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Season of giving?

The holiday season is often refered to as the “season of giving.”  But is it? I’m not just talking about giving to ourselves, friends and families, gifts we most likely don’t need – but giving to those who are truly desperate, marginalized, forgotten, abused or hungry?

Sometimes our response to the idea of generosity is “I’d like to give but right now I [we] don’t have enough money or resources to spare and until we’re doing better financially – we can’t be expected to be generous to others – we just can’t do it.”

Yet as Christians, the Apostle Paul calls us to “carry each other’s burdens and in this way fulfill the law of Christ.”

The famous preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards responded to this mentality with the following comments….

“In many cases, we may, by the rules of the gospel, be obliged to give to others when we cannot do it without suffering ourselves…If our neighbor’s difficulties and necessities be much greater than our own, and we see that he is not like to be otherwise relieved, we should be willing to suffer with him, and to take part of his burden on ourselves; else how is that rule of bearing one another’s burdens fulfilled?

If we are never obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s burdens, when we bear no burden at all?” [Jonathan Edwards, Christian Charity, The Works of Jonathan Edwards]

With this in mind, can we say this is truly the “season of giving” or “carrying other’s burdens?”


Two Poems

One of the books I’m currently reading is Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins. With the death of a friend this week and the memorial service today, I can’t help but think about several of his poems that reflect on the brevity of life. Here are two of them.

Memento Mori

It doesn’t take much to remind me
what a mayfly I am,
what a soap bubble floating over the children’s party.

Standing under the bones of a dinosaur
in a museum does the trick every time
or confronting in a vitrine a rock from the moon.

Even the Church of St. Anne will do,
as structure I just noticed in a magazine–
built in 1722 of sandstone and limestone in the city of Cork.

And the realization that no one
who ever breasted the waters of time
Has figured out a way to avoid dying

always pulls me up by the reins and settles me down
by a roadside, grateful for the sweet weeds
and the mouthfuls of colorful wildflowers.

So many reminders of my mortality
here, there, and elsewhere, visible at every hour
pretty much everything I can think of except you,

sign over the door of this bar in Cocoa Beach
proclaiming that it was established–
though established does not sound right–1996.

As Usual

After we have parted, the boats
will continue to leave the harbor at dawn.
The salmon will struggle up to the pools,
one month following the other on the wall.

The magnolia will flower,
and the bee, the noble bee —
I saw one earlier on my walk–
will shoulder his way into the bud.


back from land of canucks

I just spent a week in upper Manitoba with my son and good friends.  Although I usually get a little nervous when in such isolated areas of the world, the beauty of the Canadian wilderness is breathtaking and tranquil.

they grow big pike in Canada

If you ever get the chance to go to north — go!  But before you do, read Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw, Travels in Search of Canada by Will Ferguson.   He explains how “Canada is, in fact, not so much a country as it is a collection of outposts –basically a canoe route.”  Ferguson, himself a canuck, weaves historical fact with funny observations about our good neighbors to the north.


Good move

Really … why was Four Loko concocted in the first place – because someone decided we needed to increase the number of wide-  awake drunks around the country.  I’m not one to always jump on board the government ‘ban’ wagon but good riddance to this -caffeinated alcholoic beverage. Not safe. Leftover stores of the drink are now being made into ethanol.  Crazy is right.


Merry Christmas!

I’m sure you’ve heard several versions of the song…but here is my favorite.


Thomas a Kempis

“Vanity it is, to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well.”


Random act of culture

Shoppers at the the Macy’s in Philadelphia (the old Wanamaker organ building) were surprised a couple weeks ago when over 600 choristers who were there mingling with regular shoppers suddenly burst into Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. Now…I’m not a big Organ fan but when accompanying the Messiah — well, it’s pretty cool.
“You who bring good tidings, go up on a high mountain..lift up your voice  with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraind. Here is your God!'”                           Isaiah 40:9


wealth and belongings

Augustine of Hippo

“That bread which you keep belongs to the hungry; that coat which you preserve in your wardrobe, to the naked; those shoes which are rotting in your possessions, to the shoeless; that gold which you have hidden in the ground, to the needy. Wherefore, as often as you are able to help others, and refuse, so often did you do them wrong.”


a good morning prayer

“Who can tell what a day may bring forth? Cause me, therefore, gracious God, to live every day as if it were to be my last, for I know not but that it may be such. Cause me to live now as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.”


sad mixed up message

How sad it is that pastor Terry Jones, who by his hate of Muslims and insistence on publicly burning the Koran, is misrepresenting the truth of biblical Christianity. It’s hard not to wonder if he has carefully studied the teaching of Jesus who said to his followers, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”  What part of ‘Love your enemy’ doesn’t he get?  How does this needless display of Koran burning accomplish any degree of love?  Loving one’s enemy is not necessarily an easy task but Jesus never said it would be.   This seems like a diliberate misguided effort to do the very opposite.  And when was the last time any kind of book burning did any good for anybody?  Unfortunately, this sort of twisted and well publicized version of “Christianity” gets applied across the board to Christians in general — thus lumping us all in with this kind of aberrant fringe lunacy.  Today I’m praying for Muslims and Jones.

re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
October 2020

Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire