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The familiar Christmas passage in Luke 2 ends at verse 20: “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.” In 1642, John Milton published a poem that takes as its subject the events of the next verse: “And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus.”

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The voices in our lives speak from TV shows like Breaking Bad and through movies and even classic forms like newspapers and the radio (that thing your parents play in the car sometimes). Many of these voices have an emphatic opinion, a stance on truth, and a worldview that they want you to adopt….As Christians in a world as filled with voices as ours is, we must—we absolutely must—have an ear for God’s Word.

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I hope you have enjoyed the recent installation of Jermaine Powell’s painting of the communion elements in our church lobby. His talent needs no exposition: it is obvious and the painting speaks of it loudly….But we don’t incorporate art into our church life thoughtlessly. And there are more questions at stake than simply “does it look nice?”

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One of the purposes of great art is to bring the overwhelming realities of life and thought within reach of normal, distracted, minds like ours. Without it, the gap between my own wisdom and the wisdom necessary to properly comprehend the wonder and mystery of birth, the changing of seasons, a fire in the hearth, sickness, and death is too wide to measure. 

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