This Week’s Links

Internet1Happy New Year! Tuesdays on the blog mean that I have the pleasure of sharing some links to things that I have found interesting and thought provoking over the previous week with all of you. Because it has been a few weeks since the last issue of the links, there are quite a few posts related to Christmas, Advent, and New Year’s in here. To help make sense of all that I have read, I have grouped these links by the following categories: Church and Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Stewardship; Vocation; and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links!

Church and Ministry Thought & Practice
Are you preaching this week like me? If so, definitely spend some time with friend and professor Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis‘ thoughts on “Epiphany Preaching.” Also, here are some stewardship ideas to keep in mind for both Epiphany and Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.

Kurt Lammi wrote about “Star Wars and the countercultural practice of Advent,” for Living Lutheran. Though Advent has now come and passed, this might be a worthwhile read to keep in mind for next Advent.

Last month, Ryan Sanders wrote for The Dallas News, that, “Evangelical churches are embracing liturgy to make the megachurch more personal.” What do you think about what this might mean?

In case you missed it, here is Pope Francis’ homily for this past Christmas Mass.

Cross-Sector Collaboration
Joe Scarborough channeled Winston Churchill in looking back at 2017 and ahead at 2018, writing that, “A storm is gathering.” He begins his reflection by writing that, “A storm is gathering, and there is every reason to believe that 2018 will be the most consequential political year of our lives.” Read the whole piece and see what you think.

Thin Difference is a platform that offers great conversations and thought about the common good, collaboration, leadership, and Millennials. I greatly appreciate a theme that they have been featuring on their blog lately related to citizenship. In this series, Maya James wrote about, “Considering Citizenship.” Justin Kanoya asked, “What does good citizenship mean?” in writing, “Earning a Good Citizenship Award.” And Scott Savage asked, “Is Our Idea of Citizenship Flawed?

Leadership Thought & Practice
Zach Morgan takes up the topic of competition, especially as it relates to leadership, writing at Thin Difference about, “A Competition All In Your Head: Is it Helpful or Hurtful?

Jon Mertz at Thin Difference asked and shared, “How Would You Like Your Leadership? Scrambled or Unscrambled?” What do you think?

Eric Torrence, also at Thin Difference, wrote about “How to Know if You are a Know-it-All.”

Erin Strybis wrote about Millennials and the church in Living Lutheran, observing and pondering about, “The millennial mystery: a generation distanced from the church, yet longing for community.”

As you ponder and prepare to take down your Christmas decorations sometime in the next few weeks, Kim Palmer offers some insights in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that “Millennials have their own ideas on Christmas decorations.”

My wife Allison shared this good read from last October by Amanda Ruggeri, writing about “What Everyone Gets Wrong.” Amanda reasons that, “Maybe many of the assumptions we make about GenY aren’t unique to this generation. Maybe they’re specific to young people in general.” What do you think?

Neighbor Love
My wife Allison shared this deep look about faith from Tyler Huckabee about, “How to Deconstruct Your Faith Without Losing It.” Within this are insights from Richard Rohr and Sarah Bessey among others.

A while back on the links I shared with you the story from Eric Johnson about Will. Eric recently shared an update on Will, in “Will’s Book- ‘A Cup of Kindness.'” Check it out for the feel good story of the day.

silent night salem
Speaking of Christmas, like congregations across the world who come together as the faithful, here’s Salem Lutheran singing “Silent Night,” as led by the confirmands by candlelight on Christmas Eve. (Photo credit to Angie, and the Salem Lutheran Facebook page)

In thinking about Mary, the incarnation, and Advent, Ryan Kuja imagined about, “Modern Mary: What a pregnant refugee minority teenager would sing today.”

With Christmas and neighbor love in mind, Father James Martin asked and wrote about a critical question in The Los Angeles Times, “How can you be Christian without caring for the poor?

Tom Rowley and David Foldvari offer this must-read and see visual and written project from this past month, “A Refugee’s Christmas Carol.”

Angela Dewan writes that “2017 was a ‘nightmare year’ for children in conflict, UN says.” Read the findings, and please join the work to make 2018 a better year.

Friend and stewardship director Adam Copeland wrote and reflected about humanity, society, and the common good, in sharing his thoughts in “My Country This Christmas.”

If you are preaching or planning for worship later this week, here are some stewardship thoughts, ideas, and questions to keep in mind.

My wife Allison shared this stewardship related look from this past November with me. In it, Christian Smith and Harry Davidson write and ask, “Giving money away makes us happy. Then why do so few of us do it?” Good question. What do you think?

A recent study found that “Christians donate less to their religion each year than Jews and Muslims.” For the full study’s results, see them at lendedu.

Related to donations, because of tax law changes which were approved by Congress and signed into law by the President shortly before Christmas, Marcy Gordon reasons that, “Charity donations are likely to drop next year due to tax law.”

Mary-Ann Ochota asked and shared about a good Christmas time stewardship question, writing that, “Gifts are a traditional part of Christmas- but why do we give presents at all?

In a post that could fit under stewardship and vocation, friend Adam Copeland, shared this great reflection by friend and mentor Dr. Terri Elton about life, responsibility, opportunity, and the gift of “Stewarding Calls.”

Terri also shared some life and vocational reflections in “Grading.”

My wife Allison shared this look back at 2017 from Sarah Bessey, in “The Year That Was and Everything I Can’t Unlearn Now.

For some more reflection on listening, discernment, and vocation, Allison shared this look from Krista Tippett from time together in conversation with Mary Oliver in 2015 in, “Listening to the World.”

During Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas I have been sharing daily reflections based on Christmas carols and hymns. Please check out the blog from the past month if you are interested. Among the many posts was one on “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” which was about life, music, vocation, and stewardship on Christmas Day; and one on “The Bells of Christmas” on New Year’s Day which included a longer look at things I am grateful for from 2017, and a list of some of the things I am hopeful for and excited about for 2018.

Because time prevented me from putting out a Christmas focused issue of the Links, there have obviously been a number of Christmas themed links in this first edition of 2018. One more Christmas link you might enjoy comes from Todd VanDerWerff who writes and argues that, “The makers of Rudolph also created some of the most off-the-wall Christmas specials ever.”

Todd also offered this review of the Christmas Day special episode of “Doctor Who,” saying that it was “surprisingly graceful and generous.”

Rooting on the Seattle Seahawks from the arctic tundra of Nebraska, even though they lost on Sunday and didn’t qualify for the playoffs this year.

Sadly over the past weekend, the Seahawks lost and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011. With that in mind, it’s never too early for next year. Looking ahead, Travis Pittman shares this look at who the Hawks will play in 2018. And offering some hope, Larry Stone writes that, “If the Seahawks are able to have a successful offseason, there’s plenty of optimism for 2018.”

Nicole Dow shares the news that “HGTV is Giving Away a Dream House,” and this one you surely will want to enter the drawing for, as it looks beautiful and is in the great  Pacific Northwest setting of Gig Harbor, Washington.


That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. I hope you have enjoyed them! If you have any ideas for future editions, or types of articles or links you would like to see, please let me know. Thank you for reading and being a part of the conversation, and blessings on your week and New Year. -TS

Image Credits: The Links

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