Here’s the top news of the week from Word&Way. Paid subscribers to A Public Witness received an essay on the growing commercialization of Advent.
Top 5 at wordandway.org
For the Director of Music (at First Baptist in Dallas). Brian Kaylor offers some seasonal advice to the music director at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, ahead of Sunday’s worship service that will include former President Donald Trump.
Finding Bethlehem. Sarah Blackwell reflects on the many ways family traditions and rituals are an important part of faith formation for children — including the need to find a tent and some stuffed animals on Christmas Eve.
It’s Advent … Ready or Not! Anita Peebles argues that we need a reminder every year that human systems of domination can be subverted by a little baby born in an out-of-the-way place to a vulnerable teenager.
Biden: Nation Owes School Shooting Victims More Than Prayers. The president spoke about school shootings on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
Christian Officials Accuse Israel of Holiday Discrimination. A spokesman for Christian Churches in the Holy Land denounced “racist discrimination.” He added, “I urge the Israeli authorities to treat all those who want to visit the country equally without any discrimination between religion.”
You can sign up to receive the rest of the daily devotionals each morning in your inbox: Unsettling Advent.
Other News of Note
Washington Post ran a nice profile — with beautiful photos — of a Black pastor ministering in an overwhelmingly White area of West Virginia.
Baptist News Global reported on a Black Baptist pastor voted off a local school in Texas board amid a campaign labeling him racist and anti-Christian.
A Christian leader highly involved in U.S.-Israeli relations criticized former President Donald Trump for attacking former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This comes just months after the same evangelist, Mike Evans, blasted Israel for booting Netanyahu from power.
Christianity Today reported on how a shift in the workweek in the United Arab Emirates — enacted to improve international business ties — will help the small Christian community with its worship services.
Peter Manseau, curator of American religion at the Smithsonian, penned an insightful Washington Post column after multiple politicians posed with guns in front of Christmas trees: “Why So Many Guns on Christmas Cards? Because Jesus was ‘Manly and Virile.’”
This week: Kevin Cosby on Getting to the Promised Land
Need a Gift Idea?
Struggling to find a perfect present for someone this Christmas? Give them the gift of expert analysis and original reporting — a gift subscription to A Public Witness! This gift will show up each week in their inboxes and give them access to the full archive. And it helps support the journalism ministry of Word&Way.
by Brian Kaylor, Word&Way Editor-in-Chief
In July, workers removed a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia — the same statue that White Supremacists sought to protect during a deadly 2017 rally. Now, the Confederate general and his horse will be melted down and transformed into art.
The Charlottesville City Council unanimously voted to hand the infamous statue over to a local African American Heritage Center, for a project being called “Swords Into Plowshares.” The museum will work with residents and artists to select what to make out of the repurposed metal, which will then be gifted back to the city for public display.
Swords into plowshares. That old prophetic vision of Isaiah and Micah. It’s the same vision that leads the blacksmiths at RAWtools today to beat guns into garden tools. It’s the same vision that leads Christians in Bethlehem to turn tear gas canisters into Christmas ornaments.
We often read from Isaiah and Micah this time of year in our church services. But the vision of beating swords into plowshares is one we need even more in our society that celebrates violence as people even pose with guns in front of Christmas trees. But if we really want to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, we need to some more transforming of tear gas canisters, beating of guns, and melting of statues.
I look forward to one day revisiting Charlottesville to see the new prophetic art. I suspect that old metal will look better than ever. A new creation.
Photo of the Week
Thanks for reading!