographer and friend of the blog, David Schrott]

Epiphany is here! So what? (And another free Mixtape!)


epiphany-mixtape-coverIf you’re just looking for the mixtape, click here for the official Epiphany Mixtape page.

From now until Lent, the Church Calendar is in the season of Epiphany. Up until this year, I had never really given much thought or focus to Epiphany. In fact, I hadn’t ever really understood Epiphany until this year. I knew it had something to do with light and with Magi, but beyond that, I didn’t get it.

Basically, this season seems like it’s sort of a Church Calendar “junk drawer” to meditate and celebrate on all the other parts of Jesus’ life that happened between his Advent/Birth and his Death.

And don’t misread that. With me saying that, I hope that doesn’t diminish this season for anyone. Perhaps the most precious doctrine of the Christian faith for me is that of the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to me. And this Righteousness in which I am dressed was not created out of thin air, nor was it created by Christ at the Cross, or even his Resurrection. It was built throughout his life of obedience to His Father.

And this is amazing. As I’ve written before, if Herod had been successful in killing the child Jesus, there would be an aspect of our salvation that’s missing.

And so, to try and help me spend some time meditating on this season, the best way I knew to think deeply about all this was to make another Church season mixtape. If I’m being honest, these things are more for me than all of you out there. This one particularly, though, helped me think through Epiphany and try and create something from it. I hope you enjoy it.

To read more about the specifics of Epiphany, the mixtape, and to listen/download it yourself, you can either read below or just go to the official Epiphany Mixtape page. Let me know what you think!

Here’s some more info, from the page:
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Art & Advent’s Intellect: Barnett Newman’s “Black Fire”


barnett-newman-black-fireIf you look at the top of every page on this site, you’ll notice there is a prominent header image. If you’ve paid any sort of repeated attention to the posts on this site, you’ll notice I have different headers for different themes and series. Lent, Easter, Women in Ministry, The Bible, Theology, Art, Personal, Political, Writing, and my upcoming Guatemala posts each have their own distinct headers.

Throughout this year’s Advent series, I’ve used a cropped version of the above piece as the header image. It’s called Black Fire by Barnett Newman. Until recently, it hung for many years in the abstract expressionism room in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I’ve spent much time sitting in the presence of this piece, contemplating it’s meaning.
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Advent & Sex-lessness: here’s to singleness & celibacy!


sandorfi-le-pardon-wide
Yesterday, I wrote a post about some implications of Advent on sex. And, of course, I stressed the goodness and beauty and transcendance of that act as God intended it.

And it was one of my least read posts in a long time (as an update, interestingly, this is to date one of my most-read posts of all time!). I’m wondering if people are tired of hearing Christians talk about sex ad nauseam.

It is my humble opinion that the American Church right now is currently obsessed with sex. Well, to be fair, it’s always been obsessed with it; but now, it seems, the obsession is with “taking it back” and yelling and screaming about how Christians are just as sex-crazed, sex-eager, and sexually exciting as the most ardent secular hedonist.

Of course, they all qualify it by saying (as I even said yesterday) that this (oh my god really amazing Christian sex that we value so much) has to be “within the confines of marriage”. And so, this sex-obsession often expresses itself in an equal obsession with marriage. Preparing people for it, encouraging people towards it, beating up guys that aren’t “pursuing” women (or at least “preparing to”), and giving women tips on how to attract a “good, godly husband.”

And yet, yesterday, when I was thinking about the Advent of God into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, and the idea of the Incarnation, I realized something:

What is the story of Advent but the story of a virgin girl who has a virgin birth of a man who will remain a virgin his whole life?

The story of the Incarnation is, relatively speaking, one of the most “sex-less” stories in the Bible.
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Advent & Sex: we are holy ground


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Update: I’ve also written some Advent thoughts on singleness and celibacy.

In Advent, we celebrate that God came as a human, in a mysterious act called the Incarnation. But in this act, God didn’t merely clothe himself in humanity. Flesh and blood were not the trappings of God. Instead, he became human. It was no mere illusion, nor was it a facade God took on.

God became flesh and blood.

God found it suitable (desirable, even!) to take on a body–a created, formed, physical, material body. The implications of this are huge. Take sex for example.

Advent show us that the created world can contain God, and it still does not violate God’s Holiness–his “Otherness” or “Separated-ness”. He can know his Creation in such union and intimacy and yet still remain transcendent above it. Our bodies do not challenge his Holiness. He can take it on and still remain Other. He became “one” with us in a similar way to how we become “one” with others in sex. With this in mind, let’s unpack some implications:
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Herman Bavinck on the Advent Election of Mary [QUOTE]


In a comment on yesterday’s post on Mary, occasional blog contributor Austin Ricketts posted this quote, another gem by Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck:

[the] entire preparation of the incarnation in the preceding centuries is concentrated, as it were, and completed in the election and favoring of Mary as mother of Jesus. Mary is the blessed one among women. She received an honor bestowed to no other creature. In the undeserved favor granted her, she far exceeds all other people and all other angels. Rome was right in maintaining this; those who deny it are not taking the incarnation of God seriously…Among all Protestants who confess the incarnation of the Word, Mary is held in high esteem. She was chosen and prepared by God to be the mother of his Son. She was the favored one among women. Christ himself desired her to be his mother, who conceived him by the Holy Spirit, who carried him beneath her heart, who nursed him at her breast, who instructed him in the Scriptures, in whom, in a word, the preparation of the incarnation was completed.

Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, pp. 274; 281-282

Advent, Evolution, & Absolution [RE-POST]


Today, I’m re-posting a piece I wrote exactly a year ago for last year‘s Advent series. During this year‘s, we’re seeing how the Advent event affects parts of our lives that we usually don’t associate with it. Today, it’s Advent and Evolution. You can follow the series here.

It’s Advent. A time where we especially orient ourselves towards rejoicing and celebrating the fact that God did not remain far off and merely create a “legal” or “dogmatic” satisfaction for the plight of his creation and creatures. Rather, he broke into it and came into his creation and among his creatures. In this year’s Advent series, we’re exploring how, in this Coming, Jesus took on our creaturely formcare-taking functioncomprehensive fallenness, and communal formation.

First, God took physical, human, creaturely form. In the study I did–and subsequent lecture I gave–on Beauty a couple of years ago, I defined “Beauty” as the attribute of something that expressed complexity simply. Is not this God-in-human-flesh (theologically referred to as the Incarnation) the most beautiful of all miracles to take place? The Infinitely Complex God inhabits the simplest of human forms: a child.

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Herman Bavinck on the Advent Incarnation


The doctrine of Christ is not the starting point, but it certainly is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics. All other dogmas either prepare for it or are inferred from it. In it, as the heart of dogmatics, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity. It is ‘the mystery of godliness’ (1 Tim. 3:16). From this mystery all Christology has to proceed. If, however, Christ is the incarnate Word, then the incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world; then, too, it must have been prepared from before the ages and have its effects throughout eternity…the incarnation is not an incidental decree that emerged later: it was decided and determined from eternity. There was not time when the Son did not exist; there was also no time when the Son did not know he would assume and when he was not prepared to assume the human nature from the fallen race of Adam. The incarnation was prepared from eternity; it does not rest in the essence of God but in the person. It is not a necessity as in pantheism, but neither is it arbitrary or accidental as in Pelagianism.

Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 3, pp. 274; 276-277 (found this by way of friend-of-the-blog Austin Ricketts)

a beautiful quote on our security in the Incarnation (by T.F. Torrance)


The stark actuality of Christ’s humanity, his flesh and blood and bone, guarantees to us that we have God among us. If that humanity were in any sense unreal, God would be unreal for us in him. The full measure of Christ’s humanity is the full measure of God’s reality for us, God’s actuality to us, in fact the measure of God’s love for us. If Christ is not man, then God has not reached us, but has stopped short of our humanity – then God does not love us to the uttermost, for his love has stopped short of coming all the way to where we are, and becoming one of us in order to save us. But Christ’s humanity means that God’s love is now flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone, really one of us and with us.

— T.F. Torrance, Incarnation, 185

A good friend posted this on Facebook, and I just had to post it. It connects very well to a few of the Advent posts I did recently (namely the ones on Evolution, our Fallenness, doubting God’s “liking” of us, and how he makes us most human).

I’ve never actually read Torrance before, but I’ve heard a lot about him from people that were, at the time, reading his work. From what I understand, though, he is a theologian whose mind is brilliant and pen is beautiful–a combination sorely lacking in the Christian world today. I also hear that he is a theologian to which I would feel a certain affinity, so I look forward to reading more of him.

What Christ did not taste, Christ did not redeem. | Advent {4}


This Advent season, we’ve been meditating on how the Advent reminds us how God took on our creaturely form, care-taking function, comprehensive fallenness, and communal formation.

First, a question.

Think back on the Christmas story. After Jesus is born, when he’s about three years old, the wise men go to King Herod and say that they’re looking for this newborn King. Herod is shocked to hear about a child-king having been born right under his nose, whose potential future reign threatens his own, and so he puts out a decree calling for the death of all children ages three and under (in history and art this is referred to as “The Slaughter of the Innocents”. An angel comes to Joseph in a dream and tells him to flee to Egypt to prevent this from happening.

Here’s the question:

Why flee to Egypt? If they stayed and Herod killed the child Jesus, would that not still be Jesus, the Son of God–the Incarnate God–dying unjustly at the hands of a Roman provincial governor attempting to cement the reign of the powers and principalities of the world? Why go to all that effort to wait 30 years later for the same thing to happen on a cross?
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Advent, Evolution, & Absolution


It’s Advent. A time where we especially orient ourselves towards rejoicing and celebrating the fact that God did not remain far off and merely create a “legal” or “dogmatic” satisfaction for the plight of his creation and creatures. Rather, he broke into it and came into his creation and among his creatures. In this year’s Advent series, we’re exploring how, in this Coming, Jesus took on our creaturely form, care-taking functioncomprehensive fallenness, and communal formation.

First, God took physical, human, creaturely form. In the study I did–and subsequent lecture I gave–on Beauty a couple of years ago, I defined “Beauty” as the attribute of something that expressed complexity simply. Is not this God-in-human-flesh (theologically referred to as the Incarnation) the most beautiful of all miracles to take place? The Infinitely Complex God inhabits the simplest of human forms: a child.
Continue reading