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"War on Christmas"

Today I want to write about "the war on Christmas."   Except I'm not referring to what you may think: the perceived hostility to the celebration of Christmas that some hyper-ventilating news commentators and others get all worked up about - the way Christians are supposedly being persecuted because people say "happy holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" and that nativity scenes aren't being permitted on public grounds and religious-themed Christmas carols are no longer being sung in public schools. No, those developments don't bother me: despite the histrionics, we Christians in this country at this time are not being persecuted (or even very much inconvenienced) as we practice our faith; we're simply being reminded that we live in a pluralistic, richly diverse nation (which, by the way, from our very constitutional origins has wisely held "freedom of religion" in tension with opposing any attempt to establish any of

Confessions of a Recovering Advent Purist

With this Sunday starting the four-week season in the church year called Advent, I've been giving a lot of thought to the way we (in the church) prepare for Christmas during Advent.  The season of Advent is meant to help us joyfully anticipate (but not prematurely celebrate) Christmas . Each word (joyfully…anticipate…Christmas) is important. So at the Falls Church Episcopal, beginning this Sunday, and over the first three weeks of Advent, Rev. Cathy and I will be doing a bit of a three-part sermon series, unpacking each of those three words a bit. (And assuming we can get the logistics worked out, I also hope to launch a 25-day email devotional journey called “Joyful Anticipation of Christmas,” which will allow anyone who wishes to subscribe to a daily email and embark, with others, on a 25-day email devotional journey,  helping you to make your Advent and Christmas all the more meaningful. Stay tuned about that.)  I’ll say more about the word “joyfully”

Is that a "feeling of gratitude" or an "action of Thanks-giving"?

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I'd again like to share some thoughts about the difference between "feelings of gratitude" on the one hand, and "actions of thanksgiving" on the other. There's no better Bible story for making the distinction between "gratitude" and "thanksgiving" than the Gospel story of Jesus curing ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) . In that passage, Jesus heals ten lepers of their disease. But only one of those cured lepers turns back to give thanks.   Now again, remember: ten lepers - ten different people - are cured of a dread disease, a disease that excluded them from society and reduced them to miserable lives as beggars. Can you imagine? - one minute they are suffering from deteriorating skin and are social outcasts, and the next minute, at the healing word of Jesus, all of a sudden their skin is smooth and they are on their way to the temple to be restored to society. The possib

What's Your Cry, What's Your Request? Pray Like Bartimaeus.

Pray Like Bartimaeus A sermon preached October 28, 2012 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 an