So. We’re three days from Christmas. These last couple of years the holiday, like everything else, has gotten a bit deflated as two presidents and a lot of medical bureaucrats, liking the feel of unexpected power, have succumbed to the irresistible compulsion to do something, whether it was advisable or not. The effects were troubling to some people more than they were to me, because for a number of years now I’ve enjoyed low-key Christmas celebrations.
There are special days and months that we celebrate in the secular society. Holidays for the birthdays of presidents, recognition of ethnic minorities, and days set aside to raise awareness for rare diseases and conditions. Most of this passes without notice, and much of it is unobjectionable. But I have noticed that some of it is, and that it forms a competing liturgy with the Christian one.
I don’t know what sort of regime of shame existed in American culture before I was here. In some people’s telling, everyone thought sex itself was dirty and shameful, and untold secrets were kept. I don’t want to take us back to the good old days that never actually existed, but I think sexual intercourse between unmarried people is still wrong. That’s what “fornication” refers to, if you didn’t know.
Tomorrow being Thanksgiving, chances are good that most of us will in fact pause to give thanks for the many blessings that are undeservedly ours, possibly while surrounded by the aromas of rich and tasty foods. Good for you, and good for us. Perhaps you can pause for a moment and think of the people — there are many of them — for whom a blessing denied them is one we take for granted: a glass of clear, clean water.
The little “issue” at the local church might not seem like a big deal. Sure a few people got hurt and the pastor seemed to overreach a bit, but it all worked out OK, right? Those who left were “troublemakers” and keeping things controlled kept the little issue little, they claim. But the little issues become big ones. I know. I have lived the little church issue that becomes the national news story.
I got your attention, didn’t I? This is not to say that I am its master; I am well aware of my lack. Nevertheless, the secret is plain in front of us. The secret of a good life is thankfulness.
The phrase kept showing up in my social media feed, probably as it has for you. I’ve been busy, so I kept putting off finding out the reason for the latest social media fad, but finally bit: just who is “Brandon” and why is everyone cheering him on? It seemed like everyone was having lighthearted fun… at first.
A noticeable thunderstorm toddled through here a little after noon on Sunday. Nothing surprising there, nor in it taking the power out for most of the rest of the day.
Pastors in my Evangelical circles have been increasingly faced with requests to provide “religious exemption” letters to those in our churches who do not wish to be vaccinated. With the FDA’s final approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, employer mandates will likely become ubiquitous and increase the requests for these letters. Should we give them?
Reeling from the horrors of 9/11 two decades ago, we entered Afghanistan to eliminate terrorist camps and also try to build a better nation for the people who had been caught under the Taliban’s control. Was it hubris or hope to think we could lastingly accomplish either goal? I’ll leave that discussion for another day, but this week has reminded us of how even our greatest powers stumble.