Saturday, December 24, 2022

Christmas Eve's Great Mystery

 O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the new-born Lord…

 O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen

 At his birth, Jesus feels at home in that stable. Animals. Humanity.

With His Creation.

 Allow the music (links/lyrics below) to stir your heart, meditating on this night’s great mystery. Bathe in its warmth, light, hope.

 Merry Christmas!

Pastor Bill

 P.S. Thank you for being faithful readers. I pray some of the 417 writings in these 14 volumes stirred your faith, compelling you to love God and your neighbors.

 The Manger is full.

The Tomb is empty.

The best is coming!



 Video: King’s College Choir

 Music: Nordic Chamber Choir

 Latin text

O magnum mysterium,

et admirabile sacramentum,

ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,

iacentem in praesepio!

Beata Virgo, cujus viscera

meruerunt portare

Dominum Iesum Christum.


English translation

O great mystery,

and wonderful sacrament,

that animals should see the new-born Lord,

lying in a manger!

Blessed is the Virgin whose womb

was worthy to bear

our Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Saturday, December 17, 2022

Christmas is Near!

 “Advent is a period of preparation for Christmas but, unlike Lent, it is not a period of penance. It is a period that focuses us on joy….We come to realize more each year how…beautiful is a life lived in concert with the Jesus who came to show us the way. We learn the joy of anticipation, the joy of delighting in a sense of the presence of God all around us, the joy of looking for the second coming of Christ, the joy of living in the surety of even more life in the future.”

–Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year, p. 66    Source:

 Perhaps waiting for Christmas is one way we never grow up.

 Maybe we’ve figured out who Santa is, but we still love to anticipate surprise gifts, right?

 Or maybe for you it’s the anticipation of a once-a-year family gathering, even if it does mean a little added drama for a few days.

 This last weekend of Advent waiting is precious because we know that if Christmas is near, Jesus is near.

 That’s an eternal truth, of course, but it’s good to have a reminder that joy is being born anew.

 Christmas is near! Hallelujah!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Surviving Blizzards

 Honey Bees Wait

…(T)hey’re clustered together inside (an oak tree), queen at the heart of their sisterhood. The fine, transparent wings they beat hard in summer’s heat—a constant buzzing fan to keep the hive from cooking—they hold, now, folded and still. The tiny muscles to which those wings are attached shiver. One honey bee shivering her flight muscles does not make much heat. But twenty thousand, huddled together, shivering, can keep the queen and the colony’s honey supply at their core at a tropical ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit, even as blizzard winds, inches away, flail the trunk.”  –Gayle Boss, All Creation Waits: the Advent Mystery of New Beginnings, p. 14

Surviving winter’s darkness, waiting for spring’s light, is a hard part of life for most of us.

In a time when our culture expects us to be merry and bright, we are feeling sad and dull.

Perhaps December need not be the busiest month. Maybe this isn’t the season to eat and drink more than a body really needs. Buzz around less. Cuddle more.

Say ‘no’ to some invitations. Tell the truth: tonight, I am spending time holding still, staying warm until the blizzard passes.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Indestructible Root

 Isaiah 11:1,10 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. …The Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples….

 The key to a seed’s survival is the success of its root taking anchor.

 “Science writer Hope Jahren shares how the roots will face frost, drought, and greedy jaws (but) ‘If the root takes root, then the plant becomes all but indestructible: Tear apart everything above ground—everything—and most plants can still grow rebelliously back from just one intact root. More than once. More than twice.’”

Adapted from Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Kopf, 2016), pages 45-46

 Our Advent Hope is built on the promise that the Root of Jesse, Jesus Messiah, has taken such deep root in our lives that we cannot be shaken, no matter the storms that assail us.

If your world feels like a windswept tree being torn apart,  remember that the Root of Jesse is so firmly embedded in your spirit that you will survive. More than once. More than twice.

 The key to your survival is the Root’s firm anchor.

 The Root of Jesse will stand as a banner. So will you.


Saturday, November 12, 2022

A Friend Like Steve

 A friend loves at all times,

    and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

 That’s Steve.

 At Steve’s funeral his son, Chad, offered three words to the large gathering of Steve’s family and friends which sum up Steve’s character:

Kindness, Respect, Love. 

 My experiences with Steve through his too-brief life proved those words to be true. Our last meeting gives you an idea. As I walked to the first tee for my first competitive golf match since my stroke five months earlier, Steve greeted me with his trademark smile and soft voice with the kind of welcoming words that put my nervousness at ease. Now I knew that if my first shot went sailing across the road, well, Steve understood. It was my second shot that sailed wildly into the ditch, and off he went, hunting through weeds I couldn’t traverse. “A brother is born for a time of adversity.”

 I am blessed to have many friends like Steve, but Steve was a model friend. In losing a friend like Steve I learned anew how important it is to have and to be a friend like Steve, born to be with friends in times of adversity.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

"Are You Catholic?"

 John 17:20-21a “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one…”

 Friday closed with a nurse’s call, asking if I could pray over a dying man.

 I entered the hospital room to the greeting, “Are you Catholic?” I told the grieving family, no, I am a Protestant minister, but I was the only available minister/priest. The dying man’s wife looked in my eyes, ‘Well, I guess God hears your prayers too.” My heart-felt reply was, “Yes,  God doesn’t have all these barriers that we have erected between us.”

 The family looked at each other, then nodded.  Together we prayed their dying husband and father into the arms of his Savior, Jesus Christ.

 Why has the Church of Jesus Christ so miserably failed to live into Jesus’ final prayer? Why do the ‘people in the pews’ understand the truth that in Christ we are all one so much better than the religious leaders who teach them?

 Truth is, I am ‘catholic’, believing in ‘the holy catholic (of all times and places) church.’ (Apostles Creed) May human-bound denominations learn to live what we profess.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Spirits and Saints

 Halloween is my least favorite holiday. Sorry kids, small and big. I am not opposed to costumes (I was a theatre major); nor candy (have you seen my shape?). I loved saying “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” when I was a boy.

 What bothers me is that we celebrate only half of what Halloween represents. Halloween started to keep the spirits away on October 31. People dressed up in disguises to avoid detection by roaming spirits.  Churches held “All Hallows Eve” services to ward away the spirits until the dawn of All Hallows (Saints) Day on Nov. 1, which was the celebration of the saints in heaven. 

 Along the way we lost the superstitions but still celebrate only the darkness. We stopped remembering the light on All Saints Day, November 1, a day set aside to remember all those who truly did die in Christ and now live and reign with him. (Cue “For All the Saints”, and if you don’t know it, find it on YouTube!)

 Yes, call me Halloween Scrooge. I wish all of you ghosts and goblins a safe and happy Trick or Treat, but, please, on Tuesday, remember a saint you love who lives in light.