Monday, December 26, 2011

first christmas

In the year 2015 from the birth of Abraham, in the year 1510 from the exodus of the people of Israel out of Egypt, in the year 1032 from the enthronement of David the Prophet and King, in the sixtieth "week" of the prophecy of Daniel, in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Augustus, in the thirty-third year of the reign of Herod, when the staff had gone from Judah has had been prophesied by Jacob the Patriarch, at a time when the whole world was at peace, it pleased God to send His only-begotten Son and Eternal Word to the world to become Man and to teach us God's love, to suffer, die, and rise from the dead for our salvation.

At that time, the Lord Jesus was born in a humble cave in Bethlehem of Judah, and no one knew of it but the Virgin Mary his Mother and Joseph her spouse. No one heard of this miracle surpassing all miracles but a few humble shepherds who had been told by angels in the sky that sang this hymn: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men." Then the Magi came from the East, led by a star in the heaven: they found their way to where the Divine Infant rested, and they adored Him, and opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts of gold, incense and myrrh. 

To God Incarnate, to the suckling Infant who humbled Himself and took our form, becoming one of us to make us divine; to the One who later walked among us to teach us the way of salvation and who loved us so much as to give His life for it: to Him be glory, honor, and adoration forever and ever. Oh, come, let us adore Him!

(from the kalends - an ancient latin liturgy)

Friday, December 23, 2011


It was not decent, that birth in the straw.
It did not smell of antiseptic, but dung.
No midwives to guide, just two rough, awkward hands.
Not the way to imagine your first son’s birth,
much less the birth of a God.
Another irony added to the tale;
one would think He delighted in them.
Yet how compassionate,
that in calling others to stoop low He asks them to go no lower than Himself.
A King for the people, among the people,
with the lips, and hands, and feet of a child.
Like the first Adam, greeted by the beasts at his first arrival,
But His destiny to release, not bind their chains of corruption.
Those groans of labor cried so that all the world might groan no more.

(from "the lay of the lord"  by chris yokel)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

shroud of turin authentic?

Experiments done recently by Italian researchers indicate the possibility that the Shroud of Turin is authentic.

Researchers from Italy's National Agency for New Technologiest believe their findings undermine previous theories that the shroud was a fake from medieval times.

Scientists were able to replicate marks on the cloth using highly advanced ultraviolet techniques that weren't available 2,000 years ago -- or during medieval times.

Since the shroud still can't be replicated using today's top-notch technology, researchers say its not possible for the original image to have been created in either period.

Of course, the "authenticity" of the Shroud has no implications on whether or not Christ was real, or whether He was divine. If it does turn out to be a medieval forgery, it doesn't have any bearing on our faith.

But you have to admit - it is pretty fascinating.


Monday, December 19, 2011

winter, by robert burns

The wintry west extends his blast,
  And hail and rain does blow;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
  The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
  And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
  And pass the heartless day.

“The sweeping blast, the sky o’ercast,”
  The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
  Than all the pride of May:
The tempest’s howl, it soothes my soul,
  My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
  Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
  These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
  Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want, O do Thou grant
  This one request of mine,
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
  Assist me to resign.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the adventure begins ...

Many people today are asking questions like "Who really was Jesus?" "What does it mean to be a Christian?" and  "Why does it really matter to me?"

This is precisely why Mark wrote his Gospel nearly 2000 years ago – to answer these questions and to help second generation Christians who were being persecuted know how their faith began, to help them know the truth of what they believed, and to give them comfort and strength in the midst of their sufferings. Mark writes his Gospel to remind his fellow Christians that its all true.  It really happened, just as God planned, just as Jesus said, just as you have been taught. And its not only true, but it is worth living, suffering, and even dying for.

Up until this time, Christians came together to gather and worship without a complete Bible.    
They didn’t yet have the entire written New Testament. They relied on the oral tradition, on sermons, teachings, and stories told them by other believers to learn about Jesus.

That’s where Mark’s Gospel comes in. Mark writes his Gospel to chronicle the origin of the Christian faith. Mark was not an eyewitness to Jesus, so he writes himself as a second generation Christian. But ancient sources tell us that Mark based his story on the recollections of the apostle Peter. Mark was Peter’s personal assistant, so he was familiar with the sermons and stories Peter told. And Peter was an eyewitness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Mark begins with these words - The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In other words, this is what its all about. This is whats important, the foundation, the standard, the primary stuff of the gospel. And its not just the first sentence, or the first chapter, but really the entire book of Mark can be seen as the "beginning of the gospel".  For this book is only the beginning of the gospel. There is much more to come. The end is not yet here. The story continues on and on as the good news of the gospel is proclaimed to all nations.

Stay tuned, as we go on a great adventure this next year to explore the mysteries and mine the treasures hidden within the pages of the Gospel of Mark.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

from "A Christmas Poem", by John Betjeman

Is it true? Is it true?
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?

Is it true? For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
Nor carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare
That God was Man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.


Monday, December 5, 2011