The Weekend Wanderer: 12 December 2020

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Nazareth site“Ancient Dwelling Excavated in Nazareth May Have Been Childhood Home of Jesus” – “An archaeologist may have discovered the location of the childhood home of Jesus in Nazareth. Professor Ken Dark from the University of Reading in England believes he has established a plausible case for the remains of a 1st-century home excavated beneath a modern-day convent. According to him, the ancient dwelling was first investigated in the 19th century, but the idea lost traction among experts in the 1930s. The site went mostly forgotten since, until Dark launched an expedition in 2006 to reinvestigate the area.”


Chauncey Allmond“Logos Enlists Black Church Leaders to Diversify Bible Study Resources” – “Chauncey Allmond dreams of a day when white evangelical preachers will reference the work of African American Bible scholars without even thinking about it. He and his colleagues at Logos Bible Software hope they can make that happen by adding more African American voices to the digital study tools currently used by more than 4.5 million people. ‘The African American voice is a powerful voice that needs to be heard,’ Allmond said. ‘There’s a lot of traditions in the African American church that I think Logos is missing out on.'”


W H Auden - Reimer“What Comes After: W. H. Auden’s cure for the post-Christmas blues” – W. H. Auden was one of the foremost English poets of the 20th century and also a Christian. His poetry was increasingly influenced by his faith, and his book-length work For the Time Being is particularly appropriate for this time of year. A professor I studied with while at Wheaton reads this work every year during Advent or Christmas. Here is Jeff Reimer in Commonweal: “every character in this long and complex poem senses that the birth of the child demands a response; senses that…Christ has “thrown everything off balance.” They are all caught up in the aspect of time that Tillich, developing a biblical contrast, calls kairos as opposed to kronos, categories with which Auden was consciously working. In other words, their confrontation with the Christ child is not part of the flow of ordinary chronological time, but by appointment; it is a summons, a moment of decision.”


Including the Stranger“Book Review: Including the Stranger: Foreigners in the Former Prophets – The prophets of the Hebrew Bible often address God’s care for what is often called “the quartet of the vulnerable“: the widow, the orphan, resident aliens, and the poor. The Minor Prophets are the easiest portion of Scripture to turn to on God’s concern for these people, but what do other portions of Scripture say about this theme? In Themelois, David R. Jackson reviews David G. Firth’s recent contribution to this area of study on the former prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) for the New Studies in Biblical Theology series.


Keira Bell“Puberty blockers: Under-16s ‘unlikely to be able to give informed consent'” – This in from the UK, which tends to be ahead of us on some of these issues related to social change, via the BBC: “Children under 16 with gender dysphoria are unlikely to be able to give informed consent to undergo treatment with puberty-blocking drugs, three High Court judges have ruled. The case was brought against Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which said it was ‘disappointed’ but immediately suspended such referrals for under-16s. The NHS said it ‘welcomed the clarity’ the ruling would bring. One of the claimants, Keira Bell, said she was ‘delighted’ by the judgment. Ms Bell, 23, from Cambridge, had been referred to the Tavistock Centre, which runs the UK’s only gender-identity development service (GIDS), as a teenager and was prescribed puberty blockers aged 16. She argued the clinic should have challenged her more over her decision to transition to a male as a teenager.”


Walter Hooper“Died: Walter Hooper, Who Gave His Life to C.S. Lewis’s Legacy” – From Christianity Today: “Walter Hooper, a North Carolina man who dedicated his life to preserving and promoting the writings of C. S. Lewis, died Monday at the age of 89. He was sick with COVID-19. Hooper served briefly and informally as Lewis’s literary secretary—helping the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, Mere Christianity, and The Abolition of Man answer his mail—before Lewis’s death in 1963. Hooper, then 33, left a teaching post at the University of Kentucky to take a leading role in managing Lewis’s literary estate. He continued to promote Lewis for the rest of his life.”


Music: Chabros Music, “Come Worship Christ

The Humility of Christ in the Cross and the Manger

I came across this excerpt from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon that connected so well with what I was preaching on in a recent sermon, “Mighty God,” that it caught my attention. Spurgeon was a 19th century preacher in London whose deep and wide-ranging ministry earned him the name “the prince of preachers.” This excerpt is taken from a sermon entitled “No Room for Christ at the Inn” preached December 21, 1862.

The manger and the cross standing at the two extremities of the Saviour’s earthly life seem most fit and congruous the one to the other. He is to wear through life a peasant’s garb; he is to associate with fishermen; the lowly are to be his disciples; the cold mountains are often to be his only bed; he is to say, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head;” nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that in his season of humiliation, when he laid aside all his glory, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and condescended even to the meanest estate, he should be laid in a manger…

The King of Men who was born in Bethlehem, was not exempted in his infancy from the common calamities of the poor, nay, his lot was even worse than theirs. I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Saviour; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch ; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.” Surely the shepherds, and such as they — the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called him, “one chosen out of the people.” Great Prince of Peace! the manger was thy royal cradle! Therein wast thou presented to all nations as Prince of our race, before whose presence there is neither barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but thou art Lord of all. Kings, your gold and silver would have been lavished on him if ye had known the Lord of Glory, but inasmuch as ye knew him not he was declared with demonstration to be a leader and a witness to the people. The things which are not, under him shall bring to nought the things that are, and the things that are despised which God hath chosen, shall under his leadership break in pieces the might, and pride, and majesty of human grandeur.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “No Room for Christ in the Inn,” December 21, 1862.

Advent Worship Night 2020 at Eastbrook Church

As we begin Advent on the other side of the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to invite you to join us for the annual Advent Worship Night on Friday, November 20, at 6:30 PM. The Advent Worship Night is an evening of worship, crafting, and fellowship to prepare for the season of Advent—a season of joyful anticipation of Christ’s birth!

At Home or In Person: This year, we are offering a livestream option of the worship service (tune in to eastbrook.org/athome at 6:30 PM on Friday, November 20). If you would like to join us in person, please RSVP here, and please note that we are limited to a gathering of 100 people, due to the City of Milwaukee’s gathering restrictions.

Optional Craft Kit: You can also register for a take-home Advent Craft Kit here.

Time Touching Eternity: Preaching through the Christian Year

My latest article at Preaching Today went live this week. In it I explore the ways in which preaching can benefit from following the Christian year. What follows is an excerpt, but you can read the entire article here.

When I was a college student, I gave up wearing a watch. I would keep track of time by listening to the clock tower near the center of campus that intoned time at fifteen-minute intervals throughout the day. The bells created a rhythm that punctuated my day, giving order in the midst of my classes, relationships, and activities that reminded me of what I was supposed to be doing and where I was supposed to be going. Having a good sense of the time helped me move in the right direction.

The same is true in our spiritual life generally. The men of Issachar in 1 Chronicles 12 are lauded as those “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chr. 12:32). The Apostle Paul tells believers to make “the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16). We want to walk through the chronos of time so that we also understand what is happening and seize the kairos of time.

Certainly, we want to do this as individual followers of Christ, but we also want to journey this way as the community of God. In reading the Old Testament we encounter the annual cycle of festivals—Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles—as well as the high holidays and weekly Sabbath, which served to orient God’s people to the story of his work in their life and history. While not bound to this cycle as followers of Jesus and as preachers, keeping time, both chronos and kairos, with Christ is vital to moving in the right direction. One of the best, time-tested spiritual practices to help us do this is the Christian year.

The Christian year, sometimes referred to as the church calendar or liturgical year, is a meaningful way for Christians to mark time not according to secular or political calendars but according to the life of Christ. In a systematic and narrative manner, the Christian year enables us to enter into the life of Christ and the church in a way that is spiritually formative for us. Through the Christian year we literally mold our days to Christ’s days through a series of celebrations and seasons.

[Read the rest of the article here.]

You could explore additional resources on this topic here:

Preparing People for Christmas with Advent Preaching

It was a real privilege to join Matt Woodley for an episode of Preaching Today‘s podcast, Monday Morning Preacher, entitled: “Preparing People for Christmas with Advent Preaching.” Matt and I talked about the significance of Advent, why preaching the preparation of Advent is important, and also offered some examples of how I have done this over the years at Eastbrook. Advent has been incredibly important to me in my own spiritual journey, but also in my approach to ministry.

If this podcast interests you, let me encourage you to also read my article at Preaching Today on “Recovering the Wonder of Christmas: Four pathways for preaching during Advent.”