Tis the Season for ROAD TRIPS

Monday's headline in the local newspaper in very large letters proclaimed "Yule travel more likely" with a subheading advising that the number of holiday travelers this year may break all records! I'm sure there will come a day when my kids, while reflecting on shared memories of past Christmases, will tell tales of our annual holiday road trips to visit their Grandmother in Nebraska. They won't remember much about gifts given or received, instead they'll recall images of our Dodge minivan and their endless negotiating and horse-trading over the coveted "way-back" bench seat, and they'll definitely remember our blue "cooler" which contained the mother-lode of sandwiches, cookies, and other s

It's Not Always Joyful

Christmas is such a massive cultural experience in our nation, and we have developed a very pervasive image of the ideal, perfect Christmas. This image is made up of a combination of things -- certainly the Christmas stories written by Charles Dickens in the 19th century are a part of it; and the American lithographers Nathaniel Currier and James Ives who created ideal scenes of American life that have been painted on Christmas china and glassware for many years. Norman Rockwell paintings and TV Christmas specials also contribute to this picture that we all have of what Christmas OUGHT to be. In this ideal image, a rosy-cheeked family comes laden with brightly wrapped packages to gather ar

Come, Lord Jesus

Christmas, once again! It's interesting to read all the many different versions concerning the circumstances of Jesus' birth. Many Bible scholars offer alternatives to one specific, always repeated detail: the stable. Even those who don't follow Jesus know the story. When Joseph and Mary arrive in Bethlehem to be counted in the census, they find a crowded city, with no available rooms. The innkeeper directs them to a stable, where, among the cows and sheep. Mary gives birth to her son, wraps him in a blanket, and places him in a hay-filled manger -- a trough for feeding the animals. The idea of the inn likely comes from translation of the Greek word kataluma, which has several meanings -- on

Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is over, Christmas and the New Year are fast approaching. Where did 2018 go? Tis the season is most often recognized in the lyrics to the classic holiday song, Deck the Halls. Go ahead and sing along... Deck the halls with boughs of holly. Fa la la la la, la la la la 'Tis the season to be jolly. Fa la la la la, la la la la. Well, 2018 has been an eventful, yet fulfilling year for our church family. No need to rehash it all, but for me the positives far outweighed the negatives and I am personally excited about the future of First Presbyterian Church of Valparaiso. Being jolly means to be happy and I am happy. 2019 will bring us a new pastor. While there will be some effor

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