Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Photo taken at Allison's parents' house in L.A. (that's Lower Alabama to the uninitiated) on Christmas Eve.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love."


Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent and the Time Foretold

This past Sunday morning, the second Sunday of Advent, I was struck by the last stanza of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear," though I've sung it many times:

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing!

I had rushed in late, after a hectic morning that involved sour cream on Jacob's head and a last-minute bath before church (long story), and so I had forgotten to get a bulletin and song sheet. I didn't know the number of the hymn in order to look it up, and so I just sang along as well as I could from memory. I was suprised that I knew the entire song! (Thank you, hometown church, for the annual caroling to the old folks' houses.)

When I got to the last two lines, I spontaneously broke into a grin as I sang. I couldn't contain the joy inherent in the thought of the whole world proclaiming the glories of Christ our Lord at the New Creation!

Sometimes, when we grow up hearing these hymns and carols, we forget to pay attention to the lyrics and what they really mean.

I'm currently reading a soon-to-be-released book (review coming soon!) that attempts to correct some of the misconceptions we have about heaven, or as N.T. Wright describes it, "the life after life after death." Yes, we go to be with the Lord after we die, but that's not the end! There is another "life" after that-- the one which we will be raised to when Christ returns. So many Christians miss this... The whole earth is groaning now for "the time foretold," when everything will be renewed and Christ will come down from heaven to reign here, over a redeemed world, complete with new mountains and vistas, not just puffy clouds and harps.

And so, as we celebrate Advent this year, we remember not only Christ's first coming as a babe who would one day die on the cross, we also look forward in anticipation to his second coming. On that day every tear will be wiped away, and the whole creation will be renewed along with those in Christ, raised up on the last day to "send back the song which now the angels sing." I love that image!

In case you are wondering about Advent and why we celebrate, there is a fantastic series of articles at The Rabbit Room this year, complete with an introduction on why Christians celebrate and weekly "Virtual Advent Wreath" meditations: Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3, so far.

The photo above is our non-virtual advent wreath, made from the same candles I've been using for the last few years, plus some added greenery and berries that I got at deep discount at Michael's. It's about the only decorations we have up this year, but I don't mind. Advent, I think, is my favorite season of the church year. It must be the expectation, the hopeful longing, that culminates with the sheer delight of Christmas day.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Great News for GT Football

Paul Johnson Named ACC Coach of the Year

... and National Coach of the Year by

Jonathan Dwyer Named ACC Player of the Year

and finally,

Georgia Tech Accepts Bid to Chick-fil-A Bowl

This is an exciting bowl selection. It's pretty high-profile and it's on New Year's Eve. Tech will get a chance to go 3-0 against the SEC this season (likely against LSU, but we'll find out soon). And most importantly, there will not be a blue field involved.

Actually, the most important part is that it's here in the ATL. Which means Jacob is going to need a babysitter that night! Woo hoo!


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Siran Stacy: God and Football

All my life, I've heard about Siran Stacy. He was a football legend born and raised in my small hometown. He became a star running back at the University of Alabama and then went on to play pro for Philadelphia.

[Edited to remove paragraph that was inaccurate and false concerning his conduct. He has made a great turnaround from his wild youth, though.]

Last November, he and his family were involved in a horrible car wreck. Siran's wife and four of his five children were killed, along with the drunk driver in the other car. I remember hearing about the accident and praying for his family, but hadn’t heard anything since.

This week, Birmingham's Fox affiliate ran a news story about his life since then. You can view the video from Fox 6 at their webpage.

As a testament to God's grace, Siran has become (or has always been? I don't know) a Christian. In the interview, he speaks of being content with where the Lord has placed him, being thankful for life, even after such a tragedy. He quotes Romans 8:28, and has become an evangelical speaker. It's definitely a different portrait than the one painted by small-town rumour mills. I am especially encouraged to see how his life has been transformed by Christ, and I wonder what it would be like to hear him speak.

For a little more info about his time at Alabama and how he got there, I found this Talk of Champions interview enlightening.

(I originally read about this at The Avenue, and wanted to give credit where it's due. Thanks!)