a collection of words about God and life and art and baseball and football and hope and my family and my ministry and music and the immense joy in each moment of all of it. it's a record of being human. welcome.
well, for today's saturday song, i have a special edition. last night i found out that i won a contest. that's news enough, since i can't remember ever winning a contest.
but it's even better. i won 2 steelers tickets to seem them play on new years day in cleveland, and it includes the round trip bus ride. so, to kick off my 2012, i'll be in cleveland watching my beloved steelers in cleveland browns stadium. i can't wait!
and so, to celebrate that, as well as to acknowledge that the steelers playing the rams today, today's saturday song is a steelers classic: renegade, by styx.
each year for christmas i try and make some kind of music video to 'tell the story' of our christmas season as a family and capture a moment in time. my hope is both that these will be cherished in the future by these dancing fools and enjoyed by both family and friends far and near presently. click here to see the one i made last year, here for 2009's version, and here for the first one i did, back in 2008.
and now, without further ado, here is this year's model: all i want for christmas is my two front teeth. enjoy.
christmas is only four days away, and we've been busy capturing the wonder of the season with the camera. here are a couple family shots that i enjoyed. the annual christmas video will be here soon, so stay tuned.
well, poop. after that turd the steelers left in san francisco, all i can say for them - and for me - is that its time to get back up again. there are WAY bigger and better things going on this week, so it's just time to get back up.
it's hard to believe that Christmas is just about a week away. i hope you are experiencing the blessedness of this season of waiting and expectation, even if you are also neck-deep in the busyness of it.
for today's saturday song, i bring you a song that has become one of my favorite Christmas songs. it is by an artist named bebo norman, and it's simple yet powerful refrain of "come and worship" feels so much like the anthem of my life's work, that i can't help but feel at home when i hear it. everything in my soul rises up and cups eager hands to the mouth of my life in full volume: COME AND WORSHIP! COME AND WORSHIP!
oh, man, don't even get me started. this song just says it the way i want my life to say it. i found this video that someone made, presumably with clips from the relatively recent movie "the nativity." while i am in no way advocating for that film (having never seen it), nor agreeing that the way this video display…
a baby changes everything. this is the name of a song that was sung beautifully in our church on sunday. and as we have been rehearsing it and then hearing it again on sunday, i have been reflecting on the meaning of those words in a way that having a child 4 months ago uniquely affords me.
a baby does change everything.
a baby is such a symbol of radical hope. we look at a world that is so depressing at times, so hopeless, and yet it seems that love compels us to act in great hope in the face of such despair. in the midst of wars and recessions and epidemics and -perhaps worst of all - party politics, we still have hope; we still have children. we give birth to beings, from the emptiness of non-existence, to the warm waters of the womb, to, eventually, the chaos and noise and jarring brokenness of this wide world. and yet we go through this journey anyway, because somewhere inside us we believe - we hope against hope - that this is a worthwhile adventure. that it won'…
i love the whole santa myth. some people find this surprising, since i am a pastor, and there are some cultural expectations that Christians should be militant against the secular portions of the Christmas tradition. well, you're talking to the wrong pastor for that.
santa claus, of course, is not a secular figure at all, and is a jolly old saint who embodies the christian ideals of kindness, generosity, giving to the poor, and love. he does NOT, however, despite the way that parts of our culture have tried to hijack him, represent gluttony, greed, or unchecked capitalism.
all of that, to say this.
we went to the mall on monday night to see santa claus (not really santa claus, of course, but helping him). i specifically got on the mall's website before we went to see what the policies for photography/video were, and to see how much it cost to purchase the pictures which they take. the guidelines were quite clear. guests are not permitted to take picture…
yes, i'm a nerd. in many ways, i suppose. one of which is that i have a vinyl collection. saying "i have a vinyl collection" is one way that nerds try to sound cool. it means, i still have tons of records (those big black cds that played music, for all those born in the '80's and have no idea what i'm talking about). in fact, i still buy them at flea markets and yard sales and, when i'm feeling ultra-hip, at vinyl stores, like this coolest one ever in princeton, nj.
i love lp's. i like the ambient sound of a record, complete with scratches and hisses. i love the big format, with large pictures and artwork and often a full set of lyrics. i love the weight of it: when you buy music you get something literally heavy.
in short, records are awesome, and yes, i'm a nerd.
anyway, each year at christmas, i go through my vinyl collection and pull out all my christmas albums so we can listen to them, and at the very least, have them be a part …
yesterday our church put on a great play called "live from bethlehem" which involved so many different people from different age groups, from a 4-month old all the way up. it is very worthwhile to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself, and to have such involvement from across the church community. we performed the play at a nursing home last week for around 100 people, and then again at our church yesterday for well over a hundred. all in all, we had tons of fun, and hopefully got across the message of Christmas in a fresh way.
in the picture above you see some of our children who are busy singing 'away in a manger.' i hadn't realized it until rehearsing for this play, but cade is clearly a microphone hog and drama king. he wanted to be front and center everytime and really sing into that mic. during one of the performances he swayed dramatically near the end of the song, finally collapsing at the final note ala jimmy hendrix or janis jopli…
well, advent continues, and that means that our family tradition of advent socks is in full swing. we have 24 socks hanging on our big double window, and each day the kids get to look in a sock and see what is inside. sometimes it is a small gift or piece of candy, but most times it is an activity to do. yesterday's activity was that they got to watch a holiday movie, eat popcorn, and all of us -as a family - camped out in the living room by the Christmas tree for the night. we had a blast.
before we went to bed, we saw "the year without a santa claus" christmas special on tv, and so i thought i would share this classic song from that show. enjoy you saturday, and stay warm. or cool. whichever you prefer.
saturday we went to a local tree farm to cut down our christmas tree. it was a gorgeous day, and we had fun selecting the perfect tree.
no tree farm is complete without an old caboose, right? it made for a nice picture, anyway.
when we got it home, we noticed a male model walking by. we asked him to help us carry our tree into the house, and we snapped this picture of him. clearly he must do some weightlifting.
and here are the boys in front of the finished product, wearing their new christmas glasses, which, when used to look at the lights on the tree, display hundreds of little snowmen or santas. it's beginning to look alot like christmas!
--oh, how i love thee, random posts. i don't have to spend hours thinking about what i'm going to write. i just sit down and see what comes out. it's liberating.
--'new girl' with zooey deschanel is seriously one of the best shows on television. her charm is unstoppable and irresistible. the supporting cast is really fun. now that i think about it, it's sort of like "friends" for 2011, with less hairspray.
--yesterday caedmon looked at our stockings hanging on the mantle and said, "why do we have these giant socks hanging here?" i guess he isn't big on Christmas traditions yet.
--last night was my turn to cook. so i had to make a tough choice between ramen noodles or papa johns. i think you can guess which one won.
--our church is doing a christmas play called "live from bethlehem" this sunday afternoon. if you're in the sunbury area, you should come check it out around 1pm on sunday at our church. it'll…
as i prepared for last sunday's sermon on joseph and the town of bethlehem, i was struck with a realization that, while i'm sure i've had before, felt more poignant and powerful than ever. (does this ever happen to you? you already "know" something, but then you somehow relearn it, or come across it in a new way, and it nearly slaps you in the face? happens to me all the time).
it's about Joseph. who found out that his betrothed was pregnant. and he knew he hadn't been the reason.
we don't know many details about how this all happened, but one very reasonable possibility is the one that adam hamilton puts forth in his book "the journey," which suggests that mary probably gave this news to joseph while she was in ein karem, visiting her cousin elizabeth. bethlehem, joseph's hometown, was only a few miles away, and it is likely he would have come to visit her during this time. but it wouldn't have been a very good visit. s…
well, that was better. usually, steelers games involve some intense levels of panic and pacing, shortness of breath, cold sweats and, ultimately, cardiac arrest. pretty much every week. but not this week. now, that's not to say that i was comfortable with the steelers 35-7 win over the bengals. far from it. i'm the kind of fan who wants every game to be 63-0. otherwise i have this nagging sensation that the other team is going to somehow come back.
well, it didnt' happen. and while i wouldn't personally call this game a thing of beauty, it was a demonstrative win nonetheless, and the steelers keep pace with the ravens for the afc north sweepstakes and all but secured a wild card berth, barring some terrible collapse in the remaining games. so, all in all, it was a great day for the black and gold.
antonio looked great again, catching some nice paces and making moves after catches for some yacs. also a great punt return to the house (but kudos must be gi…
a few weeks ago we had some friends from new jersey visit and spend the weekend with us. now, just as a point of reference, i should be clear about one point: we are adults. well, at least shannon and i are. and two of the three who came to visit were also adults. for those keeping score at home, that's four adults and four kids. pretty even numbers, i'll grant you, but don't forget that we have the advantage in physical skills (speed, strength, agility [okay, maybe not agility]), reasoning, driver's licenses, money (not much) and the distinct ability to eat something other than a nugget shape made of something resembling the meat of a chicken.
in short, advantage parents, right?
you would think. so guess what we did with our guests? put the kids to bed early, hire a babysitter, and head out on the town to experience some night life? or maybe just settled in with a movie that wasn't made by pixar or dreamworks (i'm not even sure there are any at …