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Showing posts from December, 2021

The Weight of the World

Dr. George McCauslin was one of the greatest YMCA directors this world has ever seen. Nevertheless, some years ago, he found himself serving a YMCA in western Pennsylvania that was losing membership, that had terrible financial difficulties and staff problems. George McCauslin found himself working 85 hours per week. He was getting little sleep at night. He took little time off and when he did have time off, he was thinking about the problems of this YMCA.   McCauslin went to a therapist who told him he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He had to learn somehow to let go and let God into his problems, but he did not know quite how to do that.   Therefore, one day, George McCauslin took the afternoon off. He took a pen and paper and went for a walk in the western Pennsylvania woods somewhere. As he walked through the cool forest, he could just feel his tight body and his stiff neck start to relax. He sat down under a tree and sighed. For the first time in months, he let go.   He t

Advent Love

When I was growing up, there was one LP we played more than any other at Christmas time. It was an album called “Season’s Greetings” by Perry Como. We played that record so much it crackled, simulating the sound of a cozy fire on the hearth on a winter’s day. The first song on that record was entitled “Home for the Holidays”. Many of you probably remember the words…. Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays ‘Cause no matter how far away you roam When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home! I think those words summarize what many of us want most for Christmas—to be home for the holidays, to have family and friends with us. That’s what gives us a sense of real warmth amidst the chill of winter. We have already heard a Scripture this morning that contains perhaps the most important, the most cheering word in all the Bible—Immanuel, God with us. Immanuel is the one word that gives us hope, that fills us with love, that provides

Advent Joy

My father passed away on December 1, 1997. His death certainly changed our celebration of Christmas that year, and in some ways, made it bittersweet.   In preparing this message, a story my mother told me in the months following my father’s death came to mind. I don’t know what you will think of this story, but I have been a pastor too long, and have heard too many stories like this, to remain a doubter.    Of course, my mother missed my father terribly after spending fifty years of her life with him. Thus, a psychologist might explain away such a story as a mere quirk of grief. However, sometime in the winter following my father’s death, my mother told me that she woke up in the middle of the night and heard my father’s voice. She saw no apparition; she simply heard his voice, shouting one word: Rejoice! My father could be very loud, and this voice was loud, so much so that my mother thought my brother, who lived next door, could have heard it. As might be expected with such things, n

Advent Hope

The Jewish magazine Moment asked a number of Jewish writers, professors, rabbis, artists, and actors the following question: “What does the concept of the Messiah mean today?” Rabbi Peter H. Schweitzer responded: “Years ago, a popular evangelical bumper sticker read, ‘I found it.’ The Jewish version would read, ‘I’m still looking for it.’” There was also a Jewish bumper sticker back in the 1970s saying: “We never lost it!” There are many different ideas among Jewish people today about the Messiah. The prophet Isaiah, living 2700 years ago, was one among many Hebrew writers to talk about the Messiah. Let us listen to what he has to say from Isaiah 11:1-10…. A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his e