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Showing posts from November, 2015

Between Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day...

As I write this (Thursday evening) I'm still on a bit of a high from a full-of-wonder evening last night, when Mary and I hosted, at the Rectory, a Veterans Day dinner.
We were delighted to welcome 35 people for dinner -- veterans and their spouses, plus volunteers who were enthusiastic to "serve those who served" in this way. 
After our meal, and over dessert and coffee, I invited each veteran, beginning with the most recent and working our way back to the most senior, to stand, say their name and branch of service, their time served, and then to share one story.
As we listened, we received a mini history lesson in the armed conflicts of our nation. It started with a parishioner who fought in the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. It ended with a parishioner who, as a senior in high school, was on his way back from a Christmas pageant rehearsal on December 6, 1941 when he switched the car radio on and heard that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, forever altering the trajec…

Advent, Joyfully Anticipating Christmas, and singing "Christmas" hymns during Advent

As the church is about to start the season of Advent, it reminds me that part of our call, as the church, is to be, this time of year, a voice crying in the consumer-orgy wilderness. 

I think the church has a responsibility to be counter-cultural. Someone needs to point out that, contrary to what Best Buy commercials teach, buying electronics is not the way to get people to love you. And someone -- it might as well be the church -- should point out that contrary to what Zales commercials teach, giving expensive jewelry on the morning of December 25th does not make up for one's being an emotionally distant jerk the other 364 days of the year.

But here's the thing: the danger the church runs into is coming across as grouchy spoil-sports. That's a huge irony, because the season of Advent SHOULD be a season of joyfully anticipating Christmas. 

Unfortunately, though, it seldom is, at least not the way most Episcopal church's observe it. 

I've come to believe that Advent -- …

"It's not happy people who are thankful. It's thankful people who are happy."

Out of the blue, my wife sent me a quote, 
"It's not happy people who are thankful. It's thankful people who are happy." 
That made me remember one of my favorite quotes:
Apparently Thich Nhat Hahn is on solid psychological ground here: check out this article in Scientific American.

Be thankful to be happy.

Smile to have joy.

The "Elf on the Shelf" War on Christmas"

It's only the second day of November, but already I've had a couple of conversations with parents of young children about the theologically obscene "elf-on-the-shelf" trend. Which is now more than a trend.

As a parent of what were once three young children, I do understand the temptation to find some way to leverage good behavior during this time of year. But speaking as a pastor and priest, "elf-on-the-shelf" is about as bad a theology around Christmastime as you can get.

So, while I may be a voice crying in the wilderness on this topic, I thought I'd re-share a blog post I wrote a few years ago titled "The Elf on the Shelf's War on Christmas." Comments welcome.

What Keeps Us From Praying

Praying Like Bartimaeus A sermon preached October 25, 2015 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector, The Falls Church Episcopal
Jesus and his disciples came to Jericho. As he and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving Jericho, Bartimaeus son of Timaeus, a blind beggar, was sitting by the roadside. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stood still and said, "Call him here." And they called the blind man, saying to him, "Take heart; get up, he is calling you." So throwing off his cloak, he sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, "What do you want me to do for you?" The blind man said to him, "My teacher, let me see again." Jesus said to him, "Go; your faith has made you well." Immediately he regained his sight and followed him…