The Death of the Holy Innocents

The Gospel text for Sunday, January 1, 2017, was Matthew 2:13-23. It is a text I have rarely, if ever, heard preached. I have never personally preached from it in forty-five years.

Our congregation is faced with a unique trial and a season of life I hope you never go through as a Christian. On Christmas Eve our beloved pastor, Rev. Greg Moser, passed into the presence of Jesus his Lord at fifty-two years of age. We were stunned. It felt as if the joy of the season was sucked out of us. We were confused and reeling. What do we do now? Where do we turn with all our questions, fears, and doubts?

I have been asked to preach and lead the eucharistic celebration at Lutheran Church of the Master until we call an interim pastor, hopefully by February. During this time I will follow the liturgy and lectionary faithfully and seek to give pastoral wisdom and comfort to us as a people walking through deep grief.

So what to do with a text like Matthew 2:13-23? You can hear my attempt, feeble as it was, to respond

The ACT3 Cohort for 2017-18

The most important personal work I do is mentoring and preparing new leaders for missional-ecumenism. This work is high demand and high reward ministry, for both me and those who enlist. Our next group begins in May of 2017. Information is on our website. Here is a new video which shows you how the ACT3 Cohort works. It changes lives and reaches people in profoundly personal ways. Please watch this video and share it with anyone you think would benefit by considering this experience. Ask me any questions if you are interested.

On Reading Fiction in 2016

Daniel Silva has been called one of our generation’s finest writers of international intrigue, a spy novelist extraordinaire. I was introduced to one of Silva’s novels by a pastor friend several years ago. I confess the book he recommended was so compelling, haunting, and brilliant that I could hardly put it down. I finished it in just a few days. Thus began what turned out to be a “love affair” with the fiction of this popular writer. Almost all of Silva’s books have reached #1 New York Times bestselling status within months of their publication. His fan base is huge. I am numbered among them now.

Silva’s first book, situated in World War II, was The Unlikely Spy (1997). It is a novel of love and deception set around the Allied invasion of France. His second and third novels, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season, were instant New York Times bestsellers and starred two of Silva’s most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche. I was hooked by

By |December 29th, 2016|Categories: Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Fiction, Israel|

Our Population Decrease and Missional-Ecumenism

Population growth in the United States is slowing each year. It reached its lowest rate since the Great Depression in 2015-16. Demographers say that this slow growth is largely due to the aging of our population. But immigration growth is also declining, though during the past three years our levels of immigration have grown for the first time since the 2007-2009 recession. The lead cause in these shifts is our declining birth rate. Yet in spite of the numbers we still have a positive natural increase while countries like Germany and Japan do not. Demographers predict this decrease will continue for some years to come. This will stress our social systems such as Medicare and Social Security, stressing again the warnings we’ve had for several decades but rarely had the political will to resolve.

What solutions do we have to protect the needs of our aging population and the well-being of our society overall? Answer: invest in a serious immigration strategy that shores up the younger segment of our society overall. Do we have the resolve

Unity Factor Conversation

By |December 21st, 2016|Categories: Media, Uncategorized|

“I tweet, therefore I am!”

It seems difficult to imagine, but there was once a time when human beings did not feel the need to share every waking moment with hundreds of millions, even billions, of complete and utter strangers. If one went to a shopping mall to purchase an article of clothing, one did not post minute-by-minute details on a social networking site; and if one made a fool of oneself at a party, one did not leave a photographic record of the sorry episode in a digital scrapbook that would survive for all eternity. But now, in the era of lost inhibition, it seemed no detail of life was too mundane or humiliating to share. In the online age, it was more important to live out loud than to live with dignity. Internet followers were more treasured than flesh-and-blood friends, for they held the illusive promise of celebrity, even immortality. Were Descartes alive today, he might have written: I tweet, therefore I am. (Daniel Silva, The Heist, 2014).

When I read these words in Daniel Silva’s novel this weekend and could

By |December 19th, 2016|Categories: Advent, Books, Friendship, Love, Spirituality|

Prayer for Christian Unity: January 28, 2017, Service

For several years now ACT3 Network, and the Chicago Focolare, have jointly sponsored a unique prayer service for Christian unity. This year we gather on Saturday, January 28, at 7:00 p.m. in Wheaton. Our host is Gary Methodist Church. There is no charge and everyone is welcome. This is a wonderful evening and I hope many will share it with us in 2017.

Unity Factor Conversation Feb. 4

By |December 18th, 2016|Categories: Media|

Adventus Christi: A Christmas Poem

  Adventus Christi

(The Coming of Christ)

In the desert of my heart,

I hear the voice,

“Prepare the way;”

in the chaos and the clutter,

the confusion of my making,

now I turn, to see Him standing

at the door.

And where do I begin, Lord?

I have placed so many obstacles

before the gate.  Is it too late

to move them now, or to make straight

the path that I have twisted

to my stubborn will?

I turn away, but cannot hide

from such a Light, from such a Star,

that shows me who I am, oh Lord,

and who You are.

Be born in me, oh Gift of Grace,

that from the cradle to the Cross

my path might be the path of Love,

my way, the Way of Light, of Hope,

of Peace.

Author: Stephanie Stover is a writer and poet who lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. This Advent poem is used by her permission.

By |December 14th, 2016|Categories: ACT 3, Advent, Jesus, Poetry, Spirituality|

Gaudet Sunday: Advent 3 “Rejoice”

By |December 13th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: