Although there exist several differences between the two traditions, if we hope to love our neighbors as ourselves, then collectively we need to make an attempt to cross these bridges instead of just standing on one side looking across.
Six years ago, I ditched New Year's resolutions in favor of choosing one word to be my focus for the year. Just one word that represented what I most hoped God would do in and through me in the 12 months to come.
Advent should be the season for us to reflect, not just on the tenderness of the manger scene, but of what that scene represents below the surface. It should push us to understand that God became incarnate in the world of the poor and oppressed and shared intimately in that reality.
Jesus showed us that there are times when we must stand up and express truth to power in constructive, meaningful, unyielding ways despite the possible consequences. Just as God is righteously angered over oppression and injustice, so should we be.
When soldiers come to arrest and execute Jesus, one of his closest friends defensively picks up a sword to protect him. Jesus' response is stunning: He scolds his own disciple and heals the wounded persecutor.
I want to be the kind of person who awaits the end of the world like a little kid waits for Santa Claus. If you have that kind of hope, then the only thing funny about the apocalypse is the idea that anyone could predict when it might happen.
Where is God? He is here on this street, laying naked in the gutter. He is here on this street, homeless. He is here on this street, in all the lonely and unwanted, waiting for our love. I wonder, what will it take for us to notice Him?
Parents, children and teachers woke up last week in Newtown, Conn., and had no idea that life as they knew it was over. But what I must say this morning is this: Darkness does not win. Jesus was born, lived and died so that darkness does not win.
I write about real-life because that is where I live with three active boys at home -- one curious 9-year-old Gus and 15-year-old twins, Wesley and Mickael Josef. And now my college-age son Ryan and his fiancée Larissa are home for Christmas as well with my daughter Rachel and her husband!
If we are being honest with ourselves, we must admit that our national histories, our ethnic histories, our religious histories, our family histories, our personal histories, all take precedence over the Bible.
Certain Christians seem compelled to speak for God in disorienting moments like these, and the results are frequently terrible. The rest of the church has a responsibility to get angry and repudiate such statements.
Beyond the desire to be happy, beyond the looming financial crisis, beyond the threat of the fiscal cliff, there is in each of us an insatiable appetite for security, a longing for safety, a grasping for certainty. Where does this desire get fed?
You and I agree on the fact that faith can play an important role in people's lives. Where we disagree is in your assertion that to not believe in God is to put society on a path toward the kind of senseless murder we saw on Friday.
Pulling into the filling station on my way to Newtown in the early afternoon last Friday, the woman at the gas pump next to me asked: "How do we make sense of all of this?" She was a young mother, with tears in her eyes, on her way to our local elementary school to collect her children.
The long slow decline of religion in America has produced much hand wringing among Christians. Oddly enough, the very religion that bears Jesus' name has often built the biggest barriers to him and the life he promised.
When I first turned my life over to God and accepted Jesus into my life, I thought was faced with a hefty learning curve. I felt like I had a mountain of change to make before I could actually be a good Christian role model for our daughters.
There I was, making our end-of-year donations to charities and development organizations, when I heard the voice of John the Baptist, sardonic and insistent: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
Strangely, those who most want us to "remain" a Christian nation are those most opposed to the principles of Jesus: Welcome strangers. Love your neighbor. Feed the hungry. Care for the battered and sick, those with disabilities, the outcast, the imprisoned and the oppressed.