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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem


English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/HTML/christmas_classics_videos.htm#Chap_02

Gay Marriage Revisited


Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd”

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride.

Rainbow flag. Symbol of gay pride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m sorry for the hateful rhetoric that comes out of people’s mouths about same-sex relationships. I realize that some of this garbage originates out of misguided Christian beliefs, and I would defend a Gay person to my death against a hateful bigoted Christian.

I also want my Gay friends to know that I am struggling over what the Scriptures teach.

I often talk about this with Christians who say,  “We know same-sex relationships are wrong: we love the person but we hate the sin.”

“God says it, I believe it, That settles it!”

But, somehow, I feel that just isn’t enough for our complex society.

I mention that Jesus hadn’t spoken about it…”Well, No.”

What does it mean that Jesus didn’t speak about same-sex relationships but Paul did?

I am one follower of Christ, who doesn’t separate  the Scriptures into “Red Letters” as my Social Activist heroes, Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo tend to do. This means they are primarily followers of those words of Christ and leave to (?) the rest

But, since I began to follow Christ as a very young person, the Bible has been my guidebook. How else could I know God? Did He have a plan for me? We are guided by circumstance, by counsel, but the Bible is the best instruction manual I know on how to live and I’ve followed it my entire adult life and found it very practical and foolproof.

But, God’s ways aren’t always the easiest to figure out. (HA!)

I’ve found God’s love to be great and covering over a multitude of my wrongs and even, societal wrongs which I would like to wipe off the map.

I know God doesn’t condone injustice and ill-treatment of people who are helpless, and that He tells us to not judge others. We are supposed to leave that to Him. But, we are supposed to be discerning and make wise decisions about life.

So, I struggle with what the Bible teaches sometimes, and there are some Scriptures I just wish weren’t in there! I used to think people chose to be in same-sex relationships, because I didn’t think God would make “mistakes” about sexuality, but, I’ve changed in that.

I really don’t understand it, but I think our world isn’t perfect and few sexual relationships are either. So…I abandoned that theory.  But, why on earth would God allow things to become sooo hard?

Did He want people to remain celibate? That is, not have sex unless they were married? Then is Gay Marriage a part of His plan? Sounds good, right?

But, how can I say this boldly enough??? I CAN’T JUST IGNORE WHAT IS CLEARLY FORBIDDEN IN SCRIPTURE…SUCH AS ADULTERY, GLUTTONY, AND LYING WITH THE SAME SEX.

Maybe people like me died in prison in the past, because their religious beliefs didn’t coincide with what was politically correct. They could not change what they believed to be true.

I would hope that our society would be open to Christians and non-Christians who believe different things. But, you know, there is unprecedented pressure on us Christians to accept Gay rights, without regard to our own beliefs.  It’s like we have to go into the closet while Gay people come out.

Is that what is expected?

Hmm?

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2013/03/15/gay-marriage-revisited/

St Patrick’s Creed


English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, my mother would urge me to wear the color Orange to school on St. Patrick’s Day in rebellion against all the Green!

Yes, it was in direct protest against the Catholic Irish and in defense of William of Orange, 1650- 1702! I talked with several women in my church today who told me similar stories about their mothers, mostly Presbyterians from times gone by!

Surprisingly, in those days, we never heard about the wonderful stories of the real St. Patrick who was taken as a slave to Ireland, escaped and later returned as a missionary to the Pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

St. Patrick’s Creed:

Our God, God of all mankind,

God of heaven and earth, sea and rivers,

God of sun and moon, of all the stars,

God of high mountains and low valleys,

God over heaven and in heaven and under heaven.

He has a dwelling

In heaven and earth and sea

And in all things that are in them,

He inspires all,

He quickens all,

He is over all,

He supports all.

He makes the light of the sun to shine.

The light of the night and the stars he surrounds,

And he has made wells in the dry earth,

Placed dry islands in the sea,

And stars for the service

Of the greater lights.

He has a Son

Co-eternal with himself, like unto himself;

The Son is not younger than the Father,

Nor the Father older than the Son.

And the Holy Spirit

Breathes in them;

Not separate are the Father

And the son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

Brick by Brick: Our (Own) Worst Enemies: Why Evangelicals Have to be Able to Criticize Each Other


A bible from 1859.

A bible from 1859. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It takes courage and wisdom to know when to change our long-held beliefs doesn’t it? There are some that we will never change because we are persuaded from our source text, The Bible, that they are right. Others, like slavery, were once thought to be Biblical, and are now considered false beliefs. But, how do sincere Christians really know how and when to make that leap from one strong belief to the opposite belief?  When should we allow peers and culture to influence us?

These questions are best asked in a community of people who think somewhat differently, while valuing and respecting the principles upon which each person bases his/her life.

Questions need to be asked and that is why I think I related to the dilemma posted by David Williams of Inter-Varsity in North Carolina, on his blog “Brick by Brick”. (Read below)

I’ve had people ask me if I didn’t “like” the Church when I’ve spoken up about some of the weaknesses I see in the Body of Christ.

Some of my Christian friends have been hurt when I’ve made negative comments about people who claim to be Christians and then speak out politically in ways that deny the words of Christ.

I try to look for the inconsistency in my life before I criticize other people, but it’s easy to over look things because of stubbornness and pride. That’s why I usually learn from other people’s criticism even when I might not seem to listen at first.

Hopefully.

 Our (Own) Worst Enemies: Why Evangelicals Have to be Able to Criticize Each Other Brick by Brick

why i hate religion, but love jesus || spoken word | chiselseason.com


I like this guy and his message, though he slips up once, because he mentions Christianity which IS a religion… Isn’t it?

His point is clear enough.

why i hate religion, but love jesus || spoken word | chiselseason.com.

Explaining Advent


An Eastern Orthodox wreath containing six cand...
Advent Calendar Day 0

Advent Calendar by kimncris via Flickr

I don’t remember hearing the word, “Advent” until I became a college student.

On the other hand, my husband, who grew up Episcopalian, celebrated it every year of his life. The year our first daughter was born, Jon made an “Advent wreath” resembling the one here. Beginning in November, we would light a candle each week and read a verse which prepared our hearts and minds for Christmas, and remembering Christ’s coming to earth.

As our family grew we added Advent Calendars with little doors which the kids opened each day, to read a verse from the Scriptures pointing to Jesus’ birth. It became the highlight of our year, and lighting the candles a great honor.

Here is a two minute video which explains the Church Tradition of Advent for people who didn’t grow up with it.

For those of you who are from a more traditional background, this is geared toward a younger crowd, what do you think?

Tony Perkins: Obama Is Hostile, Disdainful of Christianity | Politics | Christianity Today


In January 2009, President of the United State...

Image via Wikipedia

Read this and decide for yourselves. I would suggest you also read the comments.

I think you know where I stand.

For readers outside the USA, you can enjoy our freedom of press and religion…and be entertained by it also.

Tony Perkins: Obama Is Hostile, Disdainful of Christianity | Politics | Christianity Today.