After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the reign of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.'” (Matthew 2:1-2, Common English Bible)

The magi follow the star in this sixth-century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare near Ravenna, Italy.

The magi follow the star in this sixth-century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare near Ravenna, Italy.

Your Jitterbug Quote of the Day down below is from the professional star-gazer Nick Strobel, a scientist who is a devout Christian.

And yes, a scientist can be a devout Christian and a devout Christian can, and should, for God’s sake, believe in science.

The Bible was written by men who spent a lot of time gazing at the moon and the stars and the lands and seas and rivers and trees and all the natural provisions around them. These men were not scientists, as there was no such thing as science. Nor were they reporters reporting the news with verifiable facts or historians who wrote with footnotes to corroborate historical accounts.

Scientists and other such modern-era professionals deal in hard facts and truths (with a little t).

As the scientist-Christian Strobel explains about the Bible’s account of (supposedly) Three Wise Men and the Eastern Star, the disciple-turned-gospel writer Matthew was a Truth-teller–and that’s Truth with a capital T.

Here’s what Strobel said in your Quote of the Day:

    “He [Matthew] was not writing a science textbook or newspaper account, but rather a book to persuade people that this person called Jesus was the Son of God, one who should be worshipped, and one who showed us how to live as God wants us to live … The story of the nativity contains a deeper truth than can be found in any star chart …

    “God, the infinite power of the universe, is just so willing and wanting to have a relationship with us that he became a powerless infant who had to be cared for. That’s pretty amazing that God would be willing to do that.”

Amazing indeed!

Science can tell us a lot about the stars–how they are formed and how they die and why they shine in the night sky. But science can’t explain the meaning of life and the magnificent mystery of love.

Click here for more about Strobel’s take on the gospel of Matthew and the Star of Bethlehem in a United Methodist News Service feature by Heather Hahn.

Christmas Day, 2015


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”

— (Isaiah 9:5).

Merry Christmas to all who read this!


I think it says in the Bible that Mary, mother of Jesus, is Miss Universe.

Maybe not.

But she’ll do.

The Nativity (also known as The Holy Night (or La Notte) or as Adoration of the Shepherds) is a painting finished around 1529–1530 by the Italian painter Antonio da Correggio. It is housed in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden.

The Nativity (also known as The Holy Night (or La Notte) or as Adoration of the Shepherds) is a painting finished around 1529–1530 by the Italian painter Antonio da Correggio. It is housed in the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden.

“Amazing Peace”
Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes and lightning rattles in the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters await in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.

We question ourselves. What have we done to so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there, really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Floodwaters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children.
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth, brightening all things,
Even hate, which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.


The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.

“You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

“His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9: 2-3, 6-7

Just think about it–a child like none ever conceived has been born for us, a son given to us (Isa. 9: 6). We have been graced with a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Parent, Prince of Peace.

What have we done to deserve this, the ultimate Christmas gift?

Therein lies the grace of God, who so loved the world.


“All I want for Christmas is a new electric guitar . . . ”

With Chuck and Keith . . .



With The Grateful Dead, ca. 1971.

If you are a relative or friend of Donald Trump, what can you possibly give him for Christmas?

What do you give the man who has everything–everything, I say!

Such as (according to him in that amaaaazing self love):

Towers. Money. Businesses. Brains. Talent. Toughness. Looks. Charisma. Amaaaazing Energy. Endorsements from ultra-wealthy evangelists. An endorsement from that amazing world leader and fellow tough guy President Putin.

And, what can you possibly give a manipulative man who has a dangerous, dangerous cult at his beck and call?

What more can you receive from loved ones–or from God–when you have a cult of followers chug-a-lugging whatever flavor of Kool Aid you’re dispensing every minute of the day?

Seriously, in my view the Trump Cult has become a dangerous, brainwashing movement that has staying power whether he is elected President or not.

As Christians we have a duty to speak up and speak out at every turn against this growing evil that is the Cult of Mr. Trump.

May we draw strength and courage from the stabilizing force of love, grace, peace, justice and the kind of toughness and strength that, unfortunately, has so far been lost on the Trump cultists.


Joy to the world.

Joy to the world.

It’s been said that happiness is external, subject to situations and circumstances, while joy is internal and abiding, a gift from God.

Joy is God’s Spirit planted and rooted deep within us, regardless of a situation or circumstance.

Joy, unlike happiness, is the flip side of sorrow; the two are always connected. Without experiencing sorrow, we could never know joy.

Happiness is fleeting, never quite filling our cup to the level of contentment. Thackeray wrote in Vanity Fair:

    Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this world?
    Which of us has his desire? Or having it, is satisfied?

Money is capable of ensuring a certain amount of happiness, but how easy it is to get stranded on the merry-go-round of desire and dissatisfaction. The more money we make, the more we want. The more we want, the more we spend.

Round and round we go, never satisfied with the thrill of more money coming in, new and cool stuff being acquired, and the fleeting happiness that comes with every new dollar made and spent. Enough is never enough.

And then we’re vulnerable to the sin of stinginess.

The thing about this fast-moving merry-go-round of desire is that there’s no way to step off and settle down and rejoice.

Some of the poorest people I’ve ever known happen to be some of the happiest and most giving people I’ve known, sustained as they are by the gift of the deep-flowing joy.

Rejoice every minute, for unto us a savior bearing the gift of joy has been born.



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