4th Sunday of Advent – Joyadvent-1883840_1280

Reading: Isaiah 62

Navigating our emotions can be a tricky thing, especially when we find ourselves falling in love with another person. Within a couple months of when we started dating, on a romantic stroll down Homestead Drive in Mount Hope – complete with a light Christmas snow falling – I told Hennie that I loved her and wanted us to get married someday. We had hinted at the possibility before then, but that was the first awkward moment of me laying all my cards on the table. My gushing emotions that night started a conversation that led to our formal engagement the following September and to our wedding the year after that. Continue reading


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Coming Home

Third Sunday of Advent – Joy


Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7


God’s people had been in exile, far from home. They had lived among a people who did not know God, or care for God. Their lives had been shaped by their absence from the Promised Land. The last time they had seen their homes, they had been marched away as captives. The sinking realization that their sins had finally caught up with them took hold of their hearts and their imaginations. Isaiah’s message comes to them as they are far away from home, and as they feel far away from God.  Continue reading

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In That Day


Second Sunday of Advent – Peace

Reading: Isaiah 12

“Where were you when…?” has unfortunately become a question in which we share our personal experiences of communal suffering and brokenness. Each generation seems to have a singularly epic and often tragic moment that seals a particular “that day” into their collective memory.

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Enough is Enough!

candle-1883641_640Advent marks the beginning of the Christian calendar, a way of marking time through the story of our redemption in Jesus Christ. The year begins with a season of waiting and expectation as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and anticipate his return.

I’ve written a daily devotional for Advent this year. The devotional is a companion resource to a sermon series I’m leading in the congregation I pastor. The sermons and the devotional focus on “Hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ through Isaiah”. As a way of sharing a bit of this journey with you, I am posting the devotional entries for each Sunday on this blog. Continue reading


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Longing for Advent

img_5160Longing for Advent

“I have a complaint,” she declared with arm raised to get my attention. The closing song had barely finished when she quickly came to the front of our sanctuary. “Why didn’t we sing any Christmas songs? And where are the Christmas decorations?” Continue reading

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Telling the Gospel Story


Communion table at Calvin College, June 10, 2016

A few years ago, some of our worship leaders talked about different ways our worship gatherings could immerse our congregation within the narrative of scripture. As we talked, a consensus emerged that we could give more attention to the litanies and teaching times connected with baptism and communion.

I previously highlighted a Preface to Baptism that we often utilize. The following litany, Telling the Gospel Story, is a reading that we sometimes use in preparation for celebrating communion together. Continue reading

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Hashtagged Laments: Praying Psalm 13

Hear Our Cries, O Lord: (Psalm 13:1-2, NIV)

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?”

#Aleppo #AlyanKurdi #Syria

“How long will you hide your face from me?”

#ReturnOurGirls #childsoldiers #MMIW

“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts…”

#endthestigma #poverty #homelessness

“…and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”

#SandraBland #PhilandoCastile #TerenceCrutcher

“How long will my enemy triumph over me?”

#DoctrineofDiscovery #NativeLivesMatter #lament


Look on Us and Have Mercy: (Psalm 13:3-4, The  Message)

“Take a good look at me, God, my God;”

#Orlando #genderequity #bodyshaming

“I want to look life in the eye,”

#incarceration #lynching #deathpenalty

“So no enemy can get the best of me…”

#misogyny #humantrafficking #residentialschools

“or laugh when I fall on my face.”

#refugee #immigrant #saytheirnames


We Long for Your Deliverance: (Psalm 13:5-6, ESV) 

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;”

#MotherEmanuel #FaithfullyLGBT

“my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”

#withjusticeforall #untilallarefree

“I will sing to the Lord,”

#blessingnotburden #reconciliation

“because he has dealt bountifully with me.”





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Monday, Monday

img_4786“Another luxury for an idle imagination is the writer’s own feeling about the work. There is neither a proportional relationship, not an inverse one, between a writer’s estimation of a work in progress and its actual quality. The feeling that the work is magnificent, and the feeling that it is abominable, are both mosquitoes to be repelled, ignored, or killed, but not indulged.” -Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

Monday Morning Rehash

Dillard’s reflection on a writer’s idle indulgences applies equally to pastors and worship leaders. We have a tendency toward an unhealthy obsession with our own performance. For myself, I find that Monday mornings can be the worst for this. Continue reading

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img_4802Every now and then someone lets you in. They open their door and, with a bit of vulnerability, allow you to see and hear what they are experiencing. Several years back, a middle-aged couple in our church opened their door, when they told me: “We’ve been members here for 12 years and we still feel like outsiders.” They weren’t complaining as much as they were inviting me to stand next to them as they shared their story of our church.  Continue reading

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Ashes & Snow

IMG_0859I went to the Ash Wednesday chapel service at Redeemer University College this week. I found a place toward the back simply to sit and be still. The house lights were down, making solitude possible even in a crowd of familiar faces.

The simplicity of the worship proved powerful. Song followed by a well read passage of scripture; another song with a two-part reading of scripture; an invitation to come forward while a the musicians led another song; and then a closing blessing and a final song. The darkness of the space, the richly voiced scripture readings, the soft rising and falling of contemplative singing allowed for surprisingly deep stillness in a short 30 minute service. Continue reading

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