Pastoral Series

The Beauty of Epiphany: Home

   I had a rush of delight when I was reading Roger Scruton’s book on Beauty – a philosophical approach to great paintings, sculptures, architectural wonders, grand vistas in nature – when he began to reflect on “everyday beauty.” Simple things, in your home, like a place setting on the table, a knickknack you picked…

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The Beauty of Epiphany: Water

   Yesterday in worship (video here!), we recalled Jesus’ Baptism. He waded into a river. Of all God’s generous gifts in nature, rivers are most vital and remarkable. A river: it’s there, but flowing from long beyond and toward far away in a silent journey that brings life, products, fun and beauty to everything it…

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The Beauty of Epiphany – Pointing

   I was taught not to point. Which is a good point. I knew older people who would say If you point your finger at somebody, there are 3 other fingers pointing back at you (akin I suppose to Jesus’ word about not trying to fish a speck out of somebody’s eye when you’ve got…

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The Beauty of Epiphany – Stars in their Courses

 The twelfth day of Christmas. Epiphany. Traditionally, the day the magi, following a star somehow, arrived in Bethlehem with gifts. Beautiful gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh. Myrrh is the ominous one, of course, ointment for burial: but even myrrh had its own beauty, as a way to beautify the body in the hour of death. The…

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The Beauty of Christmas/New Year’s: Light

   It’s 2020. Isn’t that the number for normal, good vision? I read that when an infant is born, its vision is something like 20/400, which is just perfect, as God has wisely arranged things. You can’t see across the room, but you don’t need to. All you need to see is your mom, which…

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The Beauty of Christmas/New Year’s: The Secret

   Our series on Beauty is about to kick into another gear, as we branch out by asking What is Beautiful About Charlotte? If you don’t live in Charlotte, try this yourself and with others wherever you live – looking for beauty all around. It’s there. In Charlotte, join us Tuesday January 7, 7pm, for…

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The Beauty of Advent: Christ in Christmas?

   The beauty of the Christchild. You have to feel sad, like I do, that our cultural divide, our society’s rancor, invades Christmas itself. I totally get people saying “Keep Christ in Christmas.” But then I wonder if that helps, if it’s not anti-somebody more than adoration and praise. Is one person, or a host…

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The Beauty of Advent: This is my Body

  William Wordsworth called Mary “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.” Catholic theology has taught that she was immaculately conceived. Human, but a cut above the rest of us, a superhuman vessel worthy to bear God’s son. I find it more meaningful, and hopeful, to see Mary as very much like all of us. Her beauty…

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The Beauty of Advent: The Most Beautiful Woman

   Mary, great with child, the most beautiful woman in history. The sentence you just read reframes something complicated, and weirdly demeaning to all of us: putting the words “woman” and “beautiful” in the same sentence. Some external measures get stuck on women’s bodies; sophomoric frat guys, and some older men too, “rate” women on…

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The Beauty of Advent – Trees Give Glory to God

   Yesterday’s Advent texts spoke of trees: Jesus as a branch from the stump of Jesse; John the Baptist wielding God’s axe. Timely, as many of us have just erected a tree indoors. “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.” Aren’t all of them works of art? Charlie Brown’s pathetic little tree “just needed a little…

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