The Road to 2013

In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is a poem called The Walking Song which describes the journey set before the characters:

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

a road

As we approach 2013, we are meeting the next part of our journey. The ‘road’ of this life is continuing now. It rises up before us, welcoming in the New Year, and we are asked to embark on the next part of this journey. Another chapter of the story is starting and we have a choice: Will we embrace an unknown future, pursuing this road with eager feet?

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The Disturbing News of Christmas

Is it possible that the birth of Jesus is not only good news but also disturbing news? In Matthew 2 we read the story of the journey of the Magi who are following a star en route to finding a new king.  Along the way they meet with a king named Herod who is intrigued by their journey. But he’s also fearful. The news of a coming Messiah is described as ‘disturbing’ to Herod and his household.

The word translated as disturbing in Matthew 2 is used elsewhere in his gospel. It’s the word used by the disciples when they see Jesus walking on water and believe him to be a ghost. Matthew writes that they were disturbed or terrified or intimidated. Herod is feeling the same sentiment about Jesus. It’s quite a paradox: A king who lives in a guarded palace, surrounded by soldiers and weapons, is disturbed at the prospect of this new baby.

Yes, the birth of Jesus is good news to mankind. But to some, it is also disturbing news for it signals the beginning and the end.

Herod and the Magi

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A Luke 14 Party

 country inn

 In Luke’s gospel, Jesus does a lot of partying. He’s described as someone who is constantly eating and hanging with people that normally someone of his pedigree would avoid. He eats with the rich, the poor, and sinners of all kind. Some of his more infamous dinner guests are tax collectors and prostitutes. To eat with someone in antiquity was to declare social solidarity, which was a statement if someone was ever going to make a statement. It was to take a step outside of the social norm and embrace people whom you’d normally ignore and definitely not fellowship with. But this wasn’t the case with Jesus, someone who lived his life as a beautiful contrast to the way of the world.

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Riding in vans with teenagers

A couple times a year we go on trips with our student ministry. For a few of these trips I find myself driving a van full of teenagers. Over the years, I’ve added up some real miles on these vans. Each trip is always unique, but there are certain similarities that repeat over the years. For example, you can always count on a loud and playful atmosphere in the van. It’s part of the fun, actually. Recently, we embarked on our second annual Fall Retreat. On the way home from the retreat, one my students asked me a question about driving a van full of teenagers. She asked something to the effect of, “Do you like it when everyone is loud and singing all the time or does that get annoying?” I smiled and answered, “No, I don’t mind at all.” The more I thought about it, the clearer the irony became–the loud and rather chaotic van noise is actually a beautiful sound. It’s proof of life lived to the full.

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