A More Realistic Nativity

– An English church has ditched its traditional Nativity play for a Beach
Boys-themed show telling the story of Christmas with the help of songs such as
Good Vibrations and Fun Fun Fun.

Christ’s mother Mary is transformed into a "surfer chick" singing
God Only Knows in the yuletide spectacular put on by St Stephen’s church in
Tonbridge, south-east of London.

"We were fed up with twee nativity plays … They are nice but they can
just be a bit dull," said youth pastor Jim Prestwood, explaining the
thinking behind the show. "It made it a bit more realistic, a bit more
attractive to people."

the new interpretation, the shepherds are transformed into Sir Alf Ramsay’s 1966
World Cup-winning England football squad, and perform the chart-topping Good

The three Wise Men are presented as the brothers at the core of the
five-piece Beach Boys – Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson – singing their timeless
tribute to the Californian surfing lifestyle, Fun, Fun, Fun.

The show, featuring a 50-strong cast aged three to 18, was performed at last
weekend’s Sunday service.

"It was a fun approach, but with a serious message – that maybe we look
for glory in the wrong places," said Prestwood.

The original story can be found HERE.

It looks like it’ll be a white Christmas…

The view of my neighbors houses from my front door this morning.

My car.  That dot straight out from the footprints on the left is a fire

My car, drifted in.

My neighbor with the van dug himself out today.

I’m not sure how far my neighbor got, I guess this is how they plow roads in

Isaac next to some ruts – that’s not plowed.

Someone had to dig themselves out of a snowdrift.  Notice it’s up to the
hood of the car in the background.

Isaac "helping" shovel the sidewalk behind the garage.

Down the sidewalk from our house.  We’re about to walk through that

Isaac following in my footsteps.

Isaac stuck.  This was taken just before I went to pull him out and ended
up stuck in the drift up to MY waist.  It didn’t look that deep did it…


They say we’re supposed to get another 4-8" of snow
tomorrow night!

In the Way of the Man-Law

Am I the only person who doesn’t think this
Man-Law thing is funny? I’ve been told I just don’t get it. I get it. I just don’t see the humor in it. Men everywhere, long plagued by the deep mysteries of life have now begun entrusting their most scrupulous decision-making to a cadre of has-been male celebrities, headed up by the ultimate manly-man of the mid-1970’s, Burt
Reynolds and his latest toupee. I guess Clint Eastwood was busy.

I suppose it's a good thing that men have come up with ways to handle those sticky situations of
just how to clink beer bottles in a rousing toast – tops or bottoms? (Bottoms, tops is too much like kissing since spit could potentially be
Or if, when picking up a nacho a second chip is glued to it
with cheese is it one nacho or two nachos? (One.) But are men today such
Neanderthals that they really need Reynolds et al to tell us it's never cool to rip your shirt off your body in a hulk-like display of masculinity (and might I add that this is especially true when one lacks hulk-like musculature). I've actually seen this in action. Not impressed.

Women have been raised for generations with such laws drilled into us. It's called
Emily Post, Judith Martin (Miss
), "The
" have all instructed womankind in our making the world a more
genteel place. A generation or two ago, young ladies were sent to "finishing
", where they were taught the finer details of social interaction in
nearly every possible situation from how to properly set a table (There’s a
reason we get all that china and silver as wedding gifts.)
and cross her
legs. (At the ankles, never at the knee, only whores do that!)  Seriously…hasn’t anyone
ever watched a Martha
show?  I guess it’s a good thing that teaching children manners
has been primarily a maternal job.

So when men venture off their recliners, scratch their bellies on the way to
get another beer, and stumble across a giant glass box with a big table in the
middle, we’re all supposed to marvel at the genius of coming to consensus on
"Man Laws".  Well good for
you, you’ve discovered the art of having manners.  How brilliant,
gentlemen!  Why, someone should’ve thought such a thing eons ago. 
Wow!  We’re so proud of you!  (smiles and nods encouragingly)

By the way, the first and foremost "Girl-Gospel" is to let a
man think he thought of something all by himself.

I’ll have a Blue Advent…

is a wonderful time for us to remember our Baptisms.  Baptism is where
Christ first comes to many of us.  How Advent-y is that?  In the
water, through His Word, the Word who became flesh and tabernacled among us
comes and tabernacles in us by faith.  He comes to save us from sin, death,
and the devil and like the people who crowded the road to Jerusalem for His
coming, we also cry out "Hosanna" to our newborn King, Jesus.

Last Sunday we heard about Christ’s coming again on the Last Day. 
Because we are Baptized, we need not fear His return.  Instead, we can
stand up straight and tall, turn our faces toward the blue sky, and watch the
clouds for our Redemption coming with glory and might.  Jesus is also
called the bright Morning star who brings us hope of
a New Day in Him.  Dr. Luther instructs us, "…the old Adam in us
should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and
evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live
before God in righteousness and purity forever." (Small Catechism)

coming Sunday is Gaudete and that’s pink so it makes sense that it’s not

the Fourth Sunday in Advent, we hear about the Annunciation to Mary, and her
song in response.

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on
all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things
for me, and holy is His name.  And His mercy is for those who fear Him from
generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered
the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; He has brought down the mighty from
their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; He has filled the hungry with
good things, and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped his servant
Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and
to his offspring forever." (St. Luke 1:46-55, ESV)

Some Lutherans object to the use of blue during Advent because it is a color
commonly associated with the Blessed Virgin.  I’m not sure why that’s a bad
thing, especially in Advent.  Mary  is the theotokos, the
mother of God.  She is an admirable icon of faithfulness for all
Christians.  But faith, which Mary epitomizes so well, trusts the word of
God in the water of our Baptism. "For without the word of God the water is
simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is,
a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit."
(Small Catechism)

I can’t think of a better way to remember our Baptisms during the season of
Advent than by the use of the color blue in the paraments, vestments, candles,
and banners of the sanctuary.  When else can we so celebrate our Baptism
than with the color of the season?  Of course, Advent is a penitential
season, like Lent.  But it is also a season full of repentant hope – hope
in the coming Christ-child and hope for His coming again on the last day. 
Hope that we are given when Christ "advents" to us in Baptism.

The Nativity Story – A Review

The Nativity Story actually begins in the liturgical
season of Christmas, with the Slaughter of the Innocents.  Roman soldiers
descending upon a small town in the middle of the night, breaking down doors and
yanking sleeping baby boys out of their screaming mothers’ arms to slaughter
them in the streets makes for a great dramatic lead-in which can’t help but to
draw the average viewer into the story.  

Just as the soldiers leave town
with a trail of small, dead bodies behind them and the heartbreaking wails set
in, the viewer is taken a year back in time, to watch the unfolding the story
leading up to that event – to Jerusalem, to the Temple,
where Zachariah is carrying out his priestly duties in the Holy of Holies and,
there, is given the promise of his son’s birth.  John will be the Prophet
who heralds the arrival of the Messiah.

As promised, the location, sets, and costuming are breathtaking
in detail.  The score incorporates historic Advent and Christmas tunes,
opening with a men’s choir singing Veni Emmanuel and closing with Mary
saying the words of the Magnificat as she and Joseph escape to Egypt with
Stille Nacht being sung in the background.  

The characters
reveal depth and authenticity.  Mary is thoughtful and humble, Joseph is a quiet
and honorable man, Elizabeth overflows with joyful faithfulness, Herod is cruel
and paranoid, and the Magi are wealthy intellectuals who provide light comic
relief.  Gabriel’s appearance wasn’t quite as masculine as one might
expect, and it was disappointing not to see the heavenly host or hear their
singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo at the announcement to the
shepherds.  But if that’s all there is to really critique in this
potentially controversial movie, that’s not a big deal at all.

When the media started saying that this movie would have a Christian message
that unites rather than divides like The Passion of
the Christ
, many
Christians began to worry that their faith would once again be perverted as in
the recent DaVinci Code.  That sort of
favorable commentary from reporters is
usually a sign that the script has been stripped of any distinctly Christian
message of the Gospel and instead substitutes pop-spirituality in the place of
historic theology for mass-appeal.  The Nativity Story did none of
that.  Fortunately, most of the theological commentary has been relegated
to the supplementary materials that are available for groups and churches to
deepen the audience’s experience.  

The movie stayed true to the Biblical
accounts of Christ’s advent and birth.  There were even hints of the Gospel
revealed in the movie – stating quite plainly that the Child would save His people from their sins, and
that He is God made into flesh. 

That’s not the sort of message you hear at the movies today.  Go see The
Nativity Story
, it’s well worth the price of admission.