In my work with students at Ohio Wesleyan University, sometimes I need to do a little convincing to get them to participate in the outdoor activities we do. “There will be wild ponies!” This is how I sold some of them on joining my fall break trip for four days of backpacking in the mountains of southern Virginia. I also told them that we would be using our time there to slow down and evaluate where we are in our faith journey and relationship with God. I think some of them were definitely interested in that part but were ultimately convinced by the chance to see ponies.
Do you have stories that are about how things work (fundamentals); or how things got started (history)? I have one. I was working as a summer design intern at John Deere Planter Works. (My dream job.) The senior chief engineer (god of the department) asked me if I knew how a planter worked and it’s history. Fortunately, I listened rather than spoke. As I recall, he asked me if I knew what a dibber stick was. His explanation may have been a lot like Wikipedia’s “The dibber was first recorded in Roman times. Farmers would use long-handled sticks (dibbers) to plant crops. One person making holes, and a second person would plant seeds in each hole and fill it in. So he said, the fundamental description, singluate the seed, prepare a spot, place and carefully cover the seed. Origin and function of the planters we design and build. Without my saying anything else, he moved on. But I still remember!
Many churches during the Advent season enjoy a service of “Lessons and Carols” – readings from the Bible paired with songs of the season to tell the whole sweeping story of God’s redemption. The final lesson (or the penultimate in some orders) is a reading from the gospel of John, chapter 1. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In the Word was life, and that life was the light for all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Christmas is almost here! There are lots of things we see this time of year that help us take joy in the meaning of Christmas: manger scenes, images of angels and stars, and so on. But there is something that we normally don’t think of which strikes to the core of the special meaning Christmas has for all of us: your body!
“Come, thou long expected Jesus,
It’s a common day with ordinary food, ordinary people, and ordinary situations. Ordinary for me is talking with little people, setting food on the table, giving hugs, wiping wet kisses, and channeling hearts from sunrise to sunset.
Christmas season has truly begun. I know many stores started putting Christmas decorations out Nov. 1 (or sooner), but the Advent season is just now beginning. These few days after Thanksgiving but before December are a good time to reflect and get ready for the chaos of the next few weeks.
I breeze into my little office, my eyes catch the words on my desk: Quiet moments.
My name is Scott, and I’m old enough to be your dad unless you’re super-young, in which case I’m old enough to be your grandpa. I love you, so I want to tell you something to encourage you today. (If you’re an older person reading this, please consider sharing what I’ve written here with the young people in your life.)
Coming out of three years of forced isolation, were do we begin to rebuild our sense of community? Community is the one thing that is important and universal to our shared humanity. Community gives us our sense of belonging in the world. It provides for us our special place in the world. Community connects us to the world.