St. Paul’s is a welcoming and inclusive community of about 280 members who come from all over the greater Milwaukee area.
We treasure the richness and diversity God has given our community, as it enhances our understanding of God.
When my father graduated from independent to assisted living, he often sat in the lobby to watch people. Dad predictably would warn us when we came in, “Watch where you step. There’re a lot of loose marbles rolling on the floor around here,” as he nodded toward someone. I often wondered how many Teague marbles joined the others rolling around.
What sort of God are you looking for? Did you even know you can create your own? Yep – it’s not only possible, but probable. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once stated: “God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.” Being the gentleman Rousseau was, I imagine he’d now want women to feel included, as well.
Check out the newest Apostle newsletter…just click on NEWS…then click on the Apostle icon.
A Christmas test: Rank, in order, your favorite incidences of the Christmas story: For CPA and IRS fans, it’s tax season in Bethlehem; for the ethereal and other-worldly, you may choose angels; for the agrarians, shepherds; for any of us, a young couple, a manger and their baby; lowing cattle (not in Luke, but in a favorite Christmas carol); a star; wise men. Once they drop off their gifts, adore, and by-pass Herod to go home, Christmas should end. A ruthless, paranoid little king killing babies two and under around Bethlehem has no business in our nice Christmas. These stories give us a bad reputation: “Look at what your God lets happen – sends Messiah and a bunch of innocent children die.” Maybe the church – and your priests, like me, have done a poor job awakening God’s new life in you – nurturing us to be agents of divine love that finally defeats evil – which evidently isn’t that compelling a strategy. God actually trusts and empowers us to battle evil, hatred, violence in this world. So who likely goes missing in this equation – God or us?
What are the memorable parts of the Christmas story for you? Most people follow Luke’s chapters, with a splash of Matthew folded in. Earthy and holy at the same time – a simple pregnant couple, a journey, sharing a room with livestock, a baby’s birth, angels appear to shepherds, who get religion and go see what is going on, magi following a star. It’s beautifully entertaining – inspiration for carols, anthems and Christmas greeting cards, except for the genealogies and that awful genocide thing.
Why do you think so many people attend Christmas Eve services? I’m reading a new book on preaching. I, too, hope it helps. I’ve learned you don’t come to church to hear us preach. Well, shatter my ego – I’m just getting the memo. I can tell by your head nods you already know this – right?
Do you awaken in the night, worried your theology of angels is adequate? – Me either. At Christmas angels wing their ways from realms of glory with announcements, visions and warnings, and heavenly choirs. I doubt they resemble the angel atop the Christmas tree – Victorian females in formal gowns. That doesn’t fit Gabriel. Nor do angels look like chubby, harp-playing cherubs. Such depictions of angels came later in history. In our day Guardian angels are the genre of interest. Who couldn’t use a little extra protection and guidance through this present veil of tears especially if God isn’t working for you?
John the Baptizer – a major character who plays a minor role – that’s his story; he’s sticking to it. John’s prominence in Advent soon fades once Jesus is center stage.
Religion and church at its best creates space and time for consciousness of God. That’s why you come here week after week – to experience and grow in God’s grace, to help you see God at work in your life and in others each day. Religious authorities like to control that experience. Sometimes they like to tell you what God wants you to think and do. Personally, I recommend running from people like that. They scare me. At best I have opinions, thoughts and experiences of God and so do you. In sharing them, which we need to do, we can still be humble in our confidence. Are any of us really certain? We may be wrong.
Most people think the good news of Jesus begins at Bethlehem’s manger. Mark says, “Not so fast.” It’s a birth all right, the birth of a movement, John heralds, not a baby. Mark omits the Christmas stories we love. Maybe he didn’t know them. He knew good news, though. But that didn’t rate his story making it to screen on “Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas” series.