Blog Entries The Pastorate

Resource: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service


Every Christmas Eve we have a very nice, contemplative candlelight service. This gathering goes for about 45-60 minutes, includes scripture reading, poetry, prayers and music. Oh and plenty of candles. The second one also has three readers. You are free to download the resources here and use them however you wish.

The first service was conducted by three readers and three musicians. I enjoyed the quiet evening of singing together and considering the power and Spirit of Christ’s birth. I think others enjoyed it as well.

First Service: Here is the outline.

Second Service: Here is that outline.

In writing the service I pulled together a number of resources:

Church in Mission Featured The Pastorate

Creating Communities of “Artists”

This morning I noticed a torn piece of paper with something I’d written on it from awhile back:

  • How do we form a community that creates artists rather than just critics?
  • Justice should always come first, justice is innovative.

I am not sure what I was reading when I wrote these two thoughts down, but I know they are not original to me. But today I found these two statements helpful in reflection as our meeting is currently struggling to decide what to do with a house we own but is in need of a lot of care. We are a smaller church without a ton of resources but we have a deep desire to do what is right not only for us but also for the broader community of Camas and Washougal.

Blog Entries Featured Sermons The Biblical The Political

Lineage, Belt Buckles and the BIG US. (Matthew 1:1-25)

Here’s my sermon from December 19th.

This morning is the fourth and final week of advent. We have travelled long and far in our discussion this advent season, and hopefully some of the ideas, stories and experiences you have had thus far have been meaningful, maybe even transformative, to you.

(We did an activity to start off the morning. After having a group of people read Jesus’ Genealogy we outlined our own genealogies on the back-side of our bulletins).

A. What’s in a name? (The lineage of Christ)

Especially in the Biblical times of Jewish culture, but I think that this is true in some parts of the world today, a person’s lineage is of utmost importance. If you think back to the Old Testament there are many places where there is a well-placed geneology. And if you’ve ever tried to read through the Bible you know exactly what I’m talking about, those genealogies might even be part of the reason why you never finished reading the bible through to the end.


Year-End Wrap-Up and Popular Posts from 2010

This has been a pretty good year for Gathering In Light (as a blog) and it’s always fun to do a little year-end wrap up. For one, I’m surprised to see that I had 150 or so posts this year. Considering how much seemed to have happened this year, I am glad that I was able to keep up with writing at least a little bit. I love to write and practice writing. I find energy in sharing ideas and working out my thoughts.

Probably the biggest milestone for this blog in the last year was breaking 1,000 posts and seeing subscribers continue to slowly go up. I also started advertising through a Quaker ad group setup by a friend of mine. This has helped this blog (with the cost of hosting and domain) to be self-sustaining and actually bring in a little extra income into the house. Other milestones specifically related to work done here on this blog were the publishing of the book I helped edit “Spirit Rising,” and the Six Month Project on Being a Quaker Preacher (you can read all the posts here).

Blog Entries Practices Quaker The Cultural

Has Christmas Lost its Power?

snow flake bokeh christmas tree Going through Christmas this year I began to wonder if Christmas has lost it’s power as a symbol and sign in our culture today. Symbols can lose power over time and when this happens there needs to be a reformation of those symbols and signs, or a letting go of them. This is in part why early Quakers did not celebrate Christmas and other holidays, they felt that for whatever reasons it was celebrated, the signs and symbols utilized in that celebration did not connect to the actual reality of Christmas: the incarnation of God.

The history of Christmas has gone through many ebbs and flows. There are times when it has held more meaning and times when it was less important culturally and religiously. It’s not just now, it’s always been like this and for the first 300 years of the early Church they didn’t even celebrate it or call it Christmas.

Blog Entries

Christmas has always belonged to other traditions – Max Carter

I always enjoy Max Carter’s perspective, a f/Friend from North Carolina, a Conservative Quaker, and educator. His reflection this week on Christmas and Christians who celebrate the holiday is well worth the read.

Do you need to be Christian to celebrate Christmas? What is Christmas all about?

Is Christmas Christian? Good question. Not so easy to answer. One might think that a word made up of “Christ” and “mass” is obviously Christian, and, on the surface, it would be. However, it is common knowledge that the December 25 date for the observance of Christ’s birth is borrowed from pre-Christian celebrations of Saturnalia and Solstice. Common symbols of the holiday – the tree, holly, and yule log – are similarly borrowed from pagan traditioins. In a way, one might be tempted to say that if Christians have so blithely appropriated other religions’ observances, then why should they get so agitated when Christmas is taken over, too?

Christmas has always belonged to other traditions – Max Carter.

Blog Entries

A little surprise from Google Claus

A few weeks back google posted that they were going to be giving away a limited number of their new Chrome OS laptops for testing and everyone was welcome to apply. So I did just that. And low and behold, a little box arrived on the doorstep today! I can hardly believe it. I feel like I won a grandprize or something. I actually had no idea what it was until I got the box open and then saw what it was. I had a lot of fun opening it up, checking it out and getting used to using a laptop that is completely based on a web-browser and the Internet. So far I have a few things I’d change but overall I like it. I will post more on my experiences after I’ve used it a little bit.

Got a (free) google laptop today

Blog Entries

Book Giveaway Winners Announced

The “Spirit Rising” book giveaway is now over and we have three winners:

  1. Christine
  2. T. Vail Palmer Jr.
  3. Lyndsey

Congratulations and Merry Christmas.

I’ll be contacting you shortly.

Featured Sermons The Biblical

From Hearing to Seeing: Matt. 11

Interestingly, the act of hearing is initially stressed in Matthew 11:2ff:

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah* was doing, he sent word by his* disciples 3and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?

John sends out his disciples for a report, it’s all word of mouth. But then, when Jesus appears in the text, what does he do? He invites his people to move from hearing to seeing. To move from word of mouth to personal experience.

4Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see…

This is why Jesus constantly says things like in Matt. 11:1 (the verse before) “he went on from there to teach and proclaim…” and a few verses later Jesus says this classic line as he defends his ministry “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

Jesus invites John’s disciples to come off the emphasis of hearing and see and experience for yourself!

Blog Entries

Upcoming Berkeley Visit: Quaker Heritage Day Flyer, etc.

Hi all, many of you have already seen that I’ll be doing the talks at Quaker Heritage Day this year hosted by Berkeley Friends Church (find more info here). I know I’ve mentioned it a few times but if any of you are anywhere near Berkeley you should consider coming up for the weekend. I plan to get there sometime Friday and stay at least until Sunday afternoon, maybe later.

My talks will be on a Quaker understanding of mission and participatory culture. I’ll be trying to give some potential ideas for renewal within the Quaker tradition.

Here’s the final flyer that is getting sent out with all the details over the various sessions, etc.

Heralding The New Creation: Mission as Participation in the Quaker Tradition

And  more detailed information can be found here.