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    Sacraments and Spit-Up

    It was a no good, rotten Sunday. My husband and I both overslept, resulting in a thrown-together breakfast. My daughter refused to nurse. My son instantaneously despised his church shoes. No one got coffee. The car ride to church resembled a chaotic symphony of yawns, bickering and tears. We arrived at church with forced smiles. As we grabbed seats in the last row, I glanced to the front of the sanctuary, and my stomach dropped. There it stood–a pristine table of bread and juice. I sighed, attempting to curb my rotten attitude, while inwardly thinking, “Of course, communion would be today.” I used to love communion Sundays–a day in which…

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    Come, union

    How does your church celebrate Communion? Brass-plated trays passed across the row once a quarter? 2-in-1 cups containing wafer and juice together, drive-thru style? It's time habit and sheer logistics stop trumping intimacy at the Lord's Table. It's time we engage our Savior in this sacrament with our souls and bodies. The incarnation is a mystery – God choosing to enter earth, embracing finiteness and physicality. It's a mystery the way human and divine intertwine in the person of Christ, not only as he walked this earth, but also as he sits enthroned in heaven. It's a mystery that continues as he ministers to and through us. It's a mystery…

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    Remember Jesus!

    After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, "Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."  When they saw the star they shouted joyfully. As they came into the house and saw the child with Mary his mother, they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their treasure boxes and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1,2,10,11 NET) 0

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    He Was Not What They Expected

    (Para español, lea abajo.) He criticized the prideful, religious elite and dined with criminals and tax collectors. He spoke to shunned women and healed unclean and contagious lepers. He welcomed little children and gave mercy to the desperate and the weak. “Who is this supposed King? He does not behave as we had expected,” they thought.  They expected a warrior king, not a humble servant. They expected a savior from foreign oppression, not a Savior from their sins. They expected their long-awaited ruler to ride victoriously on a horse. The King of Kings rode peacefully on a young donkey. (Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5) They waved palm branches and put their…

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    Oh, That’s Why

    Jesus knew what lay in store for him that Passover night. He was on his way to the cross and would experience great agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, followed by Judas’ betrayal of him, Peter’s denial of him, abandonment by the other 10 disciples, and a mock trial held illegally at the home of the high priest. Bothfully God and fully human, Jesus knew that he was about to not only suffer a gruesome and painful physical death, but also separation from the Father as he bore the weight of our sins upon the cross. And yet, notice what Jesus said to his disciples at the beginning of this…

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    Liturgy and the Lord’s Supper: A Virgin Experience of Intimacy

    Reverence and expectation fill the sanctuary. I take a seat on a pew and trace the prominent grain of its oak with my forefinger. A candle fidgets nearby, flickering kerosene faintly from its flame. Sunlight prances through a stained-glass window that portrays a shepherd holding one sheep in his arms with another following afoot. “Hold me now,” I whisper. “I am that lamb. Tiny. Broken. Needy.” Woody notes from the pipe organ climax in a crescendo of crashing waves, kissing the shore of my sandy heart and carrying a week’s-worth of offensive images and words away in their undertow. I exhale. The minister steps forward to lead the congregation in…

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    Justin Bieber’s Face Tattoo May Just Inspire You

    Justin Bieber boasts a tattoo count of 50 plus. He has so many tattoos that MTV news once made an interactive "Justin Bieber Tat Map" allowing enthusiastic fans to discover the details of Justin Bieber's ink—oh, the magic of the internet. The animated map is tens of tats behind, but this month it became decidedly outdated when Justin added a small cross tattoo to a previously clean area of his body, his face. Jonboy, the artist who tattooed Justin's face, told Us, “Justin came in last night and decided on a small cross near the corner of his eye. It represents his journey in finding purpose with God.” The cross on his face isn't Justin's first religious tattoo.…

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    Christ Has Died. Christ Is Risen. Christ Will Come Again.

    Christ Has Died. Christ Has Risen. Christ Will Come Again. These are the words I repeat with our community of Christ-followers each time we gather to observe communion. They have come to mean something endearing to me, more than ritual recitation. They echo what has happened, and they speak to what will happen. This Thursday my mind dwells on the last supper our Lord had with His disciples and the events that took place Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday so long ago. I grew up hearing the stories of faith from my family and another community of believers. Friday morning coffee brought the story of Jesus’ suffering. How He’d been…

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    Spiritual Family Gatherings

    This week my husband and I are back in the Chicago area, where we both grew up. We’re enjoying a few days with his family first, and then mine. Both of us are from large families; I’m #1 of seven children, he’s #3 of six. Most of our siblings have children, and some have their own grandkids, which means a lot of people when we gather. There are no intentional, earth-shaking conversations, but important conversations happen while we’re just hanging out with each other. They’re important because they solidify our connections with each other. In our families, there’s fun too. Different kinds of fun, since our family cultures are quite…