Author Archives: Rich Neal

Invitation to life

“Ready or not, here I come!” Remember that line from the hide-and-seek you played as a kid? After counting down from ten or twenty, or from 100 if you had the time, the one who was “It” came searching, eyes wide open, and you hoped you had hidden well enough not to be found. Jesus […]

A life of Christian discipleship

What does it really mean to live a life of Christian discipleship? Since its beginning, the church has been at war with itself over the answer to that question. When Paul was losing the churches he founded to the influence of the church in Jerusalem, he wrote to one of his congregations, “You foolish Galatians! […]

Possibilities

When everything becomes new

Now that we’ve had our fun with Christmas, it’s time to face the implications of Incarnation. Today, as we remember the baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:4-11), we change our spiritual menu from Christmas punch and cookies to an austere diet of locusts and wild honey. During Christmas we celebrated the coming of a messiah. Now, […]

It’s not time yet

[Written 7 January 2021] — “It’s not time to worry yet,” Atticus Finch tells his daughter, Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, when she starts to grow overly concerned about something that might happen. Things that look dire to Scout leave Atticus, with his longer perspective, unruffled. Last evening, as I watched the violence in […]

At the gate of the year

In the dark, uncertain days of late 1939, shortly after the outbreak of World War II, England’s King George VI wanted to encourage his nation, so in his Christmas message he read from a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins. The poem began: I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year“Give […]

At the turning of the year

Christmas then and now

A word we need to hear

At the beginning of John’s gospel, John the baptizer is crying out in the wilderness (John 1:6-8, 19-28). Other gospels tell us people came from far and wide, city and country (Mark 1:5, Matt. 3:5), to receive what John offered. What were they looking for? What hopes and dreams did they come with? Their hopes […]

What are you waiting for?

Advent, the long annual wait for Christmas, has begun. Thursday we received our first Christmas card. A few days before that the tree went up, bare now except for strings of small white lights. In our neighborhood, a few other Christmas trees have appeared, some fully decorated. We know how to wait for Christmas here. […]