Ideas and messages from Len Sweet.
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Darkness can seep into our lives in many ways, regardless of the season or the time of year. And despite the festivity that is inherently part of preparing for Christmas, darkness – as a metaphor and as a lack of light – for many, pervades. read more…
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Atul Gawande, 2014
–Review by Landrum P. Leavell III, Th.D.
This book has absolutely nothing to do with the art of preaching. It has everything to do with the stories of those to whom we preach, for whom we care, and with whom we interact.
Atul Gawande is the author of three best-selling books, a surgeon in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. He has given all pastors, preachers, and parishioners counsel, insight, and input into end-of-life issues and realities that is both informative and disconcerting. The gift of clarity is hard to overstate. read more…
Lord, our God and Father give to many to all, and to us as well, that we may celebrate Christmas like this: that in complete thankfulness, utter humpty, and then complete joy and confidence we may come to the one whom you have sent and in whom you yourself have come to us. Clean out the many things in us that, now that the hour has come, have become impossible for us, can no longer belong to us, may, must, and will fall away form us, by virtue of your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, entering into our midst and creating order. Have mercy also on all those who either do not yet or do not fully know you and your kingdom, who perhaps once knew everything and have either forgotten, misunderstood, or even denied it! ….. We thank you that we are permitted to know that we do not pray and will never pray to you in vain. We thank you that you have let your light rise, that it shines in the darkness, and that the darkness will not overcome it. We thank you that you are God, and that we may be your people. Amen.
This week’s music calls our attention to Mary, theotokos, the mother of God.
But, it has been a challenging search … where is Mary in our Advent and Christmas music? Surprisingly, she’s mostly absent. Michael Linton did the research and found that in reviewing the “texts of 381 English-language Christmas carols, Mary (or the “virgin,” or “mother,” or even “woman”) appears in only 27 percent of them. She’s slightly behind the angels and shepherds (who both are in 28 percent of the songs) but significantly ahead of the wise men (who come in at 13 percent). But Mary’s presence is even less than this low percentage at first suggests. Shepherds, angels, and the wise men are frequently mentioned in multiple verses of a carol. Mary typically is mentioned only once, and sometimes that reference is itself oblique.” read more…