Living the Xn Year

Welcome to week 3 of Advent, a time where God breaks into our lives as we anticipate Christmas and continue to prepare for the glorious return of Christ!

Also, there are less than 19 shopping days left, so be sure to get that Amazon order in like I did this morning.

This is Christian Year Spirituality, combining the “sacred” and “secular”, with full nods to Rob Bell who says that everything is spiritual, anyway. That may be true, but I still have to be diligent in chasing after God’s redemptive work in my rather selfish and remarkably secular life, a life that is spirit. Or, to put it another way, we have to work really really really hard at keeping Christ as the center and perspective in our lives. It’s not that He has worthy competition for the spot of King, it’s that we allow other things to be competition. The competition for sanctified living is me. If I eat too much, it’s not food’s fault. If I watch too much TV, it’s not Jerry Springer’s fault (maybe a little). It’s really me. It always has been. This is why the bible calls us to surrender ourselves to Christ long before we try acting like a follower of Christ, since it’s so remarkably difficult to act like a Christian without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Enter living the Christian Year: taking the time to inhabit the story of God.
I’m reading a book by Bobby Gross called Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God. It’s quite inspiring and mightily helpful as we work through the liturgical year at SAFMC.

And he writes:

We mark days…days mark us. We observe various holidays — Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth…Christmas and Easter…But we can go much further! We can go beyond scattered celebrations, memorials and holidays. We can go beyond the heartfelt but brief attention we give Christmas and Easter. We can go beyond keeping the year’s special occasions to regarding the entire calendar as sacred. We can, in effect, sacralize time itself.

In Advent we focus on three “comings” of Christ: his arrival in history as a baby born of Mary, his return in fearsome glory at the end of time and his intermediate entrance into our own lives.

(on symbolism in Advent/Christmas as one example of seeing things through Advent lenses):

The dead of winter as we asy, invokes images of…barren trees, hard ground, absent birds and lowering skies…The strange survival of summer greens in the snows had always been a sacrament of the hope for new life through the winter… holly can remind us of Christ with its prickly leaves (crown of thorns) and red berries (blood).

I’m enjoying this book as I look forward to Advent, not as a calendar event or Church activity but as an opportunity to enter into the Story.

We need this like the desert needs water. Our hearts can become so dry that they crack, and we become so adjusted that we don’t realize that what should be vibrant and green is brown and dusty. Living water is the only solution.

Saturday Morning Post

  • Malachi (age 5) just asked for Honey Cheerios for breakfast. Upon realizing that we have several pounds of regular Cheerios but no Honey-Nut flavored, he asked me to “just put some honey on these regular Cheerios. And if I like it, I’ll eat it”. I assumed the inverse to be true — if he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t eat it — but it seemed like such a novel idea: homemade Honey-Nut Cheerios. And it turns out that he likes it. Hey, Mackie! (name that 80’s commercial).
  • Lexi (age 6) slept in past 9am, which is uncharacteristic of any child, especially her. When she did finally come around… oh, the colors. Whatever shade lies between green and yellow? It pours from her nose. Thankfully this didn’t dampen her appetite one bit. It turns out that she likes homemade Honey-Nut Cheerios, too. From her own bowl, I might add.
  • Zach went ahead and pulled an all-nighter, inviting both Emily and I along for the ride. His strategy is to start crying as soon as his baby-sensors indicate that parental units are entering into REM sleep, which leaves them exhausted, which renders them unable to defend the house from his advances the next morning. Where did he find a Tazer? Don’t taze me, bro!
  • Emily has been working double duty this week as I’ve been rehearsing for the Christmas Musical. A wonderful wife and mommy. She got to sleep in, which is good. We will now find out if Emily likes homemade Honey-Nut Cheerios.
  • It makes me a little sad that we won’t be able to watch U of M football today, since the last 3 months of Saturdays have featured the game. In the sudden emptiness of my soul, I have been finding solace in listening to Josh Groban sing “You Raise Me Up”, which seems to be working. Thanks, Rich Rod.
  • Now, it’s on to Menard’s to get various products for home and work. Malachi and I will take at least two trips through the Christmas display section of the store, where he will suggest to me that we get some lights to put up outside. What he doesn’t know is that Daddy isn’t a huge fan of outdoor LED lights, mostly because of the cost. But that’s okay because we don’t yet need to buy any lights. Since March, I’ve been storing Christmas lights as a squirrel stores acorns — jammed in a hole in one of our trees in the backyard.
  • Last but not least, today I pull the trigger on the order that will provide my lovely wife with glorious Christmas gifts — gold, frankencense and myrrh.
  • More With the Puppets

    We filmed a new docusode at radio yesterday. Caution: puppets are involved.

    I’m thinking deeply about the full circle that puppet ministry has taken. Employed for ministry by the church in the early 70’s, children have been taught the 10 commandments by felty puppets in church basements across the country. What worked on Sesame Street also worked during Children’s Church. Progressive churches would take the Pastor’s sermon manuscript and have Squiggy, Plankton and Yarny act it out for the children. Mrs. Ferguson was the best puppeteer, since all church puppets are required to have a playful, squeaky voice, which came quite naturally for her, both on stage and off.

    Fast forward 30 years. Today, a radio station that plays an amalgam of Christian and “Secular” music is using these puppets to make poorly planned videos which are seen by hundreds, many of which never heard Mrs. Ferguson’s voice or Pastor Ron’s version of Yarny singing a split-track version of “God’s Wonderful People”. All they know is that these creatures entertain the children and teach the adults a thing or two, but not about anything of significance.

    Here it is:

    Production Week

    I’m Joseph. A carpenter by trade, I have hopes of continuing in the family business and maybe marrying a very nice girl. The next thing I know, she’s pregnant. And it’s not mine. She claims that God did it. While Jerry Springer won’t come out for another 2,000 years, I can tell you that I have at least a week’s worth of episodes right here. And don’t even ask about her parents, because they’re a little on edge. Perhaps that’s an understatement.

    And that’s how Act 1 ends. But don’t worry, there’s an Act 2. Let’s just say that things end up pretty good for everybody. In the world.

    This Friday, Saturday and Sunday — Two From Galilee at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church.

    Just One AT&T Complaint, Then I’m Done

    I wanted to get this on my blog, hoping that I wasn’t the only one who experienced this.
    In October, I was told by a reliable source that AT&T would offer 3G in Jackson, Michigan, beginning November 7 2010. Someone else said to me “hey, did you hear about 3G?”, and they weren’t getting this info from the same source. A convergence of other sources blatantly pointed to 3G in Jackson by November 7. For this, I sang great songs of joy. With this many people saying so — INCLUDING the guy who works for AT&T and was wearing a telltale polo shirt when he made this utterance — how could I go wrong?

    I started mentally saying goodbye to the EDGE network, an acronym which stands for:
    E= horribly
    D= slow
    G= internet
    E= like a 56 K modem

    Trips to Ann Arbor (or, for that matter, Flint) were always marked by the moment when my iPhone would switch from the EDGE network to 3G, which was like going from CompuServe to whatever a much faster version of CompuServe is. When we crossed the line back to Jackson, we also encountered the reliable but disappointing “E” in the screens. Welcome back to Prodigy. Welcome back to Netscape Navigator. Welcome back to DOS 1.0.

    What I’m trying to say is that I was really excited about dropping the E and getting the 3G. Reliable sources. Relative likelihood. Right on.

    November 7 rolled around. I remember it well. It was the day that the Salvation Army Chicago Staff Band played at Spring Arbor Free Methodist Church. It was also the day that we set our clocks back. And it was the day that we were to get our new internet for our phones. No longer would the people of Flint laugh at Jackson. We would finally be on the same level. November 7 evening rolled around and I found myself at the gathering, checking again to see if the “E” became a “3G”. November 7 night rolled around and I found myself waking up at 11:33PM to the sound of an incoming text, which I guessed was AT&T telling me that my internet was about to be able to show more than 4 colors at a time. It was actually my sister wondering if I had ever been shoved by a nun or something.

    November 8 rolled around and I wondered aloud. “Hey…wha happened?” I asked aloud, only to be answered by silence. I checked with some sources and they all had the same experience. E. No 3G.

    “Yeah… they really left us hanging, eh?” one AT&T store employee said, having been told the same thing and finding themselves closer than ever to the EDGE. “I guess it won’t be until February, or, maybe… hold on… my e-mail is still loading…”

    Don’t bother. I’ll keep waiting. What else can I do? Travel to Flint for all my application updates?
    No thanks.

    Okay. I’m better now. Catharsis.