Friday, January 27, 2012

Lead us not into frustration, but deliver us into good praise and worship: Tips for worship teams

As the evangelists who came to our little church for “revivals” when I was a kid would always say, “Forgive me for I’m about to step on some toes. Hallelujah!

That was the standard warning preamble to a 10-15 minute diatribe against some sin of fashion, passion, or whatever. The revival trail sin dujour.

Skirts are too short. Pants are too tight. Movies are too racy. And the like. The “hallelujah” gave the impression that they enjoyed toe stompin’.

Me? I’m not fond of stepping on any body part and I’m not going to address sin issues. Instead, I’m going to offer some tips to worship leaders (aka song leaders) on how to create a better singing/worship experience on Sunday mornings and other times.

From years of experience

These tips emerge from decades of being in church, both as a member and a visitor, across a variety of denominations. And they all come from the perspective of a worshipee.

If you do an Internet search on, say, “how to be an effective worship leader,” the results will pull up dozens of articles addressing the spiritual side of the equation: Be prayed up and ‘fessed up, share Bible study and prayer times with your worship team, and the like.

There are also tips to tie the music into sermon themes, stay on good terms with the pastor, and practice, practice, practice.

These are all good things. Especially the practice part.

But there are other elements that tend to get overlooked. These are what I’m going to address. They are simple, practical, and essential tips.

They are not ordered according to any priority as they are each vital for an effective worship experience for the people you are leading.

TIP: Keep your eyes open.

Just as it’s okay to pray with your eyes open, it’s okay to worship with your eyes open. As a leader (or worship team participant), it’s an absolute must.

You cannot afford to get “lost” in worship since you are the one leading others. You need to be aware of what’s happening with the other musicians and what’s happening with the congregation.

If people suddenly get confused looks on their faces and their lips stop moving, it’s a good indication the words being projected for them to sing aren’t matching what’s coming out of your mouth. Or else you’ve just suffered a wardrobe malfunction.

The worship team also needs to pay attention to cues from the leader (you do have one leader don’t you?) to know when to repeat a verse, speed up, slow down, and end it.

TIP: Let us actually sing.

There’s nothing more frustrating for a congregant than when every song is new, unfamiliar, absurdly high or low, set to an odd rhythm, or otherwise unsingable.

I like to sing during the music/worship time but have been in situations where it was impossible. You may possess a wonderful voice that can range across multiple octaves, but as a worship team member, you need to reign it in.

Check with various members of the congregation from time to time to make sure you’re singing in keys, ranges, and rhythms they can match comfortably.

Oh, and singers on a worship team must actually be able to sing well, and those with instruments should know how to play them well.

TIP: Don’t perform.

It’s not about you, ever. Yes, it’s tempting when you’re really good on your instrument and in front of people to show off. But this is totally inappropriate when part of a worship team.

Play competently and be invisible. Dress modestly, keep the movement small, don’t launch into a loud solo riff, only point people’s attention to the One they are worshiping.

Avoid choosing songs because they let you feature your talent. Pick songs that enhance the topic of the message and that everyone can sing comfortably.

TIP: Let us know what to do.

Remember to provide simple instruction as you lead people in worship. Team members should know various signals regarding transitions, tempo changes, etc.

But we in the congregation need to be told when it’s appropriate to stand and sit, where to look for the words, when it’s time to pray or just listen.

Keep us clued into what’s next.

However, avoid being too directive about how we are to worship. You are leading not directing. Everyone has their own style of responding and that may not include jumping up and down, shouting out loud, etc. Don’t chide.

TIP: Teach us new songs.

When introducing a new song, take the time to teach it! Don’t just throw the words up on the screen and start singing. Announce that it’s a new song, have us listen as you sing it through once or twice, and make sure all the team members singing and playing are presenting the melody strong and clear. Add the fancy stuff later, but first give us a chance to learn the words and melody.

Oh, and always have your strongest singer singing the straight melody for every song so we can hear it and follow along easily.

Pick new songs that can easily be sung by a congregation. Not every popular Christian song being played on the radio makes for a good congregational worship song. And please only introduce one new song in a set. In fact, you may want to teach the song over multiple weeks.

TIP: Move from praise to worship.

Start with the faster, more upbeat songs – the praise songs. Then move to the slower, more contemplative songs – the worship songs. Praise songs bring us into the presence of God with joy. Worship songs focus us on His glory and set us up to sit down and hear the Word.

Avoid having your last song be a rousing, upbeat, raucous, whoop-up of a praise song! Sit people down in a quieter mood and state. Odds are they’ll be less fidgety and more attentive to the preaching. If you want to do a post-message song that’s upbeat, that’s okay.

TIP: Know who is really on your team

The worship team is not limited to the musicians on the platform. The people running the sound board, manning the projector, and others are also part of your team.

Make sure you thoroughly identify all of the players on the team and make sure they are all involved in your practice/rehearsal times as well as your fellowship/prayer/Bible study times.

Make sure those on the team who are not on the platform are fully aware of all your special signals regarding transitions and tempo changes.

And make sure you look at them in the sound/projector booth when they are frantically trying to get your attention because something’s out of whack.

If you have a guest musician participate, introduce them so we’re not wondering who they are and why they’re there.

TIP: Separate your practice/rehearsal time from your fellowshiping/praying/Bible study time.

Time is precious and the temptation will be to jam everything into one night during the week. You’ll get together for practice and end up spending two hours praying and sharing, then remember why you got together, and cram another two hours with practicing, and go home exhausted at midnight or later. This is not a good thing.

When you get together for practice, focus only on practicing. Make the time about song selection, getting the sound right, planning transitions, and all the other very important practical, technical, and procedural stuff. Open your time with a very short prayer and end it with a very short prayer.

Then, once a month or whenever, plan to get everyone together for fellowship, Bible study, prayer, sharing, and anything else except practice.

If you fail to discipline yourselves so that your practice/rehearsal times are truly about practicing, rehearsing, and prepping, you’ll never be fully ready to lead any worship time.

Forgive me if your toes are sore

Back in the church I grew up in, things were simpler. We had hymnals, someone to play the piano, and sometimes the organ. Other musicians came and went.

There were times when we’d get to church and the pastor would approach my dad, who was not a musician, and ask him to lead the song service. Dad didn’t say no. He pulled out a hymnal, selected four or five songs, handed the list to the musicians present, and oh, the times of praise and worship that would ensue!

There are many reasons why that worked then and why it won’t work now. For instance, most churches no longer have hymnals. Which is not necessarily a good thing.

Whether you are a worship team of one in a small church, or of dozens in a megachurch, do what you do both with excellence and “as unto the Lord.”

My tips are aimed to help with both sides of that equation from the perspective of one who sings from the pews.

We’re the ones you’re leading in worship. Don’t forget us as you “enter His courts with praise.” We’d like to be able to follow along.

Just for fun

In the first video, Mr. Bean visits a church where they could use a good worship leader. In the second, well, I’m not sure what happened.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Missing God’s Giftings

A few years ago I was involved with a church headed by a young pastor full of vim, vigor, and himself. His dad was prominent in the denomination and that was his ticket, so he felt, to ecclesiastic success.

Don’t get me wrong. He was an okay guy and not a horrible pastor; just rough around the edges. And not too skilled at matching people to ministries they were gifted for. In fact, he tended to ignore the “gifts” part of the equation choosing instead to apply his own blanket test.

Having seen a need, sensing God’s prompting to fill it, and knowing I had the gifting to handle it, I approached the pastor and shared my desire to address this ministry need. His response floored me.

He said no. Period. End of discussion.

However, he suggested, perhaps I could take over the coffee setup early on Sunday mornings. By doing this “menial” task I would thus prove to him my humility and true servant’s heart.

I initially declined and the need God placed on my heart went unmet. Yet, someone who was gifted in hospitality continued to manage the coffee setup. I’m not sure where the pastor would have moved this servant had I chosen to bump them from the task for which they were wonderfully gifted. (Later, when the person handling the coffee needed to step down I took it over.)

I wonder how many pastors and other ministry leaders are making the same mistake this young pastor did?

God does the gifting and calling

When God instructed Moses to build the tabernacle, He also instilled in various individuals all the necessary skills and giftings needed to complete the work. For example, Bezalel, who God “filled…with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship” Exodus 35:31-33 (NIV).

Today, when it comes to building up the church, followers of Christ are also given spiritual gifts. These gifts enable each of us, as various functioning parts of the body of Christ, to share in the work of the church. Paul writes about these gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:5-11 (NIV), stating:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
There are several other New Testament passages addressing spiritual gifts. The primary points to grasp are (1) that there are many gifts, (2) they all come from God, (3) every believer is gifted in some way, and (4) how a believer is gifted plays into how they serve in the church. God does not call someone to something that He doesn’t also gift them to do.

Fitting people to ministry

While it may seem like a reasonable idea to require everyone to serve in a “humble” or “menial” role before taking on “bigger things,” I don’t believe this is what God intended.

First, there are no “menial” tasks in the Kingdom of God. Serving in any role implies a sense of humility and sacrifice.

While the term menial can imply something involving humble service, it also carries the implication of being demeaning, lowly, and even degrading. It’s the latter meaning that is usually meant when the word is used. Labeling a task as “menial” demeans the task and anyone doing it.

Cleaning toilets and other janitorial work often falls into this “menial” category. Calling it menial demeans the one doing it. Any work done for the glory of God is not tainted. Any worker doing work for the glory of God is not tainted.

Doing janitorial work in a church takes as much commitment and dedication as serving on the board.

Second, God does the gifting. To ignore this is to deny God’s knows what He’s doing.

Gifts are given through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It’s the job of pastors and other leaders to work with individuals to discern their giftings and tap into them.

To force fit any believer into a task that is deemed menial merely to test their willingness to serve humbly insults the God who both gifted them and placed in their heart the desire to serve. It’s a false and unnecessary test.

For a new believer just beginning to find their way, suggesting they try out various tasks is not a bad idea. Through trial and error, they can begin to more clearly recognize how God has and hasn’t gifted them. However, this is not necessarily a good tactic for a seasoned believer who has a pretty good grasp on what their giftings are.

The gifting and the work are holy things, and when the worker is gifted for the work, amazing things can happen.

Where to start

There are a number of tools available to help someone discover their spiritual gifts, below are three simple steps that can at least get you started in the right direction.

Note: Over all of this there needs to be prayer going on. Prayer is not a “step” in any process when it comes to the church and ministry. Prayer is the essence of a church’s ministry and is ongoing.
  1. Are they an introvert or extrovert? When seeking to connect people to ministry needs in the church, the basic consideration is personality type: are they an extrovert or an introvert. Recognizing and acknowledging this basic characteristic can go a long way in avoiding burning out someone by pushing them into a ministry that grates against who they are. For example, an introvert is probably not a good fit for being in the public eye as a greeter, while an extrovert could be crushed by having to perform a quiet, passive task.
  2. What have they enjoyed doing and had success at? Next, talk to the person about the kinds of responsibilities they’ve had in the past that they truly enjoyed as well as those they hated. God isn’t a mean task-master who will make you do what you hate. He created you to enjoy how you were created. Doing a simple inventory of likes and don’t likes can help point a person to how they are gifted.
  3. Is there a need matching their perceived giftings? If a person approaches a pastor offering to address a need that truly exists, they need to be paid attention to. If there is no need, then that could be a red flag.
Every believer has value in the Kingdom of God and every believer has a role in His Kingdom. It’s the responsibility of every believer to work with their local church leaders to connect the gifts God has given them to the needs in their church. And no church leader should block what God wants to do. It really isn’t rocket science.

Just for fun

Below are two videos related to serving in the church. In the first, both the congregant and the pastor are missing the mark in the conversation; neither is “right.” The second video presents in a very blunt manner a common failing when extrovert pastors or leaders don’t “get” their introvert church members. (NOTE: One has apparently been removed at the source.)


Friday, January 13, 2012

How to protect your IP gold!

What do a banana, Vegas, an elf on the shelf, Kodak, Wimpy Kid & Zombies, and the Galaxy Tab all have in common? They are all tied to a variety of Intellectual Property (IP) issues ranging from disputes to infringement to raising capital.*

On January 19, 2012, Sharon L. Toerek, of Licata & Toerek, addressed a Cleveland group of professional communicators on the very apropos topic, “It's all you've got: How to protect your Intellectual Property.” I interviewed Toerek ahead of the event to learn more about IP.

Defining IP

According to Toerek, IP is often a company’s most valuable asset. “For most closely held companies in particular, and even larger corporate concerns, their IP is their most valuable asset. It’s worth more than equipment, inventory, or the building they are doing business out of. Without the innovation and brand equity IP represents, a company is just not as valuable.”

So what is IP? Says Toerek, “IP is really a term that encompasses various groups of rights and intellectual capital that a company possesses.” IP generally falls into one of four categories Toerek defines as follows:
  • Trademarks (TM, SM, ®) are the legal rights that someone has in association with the marks they use to identify their products or services.
  • Patents are the rights an inventor has in some original work that is innovative and technical, although Toerek points out, “you can have design patent rights in some circumstances.”
  • Trade Secrets is information that if it fell into the hands of your competitor in the marketplace, would do harm to your business. This is information that “is valuable to your company because it is proprietary and kept secret.”
  • Copyright (©) “is a term referring to a bundle of rights that a creator has in any original creative work whether writing, painting, software, and the like.” These rights include the rights to display, copy, sell, license, or create a derivative work.
IP management mistakes

Unfortunately many companies fail to understand the value of their IP. States Toerek, “Most companies have at least three out of the four types of IP related to their business. Yet IP is typically undervalued.”

She cites two significant weaknesses when it comes to managing and protecting IP:
  • Not getting it in writing! Says Toerek, “I’ve worked with a lot of clients in the marketing services fields and the number one thing they fail to do is document owner issues in writing.” It’s often assumed when working with independent contractors and freelancers that the entity paying for the work owns the work. Not so, says Toerek, if such an agreement is not in writing. “The failure to document in writing the IP aspects of the relationship and the IP transfers that occur is a very common thing that I see all the time.”
  • Not having a process or a point of contact! Toerek says it’s important to have “enforceable systems within a company for managing IP.” Simply, this means having a point person in charge of clearing and registering TMs, domain names, rights agreements, and so forth. They’re the one who designs and manages forms, archives documents, and asks the right questions regarding acquiring, protecting, and managing rights. “What’s the process?,” says Toerek. “If you manage the process, then the rest pretty much falls in line.”
Areas of IP challenges in 2012

There are ongoing concerns companies must deal with related to their IP. However, Toerek sees two that could be prominent this year:
  1. New top-level domains. “I think that one of the biggest challenges we’re going to see this year involves the new top level domain registrar battle. This is going to create sort of a Wild West situation for domain owners.” She explains that if new top level domains continue to be authorized indiscriminately, basically making any term open for sale to anyone, then every trademark holder “is going to have to be vigilant and on guard about whether their TM or other IP is being abused or even infringed upon if someone is registering a domain name that conflicts with their mark.”
  2. Social media. “On the copyright side of things we need to be watchful in terms of the potential for infringement that social media creates. With open platforms there’s going to be content misappropriation.” She explains that the platform sponsors such as Facebook, Twitter, and others, are generally behaving responsibly.  “They are protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so as long as they’re being attentive to potential abuse, putting processes in place to prevent abuse, allowing people to report the abuse, and getting the infringing content taken down.” However, she points out, this kind of IP abuse is “completely viral and hard to control.”
Enforcing IP rights

Often the media carries stories of the big, mean company going after a smaller entity alleging TM or other infringement. Says Toerek, “In the TM arena this is known as trademark bullying. It happens when someone owns a TM but may not be using it broadly based on TM rights and goes after a smaller user trying to extract money, a license fee, or impose a cease and desist order.”

In these situations Toerek says it’s important to keep in mind that this is a business transaction. “My first reach out is always on a business level and it may come in the form of a cease and desist letter. This is always tempered with a statement of willingness to give the person, who may have acted innocently, a chance to stop or correct what they are doing within a reasonable period of time.”

Going forward she explains it’s important to “be vigilant and accelerate things at a reasonable pace.” She says if you know somebody’s infringing and you don’t take prompt action, your inaction can be used against you.

When approaching these situations, she advises to be transparent and point out your business case. “By pointing out the merits of your case in business terms and from a business point of view it’s more difficult for them to spin it into something that reflects badly on you as the IP owner.”

Sharon L. Toerek

* Links to articles about each case:


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Do you look like the devil? J’accuse!

In 1898, French writer Emile Zola wrote an open letter to the President of France in defense of an Army general being tried for treason. In the process of defending the general, Zola accused the government of judicial wrongdoing and related misdeeds. His famous letter was published on the front page of the newspaper under the simple title, “J’accuse!

French for “I accuse,” this exclamation is flung regularly at/by politicians, business leaders, Occupiers, and even Christians, both justly and unjustly.

We’ve all heard the adage, especially around Thanksgiving, “You are what you eat!” Okay, you won’t literally turn into a turkey when you eat turkey. But, when it comes to behavior, you can look like how you speak.

A devil by any other name is still diabolical

In the Bible, Satan is labeled, among other things, as the “accuser.” In Revelation 12, he is characterized as accusing the faithful before God day and night. Satan doesn’t recognize redemption and forgiveness.

His scriptural names include diabolos, katēgoros, and katēgōr.  In English, the meanings of these names are translated devil, false accuser, slanderer. A more detailed definition includes prone to slander, slanderous, accusing falsely, a calumniator, false accuser, slanderer. Most telling, the terms are used metaphorically “applied to a man who, by opposing the cause of God, may be said to act the part of the devil or to side with him.” (Thayer and Smith. "Greek Lexicon entry for Diabolos". "The New Testament Greek Lexicon".)

Have you ever passed on a rumor about someone? Been the initiator of a lie about someone else? Falsely accused another person? Continued to disparage a person’s past even though they had confessed and changed? Shared how you believe you were wronged by someone else while never directly going to the one you believed wronged you?

One of Satan’s key ploys is to bring up past, forgiven sins over and over and over, hoping to wear us down and drive us away from grace. When we engage in accusatory behavior, we take on the appearance of the devil. In a sense, we become little satans.

Advocating for the Accuser

In the church I grew up in, it was tough going for those who sought salvation yet struggled with assumed and real sins. Smoking, lusting, gambling, and drinking were biggies. None of the “faithful” believed that smokers and drinkers could be saved. Even candy cigarettes were off limits! And a teen going through puberty was doomed.

Regardless of the failing, the tongues wagged and that was that. Once flagged a sinner, or worse – a backslider, you were pretty much an outcast. It’s no wonder people have since flocked away from that and similar church situations. What’s the point in going to church where grace is not the norm?

Today, self-righteous “Christians” look down their noses at those inside and outside the church who they’ve decided are somehow beyond God’s grace. Much of the accusations spread are lies. Even when based in truth, these "Christians" behaving like little satans forget that forgiveness is supposed to be their response. And forgiveness means not fomenting ongoing rumors about past failings, real or perceived.

But it’s the truth!

Appealing to the fact that an accusation is based in truth does not make it okay to continue spreading stories. The Bible lays out a process for dealing with situations where someone has wronged another. It starts with private, loving confrontation. The goal is always restoration. And once the matter is settled, the parties involved need to shut up about it.

However, too many refuse to follow biblical process wanting instead to find self-righteousness in secretly destroying the reputation of the person they are accusing. They never face the one they are accusing, but go all around them seeding lies in the minds of their friends and colleagues, claiming to be wounded, and seeking pity. Confronting their “enemy” biblically would mean losing their status as a victim.

They would rather advocate for the cause of Satan than live out the call of Christ. One could legitimately call into question their claim of being Christian.

Whenever we falsely or secretly accuse another, we are voiding the image of God in us and putting on the aura of Satan, the perennial accuser of the saints.

Put on Christ and put off the Devil

So what should be our attitude toward those who we believe to have failed in their faith walk? We covet forgiveness for ourselves and pray that God’s promised forgetfulness will cover our own failings. We should deal with the sins of others following this example of our Heavenly Father:
Psalm 103:8-12 (NIV) states, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
When we keep the sins of others alive, we are forfeiting our own forgiveness. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus taught us that, “…if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

When it comes to another's sin, our response is to forgive as we have been forgiven, 70 x 7 and beyond, covering their failing with the love of a gracious Lord. Refusing to do so puts us in spiritual jeopardy and on the side of Satan.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Please, do not plow my phone!

Today a snow plow visited our tiny street. Fourteen times.

According to the FTC there are more than 300 million numbers listed on the Do Not Call registry with an average of 8 million added each year. Yet only a mere 35,000 or so businesses bothered to access the registry in 2010 before launching their telemarketing efforts.

Today’s weather was sunny with temps reaching into the low 40s. It’s been at least two days since it snowed and most of what was left melted yesterday when temps touched in the mid-30s.

So it was nothing less than with amazement that I watched as the plow kept going up and down our street scraping wet pavement.

This week we’ve gotten calls from various vendors and organizations – all unsolicited – asking us to buy or give.

Our phone numbers are listed on the Do Not Call registry. We marvel at the calls with a mixture of amazement and annoyance.

I’m assuming the plow driver was merely killing time until the end of his shift. Why he picked our street for this I don’t know. But his efforts were pointless. He was wasting time, fuel, and taxpayer money while causing unneeded wear to the street.

But he just kept plowing, back and forth, up and down the slushy street for about an hour. The sound was as annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard.

Telemarketers who ignore the Do Not Call registry are a lot like that plow driver.

They call over and over, ignoring pleas to remove numbers from their list and to not call again. In fact, the FTC fined one consulting company $500,000 for training reps to ignore such requests:
“According to the complaint, Americall’s training manual instructed its reps that, absent additional information, people who say ‘Don’t call again,’ ‘Don’t call me back,’ or ‘I do not accept solicitation call [sic]’ shouldn’t be placed on the entity-specific Do Not Call list of the company on whose behalf Americall was calling. That, says the FTC, violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule” (
Worse than the live reps who come on the line unintelligibly spitting out their spiel are the robo-calls. With a live caller you can at least talk to them and hopefully convince them to not call again. Or, at the least, vent some of your annoyance.

With robo-calls, you can try pressing 9 to have your number delisted, but there’s no guarantee it will work.

When a telemarketer ignores a do not call request, they are essentially plowing a bare street. The behavior is not dissimilar to the definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

What they are accomplishing in most instances is increasing the frustration of the called which in turns drives away the very business or support they seek.

Even those who are excepted from the Do Not Call requirements should reconsider calling.

Do not call means very simply, do NOT call! If a person has gone to the trouble of adding numbers to the registry it’s pretty clear they don’t want to be solicited by phone. This is true even if for a worthy cause or a company the called has done business with.

Simply put, making sales calls to people who don’t want to be called makes as much sense as plowing a snowless street 14 times on a sunny day.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Number 7 of 7 Musings on Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany


WITHOUT LIGHT, THERE IS NO SEEING. Without seeing, light is unnecessary; kind of like the saying, “the lights are on, but no one’s home.”

If you get up when it’s dark and don’t turn on a light, you risk a stubbed toe. If you turn on a light. but then close your eyes, you probably deserve stubbing your toe!

God turned on the light of the world by sending Jesus to a manger and a cross. Before Jesus came, people stumbled all over the place in the dark looking for the light switch. Some still stumble, refusing to open their eyes to the Light that’s been revealed.

We are called to be the epiphany to the world. God’s bright idea was to make us his holy light bulbs. We are to bring good things to light as we manifest his truth in the world. Are you plugged in and turned on? Are those near you fumbling because their eyes are closed or because there’s not enough light? Clap on – and shine!

Advent runs for four weeks: 11/27, 12/4, 12/11, 12/18, and culminates on Christmas Eve 12/24.
Christmas Day is celebrated on 12/25, however the 12 days of Christmas extend through 1/6
Epiphany, the 12th day, marks the end of the Christmas season.