2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Westboro Baptist Mentioned Me In A Tweet…. I Have No Idea Why

It’s no secret that Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and I have very little in common theologically.

However, I was mentioned by them in two different tweets and I have no idea why.  They have been re-tweeted a few times by other official WBC accounts and members.

See below.

 

The links are to sermons about the soul and it is just a person reading different passages about the different ways the soul is mentioned throughout the Biblical record.  I’m never mentioned in them. Its bizarre that if this is a random selection that I was chosen; I mean of all the people on Twitter I was selected to be mentioned in a WBC tweet? :-/  Not more “high profile” Christian thinkers/pastors/bloggers, but little ol’ me.

 

For the record, I do not support, promote or condone the actions of this group. I am in no way affiliated with them. They are a hateful group that uses the teachings of Christ and the Bible as a weapon under the guise of “love” and “righteousness.”

I have tried to contact them to have my name and/or the tweet removed with no success.

So I guess my only recourse will be to hit the block button.

 

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Advent Ends… Christmas Begins!

6387685667_3b0ae290c0_zThe Candle of Emmanuel, God with Us!

Come, listen, the sounds of God-with-us ring clear,
and signs of a cross in the distance appear.
The Word once made flesh, yet the Word ever near.
One candle is lit for the Christ-birthday here.

 MERRY CHRISTMAS!
GOD IS WITH US!


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “023” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Missing Christmas?

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The final countdown has begun.

If you have children under the age of 7 you have known since Thanksgiving the number of days until Christmas Day.

So in the immortal words of “hide and seek,” ready or not here Christmas comes.

Gifts have been purchased, trees have been trimmed, lights have strung, travel plans have been made, and stockings have been hung with care.  We have been bombarded with Christmas carols since October and the news has been reporting on the “holiday shopping season” since “Black Friday.”

During this time we can start to fall into the trap of “Christmas as usual.”  Whether we know it or not we are creatures of habit and not just in our personal life liking having coffee in the morning or eating the same breakfast.

We can find these habits in our religious life as well.

Christmas for many people has become somewhat routine.

We know what to do, what to say, where to go, what to bring, what to cook and where to eat it.  It’s all mapped out; just follow the same the routine.   Christmas cannot just be something that is done in a secular fashion that is boiled down to shopping and pretty bows.

It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good tradition but has Christmas become something that just happens instead of something we experience?

At my work I have been asked more than a dozen times this week if I am “ready for Christmas.” (what they are really asking is “are your children excited for Santa?”)

It’s a hard question to answer.  Sure I am ready to be off for a few days and see my family but am I really ready for Christmas?  Am I really ready for the coming of Christ into the world?

Can the in breaking of God into the world be celebrated simply singing carols and eating too much?

Has Christmas become just another day to, relax, eat good food and visit family or can it be something more?  As Christians we believe we have good grasp on Christmas; we have seen it played out in church pageants, recited the story in worship, we set up our Nativity Scene and even make a point to watch  A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It’s a familiar story and one that brings back great memories of family, gatherings and friends.

What would Christmas look like or feel like we were truly prepared ourselves to encounter Christ?  Forget about the gifts, the holiday ham and the miles to travel, but made the goal to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Would it mean more? Would we “get more out of it?”

Amid the sea of lights, packages, shopping carts and mad dashes to get everything done, have be lost sight of Christmas?

On December 26 will we be thankful that Christmas is over or thankful that we encountered Christ anew?  The story of the birth of Jesus is not a small piece of trivial history rather it is a monumental, deeply profound and theological statement; the God of all of creation came in human form and dwelt among us.  Because of this, the world, our lives will never be the same.  This story is something that cannot be encapsulated in gift bag or even in a song.

It’s sad to think that we can miss Christmas because we are celebrating Christmas… seems counterproductive right?

My prayer for you this Christmas is that December 25 will be more than just another Thursday, but a time when the story of the incarnation of Christ is made more real and tangible for you and your loved ones.

I hope that there is a moment where the world full of darkness, greed, injustice and hate would be replaced with the stillness and serenity of the Christmas story.  We need these moments; we need these moments where things are calm and bright.

Maybe it will be eating with distant relatives, hearing stories from parents/grandparent’s childhood, maybe it will be seen the excitement of children on Christmas morning, maybe it will be hearing the Christmas story with a new/renewed ears, maybe it will be visiting the cemetery of a loved one.

Whatever it is, may it be a moment that is undeniable that God is present and invading that time.  Hold on it, do not let the world take it away from you.

We all need a touch of grace, a touch of love and touch of mercy every now and then, so why not during Christmas?

Let’s not miss Christmas this Christmas.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Photo Credit: “The twinkling of the lights, the santa carols fill the household” by Katherine M. via Flickr. Used under the Creative Commons License 2.0

Advent:Love

6387680605_452215efc0_zThe Candle of Love

Come, wander where lion and lamb gently play,
where evil is banished and faith takes the day,
a babe in a manger to fool the world’s eyes.
One candle is lit for God’s loving surprise.

 


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “016” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Blog Update

As you might have noticed, evandolive.com has received a face lift.  When I started this site nearly three years ago I kept the same theme and layout.  It was functional but over time I wanted to “freshen up” the site and streamline some of the pages (i.e.- Social media tabs, speaking requests/sermons together, etc) and links.  I have been going back and forth between various themes offered by WordPress but none of them were what I was looking for.

Thanks to the help of my devoted soon to be graphic designer sister, Haley, evandolive.com has a new look.

So take a look around and let me know what you think!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook to get all of the updates about my forthcoming book in 2015!

And to again say thanks to my sister here is a picture of us at the Stephen F. Austin/Sam Houston State Football game.

UntitledIn Christ,

Rev. Evan

Advent:Joy

6387678603_06242e8695_zThe Candle of Joy

Come, festively sing while awaiting the birth,
join angels in dancing from heaven to earth.
Wave banners of good news, lift high thankful praise.
One candle is lit for the joy of these days.

 


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “014” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Advent:Peace

6387677425_c5c894c1d6_zThe Candle of Peace

Come quickly, shalom, teach us how to prepare
for a gift that compels us with justice to care.
Our spirits are restless till sin and war cease.
One candle is lit for the reign of God’s peace.

 


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “013” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.

Well… Now I Have No Idea

When I heard that a grand jury in New York had decided not to pursue charges in the death of Eric Garner even though there was video evidence of the NYPD officer taking him down in a choke hold, my first thought was “So now what?  What do we do now?”

I know I am not alone in this, people from all walks of life have expressed their shock and disbelief that this tragedy even took place.  Our eyes are being opened to a world that many of us did not know or want to know existed.  A world of distrust, fear and separation.

The way the church responds to this will be one of great importance.

No more can this simply be just a problem ‘those people over there’ or in that state, rather this is something that effects us all.

I wish I had more concrete answers but I don’t and I’m not sure when they will come.

All I know is that the church and religious leaders have an opportunity to make connections and have meaningful conversations about the world we live in and the church’s role in our community.

During this time I was reminded of the words found in James:

It is a sin when someone knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it. –James 4:17 (Common English Bible)

May we remember the God of peace and love and grace this Advent and forevermore.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

Advent: Hope

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The Candle of Hope

Come surely, Lord Jesus, as dawn follows night,our hearts long to greet you, as roses, the light.
Salvation, draw near us, our vision engage.
One candle is lit for the hope of the age.


Mary Anne Parrott, 1988, © 1995 Chalice Press
(from Chalice Hymnal, no. 128). All Rights Reserved.
Photo Credit: “010” by Joe O’Meara via Flickr. Used Under the Creative Commons 2.0 License.