welcome1

I remember seeing a banner outside a church that said, "The Welcoming Place," or words to that effect. I was disappointed when I found out that that church's denomination owned the phrase and logo.

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adventcandleofhope

Prior to the release of the 1982 hymnal, the liturgical color for Advent was purple. Following John’s call for repentance prior to the coming of the Messiah, Advent was to be a penitential season like Lent. But then there was that pink candle for the third Sunday of Advent that signaled a break, when worshipers heard St Paul say, “Rejoice in the Lord. Again, I say, ‘Rejoice.’” The “replacement” royal blue candles were said to signify hope, also a legitimate theme for the Christian Church as it waits for Jesus’ return. 

Are there specific sins for which the Church needs to repent this season? I think it would be good for the Church to lay off its Christmas Wars for a while. To get steamed up because a Starbucks holiday cup has no Christmas-y message on it is a waste of time and does not mix well with the angels’ message of “Peace on earth.” What would you think if they put out an overtly Muslim cup for Ramadan? (I think it is something of a miracle that the Post Office still issues a religious Christmas stamp. As fewer people send Christmas cards, I wonder how much longer this will last.)

Secondly, I think it would be good for the Christian Church to rethink its relationship to the poor in our communities. Our holiday generosity has been gamed by both givers and recipients. Families can receive gifts, toys, and holiday meals from multiple sources and that’s it. No further contact. No developed relationships that could lead to a richer life for both parties. Some know how to work the system so that the gifts given appear on ebay right after the season. Or gifts are given with the hope that those things would bring the recipients to church. When it doesn’t happen, enthusiasm wanes. We deplored the development of “rice Christians” overseas but still try to work it here. The poor don’t need to be manipulated by the Church; they need genuine help and good neighborliness. Let the Spirit see where that may lead.

So much for purple. As for blue, in these days we need a season of hope. With so much gloom about  the future of the Christian Church in North America, a rebirth of hope would be welcome. There is still a remnant who confess Christ and want to live godly lives as they wait His return. As long as it is the Lord’s Church, things will turn out just as He wants them to go. The message of Christmas is still proclaimed for all whom God will draw to Himself – “To you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.” It is still the only basis for hope and still the only reason for repentance.

justlikeme2

The other day I was reminded of a song recorded by the artist then known as Cat Stevens. Perhaps you remember "Cat's Cradle," too.

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