The absurdist Albert Camus once wrote, "Death is philosophy's only problem." For Camus death is the ultimate problem because if every human story ends in death, it renders the rest of our lives meaningless. The wise man Solomon expressed a similar concern over death in Ecclesiastes 2:12-17 when he pondered the sobering fact that the wise man and the fool both come to the same end: If "the wise dies just like the fool," what good is wisdom? In chapter 3, Solomon extends this line of reasoning when he notes that what happens to beasts also happens to men -- "as one dies, so dies the other....They have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts."

Yes, we are technically still in the Advent season for a couple more days, but this is the time of year folks begin to greet one another with "Merry Christmas!" The origin and exact meaning of the phrase "Merry Christmas" is somewhat debatable, largely because the word "merry" has carried different connotations at different times.

This time of year, many Christians say things like, "Remember the reason for the season." The point, of course, is that the real meaning of Christmas must not get lost amidst the presents, the parties, and everything else that typically goes with the Advent/Christmas season. I agree and disagree.

This post is based on the exhortation given before worship on August 16, 2020.

Our highest privilege is gathering for the divine service each Lord's day. What we do in the liturgy not only cleans up the messes we made in the previous week (as we confess our sins and hear absolution), it also lays the foundation for the week to come so we have strength to serve God in love and wisdom. This is the pattern of the Christian life. Grasping this pattern is important if we are to live faithfully in a culture that is falling apart.