Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music from Montreat: Just Before Daybreak

One of the benefits of Facebook is hearing from friends from other periods of one's life. One of my college friends, who like me had attended the Montreat Youth Conferences while in high school (a surprisingly small number of people, given that I attended college in Montreat!), shared this video from YouTube, which was truly a blast from the past. It features Ken Holt, the music leader for Weeks 3 and 4 of the 1990 Montreat Youth Conferences, singing the theme song for those conferences, "Just Before Daybreak." I didn't imagine that a song written for week-long Youth Conference more than 20 years ago would be available even on a place like YouTube, but now I'm curious to see what other gems of this kind I might find.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Advent Reflection

For those of you who follow the Christian calendar, you'll already know that yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent. In keeping with what has become a tradition at my church for several years now, we released an Advent Devotional booklet for our members, with a different reflection written by members of our community for each day from now until Christmas. Upon volunteering to write such a reflection for this year's booklet, I was asked to work with Isaiah 49:1-7. The following was edited slightly* and included in the book for December 10th, but I'm going to go ahead and post it here today to kick off the season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on November 27th, 2011

Here are the passages for November 27, 2011, the 1st Sunday in Advent (The first Sunday of the liturgical calendar, so we're now in Year B of the lectionary cycle). All links are to the CEB via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Isaiah 64:1-9
  • People often associate the season of Advent with Christmas. And rightly so, given that it's the four Sundays immediately preceding the Christmas holiday, and many verses to be read during this season will involve explicitly Messianic promises or the prelude to the story of Jesus' birth. But there's more to the Advent season than just the story of a baby being born. Why do you think this passage is included during this time of year?
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • It may not mean anything, but I'm struck by the inclusion of the possessive pronoun "my" in verse 4, in the midst of Paul's standard greeting (he gives thanks to God for his audience in several epistles, often including this pronoun). Why is this possessive pronoun included? Does Paul doubt that his audience also considers God "their" God?
Mark 13:24-37
  • This passage certainly has little to do with the birth of the baby Jesus (which, of course, isn't covered in the gospel according to Mark at all, anyway)! As I said before, Advent isn't just a time for remembering that story. The inclusion of passages like this demonstrate that it also a time to reflect on Jesus' second coming.
  • Or does it? When Jesus says "I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen," can he be talking about his return? Or does he mean something by "this generation" other than the lifetimes of those humans hearing his words?
  • What does it mean about Jesus that he says even "the Son" (presumably referring to himself, although I'm curious to hear if there's another interpretation) doesn't know when these things will take place?
  • Might this passage have any meaningful connection to the parable we read a few weeks ago, or is it talking about something entirely different?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Success, Assurance, and the Sims Social

I've recently discovered the Sims Social on Facebook. It's hardly the first game, even on Facebook, that "simulates" a virtual world, but it certainly seems to be one of the more popular. Although this may seem like an obvious statement to some, it's perhaps an ironic one to others: a game that explicitly attempts to resemble (parts of) real life gets me thinking about real life in ways that I might not have thought about it without the simulation.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on November 20th, 2011

Here are the passages for November 20, 2011, Christ the King Sunday (sometimes referred to as Reign of Christ Sunday). Christ the King Sunday is the final Sunday of the liturgical year (Year A, in this case, on the Revised Common Lectionary). All links are to the CEB via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obsessions, Distractions, and Allowing People to Serve

A couple of days ago, Scot McKnight posted an article about the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England. Naturally, this is causing the usual consternation among those who don't believe that God wants women to serve in church offices (much less the really high ones!). The article discusses some of the usual responses: some people are leaving the church (it specifically notes how some bishops and priests are taking the Catholic Church up on an offer to allow them to transfer over to Catholicism, but I'm sure that many Anglicans are leaving for other denominations, and some members are no doubt leaving altogether under some "I can be a better Christian without the church" mindset), while others are choosing to "fight from within." It's a familiar pattern by now.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Do You Miss?

Country music singer Trace AdkinsI admit that I don't really follow Country and Western music. That's probably why it took the first celebrity version of The Apprentice to introduce me to one of Trace Adkin's most popular songs: "You're Gonna Miss This," which he sang at the live season-ending event, and for which recordings were made available to support the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a charity important to Adkins because his daughter suffers from such allergies. I was impressed by the song, thought the charity worth supporting, and so it now shows up regularly when I set my iPod to "shuffle." (I wish I could link to the specific version of the song that supported the charity, but I have been unable to locate it in iTunes.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on November 13th, 2011

Although the Revised Common Lectionary runs on a three-year calendar, differences between years sometimes dictate that there aren't the same number of Sunday observances from one year to another. Thus, as I look at my three-year old writings, I realize that there was no 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time in 2008. The upshot of this is that I am actually writing these reflections with 2011 fully in mind.

Here are the passages for November 13, 2011, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). All links are to the CEB via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Remembering Wrath Side Story

Back when I was in high school, I was a member of a local Star Trek fan club that met once a month. Besides watching episodes of the show (both original and Next Generation, but none of the other spin-offs existed yet at that point), we also enjoyed the occasional piece created by fans. One such film we watched, which was apparently presented live at a convention somewhere, was called Wrath Side Story.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Game Show Board Games: Match Game (1974 2nd edition)

"Get ready to match the stars!"

NBC did a version of The Match Game in the 1960's, but that's not the version that anyone remembers. The iconic version of Match Game is the version that started on CBS in 1973 (with the year proudly displayed after the nameMatch Game '73and changing each year as appropriate until the daytime network version was cancelled), which itself spawned a pair of successful syndicated versions (Match Game PM and The Match Game, the latter of which continued on for some time after the daytime version's end). Similarly, there were several home game versions of the NBC game, but I've neither seen any of those nor cared enough to spend much time searching for them. It's the iconic '70s version that I made the effort to add to my collection.

Friday, November 04, 2011

The Reflectionary: Scripture for Worship on November 6th, 2011

Here are the passages for November 6, 2011, the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A). All links are to the CEB via, but if you prefer another translation, feel free to use that instead (either with your own Bible, or via the drop-down menu at

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Scot McKnight on Junia - Part 3

As I wind down my reflections on Scot McKnight's discussion on Junia last week, I recognize that the topic of Junia is one that generates a fair bit of discussion in academic circles. Having talked about Junia's place in the early church, and how other women in Biblical history have similarly had their contributions silenced and forgotten, it's appropriate to ask "so, what do we do about it?"

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Scot McKnight on Junia - Part 2

Having established the back-and-forth of Junia's history of gender-swapping and whether or not s/he was an apostle, Scot McKnight, speaking to an audience at Fuller Theological Seminary last week, suggested that Junia has been silenced by elements of the church. As I mentioned on Monday, the title of the lecture was "Junia is Not Alone in the Church." Junia is not the only woman of significance to the church, and Junia is not alone in having been silenced.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

November is National Model Railroad Month

I grew up around model railroading. The set you see here takes up the bulk of the room, and is merely the longest-standing part of my Dad's efforts in model railroading. Since November is National Model Railroad Month, today seems like a good day to share some pictures of the collection at my parents' home in Louisville, KY. The main part, as seen here, is an HO scale layout (to non- model train folks, that means 1:87.1 scale). This is the part that Dad started putting together while he was still in high school, and has mountains, buildings, trees, and so on.


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