Saturday, December 24, 2016

Who is He?

You may have read this in December 2013. Now you can read it again. 
May you have a blessed Christmas.

Who is He?

Demon bouncer
Tamer of churning seas

Grapeless vintner
Scoundrels’ crony
Charmer of loaves and fish

Medicine man
Grave pillager
Heckler of hypocrites

Betrayed brother
Sentenced outlaw
Tormented innocent

Mort immortal
Insensate corpse
First cent’ry Houdini

That night merely
Fragile newborn
Creator turned creature

Creation’s hope
Mary’s wonder
Seers’ dream swaddled in flesh

from the Nativity Story

Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Unplugged

You may have read this before in December 2013. Now you can read it again.


If they took back all the presents
And boarded up the malls,
If they unstrung all the popcorn
And undecked all the halls,
If they snuffed out every candle
And unplugged every light,
We’d still with awe remember
That holy, silent night.

If Santa weren’t coming
‘Cause Daddy’s out of work,
If Mommy burned the cookies
And undercooked the bird,
If chestnuts never roasted
And all the carolers ceased,
             Still we’d kneel and worship
             The newborn prince of peace.

If all the tinsel vanished
Along with mistletoe,
And TV Christmas specials
Were canceled, as was snow,
If reindeer never landed
On the roof above,
We would still have Christmas
‘Cause they can’t unplug God’s love.

© 1999 Roberta Tucker Brosius, published in The Secret Place, Winter 1999-2000

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thinking about Mary

            Yesterday’s reading in the Secret Place—which I didn’t read until this morning—focused on Mary’s courage, from Luke 1:26 – 38. Manny Santiago's words got me thinking about my own courage or lack thereof.

            How do I react to change, or even an announcement of change? How do I react to strange? What if an angel showed up in my kitchen or in my car on the way to work?

The Annunciation from the Nativity Story
            Mary’s first reaction was to be “greatly troubled” and I surmise fearful, since the angel’s next words start with, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” What enabled Mary to move from “greatly troubled” in verse 26 to “bring it on” in verse 38? Why didn’t Mary argue like Moses (Exodus 3 – 4) or nervously ask for proof like Gideon (Judges 6)?

            Some might point out that Mary seems to be arguing or asking for proof when she says, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” I think she’s asking for clarity. “Excuse me, Mr. Angel. Did you mean I’m going to conceive this child after Joseph and I get married? Or did you mean right now in some other way?” I think that’s a reasonable question. Apparently, Gabriel agrees, because instead of striking her mute like Zechariah earlier in the chapter, he explains.

            I notice four things in the scripture passage that suggest how Mary got past “greatly troubled.” Three of them start with the letter “p.” I really wish all four did, because I’m all about alliteration. But maybe the three explain the one.

God’s Favor, featuring
     God’s Presence—The Lord is with you.
            God’s Power—The power of the Most High will overshadow you.
                   God’s Promise—For with God nothing will be impossible. (1:37, NKJV)

            Gabriel calls Mary “highly favored” and also tells her “you have found favor with God.” lists numerous shades of meaning for “favor” both as a noun and verb, and I think these fit: the state of being approved or held in regard, excessive kindness…; preferential treatment. 

            Let’s be clear that usually when someone in scripture is favored and chosen, it’s not for a trip to Disney, but for a difficult assignment. (No wonder Moses and Gideon protested.) In nine or so months, Mary will hear this warning from the old saint Simeon, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 1:35)

            Along with God’s favor, Gabriel assures Mary she also receives God’s presence, power and promise. It’s part of the favor package. 

            Now here’s the best part:  That favor package is offered to all of us! When I’m confronted with change or strange or a difficult assignment from God, I also have access to God’s presence, God’s power, and God’s promises upon promises upon promises.

            I hope I remember that. I hope you do, too.

 26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 
(Luke 1, NIV, from

Monday, September 26, 2016

How to Hibernate

A Facebook and church friend posted, “When does hibernation start? Because I am 100% participating in that.”
 I glibly responded, “With the first snowflake. I think we have to eat a lot of bacon first. Those are the survival rules.” Then I realized it is wrong to be cavalier about such an important endeavor. Maybe people want to hibernate, but remain fuzzy about hibernation procedures.
With cold weather fast approaching, consider this post a Public Service Announcement.
1. Decide to hibernate. Who should hibernate? Do you love to ski, snow board, ice skate? Does ice fishing excite you? You should not hibernate. Go away. You are making us cold.
2. Choose a hibernation location. Is there a heat source? One that doesn’t require you to go outside and chop firewood or shovel buckets of coal? Are the walls, windows, and roof insulated? Are the floors radiant like in those mansions on HGTV?
When hibernating, you want
to stay on this side of the window.
Is there a food source? One that doesn’t require you to clean snow off your car and drive through ice and slush to a grocery store? Do you have a cellar full of home canned goods? How about store bought canned soups? Do you have phone numbers for Chinese and Italian restaurants that will send daring teenagers out in a blizzard to bring you General Tso’s Chicken and cheap three topping pizzas? Will Blue Apron, Plated, or HelloFresh deliver to your front door expensive gourmet food for you to cook while you flirt with your loving spouse? Don’t forget the bacon.
 3. Choose hibernation activities. Do you like to hang out in bed all day, sometimes sleeping, sometimes reading, sometimes watching the telly? Do you subscribe to Netflix or another movie and TV subscription service? Choose a variety of series to binge watch. I recommend series with seven or more seasons, such as Star Trek the Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager. (By the time Captain Janeway gets her crew home from the Delta Quadrant, the first crocuses will be peeking through the melting snow.)
Warm up with a great book.
Procure a Kindle or other e-reader before the first snowfall or you may find yourself with no books to read and miles of icy roads between you and your public library or favorite bookstore. With your Kindle, you can read thousands of cheap and even free books between now and spring training. Of course, you can get a free Kindle APP for your computer, but it’s awkward to cuddle up in bed with a laptop. (You will definitely want to read Surviving Meemaw, and Surviving Jamaica will make you feel so sun-drenched you might even get out from under your comforter for a few minutes.)
 4. Choose hibernation attire. Do you have a supply of sweat pants or yoga pants? Do you have warm hoodies? Do you have thick, fuzzy socks? Do you have slippers that are not slippery, so that you will not slip down the stairs and break your hip like Meemaw did in Surviving Meemaw? Where did you put that Snuggie you received for Christmas a few years ago? It’s not as silly looking as you thought now that you are planning to hibernate.
Snuggle up in a second generation stylish Snuggie.
 5. Choose hibernation friends. I recommend other hibernators. People who leave the house to go to work, school, malls, and church will just pull you down. Plan to connect electronically during your hibernation. Use your cell phone and computer for social media. Caution:  Some of your Facebook friends may be taking tropical cruises while you are hibernating. Unfriend them or at least hide their feeds. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
6. Choose a hibernation end date. Study the Farmer’s Almanac and watch the Weather Channel to determine when Spring may actually arrive. Add six weeks to that date. Pay no attention to that mixed-up groundhog.
When the end date arrives, verify its veracity before venturing outside. Has the snow melted? Do trees have leaves? Are flowers blooming? Is grass green? Is major league baseball on ESPN? If so, proceed with your end of hibernation activities:  Shave your legs. Take a long, hot shower. Go get a spa pedicure and manicure. Meet your girlfriends for lunch. Go back to church and tell your pastor a vague, medical sounding excuse for your long absence. Assure him that while you watched many TV preachers during your time away, none of them preaches as well as he does.

7. Congratulate yourself! You are a first class hibernator.