#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?

It’s early Tuesday morning. You shuffle into your study at the church, turn on the coffee maker, and open your laptop.

While the coffee brews, you open your email to find a subject line that says “Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

You open the message. It reads: Continue reading “#DearPastor: Is Jesus the True and Better Woman?”

Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?

Gillette recently released a commercial, “We Believe: The Best Men Can Be,” addressing the #MeToo movement.

It calls men to something better than misogyny, bullying, sexual harassment, and the objectifying of women. It encourages men to use their strength and influence to protect the weak, to treat other human beings with dignity and value, and to hold one another accountable. It admits that not all men are bullies and misogynists, and it praises the virtuous acts of those doing the right things.

Nevertheless, the ad has generated a conflicted response from the public.

I hadn’t seen the ad. I wouldn’t have except the social media uproar prodding me to what all the to-do was about. I watched it. I loved it. (I love it with one exception: Gillette products are used to prevent beard growth, which is an abomination.)

I understand there are various reasons that people take issue with it: It attacks masculinity in general. It conflates “toxic masculinity” with all masculinity. It stereotypes all men.

I don’t see those things in the ad. I won’t address them.

There is one criticism that I want to address—namely, that Gilette is being opportunistic, seeking to build a customer base and make a quick buck by pandering to the social issues of the day. In other words, they are acting with insincere motives.

That criticism—insofar as it results in an unwillingness to praise the ad—doesn’t sit well with me. Continue reading “Suspecting Gillette: The Best the Church Can Get?”

Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry

This year’s Christmas Eve sermon on Silent Night reminded me of a sermon I preached on Christmas Morning, 2011 looking at the message of the Christmas carol “Away in a Manger.”

Some Christian leaders refuse to sing “Away in a Manger,” citing the lyrics (namely, “the little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes”) as “odd or misleading,” saying, “This lyric misses a key aspect of the Incarnation: Jesus entered into our suffering.” I disagree.

This sermon examines the beloved Christmas carol and defends its message—a reminder and celebration of Jesus’ divinity and humanity, his majesty and his humility. Continue reading “Away in a Manger — The Little Lord Who Did Not Cry”

Peace on Earth — The 200th Anniversary of “Silent Night”

On Christmas Eve 1818, at Saint Nicholas parish church in Orbendorf (a village in the Austrian Empire), the carol “Silent Night” was first performed. The parish priest, Joseph Mohr, had composed the words the year before. River flooding had damaged the church organ, so Mohr asked Franz Xaver Gruber—an organist in a nearby village—to compose an accompaniment for guitar. And so, 200 years ago tonight, the Christmas Carol “Silent Night” was born.* Continue reading “Peace on Earth — The 200th Anniversary of “Silent Night””

Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community to Your Table (Part 2)

In this second post in a two-part series, guest author Holly Stallcup offers practical advice for practicing hospitality with those who battle eating disorders. Read Part 1 here


Part 2 — Welcoming to the Table

Most days my relationship with food is contentious at best, and similarly, there are more than a few days a month that contentious would be an appropriate word to describe my relationship with God. Yet the intersection of food and God, food and faith, has in recent years become a place of hope, excitement, peace, and solace.

The solution to my complicated relationship with food is not to avoid the table but rather to be welcomed to it over and over again, letting the healing come one bite, one smile, one story at a time. To offer the gift of hospitality to your friends with eating disorders is to offer healing and redemption. In fact, the eating disorder community may be one of the most important groups of people to which you will ever offer hospitality.

So how do we do this? How do we offer hospitality to those with eating disorders and disordered eating, especially when food is such a central component of hospitality? Continue reading “Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community to Your Table (Part 2)”

Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community to Your Table (Part 1)

Several weeks ago, I posted a question on Twitter about practicing hospitality with those who battle eating disorders. Several chimed in with thoughts and tips. One voice stood out though.

Holly’s thread of advice struck me as inciteful, well-informed, and gracious. I wanted to hear more. So, I invited her to write a guest piece for my blog. She agreed. I am happy to publish her thoughts in this two-part series. 


Part 1 — The Church and the Table

When we read the Gospels, it seems impossible to ignore the presence of the table. The breaking of bread, the drinking of wine, and gathering in homes is central to the rhythm of Jesus’s life, a rhythm that we as Christians are called to emulate. But somewhere over the centuries, we have decentered, if not completely forgotten, the table, the home, and the hospitality of our faith practice. Today in Christian culture we are almost always more likely to listen to a sermon, do a Bible study, participate in a service project, attend a conference—and on and on—before we ever make it to the table if we ever make it there at all.

Our lack of attention and narrow focus around food and bodies is a massive problem. Because whether we as the Church choose to center on food or not, we live in a culture that centers on food—and on a more fundamental level, we all must eat to live. Continue reading “Welcoming the Eating Disorder Community to Your Table (Part 1)”

What is the Best Recording of Handel’s Messiah?

I love Handel’s Messiah. In my opinion, it is one of the best works of biblical theology across all genres of art and literature. I make it an annual tradition to listen to it straight through. I wanted a great version. So, being no music critic, I went searching for the answer to the question: What is the best recording of Handel’s Messiah?

Here’s what I found: Continue reading “What is the Best Recording of Handel’s Messiah?”

Christmas is for Weeping Mothers

Yesterday, I attended the funeral for our friends’ 16-year-old son. I noticed his mother in the front row, dabbing away her tears. I thought about the tears she would certainly shed on Christmas Eve this year (and in years to come). Then I remembered—Christmas is for weeping mothers. Continue reading “Christmas is for Weeping Mothers”