The Weekend Wanderer: 3 December 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, 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 these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


themangerembed“The Grand Miracle” – C. S. Lewis in Plough: “Supposing you had before you a manuscript of some great work, either a symphony or a novel. There then comes to you a person, saying, ‘Here is a new bit of the manuscript that I found; it is the central passage of that symphony, or the central chapter of that novel. The text is incomplete without it. I have got the missing passage which is really the center of the whole work.’ The only thing you could do would be to put this new piece of the manuscript in that central position, and then see how it reflected on the whole of the rest of the work. If it constantly brought out new meanings from the whole of the rest of the work, if it made you notice things in the rest of the work which you had not noticed before, then I think you would decide that it was authentic. On the other hand, if it failed to do that, then, however attractive it was in itself, you would reject it. Now, what is the missing chapter in this case, the chapter which Christians are offering? The story of the Incarnation – the story of a descent and resurrection. When I say ‘resurrection’ here, I am not referring simply to the first few hours, or the first few weeks of the Resurrection. I am talking of this whole, huge pattern of descent, down, down, and then up again. What we ordinarily call the Resurrection being just, so to speak, the point at which it turns. Think what that descent is. The coming down, not only into humanity, but into those nine months which precede human birth, in which they tell us we all recapitulate strange pre-human, sub-human forms of life, and going lower still into being a corpse, a thing which, if this ascending movement had not begun, would presently have passed out of the organic altogether, and have gone back into the inorganic, as all corpses do. One has a picture of someone going right down and dredging the sea-bottom. One has a picture of a strong man trying to lift a very big, complicated burden. He stoops down and gets himself right under it so that he himself disappears; and then he straightens his back and moves off with the whole thing swaying on his shoulders. Or else one has the picture of a diver, stripping off garment after garment, making himself naked, then flashing for a moment in the air, and then down through the green and warm and sunlit water into the pitch black, cold, freezing water, down into the mud and slime, then up again, his lungs almost bursting, back again to the green and warm and sunlit water, and then at last out into the sunshine, holding in his hand the dripping thing he went down to get. This thing is human nature; but associated with it, all nature, the new universe. That indeed is a point I cannot go into here, because it would take a whole sermon – this connection between human nature and nature in general. It sounds startling, but I believe it can be fully justified.”


Advent Misconceptions“3 Popular Misconceptions About Advent” – Isabel Ong in Christianity Today: “For liturgy-loving Christians, Advent is a season of anticipation, marked by a posture of hopeful and expectant waiting. But for many evangelicals, it may pass by almost unnoticed and unobserved, whether due to an unfamiliarity with the church’s liturgical calendar or a cynicism toward Catholic practices. Advent means “arrival” or “appearing” and comes from the Latin word adventus. Each year, the season begins four Sundays before Christmas and lasts until December 25. It is divided into a period that focuses on Christ’s second coming and another that focuses on his birth. (Orthodox Christians observe a similar event, the Nativity Fast, from November 15 to December 24 before the Nativity Feast on December 25.) Advent began in fourth- and fifth-century Gaul and Spain as a season intended to prepare believers’ hearts for Epiphany (January 6), not Christmas. Epiphany is a day to commemorate the Magi’s visit after Jesus’ birth (in the West) or Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River (in the East). Today, Advent customs may include reading and praying through an Advent devotional and lighting one of four candles inside an Advent wreath each Sunday, corresponding to four weekly themes: hope, love, joy, and peace. Most wreaths also include a centrally placed candle to symbolize Jesus, the Light of the World.”


j-r-r-tolkien“Tolkien Was Right: Notes on the Respect for Marriage Act and the Post-Boomer Church” – Jake Meador at Mere Orthodoxy: “Some time after his death, an editor was going through the papers and books in J. R. R. Tolkien’s library when he came across an old copy of C. S. Lewis’s pamphlet ‘Christian Behavior,’ which would later be re-published as one section in Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity. Folded inside the book was a letter Tolkien had written but apparently never sent to his long-time friend and fellow Oxford don. In it, Tolkien took issue with Lewis’s treatment of divorce in the pamphlet. Briefly, Lewis argued for the creation of two separate marriage institutions within the United Kingdom. The former, church marriage, would be handled by the Church of England and defined by Christian conception of marriage while the latter, civil marriage, would be overseen by the state and would be governed by the moral norms in favor with British society. Through this, Lewis thought, British Christians could preserve Christian ideas of marriage, including the prohibition against divorce, while honoring civil laws that were far more permissive regarding divorce. Tolkien objected strongly to the idea and wrote an aggressive letter to his friend saying so. ‘No item of Christian morality,’ Tolkien said, ‘is valid only for Christians.’ In other words, Christian morality is human morality because Christianity is a true account of reality, including the human person. You can’t create bifurcations between a kind of privatized religious morality and the real public morality that governs our common life together.”


6dd45619ca00f6f4fb3cf0a95fd00796“Government legalises 125 churches and places of worship” – Christianity Solidarity Worldwide: “On 14 November the government committee which oversees the legalisation of churches in Egypt granted legal status to 125 churches and places of worship during a meeting chaired by Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The decision brings the number of churches that have been granted legal status since the committee began its mandate in 2017 to 2526, and follows the legalisation of 239 churches and places of worship at a similar meeting which took place in April 2022. In Egypt, churches must apply for legal status for their buildings, which in the past had to be approved by the security agencies. However, under the Church Construction Law (Law No. 80 of 2016), which was approved by the Egyptian Parliament on 30 August 2016, the power to approve the building and renovation of churches was extended to provincial governors. Despite this improvement, the legislation remains discriminatory as the same requirements do not apply to Sunni Muslim houses of worship, and other religious groups, such as the Ahmadi, Baha’i and Shia communities, are not covered by the Law.”


Wirzba Agrarian Spirit“Agrarian Spirit: Cultivating Faith, Community, and the Land – Brian M. Howell reviews Norman Wirzba’s Agrarian Spirit in Christian Scholar’s Review: “There is now a well-developed Christian literature addressing the dualism of mind- body, and the consequences for our health and flourishing when this dualism is taken for granted, ignored, or unchallenged. Theologian Norman Wirzba suggests there is another dualism that similarly threatens our spiritual-physical-social health; this is the dualism between humanity and the rest of creation. This might be thought of as the split between humans and nature, but Wirzba, the son of Canadian farmers who has been profoundly influenced by the life and thought of poet-scholar-farmer-theologian Wendell Berry, does not just want people to get in touch with nature, swarming national parks to vacation off the grid. Rather, Wirzba wants people to get in touch with the created order through the work we undertake in cultivating, harvesting, and consuming that creation. He wants us to live in a deep understanding of our relationship to, and interconnections with, creation in order to flourish in our lives together and with God. This recent book offers his readers the theological and theoretical support for his position, while ushering us into practices and postures that can transform our relationship to creation. Like his other many books, the writing is lucid and compelling, immanent and transcendent, calling Christians to a new understanding of how we can reform our theological imagination to be part of God’s work to bring all things—human and nonhuman—back to a restored order. No book can do everything, and there are elements of Wirzba’s work that may prompt the reader to bring more voices to the conversation, but this is an outstanding place to start for both personal and communal work in the redemption of our earthly call to live fully within God’s creation and live wholly in our creaturely selves.”


Pete Scazzero“Forget Charisma. Look for the Weak and the Slow.” – Interview with Pete Scazzero by Matthew LaPine in Christianity Today: “Pete Scazzero hosts the Emotionally Healthy Leader podcast and is the author of several books, including The Emotionally Healthy Leader and Emotionally Healthy Discipleship. Scazzero founded New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, where he served as senior pastor for 26 years. Matthew LaPine, a Christian minister and writer on mental health, spoke with Scazzero about a pressing challenge pastors are facing today: recruiting and developing leaders in their congregations. ML: Pastors are feeling overstretched and emotionally exhausted, and many have asked CT how to raise up and train leaders in their churches in this moment. Is this the right question to be asking right now? PS: I do think it’s the right question. Every leader needs to be asking that question: How do I develop and raise up leaders? We’re called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. This is a huge task right now. Almost all the churches I have talked to have lost 20 to 40 percent of their people. And the folks who are in the room are new. So you’re starting over as you build relationships with a lot of new people. This takes a lot of time—years actually.”


Music: J.S. Bach, “Schwingt freudig euch empor,” Cantata BWV 36 / Part 1,  John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir

He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend Will Branch preached on one of the latter statements the second article of the creed: “He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. Mark 16:19

He ascended to heaven . . .

  • That’s where He belongs
  • That’s when the Spirit comes
  • That’s how God has done it

He is seated at the right hand of God . . .

  • Because he deserves the highest honor
  • Because he has all authority
  • Because he lives to make intercession
  • Because his job was done

Why it matters:

  • It paves our way
  • It propels our witness
  • It empowers our worship

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our new preaching series entitled “Living the Creed: Connecting Life and Faith in the Apostles’ Creed.” This series walks through the Apostles Creed as a basic summary of our faith but also as a way to live our faith out with God in the world. Each weekend of this series will explore the biblical and theological roots of the Apostles Creed, while also providing specific spiritual practices and approaches to living out what we know as we ‘proclaim and embody’ the Creed in our daily lives.

This weekend I began preaching on the second article of the creed, which begins with this statement: “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35)

Conceived by the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit as the source of Creation (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 104:30)

The Holy Spirit as the source of Divine life for a Divine work (Matthew 1:20-23)

Born of the Virgin Mary

The story of Israel and miracle babies (Isaac, Moses, Samson, Samuel)

The necessary incarnation of God (John 1:14; Romans 5:12-21)

The surprising work of God (Luke 1:26-38; Galatians 4:4-7)

The Mystery of Jesus: Fully God and Fully Human

Fully God

Fully Human

The Mystery

Living this part of the Apostles’ Creed

Thank God for the Holy Spirit’s creative power

Thank God for the Virgin Mary’s humility and openness to God

Thank God for drawing near for our redemption


Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize John 1:14 or Galatians 4:4-7
  • Draw, ink, or paint Luke 1:26-38 as a basis for prayer. Take time to talk with God as you depict the scene in your own way. What is God speaking to you?
  • For further background on this portion of the Apostles’ Creed, consider reading:

Welcomed to the Table :: Andrei Rublev, “The Trinity”

image 3 - Rublev Trinity icon
Andrei Rublev, “The Trinity,” tempera; 1411 or 1425-27

One of the most mysteriously interesting passages of Scripture is Abraham and Sarah’s hosting of three unknown visitors in Genesis 18. These three guests show up from nowhere to affirm God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah, but also end up mercifully bargaining with Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Are these figures human visitors, angels, or a divine visitation? We are left with many questions about the episode, but it is clear that God is somehow present with Abraham and Sarah at their table through this episode. We are reminded through this story that God draws near to humanity to meet with us and share hospitality with us. This is profoundly revealed in the incarnation of Jesus our Messiah, who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). In his well-known and beloved icon, Andre Rublev simultaneously depicts the story of Genesis 18 and the wonder of the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These three apparently angelic figures gather around a table, with a chalice and host on the middle. All of them have their hands extended in some way toward the center of the table. While various interpretations abound, the prevailing interpretations read the icon with the Father on the left, Jesus the Son in the middle (with hands most clearly extended toward the host and chalice and two finger representing the two natures of Christ as fully God and fully man), and Holy Spirit on the right. Details surround the three figures and there is much to take in. A subtlety of style and color beckons the viewer to slow down and enter into reflection and prayer, but also to enter into the beautiful mystery of God’s Triune presence. Through the redeeming work of Christ we, too, can enter into the wonderful eternal relationship and dance of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.