December 28th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
My Christmas tree is a fire hazard.
I look at it and simultaneously have two thoughts: "Oh, you are so lovely with your twinkling lights," and "Please don't kill us all."
I suppose that is what I get for buying a live tree right after Thanksgiving. My children picked it out, and when I pointed out the brown bits on a branch, they carelessly brushed my concerns aside.
I asked the tree lot manager, "Is this tree dying?"
"Lady," he replied brusquely, "this tree's been dying since it was cut."
I was not appeased. And then he said the magic words, "But I'll give you 50% off."
December 27th, 2021 by Carl Buffington
December 18th, 2021 by Vance Browning
Decades ago a Jamaican work colleague gave me a gift. I don’t remember if it was something wrapped with a bow or simply a compliment.
I responded by saying, “No, you shouldn’t have,” or something to the effect of saying that I really didn’t need it or deserve it.
What I remember distinctly is his reply. He said, “You Americans, you don’t know how to receive a gift!”
I had insulted him. It was just a cultural difference, but it got me thinking. I intended to convey humility, but to him, it was arrogance and rejection.
December 10th, 2021 by Sara Buffington
The weekend after Thanksgiving my husband pulled down our "four boxes of Christmas" from the garage shelf. Storage is limited in our house, so we have gone a bit minimal when it comes to Christmas decor.
We also have a live tree. I'd like to tell you it's because we like the look and smell of live trees (and this may be true for everyone else in my family), but my main reason is that we don't have to store it January through November. Plus, we save it for kindling in our outdoor fireplace; it burns like flash paper (which is a little unsettling, I must say).
So over the years we have whittled Christmas down to four boxes. One box holds the Nativity set. One box holds the Carollers. One box holds the ornaments. And the last box holds the lights and the tree skirt.
We untangle the colored lights for the tree (yes, we are a colored light family), and then we untangle the white lights for the porch. They are the worst.
But the lights are also magic.
December 7th, 2021 by Dr. Larry Selig
Every Advent, our church in Pittsburgh held an outreach for the children and families in the community to explain the real meaning of Christmas.
Up to 7,000 children and adults came each year during the four days we called “The Joy of Sharing Christmas.” Tour guides led groups of 25-35 through a series of rooms where live actors in costume would share the REAL Christmas story.
So what does the real Christmas story look like?
December 30th, 2020 by Carl Buffington
Agape and Eros are two of the three key Greek words for love, (the third being Philia), and is the title of a book by Anders Nygren that used to be on my shelf in my dorm room in West Philadelphia - the city of brotherly love. My last year at seminary I dove into the passage from John 21 that many consider the greatest dialogue in scripture. That is the 7 exchanges between Peter and Jesus, vs 15-22.
December 28th, 2020 by Sara Buffington
This year my son had a Lego Star Wars Advent calendar. Yes, such a thing exists. Each day he opened a little cardboard flap to take out the pieces of a tiny tie fighter or Darth Vader in a Christmas sweater. He loved it: every day a new discovery, something to look forward to.
I need that, too.
December 23rd, 2020 by Carl Buffington
Christmas shopping is when you go to a shopping center and become a moving target for hundreds of half-crazed and half-blind drivers – drivers who know no fear and would challenge a Sherman tank for a parking place.
It’s where you go to cash in on all the non-bargains Madison Avenue has prepared for you to purchase. It’s tiring and draining on me, Christmas shopping.
December 21st, 2020 by Sara Buffington
Have you heard of the “Get Along Shirt”? Faced with bickering siblings, you can stuff your two kids into a man’s extra large T-shirt, so they are forced to be together and work it out.
I have never tried this in my home, but when my two older ones were younger, I used to make them give each other a hug after an argument. Then they had to look into each other’s eyes and say one nice thing about the other person. Sounds great, right?
The reality was that they hugged each other in the most reluctant, insincere hug they could conjure. Then, when told to say something nice, their answers would include a monotone, deadpan, “You have nice hair.”
December 17th, 2020 by Carl Buffington
“Why did you go into the ministry?” the rector’s wife asked me at dinner. My response surprised me. I mean, when asked in the past, I would say something like, “God was pushing me,” or “God was working behind the scenes.” In other words, I hadn’t sense a ‘call’ or that I was being led. I had been surprised to findmyself going in this direction.