“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.
“Advent: Waiting for the Light” – Ruth Haley Barton at Beyond Words: “My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the light comes. The world is dark and quiet, stretching out before me in a hopeful sort of way. Having just awakened from sleep, I am alert enough to savor everything—the dance of light and shadow in the yard, the breeze that plays through the wind chime on the porch, the warmth of a favorite coffee mug, the comfort of a blanket against the cold. The nearness of God seems especially real in these early hours. As I wait for the light, time feels rich and abundant—full of possibility!—rather than scarce and limited and impossible. In the absence of stimulation—before any words have been spoken—my soul is calm and clear like the stillness of a quiet pond. There is never any doubt that the light will come; just a sense of quiet anticipation for something I know will happen because it happens every day. Without fail. As wonderful as it is to wake up to the light of a new day, morning solitude has taught me that it is even better to be there when the light comes. Being there helps me “make contact” with this God who comes and is always coming… like the sun… when it is time. It helps me find my true-self-in-God again. Advent is a season for waking up to all the ways Christ comes to us. Yes, the themes of Advent help us celebrate and commemorate his first coming in the Incarnation. They encourage us to anticipate his second coming in glory—of course! But there is also such a thing as the third coming of Christ: that is, all the ways in which Jesus comes to us now, bringing light for our darkness, peace for our turmoil, hope for our despair.”
“A Pastor and Politician Who Sees Voting as a Form of Prayer” – Katie Glueck in The New York Times: “He likened voting to a ‘prayer for the world we desire,’ and called democracy the ‘political enactment of a spiritual idea,’ that everyone has a divine spark. He invoked the legacies of civil rights heroes and ‘martyrs’ who fought and sometimes died for the right to vote, even as he promised to pursue bipartisanship in pressing his policy ambitions. Exulting in his victory Tuesday night, Senator Raphael Warnock showcased the dualities that have defined his career in public life. He is a man of deep faith, the senior pastor at the Atlanta church where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once preached. And he is also a political tactician who has long believed that ‘the church’s work doesn’t end at the church door. That’s where it starts.’ ‘I am Georgia,’ Mr. Warnock said after winning Tuesday’s runoff election, nodding to both the hopeful and the dark aspects of the state’s past. ‘I am an example and an iteration of its history. Of its pain and its promise. Of the brutality and the possibility.’ He is also now poised, some Democrats say, to be a more prominent national figure, as an ardent supporter of voting rights, a next-generation voice in the party — or, as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey put it, a leader who can speak to ‘a lot of the hurt in our country.'”
“My Favorite Books of 2022” – Russell Moore at his blog: “It’s December, so that means it’s time for the annotated list of my favorite books of the past year. All my usual caveats apply. These 12 books are in no particular order—just the order in which I pulled them off the shelf.
1. Malcolm Guite, The Word within the Words (Fortress) – Last year I sat around a fire at a friend’s house with his guest, the poet Malcolm Guite. Guite recited entire poems—his and others’—from memory and blew smoke rings from his pipe. I came home and told my wife, ‘I’ve never felt more like a hobbit.’ (That’s saying something, since I feel like a hobbit much of the time and, occasionally, on a really bad day, an orc.) This little book, less than 90 pages, is an articulation of Guite’s theology. Many such books become position papers of sterile syllogisms and axioms. Not this one. Guite writes, ‘My vocation as a poet attunes me particularly to the mysteries and beauties of language: the magic of words, the cadences and music of speech, but most of all, kindling and glimmering through all the words we use, the mystery of meaning itself and the wonderful vehicle of metaphor whereby one thing can be transfigured by the meaning of another.’ Guite asserts that his entire theology can be summed up in the prologue to the Gospel of John—showing how the “Word made flesh” informs how he reads the Bible, how he worships and prays. He discloses how reading the Psalms for a study on the “backgrounds” of medieval poetry changed him.”
“J. I. Packer and the Next Wave of Evangelicalism: Foundations for Renewal” – Paul R. House in Themelios: “This article surveys the life and ministry of James Innell Packer (1926–2020), evangelical Anglican, theologian, author, Bible translator, and church renewal advocate. It suggests that Packer’s ministry is especially informative because it had roots in pre-war evangelical circles and extended through the growth of the evangelical movement from the 1950s to the 1990s and the movement’s ebbing afterwards. It asserts that Packer’s efforts to aid theological and church restoration provide principles for much-needed biblical renewal in current evangelicalism.”
“Evangelical preacher and son murdered in Ukraine” – Evangelical Focus – Europe: “A leader of a Pentecostal church near the city of Kherson (in Ukraine) and his 19-year-old son have been found dead. This has been reported by the Christian organisation Release International, based on informations of two agencies In Ukraine: the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the Centre for Journalistic Investigations. Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his son Oleksandr were abducted on the evening of 22 November. They happened to be working in their garage in the city where they live, Nova Kakhovka, when Russian forces forcibly took the two in direction to a neighbouring village. The wife of Anatoliy and other relatives alarmed about their disappearance on social media, but no sign of life appeared until 4 days later, when their bodies were found in a nearby forest. Their murder leaves a widow and five other children. A source on the ground quoted by Release International, said Anatoliy was a deacon and preacher in the Pentecostal church in the city where they lived. According to the same source, their bodies had signs of torture. ‘Ukrainian investigators continue to discover the bodies of civilian victims in all areas liberated after months of Russian occupation,’ writes the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. ‘Sometimes the victims were bound or had in some other way clearly been subjected to torture before being murdered. In other cases, the Russians appear to have simply shot and killed people who were unfortunately enough to be on the road when they passed.'”
“Police knew of allegations against Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s father, court told” – Jenny Noyes in The Sydney Morning Herald: “The number of people with knowledge of child sexual abuse committed in the 1970s by Pentecostal pastor Frank Houston, the father of Hillsong founder Brian Houston, was in the “tens of thousands” before Frank’s death in 2004, a Sydney court has been told. And, according to Houston’s lawyer, those people would have included members of the NSW Police. Brian Houston, 68, was charged last year with concealing a serious indictable offence over his decision not to inform police about the allegation made against his father – and his father’s subsequent admission – in the late 1990s. In a hearing that commenced at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, Houston’s barrister Phillip Boulten, SC, said the actions of Frank Houston, and his client’s knowledge of it, were not in question. Rather, the case would turn on whether the younger Houston had a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to bring the matter to the attention of police. In opening statements to the court on Monday, prosecutor Gareth Harrison said the Crown would make the case that Houston’s reason for failing to report it ‘was to protect his father, and primarily to protect the church.'”
Music: “Of The Father’s Heart Begotten,” traditional hymn arranged by Sir David Willcocks and performed by the Ely Cathedral Choir