Weekly Ponderings & Links: 12/24/17

advent candles

The “Weekly Ponderings & Links” for Sunday, December 24, 2017.


As I mentioned in last week’s ponderings and links, I have been reading Eugene Peterson’s, As Kingfishers Catch Fire. I wanted to share some words as he reflects on Isaiah 11. Many refer to Isaiah chapters 7-12 as the “Book of Immanuel.” In particular, Isaiah 11 starts off by telling us about a special Branch that is coming:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
    from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. (vs1-3)

as kingfishers catch firePeterson shares these words in light of this Branch:

“Isaiah’s vision is charged with a hope and goodness that he received while standing in the field of stumps. He faced destruction with a congregation that experienced destruction and judgment. He knew thoroughly what was wrong with the world. He describes in other passages the painful details of human sin and human suffering and Assyrian brutality. I don’t think there is anything you are facing or will face that Isaiah didn’t face. But he was not stuck there. He was not reduced to the conditions he experienced. Within the emptiness and across the wasteland, he saw what God was already doing and would complete. He went on to describe it in such a way that we see it too.” (p133-134)

Hope and goodness while standing in the field of stumps.

Hope and goodness after facing so much destruction.

I pray we can find hope and goodness today on this Christmas Eve.


This week, Jeff Dunn wrote an article at Internet Monk called, A Lifetime of Advent.

I have a confession to make. I hate to wait. Really. Red lights on the road are a curse of the devil. A line at checkout when I’m buying groceries? I have to ask myself how much I really need the things in my cart. I’m all for patience, as long as I can have it NOW.

So we enter into Advent, the season of waiting and I hate waiting. We wait for God to appear in a manger in Bethlehem at just the right time. But I want to rush through these days and get to Christmas already. Did I say that I hate to wait?

He goes on to reflect on two characters within Luke’s gospel, two people we don’t readily think about, who lived “Advent lives.” Read the full article here.


Why do we celebrate Advent?

Why is the Christian calendar important?

Check out this brief video for a little insight.


Scot McKnight has blogged an article about Reasons to Leave Evangelicalism. He notes how Catholic leaders are concerned about Catholics leaving for evangelicalism as well as the opposite, evangelicals “crossing the Tiber” (or leaving for the Catholic Church). McKnight references a book recently released called In Search of Ancient Roots.

The author of the book, Ken Stewart, lists six reasons why evangelicals are leaving for Catholicism, or Orthodoxy in some cases:

For some, a return to the church of one’s upbringing.

The search for the “historic church” as a haven from sectarianism.

The desire for liturgical and doctrinal stability.

Attraction to a style of worship that is “objective.”

An admiration for the Catholic intellectual and theological tradition.

A strong tendency, long present in American evangelicalism, to aim at recovering the “primitive” yet in eclectic fashion.

For a few years now, I have been drawn to the roots of the ancient church – the history, the liturgy (or tangible rhythms) – as well as being drawn away from the modern evangelical church with all its production, division, culture wars, and more.

I am still evangelical, meaning at my core I believe the evangel – the good news of what God has done in and through Jesus and in proclaiming that good news. But at times, the traditional settings of our more seasoned, sister churches do pull on me. More and more I find sustenance in these ancient roots.


Did you read the newly posted excerpt from my forthcoming book, Reflections of Immanuel? It’s entitled, How the Theologian Stole Christmas.

Look for it to be released next Fall through Wipf & Stock, just in time for Advent 2018.


Just for fun, here are ten of my favorite Advent/Christmas Songs, in no particular order:

1. Carol of the Bells
2. O Holy Night
3. We Three Kings
4. Little Drummer Boy
5. What Child Is This?
6. Joy to the World
7. What Child Is This?
8. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
9. Angels We Have Heard On High
10. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


Next week, look for these posts on the blog:

1. Top Reads of 2017

2. Top Posts of 2017

3. Books I Plan to Read in 2018

Feel free to check out the top books I read from 2009-2016.

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