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Showing posts from November, 2017

Don’t Be A Decoy - Romans 12:9-21 (Wednesday Night Reflection)

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My family and I are always playing games with words, particularly when it comes to the meaning of words.  So it should have been no surprise to me, when last week, my niece Erin came up to me after she came back to the Island from Black Friday shopping, seeing all the signs, and said, “so where’s the real festival if that’s the decoy?” I have to tell you that as I heard about the Decoy Festival before we arrived, I was real perplexed.  I was thinking to myself, “what’s the big deal about decoys”?  I mean, up to that point, my encounters with decoys were limited to those obviously fake plastic ducks sitting in ponds…to me the only folks that would be celebrating are the hunters who used them to lure in some pretty near-sighted ducks. However, upon coming to the Island and visiting in your homes and going through the museum, I have been awestruck.  The gifted artwork of so many of y’all and others across this Island just amazes me.  The detailed work on the wooden decoys I have seen is un…

A Battle Cry: Mary - Luke 1:26-40

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  It has long been one of my favorite Christmas stories, first having read the book by Barbara Robinson back when I was in high school.  I loved the story so much, that when I found out that it was playing at the Fayetteville Little Theater twenty-five years ago, there was no question as to where I was going to take Anita on our first date.  I can’t remember if it works its way into the dialogue, but in the book Robinson writes (from the perspective of a young teenage girl): …The script is standard (the inn, the stable, the shepherds, the star), and so are the costumes, and so is the casting. Primary kids are angels; intermediate kids are shepherds; big boys are Wise Men; Elmer Hopkins, the minister’s son, has been Joseph for as long as I can remember; and my friend Alice Wendleken is Mary because she’s so smart, so neat and clean, and, most of all, so holy looking. Isn’t that how we always picture Mary—neat and clean and, most of all, so holy looking.  I…

Rejoice Always? Give Thanks in All Circumstances? - 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Wednesday Night Reflection)

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A little boy was asked to return thanks before a holiday dinner.  The family members bowed their heads in expectation.  He began his prayer, thanking God for Mommy, Daddy, brother, sister, Grandma, Grandpa, and all his aunts and uncles.  Then he began thanking God for the food.  He gave thanks for the turkey, the dressing, the fruit salad, the cranberry sauce, the pies, the cakes, and even the Cool Whip. Suddenly he paused, and everyone waited—and waited.  After a long silence, the young child looked up at his mother and asked, “If I thank God for the broccoli, won’t he know that I’m lying?” My brothers and sisters, we have gathered tonight for our Thanksgiving Service.  We are entering what many consider to be the most festive time of the year.  We gather to give thanks for the many blessings that God has poured into our lives.  We rejoice, or at least anticipate rejoicing a month from now, remembering the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is a celebratory season. The irony is, my …

A War Cry: Bethlehem - Micah 5:2-5a

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Considering half the Island is already lit up, I feel safe asking this question. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?  Yes, I am talking about Christmas in a sermon and it’s not even Thanksgiving.  I got a strange look from Kay when I told her I wanted to sing O Little Town of Bethlehem this Sunday. It is not something I do without thought. I refuse to play Christmas music at home or in the car until after Thanksgiving and I have been known in some churches to be stubborn about Christmas music in church, telling folks that in worship we had to wait until Christmas Eve, that the first four weeks are Advent and not Christmas. However, as I have grown older, I have become less legalistic about when we sing some music.  With that confusion over, let me ask again, what is your favorite thing about Christmas? The lights?  The trees?  The candles?  The scents of pine, cedar, and a plethora of baked goods?  The presents? The decorations? The cantatas? The children’s programs? The worsh…

It’s Not About Getting Fed - Psalm 100 (Wednesday Night Refection)

We all like to eat, don’t we.  I mean, just consider this great covered dish meal that we have just finished, and all these fellowship meals that we have enjoyed each Wednesday.  Many of us are looking forward to next week when we will enjoy our Thanksgiving feasts (a day that begins a season marked by a tendency to overeat as much as anything else).  Eating is a good thing, I mean, we need the nourishment to give us the energy to do the things we all need to do, right?  Yes.  Eating is a good thing.  Yes.  It gives us the energy we need to do what’s set before us.  The trouble becomes, though, when we carry the attitude about eating into every other aspect of our lives.  Suddenly the value of anything becomes what we are getting out of it, whether or not it is feeding us.  An especially troubling area where we have taken this attitude is “worship.” Somehow, somewhere along the way, we developed the notion that worship is about us.  It’s not a recent development.  It has been around as…

Longing For Armistice - Isaiah 11:1-9

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As we consider the veterans that we just recognized for their willingness to lay their lives on the line to protect us and protect others around the world, it drew my mind to my own father.  It makes me think of my dad for reasons you probably wouldn’t expect.  My dad, whom some of you have met, is a retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 with more than forty two years of full time service in the Army National Guard where he served as the Heavy Mobile Equipment Leader at the CSMS.  He was one of the first trained to repair the M1 Abrams tank, and was actually on standby to go to Desert Storm to lead a team in tank repairs when that action came to an end.  Most of his service with the guard, the part that I think he enjoyed the most, was spent in disaster recovery.  However, that’s not the real reason that Veteran’s Day draws my dad to mind.  Yesterday was my dad’s birthday…he was born on Veteran’s Day—born at eleven o’clock on November 11th.  Well, technically my dad is older than Veteran’s …