Advent Calendar 2015

Advent is the time in the church calendar when we wait for the coming of the Christ child. It is marked by the observation of the four Sundays prior to Christmas Day. Each Sunday of Advent the church observes a different theme of this journey: hope, peace, love and joy. Candles are lit as the light of the world (Christ) is drawing closer to us.

During this time, we are called not to run to the manger but to wait… that’s right…. wait… for Christmas. Sure some people have decorated their entire house on November 1 but Advent calls us to slow down, be more reflective and wait. It is through this intentionality that we begin to see and experience the message of hope, peace, love and joy in our own lives and the world around us

There is something freeing, however, in slowing down. We are able to take in all that is around us and see how God is moving in our lives in ways that we would have looked right over had we not taken a moment to be reflective and aware.

How are we using this time of Advent to prepare and to wait? Are we rushing from store to store buying mountains of gifts, trying to equate our love for someone by how big the price tag is?

Don’t we want Christmas to be something more than lights, too much food, elves on the shelf and Santa? Why can’t this time of Advent propel us into a deeper sense of the Divine around us and with us? Where are the places God is leading us to? These are the thoughts that we take with us during this journey to the manger.

Use this calendar each day of Advent to prepare yourself for the coming of Jesus into the world.

Each day has a scripture and something to pray for or to reflect on. Let us journey to together to find the Christ-child, the source of all hope, peace, joy and love this Advent.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

 

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Advent Calendar 2015 PDF

Advent Calendar 2015 word


Creative Commons LicenseAdvent Calendar 2015 by Rev. Evan M. Dolive, M.Div. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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Church Is Supposed To Be Different

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The news channels and the internet have been buzzing with the terrible tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina.  In an instant nine souls were lost in an act of hatred.

It’s a story is becoming all too familiar.

Violence.

Hatred.

Malice.

Rage.

Grief.

Loss.

Mourning.

Outrage.

Disbelief.

The shooting in Charleston brought these feelings and more to light.  The loss of innocent life in any situation is tragic and wrong.  On top of all of this, the senseless shooting took place in a church, a house of worship, where those killed were reading, studying and trying to learn from scriptures that have been passed down from generation to generation of what it means to be a faithful follower of a God.  They wanted to learn to love like Jesus; they wanted to learn how to serve with compassion; they wanted to hear the promises of God told and re told again; they wanted to serve a God who is full of love for all people and all races; they wanted more for their lives.

This was not supposed to happen at all and especially not in a church.

The church is supposed to be different.

Church should be a place of sanctuary and rest.

Church should be a place of comfort and refuge.

Church is supposed to be a place to seek solace from the world around us, from grief and sorrow.  Contained within the walls of a church is a promise that no matter how bad the world is there is a God who is above it all.

We can try to rationalize what happened or even try to articulate why but as people of faith we must hold on to the promise that one day there will be a time when swords will be turned into plowshares and the lion will lie with the lamb.  There will be a time when God’s love will supersede hate, where God’s peace will supersede rage, where God’s hope will supersede doubt.

We live in a world in desperate need of a savior.

May God send God’s peace, mercy, love, grace and justice, now and forever.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


“I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”– Revelation 21:3-5 (Common English Bible)

“I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. Communities like this have had to endure tragedies like this too many times.”– President Obama speaking about the shooting in Charleston, SC.

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Tweet of the Week: Wait… What?

I know that a lot of people do not like the President’s policies or whatever, but this type of criticism is a new one for me.  I have heard people in passing joke about the fact that they think the President is the “Anti-Christ” (a word not even used in the book of Revelation but that is topic for another day) but never anything like this.

Happy Friday and happy tweeting!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

It Was Like This When I Got Here

This piece was picked up by Sojourners Magazine.


A lot has been written about the decline of the mainline church over the years. There are numerous theories have been passed around. Nearly every pew-sitting faithful Christian in America has her or his own opinion. As a minister I have heard a lot of these complaints from the masses; the request is simple. They want the church to be the center of social and political life as it seemed to be in the 1950s and 1960s. They want the pews packed with people, the nursery overflowing with babies, and the church to have the same level of particularity that it did years ago. The church today finds itself having to share time and attention with the rest of the world. Because of this (and numerous other factors), the church for the most part has seen the number of people attending the hallowed halls of a church house begin to decrease.

In an effort to find a culprit for the shrinking size and popularity of church, a scapegoat has been named and they are “young people today” — a catchall term for people under the age of 35 (or thereabouts) who have seemingly left the church en masse.

They are vilified as the sole reason and cause for the church to not be busting at the seams with people. If only those “young people” could just stop being so selfish on Sunday mornings and just come to worship God at 11 a.m. like people have been doing for years, the world might be a better place.

Maybe you have heard some of these gems before:

  • “Young people today don’t care about religion … unless they can find it on an iPhone.”
  • “Yong people today weren’t made to come to church and that’s why they aren’t here.”
  • “I know young people today like contemporary music but I don’t care for it.”
  • “Young people today would rather sleep than come worship the Lord.”
  • “Young people today are too busy with sports and extra activities. They are too overextended. If they can put effort into sports, they can put effort into God.”
  • “Young people will spend all day getting ready for a prom or a dance but show up to church in jeans and t-shirt.”

The list goes on.

How does a “young person” effectively convey the notion that “the church was like this when I got here?”

I have met some people who are deeply spiritual, caring, compassionate, loving people, but they don’t attend church. But young people for the most part do not have a problem with the church or with Jesus or even with teachings of church. So why the absence on Sunday morning?

For many people, the problem is the people who call themselves Christians but don’t live up to Christian ideals. They say the church focuses on the wrong things; why are some people so acutely aware of the “sins” of others but cannot see the hungry child in their own backyard.

If you want young people in your church, give them something to do. Young people are ready to go, do, serve, be, and extend the ministry of Christ to all people — but they have to a place through which they are able to do so.

There is a drive in young people who want to do something greater than themselves and to give and love, but when it’s met with pledge cards, committee meetings, condescending looks for wearing jeans and t-shirts, or saying they have to wait until they are 45 and have three kids to make a difference, then what’s the point?  I can worship God in my house or in nature just as easily as I can in a building with stained-glass windows.

Give “young people” the chance to and they will knock your socks off … I promise. You will see movements of God that you would have missed if you had “stayed the course.”

The decline of the church is not my generation’s fault. It was in decline long before I was born; it was like this when I got here. But that doesn’t mean it is too far gone. The church does a lot of things right and can still do more.

Let the “young people” lead; let them be the hands and feet of Christ in the world and watch what happens. Listen to their passions, listen to their concerns, and listen to where they feel God is leading them.

It’s not “young people’s” fault for the decline of the church, but they can surely be a part of the answer.

Keep the faith … all is not lost. ​

In Christ,

Rev. Evan


Finding Religion In A Fortune Cookie?

Fortune Cookie Deep Faith

Can you find religion in the American made tradition of a fortune cookie?  After church we went out for Chinese by request from my now 5-year-old; I opened my fortune cookie and found this message.

Generally these fortunes aren’t really fortunes at all but often cliché sayings that are supposed to make you feel better for eating too many egg rolls.  They have become so silly that people have even started making games out of these feeble sayings.

This one, however, was different; maybe it was different because I needed to hear it.  We all need a reminder from time to time that our faith is something that is not static but ever-changing and growing.

We turn to it in our times of need and in our times of sorrow.

Can faith really drive out fear?  I think so if we remember that it is there to begin with.

This little piece of paper reminded me that while the future is always uncertain, my reaction to it is not.

My faith might be shaken or even shrink to the point of non-existence but there is something that will always call me back, something that will point to something greater than myself.  In a world of 10,000 emails, productivity software apps, deadlines and commitments, we can forget that the simplest thing is to have faith like a child.  We don’t have to have all the answers, run around with an “I love Jesus” t-shirt on or even attend a local congregation.  The faith that we have can be simple or it can be great; all that matters that we have that faith.

Every person as a part of their faith journey has some reason why they keep coming back to God even when facing adversity or doubt. There is something that calls us back into communion or relation with God that undeniable. There is a moment in every person’s life when the Divine was so real, so tangible, you felt as if you could almost reach out and touch God. Our hearts our filled, they are overwhelmed with God and God’s grace or mercy or love or forgiveness. That is that calls us back… that is where we find our wholeness and completeness. This faith drives out our doubt and fear; this faith is undeniable and the bed rock of our understanding of God.

Over time we can lost sight of it or think that we should be doing more, but more times than not we will return this place to recharge and reconnect.

So yes maybe you can find religion in a fortune cookie. The next time you stuff your face with Lo Mein and spring rolls and before you learn your lucky numbers and how to say “sugar” in Chinese, be sure to look for the message that awaits you, you never know what you might find.

Keep the faith.

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan


“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”– Saint Augustine, taken from The Confessions

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear expects punishment. The person who is afraid has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 Common English Bible

The Battle of Two Due Dates: 100 Days And Counting

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As the old saying goes, “when it rains it pours.”  I have a lot going on in my life and honestly there isn’t anything that I would change.  I am coming up on one year at the hospital where I serve as chaplain, I am still preaching every Sunday at a small DOC congregation, I have two wonderful kids with one on the way and on top of all of that… I am writing a book, something that I have always wanted to do.

Needless to say things can be a bit hectic… schedules overlap, the daylight runs out and the to-do list is ever growing; there are plans to be made, commitments to keep and life to live.  I have been working feverishly on the book.  Thanks to the internet I can access my manuscript from anywhere.  I have been organizing my thoughts and ideas on the fly thanks to Evernote.

The publisher set the deadline for the final manuscript for September 30; I have pushed that timeline up to September 1 to give myself most of the month of September to edit, refine, tweak and run spell check about 76 times.  Did I mention that my beautiful wife is pregnant and is due at the end of August?  Yep… I’m battling two due dates.

Today marks 100 days until September 1 and things are going well.

It’s starting to become a bit more real; I have been working on table of contents, getting various permissions, setting up interviews taking head shots and the like.

It will be a busy and exciting time.  I will be posting updates here and on Twitter (and maybe Facebook… an author page might be in the works).

 

Thanks for your support and happy reading!

 

In Christ,

 

Rev. Evan

 

 

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Sermon: “Blessings For All”

Below is a link to a sermon I preached on February 2, 2014 entitled “Blessings For All” based on Matthew 5:1-12

http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/dnfs7b7rna/blessings_for_all.mp3%20
(Recorded by Voice Record Pro by Bej Bej Apps for iOS)

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

God Is Making All Things New

Below is an article I wrote for a newsletter for the hospital I am working for.


2013 has come to a close we find ourselves in the midst of 2014. Every year people resolve to make the New Year better, more fulfilling or even less hectic than the one before. These resolutions or promises are guides that will help us reach our goal of bettering ourselves, our family or our community. Some people want to exercise more, learn to cook or stop biting their nails. Others want to volunteer more, worship more fully or step out in faith by responding to a call or stirring of their heart. And yet some can be quite different like the woman who ate every meal at Starbucks for an entire year.

The New Year is a way to reflect on the life that has gone by in the previous year: the struggles, triumphs, blessings and heartaches that we have felt. All of these events and emotions form us into the person we are today. We are not the same person we were on January 1, 2013 and we will not be the same person on December 31,2014. We are being transformed and changed by the power of God and the experience we have with God through worship, nature, prayers, the sacraments and the scriptures.

Every day is a possibility to see how God is interacting with the world and in our lives.

In the Bible, at the end of the Book of Revelation, we find that God declares that one day God will make all things new. This is the declaration that is given to all of humanity. One of my favorite hymns, “This Is the Day of New Beginnings” speaks to the power of new beginnings and how we are not alone in them. The words are printed below.

This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus,
love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference
as faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
step from the past, and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.[1]

As we journey in 2014 not knowing what is ahead of us, let us go in faith and know that God will be with us every step of the way.

In Christ,

Rev. Evan Dolive

[1] Copyright © 1983 by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission.; Words © 1975, 1995 Hope Publishing Co

Small Church Antics

This was placed on my sermon prior to the start of service. Something to think about 🙂

Published via Pressgram

One Post… Two Sermons

Below are two sermons I preached on January 12 and 19th.  Enjoy!

In Christ,

Rev. Evan

“You Are Not Lacking” (January 19, 2014- I Cor. 1:1-9)
[audio http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/49fhp0iukn/you_are_not_lacking.mp3|titles=You Are Not Lacking|loop=no|animation=no]

“And The Spirit Descended” (January 12, 2014- Matthew 3:13-17)
[audio http://k007.kiwi6.com/hotlink/mkx6hjw5rw/spirit_descended.mp3|titles=And The Spirit Descended|loop=no|animation=no]