December 2008

The old movie ‘White Christmas’ with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye is one of my favorite Christmas movies. It is a great mix of good old music, slapstick, and good ol’ Christmas cheer. However, given the latest round of snow piling up here in Portland, I’m rethinking this movie as my favorite.

Growing up having a white Christmas was the dream. We’d pray for it, hope for it and invariably be disappointed when it didn’t materialize. Now, however, a White Christmas just means treacherous driving and family not being able to make it into town.

Thus, this is one northwesterner who is now saying ‘Bah Humbug’ to all this snow. I’m praying for rain!


Call me Scrooge, but I’m not always the most thrilled person when it comes to snow days. I live in the northwest, I’m supposed to get at most a brief dusting every year. Anyway, today we have seen a decent amount of accumulation (for the NW!) and very cold temperatures.

I do, however, want it on record that I went out in 6 degree weather (with wind-chill), with only one glove, to put chains on my wife’s car so that she can go to work tomorrow (let’s not mention the fact that she has to go to work and I don’t, that makes me look bad).

It has been quite a while since I’ve had the time to do a Septuagintal Saturday. However, I have been working on a paper which has included a very interesting study of 3 Baruch 1:1-2. In my study of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Mk. 12:1-9/Matt. 21:33-46/Lk. 20:9-19) and Second Temple Jewish interpretations of Isa. 5:1-7 I have found 3 Baruch 1:1-2 to be an interesting and helpful text. I have also found that pseudepigraphal writings are very little studied.

The prologue to 3 Baruch, a second century CE Jewish text [1], includes several biblical allusions. The most interesting to me is the allusion to Isa. 5:1-7, the Song of the Vineyard. The text and translation are as follows:

Κύριε, ἵνα τί ἐξέκαυσας τὸν ἀμπελῶνά σου καὶ ἠρήμωσας αὐτόν; τί ἐποίησας τοῦτο; καὶ ἵνα τί, Κύριε, οὐκ ἀπέδωκας ἡμᾶς ἐν ἄλλῃ παιδείᾳ, ἀλλὰ παρέδωκας ἡμᾶς εἰς ἔθνη τοιαῦτα, ὅπως ὀνειδίζοντες λέγουσιν· Ποῦ ἐστιν ὁ θεὸς αὐτῶν;[2]

“Lord, why have you set fire to your vineyard and laid it waste? Why have you done this? And why, Lord, did you not requite us with another punishment, but rather handed us over to such heathen so that they reproach us saying, ‘Where is their God?'”[3]

The following elements allude to Isa. 5:1-7: (more…)

For me, worship in church is a tricky animal. I have some semblance of a musical background, and if the worship music is unprofessional, it really distracts me form being able to focus on actually worshipping. On the other hand, I am very sensitive when it comes to a church putting on a ‘show.’ This distracts me even more than unprofessional music, because I struggle believing that the worship is genuine when it is couched in a big production. It is my experience that churches much more often struggle with the latter condition than with the former. 

I recently attended a different church than my home church. I do not want to bash this church or say bad things about it. It was a little too showy for me, but I really enjoyed the service, got a lot out of the message and honestly believe that of faith of many of the members is extremely genuine. However, one thing I noticed in the service serves as a really great metaphor for the ‘showy’ church production. The church had a very big stage, but that was not my problem. My problem was that the only place a cross could be found in the sanctuary was on the back wall behind the stage. Unfortunately, this is right behind the projector screen which was down for the whole service. In this case, the technology literally covered up the cross, but my worry is that in so many cases (many of them on TV) the show trumps and covers up the reality of the cross. This may just be my experience, but this strikes me as a really sad thing. I pray for all of our churches, that we would me more and more willing to get out of the way and let Jesus be the main event of our worship, our meetings, and our lives. He must increase, I must decrease.