Resurrection life
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Resurrection life

Most religions address the challenge of death with some concept of an afterlife. Islam presents the goal as paradise. Eastern religions speak of reincarnation, then escape into the great universal spirit. Most Materialists say, “When you’re dead, you’re dead,” with hope being in the next generations. Christians sometimes talk of life after death as “heaven,”…

Imaging God
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Imaging God

Picture God. We might have a mental picture, but the commandment against graven images tells us not to limit God with our pictures. The Scriptures are full of metaphors to help us relate to God: Father, King, Lord, Shepherd, Rock. When theologians describe God, they often use negatives. God is independent, immutable, infinite, indivisible, and…

Christmas Oranges
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Christmas Oranges

My childhood church Christmas pageants ended with the distribution of treat bags to all the children. Capping a collection of nuts, hard Christmas candies, and chocolate drops was a mandarin orange. As a child I first searched for the longest cinnamon-flavoured ribbon and counted the number of chocolate drops; only later would my attention turn…

Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum
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Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum

It was an annual tradition back in my days at College Street Public School. Every Friday morning from mid-November until Christmas break, the whole school – grades one through eight – crammed into a makeshift auditorium. We had no gym back then, only two adjacent classrooms with a removable wall between them. Chairs and desks…

A Subversive Christmas
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A Subversive Christmas

Medieval Christmas traditions would seem a little weird to most of us. In fact, the kind of Christmas that my ancestors likely observed in the fishing villages of Medieval North Holland probably looked a lot more like Halloween than Christmas. Take caroling, for example. We think of caroling as a joyful, cheer-sharing pastime meant to…

Madonna Alley
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Madonna Alley

The property we move to when the baby is 18 months old borders a grassy, city-owned alley. It is a secret garden, a lost green plot turned into a tiny community park. Eight properties back onto this narrow stretch of land. Neighbors take turns mowing the grass, half-heartedly tending the gardens, letting their dogs run…

The coming kingdom
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The coming kingdom

During Advent and Christmas, we celebrate the first coming of Jesus Christ into the world. The ancient creeds and the Reformation confessions tell us that Jesus is God incarnate, the second person of the Trinity, whom the Father sent to live among us, to take upon himself our sins, to pay the price for them…

A Light to the Lonely
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A Light to the Lonely

On Thanksgiving Monday, Peter Elgersma and his family rolled up their sleeves to cook for Richmond Hill Community Christian Reformed Church’s second “to-go” thanksgiving dinner. I chatted with Elgersma, a CC board member, about the dinner. Peter and his family, five in total, volunteered to cook and individually package 150 meals for the church’s 28th…