2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Prayer of the Church, Christmas Eve/Day, Yr B

Prayer of the Church, Christmas Eve/Day, Year B

Lectionary Readings: Isa 9:2-7; 62:6-12; 52:7-10; Pss 96; 97; 98; Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Heb 1:1-4 [5-12]; Lk 2:1-14 [15-20]; Jn 1:1-14

P: Holy One of Israel and All Nations: On this marvellous festival day, the whole cosmos is united in an en-ending medley of hymns, prayers, praise and thanksgivings. All creation bows in adoration and worships you, O Blessed Holy Trinity! Our lives are overflowing with oceanic joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Messiah! Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: God of Good News: We thank you for your Glad Tidings as it winged its way from ancient Israel to the ends of the earth. Bless all who preach, teach and hear your Word; that with the work of your Spirit, all people might see the salvation of our God. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Divine Ruler: We are truly grateful that, at the appointed time, the fullness of your majesty and mystery was perfectly revealed in your Son. O Christ, your realm is eternal; we, together with the angels are subjects of your benevolent reign. Rule over us always Christ King of kings and Lord of lords! Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Eternal Word: On this holy day we celebrate your becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Shine your light into all the darkness of this world—especially where there is oppression, persecution, war and destruction. May the light you give us reflect outward into the dark places of this world. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
(Additional intercessions and thanksgivings may be included here, ending with: Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!)
P: Jesus our Healer: Remember on this holy, joyous day all people who are suffering from loneliness, depression, abuse, poverty, hunger, illnesses and injustice of all kinds—be they mental, physical or spiritual. Grant comfort and healing to them all, that they may receive the fullness of your grace and truth. Joy to the world: C: The Lord is come!
P: Grant peace on earth and good will toward all human beings; for the sake of Jesus Christ, the Prince of peace. Lead us in the ways of peace now and always Jesus our Prince of peace; in whose Holy Name we pray. ALL: Amen! Hallelujah!

Atheist Christopher Hitchens has died

The popular atheist and public debater and author of God Is Not Great has died of pneumonia, a complication of esophageal cancer. One who debated with Hitchens, Douglas Wilson, has written a piece on “How to think about the death of the outspoken atheist” over at the Christianity Today blog.

It is one of those quirky human realities that often atheists are more civil and “good” in the way they befriend others and live their lives than are people of faith. We ought not to be gleeful at the death of such a person as Hitchens, and, worse yet, judgemental of his ultimate destiny. Rather, as one of my seminary professors once told us—who himself liked to debate atheists—it is often better to be around atheists than Christians. Why? Because they keep us Christians honest in our faith, and make us think more deeply about the what and why of our beliefs when our beliefs are called into question. Moreover, most likely they are also able to see through our hypocrisy whenever our beliefs fail to match up with the way we live our lives.

Although I believe that most likely no matter how qualified and brilliant a debater you or I might become; I don’t think we can argue and debate a person into faith—only the work of God’s Spirit can give them the gift of faith. Why you or I have it and folks like Christopher Hitchens do not still remains a mystery. A mystery, by design, not to make the faithful puffed up with pride and superiority—rather, humbled, awed, and constantly grateful for the gift so generously given us beyond our deserving it.

Sermon 3 Advent Yr B

You can read my sermon for Dec 11, 2011 here:3 Advent Yr B

Letters to David

Over at the Jewish-Christian Relations website, my friend and founder of the site, Fritz Voll has translated a heartfelt work called Letters to David, by Friedrich Gölz, a German theologian and pastor, who wrote these letters to his grandson named David. You can read some of the letters here. If you are fluent in German you can also read the complete 240 page e-book available online free here.
I want to publicly thank you Fritz for making this wonderful resource available to us. God’s blessings and shalom now and always.