Tear Open Heaven: Isaiah 64

–By Amy Yoder McGloughlin (originally published December 1, 2014) O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence— as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble…

A God Who Stoops: Thoughts for Advent 1

Mark 13:24-37; Isaiah 64:1-9 Preparing for the first Sunday of Advent one year, I asked a colleague, Samuel Voth Schrag, what he was thinking about for his upcoming sermon “Oh,” he said, “I’m going to talk about Dues ex machina.” In case you’ve forgotten your English classes, duex ex machina is a literary device: It…

Looking Toward Advent

I’ve been tempted to cancel Lent before, but never Advent. I’m a true Advent-lover. At church we sing Advent hymns—no Christmas carols until Christmas Eve. At home we do Advent candles and a calendar. Even my 13-year-old daughter takes Advent seriously; she has put away the baby Jesuses from our nativity sets and says she’ll…

Listening to the Magi

  Last week, I read in the Christian Century about: Christians being imprisoned and beaten in the Mosul region of Iraq. Muslim sheikhs, imams and preachers disappearing at the Kenya-Somalia border. Protestant pastors who had lived in Turkey for years forced out of the country. Members of the B’hai faith being imprisoned and threatened in…

Herod and the Magi

  The magi, with their fine robes and sparkling gifts, are favorite characters in our Christmas stories and songs and decorations (even if they did show up long after the shepherds). But a careful reading of the text (Matthew 2:1-12) reveals that the magi aren’t necessarily the stars of this beloved story. Based upon stage…

In Those Days . . .

I’m memorizing Luke 2:1-16 for our Christmas Eve service. Maybe that sounds impressive, but the truth is I know most of it already: “In those days, a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. . . .” It’s a familiar story. Comfortable language. A rhythm and a cadence that’s…