Who is St. Nicholas?

Posted by tom | Dec 7, 2013

St. Nicholas Center -- a great resource, which I came across on Keeping Advent 2013. The question of Who is St. Nicholas? comes up year after year in a variety of contexts and this year it was an educational concern for several of our children.

Going a step further . . . In addition to visiting the on-line St. Nicholas Center, I may invest in The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus. Anyone read the 2012 Baylor U. Press book by Adam C. English (Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Campbell University in North Carolina)? To learn more about this book and the author visit www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/december/better-than-santa.html?paging=off and www.baylorpress.com/Book/339/The_Saint_Who_Would_Be_Santa_Claus.html.

FYI: Experiencing Meaning this Christmas is an earlier Groshlink family post on Santa Claus/St. Nicholas. A number of Advent/Christmas posts on can be found on GroshlinkThe Emerging Scholars Network, and The Well.

"Ode to Joy" in orchestral Flash Mob style

Posted by tom | Dec 10, 2012

This video started our family's new day and week. We celebrate and embrace extending the peace which Christ brings. Please join us :) To God be the glory! HT: Harriet Sider Bicksler.

A New Year of Spontaneous Blessing!

Posted by tom | Jan 1, 2012

Brought to mind that the Gospel and the people of God burst forth with blessing in the midst of the mundane . . . salt . . . light . . . . leaven . . . a new year of Spirit-led possibilities. Looking forward to sharing and hearing the good reports/testimonies of the work of God to the glory of God!

As one of the first professional symphony orchestras ever Copenhagen Phil (Sjællands Symfoniorkester) did a flash mob at Copenhagen Central Station on May 2nd 2011 playing Ravel's Bolero. Conductor is Jesper Nordin, http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mrEk06XXaAw.

A Christmas Carol: In the bleak mid-winter

Posted by tom | Dec 24, 2011

A Christmas Carol: In the bleak mid-winter for your meditation this Christmas Eve Day, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRobryliBLQ, as you prepare for worship Christmas morning. You may also find some of the comments of surprise, encouragement . . .

5. What can I give Him, 
  Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
  I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
  I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, 
  Give my heart.

Finding Calcutta: "An Adventure"/II Peter 1:3-9

Posted by tom | Dec 1, 2011

The Lord continues to impress upon my mind 2 Peter 1:3-9, a significant text in Finding Calcutta: "An Adventure".* As such I commend these words for your prayerful consideration as you begin a new year through the celebration of Advent.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

*Today's Emerging Scholars Network Blog post (12/1/2011).

Dies irae (Mozart's Requiem)

Posted by tom | Nov 27, 2011

. . . Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. . . .

Lamb of God, who takes away
the sins of the world,
grant them eternal rest. . . .

Probably non-traditional, but I'm beginning Advent by reflecting upon Dies irae (Mozart's Requiem, English translation posted here). I am inspired by the hope- and joy-filled performance by a spontaneously formed choir and orchestra called RMP (Resistenza Musicale Permanente - Permanent Musical Resistance), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-1hDQpNz5s. I read that this occured at a huge gathering against the exploitation of women (Piazza del Popolo, Rome, 2/3/2011). 

 

Advent Conspiracy

Posted by tom | Nov 22, 2011

Yes, the Advent Conspiracy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IN0W3gjnNE, is once again afoot in our house. How about yours? Ready for Sunday, November 27 . . . 

Dangers of religious writing/discussion?

Posted by tom | Jan 28, 2011

As I reflect upon Christmas, I have not found writing/discussing about "religious matters" of great difficulty.  But Walter Russell Mead has:

"religious writing stirs up powerful and sometimes angry feelings. There’s a reason why our grandmothers told us never to discuss politics and religion at the dinner table." -- Yule Blog 2010-11: Dwelling in Darkness, Seeing A Light (The American Interest. 1/5/2011). HT:  Miller.

I wonder if Walter Russell Mead has a different flavor to his writing, if I have a more sympathetic audience, or ________ . As I've mentioned before, the most challenging aspect for me through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany is the call to become more like Christ ... leading me to continually cry out for the continued blessing/gift of the Fruit of the Spirit.  How about you?  Thoughts as you reflect upon "the holidays"?

Update: Coptic Christians in Egypt

Posted by tom | Jan 22, 2011

Our family's Christmas prayers for followers of Christ have carried over ... Thank-you to Miller for passing along WSJ Opinion Article Egypt vs. Extremism (1/21/2011) by Mr. Boutros-Ghali, president of the National Council of Human Rights in Cairo. He served as the sixth secretary-general of the United Nations and was Egypt's minister of state for foreign affairs.

Thoughts on "Do Christians Overemphasize Christmas?"

Posted by tom | Dec 26, 2010

HT Mike for bringing attention to Do Christians Overemphasize Christmas? (John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture. Wall Street Journal. 12/24/2010).

As I posted on Facebook,

Yes, that's why our family celebrates Advent followed by Christmas followed by Epiphany* instead of a month plus of cultural Christmas, even if it's Evangelical Subculture Christmas. Our practice of Advent is an intentional retelling of the Biblical story/narrative in order to train our children to navigate all that they're surrounded by. I find this isn't as necessary to drill Christmas into Lent/Easter/Ascension or 'regular' calendar, which in our house comes to a joyous conclusion in our celebration of New Heaven/Earth at Thanksgiving. Why? Christmas is just plain hard for kids to forget.  They bring it up when we talk about the Biblical story ;-) 

... I think that one of the challenging pieces of Advent/Christmas celebration with children (in the home and the local congregation) is that 'they were there' last year, they 'mature' each year, and others continue to be added their number each year (although not the case in every family every year, except for some of the Amish!). Finding ways to teach which speak across the generations, particularly which enable the maturing children to teach the younger children is vital. [Note:  I gave the example of Advent candles as a powerful teaching tool. I would add the teaching of the sacred texts, songs, and continuing development of some traditions.  Theresa finds great value in the traditions which deliver/speak the Truth of the Gospel to the larger familial and cultural milieu, particularly in a bridge-building manner].

Note: Emerging Scholars Network Blog Posts tagged Advent.

*our wise men are across the room on top of a bookshelf ;-)

Christmas Song: Born Where the Shadows Lie (Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Posted by tom | Dec 25, 2010

Born where the shadows lie
To answer every cry of man
This child who formed all life
Now breathes our breath
Born where the Father loved
Born helpless to a mother's arms
She smoothed the tears upon
The face of God

Born now with man to dwell
Our Lord Immanuel
Come see the King the Christ Child born to us
Born now with man to dwell
Our Lord Immanuel
My soul can finally know the God of Heaven

Born with a road ahead
Alone these blameless feet would tread
The path God chose to walk
Before all time
Born holding life and death
Born bearing heaven's wealth of peace
That fills where none can fill
Our living stream

Born Where the Shadows Lie
Keith & Kristyn Getty
Copyright © Thankyou Music 2004

Amen!

Christmas Song: Joy Has Dawned upon the World (Keith Getty & Stuart Townend)

Posted by tom | Dec 24, 2010

Christmas Eve is upon.  Soon we'll be gathering round the manager in celebration of Jesus the Christ.  Below's a Youtube of a local congregation singing "Joy Has Dawned upon the World."

Words and Music of "Joy Has Dawned upon the World" by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend. Copyright © 2004 Thankyou Music.  Full text and an audio sample available here.

Tales from the Manger

Posted by tom | Dec 22, 2010

The other night I had an older and a younger child home together.  We

  • ate supper
  • painted abstract art
  • drew a manger scene
  • read Tales from the Manger (Chonda & David Pierce. Illustrated by Matt LeBarre. Zonderkidz. 2004)

Tales from the Manger. Chonda and David Pierce.  Illustrated by Matt LeBarre.  Zonderkidz.  2004.

This is the first year which I have appreciated Tales from the Manger.  What changed my perspective?  The older child understanding the analogies present in stable scene (e.g., Saul the Ox, Peter the Sheep, Zacchacus the Oppossum, etc) while the younger child just took in the picture/story.

Thomas the Rooser got very excited at this news.  He knew just what he was supposed to do.  From his perch high above the manger, the rooster pulled his head back, and he crowed louder and longer than he had ever crowed before.  "COCK-A-DOODLE-DO!"  He was crowing in a brand-new day -- the day God's Son came to earth!  ...

And it all happened there that night, in a little stable, in a little town called Bethlehem, when God's own Son, Jesus Christ, came to live with those he had created.  And that includes you and me ...

Meow! Baa! Squeak! COCK-A-DOODLE-DO!  And Merry Christmas. -- p.87-88, 93.

Maybe it's also Thomas' sharing of the news ;-)

 

Maverick Flying Car at Oshkosh

Posted by tom | Dec 21, 2010

Still looking for a Christmas present to invest in?

How about the car/plane invented by Nate Saint's son, Steve, for missions and humanitarian purposes? Below's video of Steve driving his road-legal flying car from Florida to Oshkosh this summer. Since then the FAA has also issued the Maverick a S-LSA aircraft airworthiness certificate. I-TEC hopes to be in production by EAA Oshkosh 2011. HT: Fred.

2010 Advent Postings on ESN and Godspace

Posted by tom | Dec 12, 2010

In addition to Groshlink posts and Facebook notes, I've also written Advent posts for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Emerging Scholars Network Blog and Christine Sine's Godspace. May you find these posts a blessing as you prepare for Christmas.

This Advent I believe, just like a child. ...

Posted by tom | Dec 11, 2010

To God be the glory!

Thank-you to my brother in Christ who passed along Creation Calls -- are you listening? (Music by Brian Doerksen).  I found the piece a great encouragement in the midst of a full end of term schedule.

Note: To all who journey with our family and ministry, please keep sending us material which blesses/encourages/equips our family in life and ministry.

Video: A Child Is Born (Igniter Media)

Posted by tom | Dec 8, 2010

A video to consider sharing with your family, friends, local congregation's children's ministry ...

 

Advent: God Comes to Idolators

Posted by tom | Dec 6, 2010

Thank-you to Miller for passing along Busy Making Gods (Or The Idol Business) (Reformed Reader. 11/15/2010).

“We don’t come to God; God comes to us.  … But we don’t want God.  The well-documented evidence is that we want to be our own gods.  The evidence piles up from every continent and civilization, every century and every religion.  It is irrefutable.  The evidence is thoroughly and convincingly confirmed in our Scriptures and documented in each and every one of our lives.  God is a rival, not an ally, in the god-business.  We want to be our own gods.  The Snake promised us we could do it – ‘you will be like God’ (Gen 3.5) – and we have been at it ever since.  As it turns out, we are very good at it.” -- Eugene Peterson. Tell it Slant (pages 150-151)

Peterson's comments on idolatry enriched my Advent meditation upon God coming to those created 'in His image,' reminding me of of much I desire to 'fashion myself' into something other than I am to be as a 'little Christ.' 

'Here I am Lord.  Use me and make me into who you intend me to be as your new creation.'

Note:  I've really fallen behind in my reading of Peterson.  Not sure when I'll catch-up.  So if others have good material from his more recent books, please pass them my way.  Much appreciated.

Christmas Song: Imagine (Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Posted by tom | Dec 5, 2010

Join with me in prayerful reflection ...

Who hears who hears the voice of the hungry the thristy
Who sees who sees the tears of the suffering ones

Imagine a King who would come through the darkness
And walk where I walk full of greatness
And call me to His side
Just like a Father and child

Who knows who knows the hopes that lie hidden forgotten
Who comes who comes to bring all the children home

Imagine
Keith & Kristyn Getty
Copyright © 2004 Thankyou Music

To God be the glory!  

 

The Christ of Christmas

Posted by tom | Dec 25, 2009
When they [the shepherds] had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. -- Luke 2:17-20

Come & See. ... Go & Tell. ...

May the splendor, majesty, and mystery of the Christ child send us to our knees in worship.  

  1. Christmas Eve Prayer (Christine Sine, 12/24/2009)
  2. Before the Presence of God (Quote from Bobby Gross' Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God, Emerging Scholars Network, 12/25/2009)
  3. Jesus Creed (Variety of posts/links including Michael Card's Immanuel given by Scot McKnight, 12/25/2009)
  4. Songs which the twins sung at last night's Christmas Eve Service included:
    1. One Starry Night (Link is a youtube sung by another choir)
    2. City on a Hill's version of Holy Emmanuel (2002) -- below

     

The Nativity (C.S. Lewis)

Posted by tom | Dec 24, 2009

On December 15, Worship Quote of the Week highlighted some Christmas thoughts from C.S. Lewis.  Take a few minutes to join me in reflecting upon the below poem:

THE NATIVITY
Among the oxen (like an ox I'm slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with the ox's dullness might at length
Give me an ox's strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Savior where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some woolly innocence.

— C. S. Lewis, from POEMS, edited by Walter Hooper, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.  Posted at http://www.wqotw.org/quote.php?date=2009-12-15.

Waiting for Jesus to Show Up

Posted by tom | Dec 13, 2009

The reason I don't like to pray is simple. I don't really love God. I do love the idea of loving God. It would be a fine, fine thing to love God, I believe. But I have to face it: One reason I go to church is not because I already love God but because I'd like to love him. I'm afraid I have the same reaction to church as I do to prayer. Lots of debate about whether I should go. Going most Sundays because I should go. And when it's over, a lot of times I can say, "I love having worshiped." ... -- Waiting for Jesus to Show Up: Moving from loving the idea of loving God to loving God (Mark Galli, Christianity Today, posted 12/10/2009 10:33AM).  HT:  Arlene

What's waiting been like this Advent for you, your family, the local assembly of which you are a member?  How are you entering the new year of the Christian calendar (and 2010)?  Take a few minutes to be challenged/encouraged by Waiting for Jesus to Show Up: Moving from loving the idea of loving God to loving God. Let us know by email how we can pray for you.

The reality of the Kingdom of God and the Presence of God has recently shown through with power in conversation at a graduate student dinner sponsored by the PSU-Hershey Mecial Center's Christian Medical Society (CMS), reading G.P. Taylor's Shadowmancer (Note: CT Author interview), family devotions based upon The Jesse Tree [Geraldine McCaughrean, Bee Willey (illustrator), Eerdmans, 2005], the adult elective on N.T. Wright's Simply Christian, and blocks of time to be quiet/listen (I really enjoy "no radio" in runs back and forth from CMS activities).  

Pray for each and every member of our family, our whole family, and people of God to journey through this season and the coming year with eyes focused upon the Christ child.  To God be the glory!

Advent/Christmas: The very Son of God

Posted by tom | Dec 6, 2009

An excerpt from a sermon from St. Gregory Nazianzen (HT Jim):

The  very Son of God, older  than  the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites himself to an intelligent soul for the good of my soul, to purify like by like. He takes to himself all that is human, except for sin. He was conceived by the Virgin Mary, who had been first prepared in soul and body by the Spirit; his coming to birth had to be treated with honor, virginity had to receive new honor. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has taken, one being, made of two contrary elements, flesh and spirit. Spirit gave divinity, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I may gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he is emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.

What is this wealth of goodness? What is this mystery that surrounds me? I received the likeness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring salvation to the image, immortality to the flesh. He enters into a second union with us, a union far more wonderful than the first.

Holiness had to be brought to man by the humanity assumed by one who was God, so that God might overcome the tyrant by force and so deliver us and lead us back to himself through the mediation of his Son. The Son arranged this for the honor of the Father, to whom the Son is clearly obedient in all things.

The Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep, came in search of the straying sheep to the mountains and hills on which you used to offer sacrifice. When he found it, he took it on the shoulders that bore the wood of the cross, and led it back to the life of heaven.

Christ, the light of all lights, follows John, the lamp that goes before him. The Word of God follows the voice in the wilderness; the bridegroom follows the bridegroom's friend, who prepares a worthy people for the Lord by cleansing them by water in preparation for the Spirit.

We need God to take our flesh and die that we might live. We have died with him, that we may be purified. We have risen again with him, because we have died with him. We have been glorified with him, because we have risen again with him.

Amen!

Note:  Earlier post with powerful quote from St. Gregory Nazianzen in reference to the cross and the miracle of salvation, Who is your Savior?

 

Riches I heed not

Posted by tom | Dec 5, 2009

In follow-up to Be Thou my Wisdom.

With all concerns regarding financial resources and positioning around us, let us together sing. ...

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

How can we refrain from ...

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Be Thou My (Our) Vision this Advent, for the coming year, and all our days!  Amen.

Be Thou my Wisdom

Posted by tom | Dec 4, 2009

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Ever have a task at which you are particularly ill equipped?  For me it is sorting through paper resources/files.  I see so many possible uses and relationships between various materials that I find them difficult to categorize, file, set down, and/or throw away. 

On Monday I faced off against the new to me filing cabinets which I found free a few houses down the street.  The goal was not only to move over files, but also to clean up/out some unnecessary papers. Setting aside the computer virus issues and the scurry of Advent/Christmas preparations (as the girls had no school due to deer season), I did not make much progress.  Why?  I came across sheet after sheet of paper which

  1. Testified to God the Father's powerful work in His creation (particularly related to campus ministry) through His mighty hand, Son, people, and Spirit. 
  2. Reminded me of tasks to be completed, which I tried to accomplish to get them off the list and discard the sheet of paper.
  3. Generated new ideas for the campus mission.

I dwelt upon a Be Thou My Vision handout for quite some time, remembering the numerous times I've shared the words/themes of the song during conferences, campus gatherings, and personal appointments.  With Advent beginning, I was particularly drawn to the verse given above. 

Pray that the Word and Spirit would enable me to may seek/receive and encourage others to seek/receive the Wisdom of God each and every day.  Pray for the wisdom of God (and not my own musings) to flow with clarity in appointments, e-communications, presentations, and social interactions during a busy season with varying lengths of conversation.  Note: I've found greatest length of conversation and opportunity to get to know people to occur during various social gatherings?  Why?  Previously open times in campus schedules fill due to the end of term and various holiday events. 

Pray for God to grant me and all in our household/ministry to be filled with Wisdom all the days of our lives at home, among the people of God, in the community, on campus, wherever we are sent. 

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