Several years ago, I went for a long walk in my wife’s hometown while staying there on vacation. As I looked down the sidewalk, I noticed a well-to-do looking woman walking toward me. As she reached the intersection a block ahead, she crossed the street. Then she continued to walk in the same direction. I assumed she lived on that side of the street. At the end of the block, I glanced back. Once past me, she crossed back to my side of the street and continued on her way.
I wondered for a moment at her action. Why had she crossed the street? There was no mud or broken sidewalk or dogs to avoid. Then it dawned on me—she crossed the street to avoid me.
I wondered at that for a moment. Why did this woman want to avoid me?
Set in the town of Allora, bordering a violent sea and famous for flying fish, The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker tells the story of Alberto, the coffin maker. The widower, bereaved of wife and children, lives alone, caring for the dead of the town. His life changes with the appearance of the orphan, Tito Bonito, and his pet bird, Fia. Continue reading “Book Review: The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker”
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered,” Jesus assures us. “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The argument here is not: people matter, therefore sparrows are insignificant. Rather: sparrows are significant, so how much more valuable are those created in God’s image?
God’s voice—not the voices in my head or those of my neighbor—is the final word on the matter: If he values the hairs of my head more than sparrows, how much more must he care for my child—his own image bearer?
And when that child falls to sleep, hidden in my wife’s womb, will the Father in heaven not notice the father on earth? God cares for these little ones. God cares about mothers. God cares about fathers. Both moms and dads have every right to mourn.
I love Advent songs and Christmas carols. I love the tradition, the nostalgia, the familiarity. Most of all, I love the way a good carol points us to who Jesus Christ came to be and who he is for us today. (I wrote this original Christmas carol for that purpose.)
One of my favorites is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” This carol has its origins in a set of seven Latin antiphons known as “The O Antiphons” or “The Great Antiphons.” The verses may have originated as early as the 6th century. They were used in the Benedictine Abbey, being recited by leaders in descending order before presenting gifts to members of the community. The O Antiphons were shaped into Latin verse in the 12th century. Continue reading “The O Antiphons — An Ancient Advent Devotion”
To most Iowans, the name “Merle Hay” is associated only with a mall in Des Moines and the road that passes in front of it, both of which bear his name.
Growing up in Glidden, Iowa, I knew of Merle Hay as our hometown war hero—the first Iowan and one of the first three Americans to die in World War One. Friday, November 3, 2017, marks the one-hundredth anniversary of his death. To honor him and his sacrifice, I’m sharing a new song, “The Ballad of Merle D. Hay.”