If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one He gives, and to the other. He is gracious. He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
“Dad, why do we call it ‘Good Friday?’ What the people did to Jesus wasn’t good at all.”
“No it wasn’t.”
“Well then why do we call it ‘Good?'”
“Well it’s a very old name, and it originally meant ‘great’ as in ‘very important.’ The Orthodox still call it ‘Great and Holy Friday.'”
She paused for a moment, deep in thought.
“Well it was good that Jesus died for us,” she added.
“Yes it was Anna.”
“And the he loves us.”
Not quite a Five Minute Friday, but sometimes you don’t even need five minutes to say what’s important. All you need is a few moments with a thoughtful nine year old.
And another two-for-one for Holy Week …
Christmas is coming, and it is time to prepare the way. There wasn’t any room in the inn. Will there be room in our hearts? When we see the Mother coming down the road, will we welcome her? Will we welcome her in the poor mother, and welcome him in the poor child?
These are the questions that Advent asks, and more and more Christians from outside the liturgical traditions of Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism are finding value in the questions and value in this season.
Our family is Catholic, so we’ve always kept Advent. We’ve lit an Advent Wreath week by week every year of our marriage. And now that our daughter Anna is old enough, she reads the prayers each week. We added an Advent Calendar this year as well. Each night, Anna opens another door and reads a short scripture verse about the coming of Christ.
And we’ve added one more tradition to our observance of the season. One that prepares the way and a place in our hearts through helping the poor parents who in Christ’s eyes are his poor parents, and the poor children who in his words are him. We joined a large group of volunteers helping a local business bring Christmas cheer to hundreds of families who can’t afford to buy for their own children.
We bought for three families, with eight kids total ranging from six months to ten years old. Anna helped us pick out clothes and toys, especially for the girls, and in three hours this evening we made an immeasurable difference in eight lives.
And tomorrow, Anna and Julia will help wrap the gifts. I’m staying home for that part. Given my lack of wrapping talent I’m more help not being there.
Best Photoblog. “Once I Went to a Wedding” by Heather Park and Evelyn Shoop at Momsicle.
Best Special Needs Post. “The Path to Self-Advocacy” by Robert Rummel-Hudson at Support for Special Needs.
Best List. “The 5 Worst Commercials of the MLB Postseason” by Grant Brisbee at SB Nation.
Best Satire. “The War on Halloween” by Drew Chial.
Best Question. “What Does it Mean to be Blackish?” by Christena Cleveland at Christianity Today.
Most Hopeful. “The Secret to Stop Feeling Like a Failure” by Jennifer Dukes-Lee, guest-posting at Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience.
Best Social Commentary. “Deus Ex Musica: Beethoven’s Bad Influence” by Alex Ross at The New Yorker.
Best Parenting Post. “The Whole Truth About Infant Cereals: 7 Science-Based Tips” by Alice Callahan at Science of Mom.
Best Reflection. “Mark Driscoll Impacts the Non-Mars-Hill People Too” by Andee Zomerman at Nature of a Servant.
Best Sports Commentary. “Kirk Cousins, E.J. Manuel, and Why Bad Quarterbacks Keep Getting Starting Jobs” by K.C. Clyburn at Football is Stupid.
Best Advice. “How I Learned NOT to be an Obnoxious Author” by Sarabeth Caplin.
Best Mom Post. “To Live Like a Child” by Ashley Larkin at Draw Near.
Best Dad Post. “A Dispatch from the Gender Frontline (I Went to Some Toy Shops)” by Simon Ragoonanan at Man vs. Pink.
Best Essay. “The Other Side of the River” by Stephen Knox at SB Nation.
Most Awesome Video. “3D Printed IRON MAN Child Prosthetic Hand” by Pat Starace (via YouTube).
Inspired by the Redskins ugly and infuriating loss to the Eagles and a weird tweet predicting that loss, I’m taking a slightly different approach to my usual blogosphere roundup. Here’s the worst of the week beginning with that tweet. Enjoy!
O … kay. And what did I ever do to him. Besides linking him here numerous times. Such a talented writer. I’m heartbroken …
Worst Tenure Review. “Back From Yet Another Globe Trotting Adventure, Indiana Jones Checks His Mail and Discovers That His Bid for Tenure Has Been Denied” by Andy Bryan at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.
Don’t you know the old saying, Indy? Grab the idol and run, don’t get squished by giant bolder, find the Ark of the Covenant, close your eyes while the Nazis get their faces blown off, AND PUBLISH … or perish.
Worst Example of an Ignorant Evangelical. “A Southern Baptist Who Accepts Evolution” shared by Tyler Francke on God and Evolution.
Don’t you mean “God OR Evolution,” Tyler?
Worst Sign (from the same article).
Summer is halfway over. We’ve gone on our Oregon Coast vacation, and Anna has finished both her art camp and her first Girl Scout camp. Now we have two down weeks before her next day camp, and she wants to call all her friends from school and set up times to play with them. That’s where we begin this week’s list, with a brewing controversy over the “play date.”
Best Point. “Banish the Playdate” by Chris Bernholdt at DadNCharge.
Best Counterpoint. “Preserve the Playdate” by Jeff at OWTK.
Best Question. “Wait … I’m a Feminist?” by Carl Wilke at Big Cheese Dad.
Most Honest. “Unpacking” by Alice Chaffins at Knitting Soul.
Best Dad Post. “What People Think When You Have Four Kids” by Rob Stennett at The Perfect Father.
Best Mom Post. “Five Minute Friday: Finish” by Ashley Larkin at Draw Near.
Best Special Needs Post. “This Day” by Kara Dedert at Not Alone.
Most Inspiring. “Juliette: The Bravest Little Girl I Know” by Rachel Held Evans.
Best Question. “Are You Raising Nice Kids?” by Amy Joyce at The Washington Post.
Best Idea. “A Growing Movement to Spread Faith, Love,—and Clean Laundry” by Lisa Napoli at NPR.
Best Essay. “Arctic Man” by Matt White at SB Nation.
Best Video. “Job Interview Tips” by Glove and Boots (via YouTube).
“Step One: Delete Facebook!”
Every Friday is a commemoration of the Crucifixion. That is why Catholics traditionally abstained from meat, why prayers and readings on Fridays are usually penitential, and why many go to confession or confess their sins privately to God on Fridays. It is the one day each week when we remember how much Jesus sacrificed for us on the cross.
“It is finished.”
Nothing is finished without something else beginning. Just as the dawn of each morning follows the dusk of each evening, just as Sunday follows Friday, the Resurrection follows the Crucifixion.
In our fallen world, death inevitably follows life. In God’s plan for us, new life just as inevitably follows death, so as long as we accept that new life.
Each ending is a new beginning. The old is finished so that the new may begin.
May we all become a new creation in him. May our old life be finished, and may our new life in Christ begin. New. Each Sunday. Each and every day as we become more and more like Jesus, a true child of God.
My five minutes are up, but I wanted to write a bit more about another “beginning.” Fourteen years ago today, Julia and I went on our first date. Neither of us knew it that day, but that date would be the beginning of our journey together through life. And a lot was finished for me that day too, including my loneliness, my faithlessness, and my long wandering through a spiritual wasteland. I’ve said many times that God brought Julia into my life to bring me back to him. It’s true. And as an extra reward he also brought an amazing woman into my life who would become my wife, and then gave us both an extraordinary daughter who would teach us how much love we were both capable of giving. I am grateful for that new beginning, for that first date, and for every other date and every other day since.