Author Archives: Rich Neal

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. […]

Incarnation happens

Advent is a season of waiting, but I’m not sure we’re in the mood to wait. It’s a season of expectant waiting as we prepare for both the Feast of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the so-called Second Coming. But the Feast of Christ is a memorial, and we’ve been waiting […]

Give thanks in everything

“No matter what happens,” St. Paul wrote, “always be thankful” (1 Thess. 5:18 NLT). “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything” (Eph. 5:19-20 NIV). On Thursday, most of us in the United States will pause for a national Thanksgiving, like we do every year. […]

Waiting faithfully

Waiting is part of life. We wait for election results, for Christmas, for summer vacation, for a loved one to return home, for a phone call bringing the results of a medical test or a job interview, for the birth of a child. We wait for the storm to pass and the sky to clear. […]

Celebrating the saints

Most of the church observes today as All Saints Day, when we remember and celebrate how God was present in the saints who lived and died before us, but I think if we stop there, we miss the point. Of course we should celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us in this […]

Time to stand and stare

There are many ways and reasons to fall. Leaves in this part of the world are preparing for their annual autumnal fall. Some already have fallen, and the maple in front of the house is nearly halfway from green to red. In another four weeks, maybe sooner, I expect it will be bare. The annual […]