The Mystery of Advent: Longest Night

The Winter Solstice. The longest night. In school, we learned about the tilt of the earth, the angle of the sun’s light, how the days grow shorter and the nights longer. That’s science. What we know down in the marrow of our being is the feel of the long night,...

The Mystery of Advent: Warmth of Divine Love

The mystery of Advent and Christmas might best be understood as the question asked and answered by Walter Kasper, the great German theologian and friend of Pope Francis: “Why did God become a human being? God wanted to show both who he is and who we are. God wanted to...

The Mystery of Advent: Quiet

Jerusha Neal, who will be my guest for my Wednesday Bible reflection time in 9 days, wrote a fascinating book about Mary, the mother of our Lord. So very wisely, she looks closely at the way the church has sometimes ignored Mary, but way more often extolled her as...

The Mystery of Advent: Saving 2020

Advent began… yesterday! I love the way two plot lines interweave for us during December each year. It’s Christmas, so all the lights, tinsel, bows, chestnuts, stockings. My favorite podcast I’ve heard in 2020 (so far!) has been the BBC’s “13 Minutes to the Moon.”...

Embracing Mystery: Children and Slaves

We have romanticized and indulged childhood in modern times; but in Paul’s world, childhood was far from glamorous. Most children endured poor health, barely enough food, no medicines or braces, no schools, play places, camps, or legal protections; as soon as...

Embracing Mystery: Drunk or Filled?

“Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time” (Ephesians 5:15). Sometimes when Lisa and I are hiking, we have to be careful where we walk. A rock here, a root there, a slippery place, a muddy patch. You can’t just saunter...

Embracing Mystery: Speaking Truth with Love

Paul’s on a roll at the end of Ephesians 4. “Putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). What’s the climactic line in “A Few Good Men”? “You can’t handle the truth!” Handling truth is an art, requiring humility and...

Embracing Mystery: Work in Progress

Ephesians 2:17: “Christ came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.” Given the way we divide ourselves up, in a denomination or by race or as voters, I bet most of us read that as We’re the ones near; I guess he came for those far...

Embracing Mystery: Diagram this sentence!

And so we plunge into a beautiful, profound and hopeful book of the Bible: Ephesians. After identifying himself as the writer of the letter (ancient people signed at the beginning, not the end, which is more sensible!), Paul launches into one of the most extraordinary...

Embracing Mystery: Reading Somebody Else’s Mail

We might think of Ephesians as a “book of the Bible.” But it was a letter, probably dictated by Paul to a scribe, jotting down his words as he paced a room, talking out loud. I wonder if the scribe had to say Slow down! Or if his jaw dropped in wonder at what was...