Summer Reading List

Yesterday I realized that I have read 12 books this summer. I have a few weeks left to squeeze in a couple more. I’m currently on What Is the Bible? by Rob Bell. Here is a look at what I’ve read so far:

  • Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads by Greil Marcus
    • I started this *before* I knew Bob was coming to Sugar Land in October.
  • In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri J.M. Nouwen
    • For Fall seminary class. The second time I’ve read it.
  • #NeverAgain: A New Generation Draws the Line by David and Lauren Hogg
    • These kids have some wisdom to share.
  • Is Nothing Sacred? by Marie M. Fortune
    • Also for Fall seminary class. This story has interesting parallels to the story coming out of Willow Creek.
  • Mentoring for Ministry by Craig T. Kocher (ed.)
  • Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally by Marcus J. Borg
  • Triune Atonement: Christ’s Healing for Sinners, Victims, and the Whole Creation by Andrew Sung Park
    • This was a book I read for a paper on atonement theories last semester.
  • Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today by John Shelby Spong
  • Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too by Louie Anderson
    • If you haven’t seen “Baskets” on FX you need to.
  • A Black Theology of Liberation by James H. Cone
    • I bought this book like a week before Dr. Cone passed.
  • Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau, Leon Whiteson
  • The Four Gospels on Sunday: The New Testament and the Reform of Christian Worship by Gordon W. Lathrop
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How to Use an Advent Wreath at Home

advent_wreath-1An Advent wreath is a great opportunity to ground yourself or your family in a spiritual practice throughout the hectic holiday season.

The tradition (which dates back to the early sixteenth century) involves placing four candles on a wreath and a fifth in the center of the wreath. One candle is then lighted each Sunday during the Advent season with the fifth candle being lit on Christmas Eve.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. You may choose to place additional decorations on the wreath. Various evergreens, signifying continuous life, can be placed around the circle of the wreath. Pinecones, nuts, or seedpods also symbolize new life and resurrection.

There are several interpretations of the specific meaning of each candle relating to Christ and the Advent season. Those meanings are further enhanced by the colors of the candles. The first, second and fourth candles are purple/lavender (symbolizing expectation and royalty), the third candle is rose/pink (symbolizing the joy of reaching the midpoint of the Advent season), and the last candle is white (symbolizing Christ, the Light of the World).

The Advent wreath can be placed in the center of the meal table or another prominent place in the home. On each Sunday of Advent, the candle can be lit at dinnertime after the blessing of the food. A brief devotion (provided below) can be a great introduction to each week’s candle. Allow your children to have an active role in reading, praying, and lighting the candles.

First Sunday of Advent – December 1 (Candle of Hope – purple)

  • Reading – Isaiah 9:2
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of this candle, whose flame brings warmth to winter and fills this place with the glow of hope. Amen.”

Second Sunday of Advent – December 8 (Candle of Love – purple)

  • Reading – John 3:16
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope and love. Amen.”

Third Sunday of Advent – December 15 (Candle of Joy – pink)

  • Reading – Luke 2:10
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope, love, and joy. Amen.”

Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 22 (Candle of Peace – purple)

  • Reading – Luke 2:14
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of hope, love, joy, and peace. Amen.”

Christmas Eve – December 24 (Christ Candle – white)

  • Reading – John 1:14
  • Prayer – “Jesus, we welcome your presence now with the lighting of these candles, whose flames bring warmth to winter and fill this place with the glow of you. Amen.”

Resources:

Ways to Hear the Word of God in Worship – Scripture

Given the clear precedent for the reading of scripture in wor-
ship, and given the importance attributed to scripture as the
“Word of God,” it seems curious that in a number of evangelical
churches the weekly reading of scripture is limited to a few verses
heard immediately before the sermon. By contrast, in other wor-
ship traditions one might encounter an Old Testament lesson, a
Gospel lesson, and an Epistle reading in the same service, as well
as the reading or singing of a psalm. For settings in which the
reading of scripture in worship is minimal in current practice, the
inclusion of additional readings would be appropriate. The use of
a lectionary can provide helpful guidance to the inclusion of a
wider scope of scripture readings.

Furr, Gary, and Milburn Price. The Dialogue of Worship. Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 1998, p. 9.

Eight Principles of Public Scripture Reading

These are some notes from my “Worship Leadership” class that I took in seminary (taught by none other than the great Dr. Bruce Leafblad):
1. Read at a pace that will help the hearer to grasp the message of the passage.
2. Practice the reading aloud until you have eliminated the “stumbling” from your delivery.
3. Make a conscious effort to help the hearer catch the proper emphases in the passage.
4. Learn to use the pause effectively.
5. Be convinced of the importance, relevance, and value of the passage for yourself and for the congregation.
6. Read with sincerity.
7. Make a conscious effort to complement the beauty of the passage by reading with appropriate tonal shading.
8. Reflect the emotion inherent in the passage.