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ash wednesday, 2018, twelve years of ashes in art

"ash wednesday, 2018" mixed media collage (paper, ash, glue on book cover) february, 2018 gregory a. milinovich
wednesday was ash wednesday, the beginning of lent, and a day to remember that in the end, we all get dehydrated.  that's essentially what i preached about on wednesday: that the human body is around 60% water, but one day the water will all dry up from in our cells and between our cells, and we will dry up, like so many crumbling bones.  
like the bones in the valley that ezekiel envisioned.  he went down into this valley, and said there so many bones, and they were very dry.  but the voice of the Lord asked zeke if those bones could live again.  and he wanted to believe it.  he really did.  he would have like to say, "yes!  make them live!  Lord, you can make these bones dance again.  you can rehydrate them.  you can restore my people to the way they once were.  you can reunited mother with child, and reestablish the old traditions and the good 'ol …
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justice for all (a sermon for MLK day, 2018)

last fall the bishop of our episcopal area, Bishop Jeremiah Park, invited me to be the preacher at his annual retreat for clergy and families at the hershey lodge on Martin Luther King Jr. day.  you don't tell the bishop no, so i agreed!  last night i preached this sermon, and leave it here for anyone interested...

 Good evening, Bishop Park, Cabinet, colleagues and friends, family members, and to all who are here this evening, grace and peace to you.  I am grateful to the Bishop for offering me the opportunity to preach tonight, though I must admit it has shown itself to be a daunting task to prepare a message for so many of my closest critics, I mean friends.  As the day has approached, I have found any number of things to focus on and to make the task seem even more formidable: I’m too busy, I ‘ve had several funerals, I’ve had the stomach bug, we’re in the middle of several big projects, I have a hangnail, and so on and so forth.  I was thinking about this while I was watching …

merry christmas, 2017

here is this year's Christmas card from us to you, an i-spy inviting you to look with us into the joy of the fantastic year we've had.  we are truly so blessed, and we spy those blessings in every nook and cranny of our lives.  you are part of that, and so we say thank you, and wish you the merriest of Christmases, some moments of reflection as the sun sets on 2017, and some great expectations for 2018.  peace. 

a milinovich family christmas, 2017

i can't believe that we've been doing this for 10 years now!  a whole decade of documenting our family's celebration of advent/christmas in music videos that are meant to try and capture the energy, excitement, and pure joy of christmas in the milinovich house.  here is this year's installment, which was meant to be set to bob dylan's version of "must be santa," but can't be because the mean people at new west records refuse to let me use the song on youtube.  so instead we have another version of the song by 'brave combo.'  in any case, we hope you have a Christmas as playful as ours...enjoy!

and just for kicks and grins, below are the previous nine videos!

why has this happened to me?

"why has this happened to me?"  that's the question that elizabeth asked, and it's the third question of my advent journey this year. 

you may remember that zechariah and elizabeth were living in the hill country of judea; zechariah a priest and elizabeth his wife, unable to bear a child, and they were, as luke is careful to tell us, "getting on in years."  we find that one day in the course of his priestly duties, zechariah's turn to enter the sanctuary and offer incense turns into a moment he would never forget, as an angel of the Lord appeared to him and told him that elizabeth would bear a son, that they would name him john, and that he would prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.  unable to process this increadible unbelievable news, zechariah is made mute until the day of his son's birth. 

the story moves ahead to elizabeth's sixth month of pregnancy.  zechariah is still unable to speak.  mary has had her own encounter with an ange…

what shall i cry?

"what shall i cry?" may seem like an odd advent question, but it really is an ancient question.  we hear it in the 40th chapter of isaiah, after God invited isaiah to cry out a word of comfort and peace. 

can you imagine what that must be like?  to be given a word from the Lord to cry out?  i mean, what would it take to convince you that such a word was really from the Lord?  how would you use your voice and your talents and your life to share that word?  these are the same kinds of questions isaiah must have wrestled with, when he first felt compelled to cry out for God.  we are given a picture of this early in the book of isaiah, in chapter 6, as isaiah shares a vision in which he sees God high and lifted up, in the company of angels who are singing "holy, holy, holy," and God speaks and asks who will represent God - who will speak for God?  and isaiah is understandably overwhelmed.  he cries out, "i am a man of unclean lips, and i live among a people of un…

how long?

you know what i love?  christmas.  i love it.  i love all the tv specials and hallmark movies and peppermint lattes and fake-snow storefronts.  i love all the anticipation and the music - oh the music! - and the lights.  i love the worship and the spirit of generosity, and the latent hope.  i love that feeling of expectation, that build-up through december to something big.  the season of advent. 
i have noticed a more frequent usage of the word advent in the commercial world recently.  for several years now the lego company has sold "advent calendars," which are really just boxes of legos with little doors that open each day of december to reveal a few legos for that day.  but it has now grown from legos into something bigger: disney has the "frozen" advent calendar, mattel has the barbie advent calendar, in which barbie gets a new accessory every day, and there are many more, including a despicable me one, and a crayola one.  advent has seemingly entered into th…