Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Advent Quiz

No sooner do you clear and clean up the dishes from Thanksgiving Day dinner and everyone’s thoughts are now in full Christmas mode.   Same thing happens in church.

This past Sunday we lit the first of our candles in our Advent wreath.   I thought I might offer a little Advent Quiz to tickle your fancy.  

Take Tom's Advent Quiz and let us know your score!

1. The word ADVENT comes from Latin and means what?
a. To cook
b. To come
c. To rest
d. To sing

2. The liturgical color for Advent is what?
a. Purple or violet
b. Green
c. Red
d. Red and green

3. The observance of Advent probably started in:
a. 1492
b. The 6th century
c. The 1st century BC
d. 1776

4. Who was it who said, “Prepare Ye the way of the Lord’?

a. Santa Claus
b. The Heavenly Host
c. John the Baptist
d. Home Depot

5. The “mood” of Advent is:a. Hectic
b. Stressful
c. Repentance and Reflection
d. Full of holiday cheer

Long ago,  the exhortation of John the Baptist was to “prepare” for the coming of the Lord.   How are you and your family preparing for the birth of Christ?   What preparations are we making to welcome His coming into our hearts?    How might prayer, quiet time, reading Luke’s story of Christmas, and attending worship help you reflect and prepare yourself spiritually for the greatest gift of all?

Quiz Answer Key: B, A, B, C, C

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Tradition of Memories

With Thanksgiving upon us, I was just looking back on some of my childhood Thanksgivings.   I wish I could say I was as filled with a grateful heart to God, as much as I was with the turkey and all the fixing.  I grew up in a large family with four sisters and a brother, all of us squeezed into a 900 foot square house, with one bathroom, and only three bed rooms.   As the old saying goes, we didn’t know any better.   It never dawned on me that everyone should have their own bedroom.  We were happy and had parents who loved us.

I remember all of my buddies and I would meet at the school yard on Thanksgiving morning for a totally unorganized pick-up game of tackle football.  The fall air was crisp and the drizzle of rain made it all the more fun.

I remember the smell of the turkey in the oven and my mom rolling out fresh dough on the kitchen table for pies. Later in life I was also introduced to the most wonderful, homemade orange glaze rolls that Corrine’s mom made on Thanksgiving Day- best in the entire world.

On Thanksgiving Day, my dad, my brother and I would lug out the old extension ladder and began the annual process of stringing Christmas lights all along the roof line and porch railings.   It didn’t compare to McCaddenville or the Biltmore House, but it lit up the neighborhood. 

As I think back, I don’t remember anything spectacular or dazzling about Thanksgiving Day, just that feeling of warmth that comes with family, friends and home.   Come to think about it that is pretty spectacular, and a good reason to give thanks!

What about you?  What are your childhood memories of Thanksgiving Day?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What’s in fashion, long or short hair?

I don’t pay much attention to fashion, and especially not hair dos.  I never know what’s in style, long or short hair. 
However, I have noticed how many professional athletes are sporting long hair, both on their faces and heads. It seems odd to me to see such flowing locks of hair dangling out of a football helmet, like Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As one writer put it, “For more than ten years Polamalu’s luscious locks have made him one of the most visually identifiable players in the NFL. He even got a shampoo endorsement out of it.”
Well, last week he got a haircut!  He trimmed his famous head of hair as part of a fundraiser to draw public awareness in the vital work of those who care for our nation’s veterans. I was also impressed when Nikki, our Director of Communications, cut her hair and donated the ten inches of blonde locks to a program called Beautiful Lengths; a program that makes wigs for cancer patients. I never knew how much good could come from a haircut.

Most of the Biblical characters had long hair, including Jesus. We remember how the long curls of Sampson got him into trouble and how a tree branch snagged the hair of King David’s son, Absalom that led to a sad ending.  One of the best stories of long hair in the Bible is found in Luke's gospel; when a woman of the street interrupts a lavish dinner by bathing the feet of Jesus with her tears and dries them with her hair. This totally upset the host and everybody else attending the dinner. Jesus simply responded by saying to the woman of the street "Your sins are forgiven." 
Seems to me, doing something kind for others and offering forgiveness never goes out of style. Let us all try to do one kind thing each day for someone along the way, and if there is someone waiting for you to forgive them, there is no better time than now.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Rubber Duckie

Did you know there is a Hall of Fame for toys? This years’ two new inductees are the rubber duckie and the game of chess. Talk about extremes.

An article I read about the toy Hall of fame said the two beat out ten other finalists: bubbles, Clue, Fisher-Price Little People, little green Army men, the Magic 8 Ball, My Little Pony, Nerf Toys, the Pac-Man video game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the scooter. Did you ever own one of these toys?

The whole thing started back in 1998 when the first to make the Hall of Fame were Etch-A-Sketch, LEGO block, the Erector Set and Mr. Potato Head. Since then only 53 toys have been bestowed this honor, including alphabet blocks, the jump rope, playing cards, Scrabble and the stick. Gosh, I remember playing with most of these, except the My Little Pony, and those of a later day, like Mutant Ninja Turtles.

As a child, after hearing about Robin Hood, I tried to bend a stick and with some string make a bow and arrow, just like Robin Hood.  I also designed an amazing fishing pole with a stick, some thread and a safety pin as a hook. Neither one  actually  worked, but it was lots of fun trying. 

Soon, parents will be looking for toys to fill Santa’s bag. I’m not sure what the hot toy items are this year. One thing is for sure, the technology will be far superior to what went into making a rubber duckie. Yet even technology cannot replace something as simple as a stick. It is the toys like the stick that allow a child to imagine and wonder and transform it into something new every time.

Theologian Sam Keen talked about the loss of wonder among adults. Isn’t it interesting that the root word for wonder is the same as worship? Do you think Jesus was hinting at this when he said we all must be like children when it comes to faith and worship?

I hope we always have a sense of wonder and imagination. Maybe we all need to have a child take us on a walk through the woods to find a stick. How is your sense of wonder and imagination, and worship?


Monday, November 4, 2013

From Cars to Cell Phones

I heard a commentary about how NASCAR is losing its popularity.  While Americans have always had a love affair with cars, today’s younger generation has a love affair with their cell phone! I think the same love affair holds true for most of us.  I love my cell phone, but…..

I was impressed with one of the youngest members of our staff, Nikki, as she shared her thoughts with me about cell phones.

She said, ‘Do you remember those nights going to Blockbuster with the family and trying to make a decision on what movie to take home?  Remember dad divvying out the pizza, mom popping some popcorn, brother “popping” the movie in, and sister snuggling up with the dog; and all lying around the living room, enjoying the movie you picked out as a family?’

‘Now we can stream movies from high definition televisions that are in each bedroom, our laptops and even our cell phones.  So now each family member is in a separate room doing separate things.  Sometimes at dinner, dad is watching the football game on his phone, sister is sending tweets and texting, brother is playing Angry Birds and mom is on Pinterest looking up home improvement ideas. I wonder if it is time to put the technology away for a while and get back to the simplicity and joy of some basic family time together?’

Gosh, for such a young person, Nikki sure has a handle on life.  Perhaps that is exactly what the Bible means when Paul, at the end of his ministry, told young Timothy, “let no one despise your youth…”  ( I Timothy 4:12)

Let us all turn off our cell phones for one night and see what happens!