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Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

January 1970 Archives

Christmas According to Dickens: Why Did Ebenezer Scrooge Change? Stave IV

posted by Mark D. Roberts

The final Spirit to visit Ebenezer Scrooge is the “Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come” or simply the “Ghost of the Future.” This silent Spirit, shrouded in black, takes the mythic form of death. Not surprisingly, the visions it reveals […]

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Why Did Ebenezer Scrooge Change? Stave III, Part 2

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In yesterday’s post, I began considering what in Stave III contributes to the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart. I summarized the events of Stave 3, focusing especially on Scrooge’s response to children in need: Tiny Tim of the Cratchit family […]

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Why Did Ebenezer Scrooge Change? Stave III

posted by Mark D. Roberts

When we last left Ebenezer Scrooge, he had just finished being visited by the first of three Christmas Spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past. He fell into bed, exhausted. At the beginning of Stave III, Scrooge awakes, ready for the […]

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Why Did Ebenezer Scrooge Change? Stave II

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In my last post, I began to examine A Christmas Carol to discover why Ebenezer Scrooge changed so dramatically. I showed that we see the tiniest hint of his transformation in his interaction with the ghost of Jacob Marley, whose […]

Christmas According to Dickens: Why Did Ebenezer Scrooge Change? Stave 1

posted by Mark D. Roberts

As A Christmas Carol begins, Ebenezer Scrooge is one of the most unlikable characters in all of literature. Here, once again, is the full version of Charles Dickens’s classic description: Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, […]

Sunday Inspiration from The High Calling: Peace on Earth!

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Peace on Earth! Luke 2:8-14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,      and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:14 Merry Christmas! Yes, I know it’s the day after Christmas. But many Christians think of […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 25

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Another Christmas Miracle?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Yesterday I shared the story of my daughter Kara’s “miraculous” silence when, as a seven-week-old baby, she played the baby Jesus in our church’s Christmas Eve pageant. No crying she makes? Indeed! There’s another chapter in that story. Except for […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 24

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

A Christmas Miracle?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

I expect you may have heard your pastor complain about the line in “Away in a Manger” that proclaims, “The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” I admit that I have been one of those pastors. Though I did […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 23

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Christmas According to Dickens: What Made Scrooge Scrooge?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

If you call somebody a Scrooge today, everybody will know what you mean. You’re implying that someone is miserly, grumpy, and selfish, especially but not only during Christmastime. Soon I want to examine what made Ebenezer Scrooge change from being, […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 22

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Good Will Toward Whom? All? Or Only Those With Whom God is Pleased?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Cathy Lynn Grossman, religion writer for USA Today, raises an intriguing issue in her blog, Faith & Reason. In her post, “Christmas cards wish good will toward (mostly) all,” Grossman notes that some Christmas cards offer peace and goodwill, following […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 21

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Christmas Links: From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

posted by Mark D. Roberts

A Tough Season for Believers Ross Douthat, columnist for the New York Times, suggests that Christmastime is, in fact, a “Tough Season for Believers.” Here’s how his recent Op-Ed Column in the Times begins: Christmas is hard for everyone. But […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 20

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

“Ebenezer Scrooge” – The Meaning of the Name

posted by Mark D. Roberts

As a first step in our consideration of the question “Why did Ebenezer Scrooge change?” I want to examine the character’s name. Charles Dickens was an author who paid attention to the tiniest details of a story. Surely he chose […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 19

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Sunday Inspiration from The High Calling: Where is God’s Unfailing Love?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Where is God’s Unfailing Love? Psalm 89:1-52 Lord, where is your unfailing love?      You promised it to David with a faithful pledge. Psalm 89:49 Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent, a day to remember how much we need […]

I’m All for Keeping Christ in Christmas, But . . .

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Hey, I’m fully aware and supportive of the fact that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” And I’m all for keeping Christ in Christmas, but somebody in my local Blockbuster video store might want to think twice about how […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 18

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Are We Watching the End of Christianity in Iraq?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

The Catholic News Agency published an article today that deserves our attention, our sadness, and our prayers. Here’s the beginning: Persecution leading Iraqi Christians to draw harsh conclusionsBy Alan Holdren, Rome Correspondent Rome, Italy, Dec 17, 2010 / 02:40 pm […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 17

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Christmas According to Dickens: The First “Ebenezer Scrooge”

posted by Mark D. Roberts

If I were to tell you that Charles Dickens wrote a story about a solitary, crotchety old man who despised both people and Christmas until some supernatural visitors came to him on Christmas Eve and taught him to have a […]

Little Star: A Delightful Christmas Book for Children

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Sometimes it seems like the Christmas children’s stories mostly have nothing to do with Jesus. There are some wonderful exceptions, of course, like the story told in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Now I have nothing against the secular tales for […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 16

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Christmas According to Dickens: The Real Business of Christmas

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In Monday’s post I began to explain the impact of Charles Dickens, especially through A Christmas Carol, upon our celebrations of Christmas. In fact, it’s not too much of an exaggeration to describe him, in the words of the London […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 15

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Online Advent Calendar: December 14

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Dickens: The Man Who Invented Christmas?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In 1988 the Sunday Telegraph of London gave Charles Dickens the title of “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” If you’re not familiar with the history of Christmas celebrations, this may seem like an enormous exaggeration. But when you look more […]

USA Today Stirs the Pot of Advent Controversies

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In its Opinion Section today, USA Today includes two articles focusing on Advent. Now that is notable all by itself. I can’t remember when a newspaper had two, count ’em, two Advent themed articles. But it’s not all sweetness and […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 13

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Our Favorite Christmas Carol?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

What Is Your Favorite Christmas Carol? If you were to ask people “What is your favorite Christmas carol?” you’d get a wide variety of answers. Many would offer up “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World.” Folks who count all […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 12

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Advent Inspiration from The High Calling: Streams in the Desert and Shouts of Joy

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Streams in the Desert and Shouts of Joy Psalm 126:1-6 Restore our fortunes, LORD,      as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears      will harvest with shouts of joy. Psalm 126:4-5 Where I live in the Texas […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 11

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Paying Attention to the Neglected Christmas Story

posted by Mark D. Roberts

We’re all familiar with the Christmas stories in the biblical Gospels. We know well Matthew’s story that focuses on Joseph and the visit of the Magi. And we love Luke’s narrative with Mary, a manger, and the shepherds. But there […]

Liam Neeson: More About Aslan’s Meaning in a Beliefnet Interview

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Check out this video of an exclusive Beliefnet interview with Liam Neeson. Very interesting! Here’s what Neeson has to say about Aslan and his meaning: Question: What is the takeway message with Aslan from the movies? Neeson: “I don’t like […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 10

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

The Christian Year and the Textures of Worship

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In this post I want to pursue a bit further how the Christian year can enhance our worship and therefore our relationship with God. As Christians we worship in light of the Gospel. Our worship is a response to the […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 9

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Could Aslan Symbolize Mohammed and the Buddha? A Response to Liam Neeson and the Christian Community

posted by Mark D. Roberts

As I explained in yesterday’s post, Liam Neeson, the actor who provides the voice for Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia films, has recently expressed his opinion that: “Aslan symbolizes a Christ-like figure but he also symbolizes for me Mohammed, […]

Could Aslan Symbolize Mohammed and the Buddha? Aslan’s Voice Says “Yes”

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Actor Liam Neeson, who does the voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia films, including the forthcoming The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has upset fans of Narnia by claiming that Aslan represents, for him, a wide variety of […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 8

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Liturgical Colors and Visual Art in Worship

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In yesterday’s post, I gave an overview of the Christian year, including a chart that listed key themes and colors. Today, I want to talk a bit more about liturgical colors and their meaning. The use of color and visual […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 7

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

The Colors of the Christian Year

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Part of what makes observing the liturgical year special is color. Different events and seasons are reflected in a variety of colors, including purple, white, green, black, red, pink, blue, gold, and some other colors as well. The seasonal color, […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 6

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Overview of the Christian Year

posted by Mark D. Roberts

In last Friday’s post, I began describing the Christian year (or liturgical year, or church year). Today, I want to provide an overview of this year in case you are not familiar with it.Before I do this, however, I should […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 5

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Advent Inspiration from The High Calling: Waiting for Forgiveness

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Waiting for Forgiveness:A Devotion for the Second Sunday of Advent Psalm 130:1-8 LORD, if you kept a record of our sins,      who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness,      that we might learn to fear you. […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 4

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Click on thumbnail to left to enjoy today’s Advent Calendar Scripture passage and photo. To view the rest of my Online Advent Calendar (so far), click here.

Online Advent Calendar: December 3

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Each year, I put up an online Advent calendar, with photos and brief passages of Scripture. The pictures vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. This is meant to enhance your celebration of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the […]

Happy New Year!?!?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Happy New Year! Are you having a Happy New Year? Yes, I know it’s early in December. Yes, I know we’re still in 2010. And, yes, I know that the giant crystal ball in Times Square hasn’t yet fallen. Of […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 2

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Each year, I put up an online Advent calendar, with photos and brief passages of Scripture. The pictures vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. This is meant to enhance your celebration of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the […]

Is Advent Biblical?

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Earlier in this series I mentioned the fact that many Protestant Christians reject Advent because they consider it to be a Roman Catholic practice. For most of these people, it isn’t so much the Roman Catholic aspect of Advent that […]

An Advent Column Worth Reading: “A Counter-Cultural Quiet in Advent”

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Adam McHugh, who has become one of my favorite writers, has just put up a thoughtful column on Advent at the Patheos website. I encourage you to check out “A Counter-Cultural Quiet in Advent.” Here’s how Adam’s column begins: For […]

Online Advent Calendar: December 1

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Each year, I put up an online Advent calendar, with photos and brief passages of Scripture. The pictures vary from the sublime to the ridiculous. This is meant to enhance your celebration of Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the […]

Sharing My Greatest Advent Discovery

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Earlier in this series I spoke of discovering Advent. Of course I didn’t discover it in the way an explorer discovers a place no one has been before. Millions upon millions of Christians have observed Advent for centuries upon centuries. […]

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posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that ...

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy ...

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with ...

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