by Jamie Dean
For a Christian visiting Japan's capital city of Tokyo, one of the most heartbreaking sights is also one of the city's biggest attractions. The famous Sensoji Temple draws some thirty million visitors each year, including throngs of Buddhists futilely worshipping Kannonthe purported "goddess of mercy."
On a hot afternoon near the end of summer, dozens of Japanese visitors surrounded a large fountain near the temple's entrance, waiting to cleanse themselves for worship by ladling water onto their hands and mouths. For children too small to reach the fountain, parents lowered the ladles over their tiny, outstretched hands. Nearby, other worshipers leaned over a smoldering pot of heavily perfumed incense, seeking to rid themselves of misfortune before entering the temple. Read more
by Daniel P. Clifford
Big events call for big celebrationsparties, food, balloons, streamers, noisemakers. But when God sent his Son to be born in Bethlehem, he came with much less worldly celebration than you might expect. In fact, many of the circumstances of Jesus' birth, as recorded in Luke 2, were downright pitiable. What does God want us to learn from his sending of his Son in such an unexpectedly lowly way? Here are three lessons from the manger.
First, by sending Jesus in a lowly condition, God reminds us of our extreme need. Jesus came humbly because he stood in the place of people who had been brought very low by sin. God's people need a reminder of their lowliness whenever God visits them, because they may be tempted to think that God's mercy reflects well on them. For example, when God appeared to Abraham, he promised to bless him and make him into a great nation. The people of Israel should have been amazed and humbled by these promises; instead, they started boasting that they were children of Abraham (Luke 3:8). Similarly, we today sometimes feel that we gratify God by our worship or good deeds, turning God's grace into grounds for boasting. But when we consider the Savior in the manger, it reminds us that Jesus' birth was all about God's condescension, not our deserving. Read more
by D. Patrick Ramsey
To the Members of Christ Presbyterian Church: Many of you have felt the winds of paedocommunion that have been blowing in our little neck of the woods these days. So I wanted to take this opportunity to explain the church's position on this issue. Paedocommunion is the practice of serving Communion to covenant children (the prefix paedo- means "infant" or "child") on the basis of their baptism or covenant membership and thus before they are able to understand the gospel and make a profession of faith.
The most consistent paedocommunionists administer the sacramental elements to their nursing infants by a method known as intinction. A Communion wafer, dipped into the wine, is placed between the infant's lips, in order to enable the nursing infant to receive a tiny amount of the elements. Other paedocommunionists, however, would argue that only covenant children who can digest solid food should participate in the sacrament. Read more
Dear June, Read more