Month: December 2021

Weird or Welcoming?

 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:18-19)

Are we feasters or fasters?

John is John the Baptist. He exercised a strict self-control and people mocked him. And Jesus (the Son of Man) enjoyed a good party and was falsely accused of being a drunk who liked to pig out.

In what ways are today’s Christians like John the Baptist? There are several ways we seem to be weird and strict in today’s culture. First, as we rely on guidelines from the Bible, we’re falsely accused of being puritanical, tyrannical, and narrow-minded.

Another way we seem a little weird…. who ever heard of fasting nowadays? (Especially when it’s not even part of a health food craze!) One day a bunch of us were fasting because we wanted to pray for God’s blessing on the church as we entered the fall activities for 2021.

And finally, we have a cross in our church sanctuary. Yes, it is weird to rely on the sacrifice of a Jewish carpenter on a cross two thousand years ago. But life today too often leads to people being angry, depressed, alienated and lonely. The weirdness of the cross propels us into a love that ends up in feasting.

This Christmas week our church1 had our second outdoor Christmas Village with joyous music and delicious goodies…. as representatives of Jesus, we were joyfully eating the best German bratwurst, drinking hot cider, and crunching fresh-made kettle corn. We welcomed anyone from town who wanted to join in. So, in answer to today’s title question: Both these things are true — we are both weird and welcoming!


The God who made these cliffs cares for you ! 

In Psalm 65:6 the Psalmist tells God “you are the one who formed the mountains by your power.”

Reading this recently, I thought of the Palisades of the Hudson River. I grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey where the Palisades, at the eastern edge of our town, are the most dramatic natural feature.

Earth scientists tell us that amazing geological shifts formed the Palisades. Regardless of exactly how and when these changes occurred, I know they show the outworking of God’s might.

Isaac Watt captures that might in his hymn I sing the mighty pow’r of God:

I sing the mighty pow’r of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.

Yet this sweeping and majestic powerful God of the universe is not hands-off and remote:

You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.

Our mountain-forming God provides food and harvests and gives us our daily bread. It is easy to lose sight of that truth in this day of high-tech agriculture on far away farms. But why does agrobusiness even work? It’s still due to God’s power.

 And this God who created the mountains and provides our food is a personal God who answers prayer and takes care of our sin problem!

You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions
. (Psalm65:2,3)

 Best of all is how he invites us to live under his care: 

 Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
(Psalm 65:4)

What a privilege to be invited to live as one of God’s people! Yes, this mighty God who made the Palisades is the same God who walks with us and talks with us and dwells with us in the person of Jesus.

                                Merry Christmas !


My Encounter With Bob Dole

In 1996 at lunchtime, I jogged from my IT job at UPS to the Morristown Green, to attend a lunchtime rally for Presidential Candidate Bob Dole. (That was back when Republicans thought they had a chance to actually win New Jersey’s electoral votes.)

I shook Bob Dole’s left hand and said, “On to victory!”

When I got back to the office a colleague said: ” Don’t wash that hand!”

Well, Bob Dole didn’t go on to victory that year even though he did come closer to Bill Clinton than expected.