Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent Begins the New Year!

Advent Presence, a new book from Melford "Bud" Holland begins the New Year for us and for Morehouse Publishing. Bud is a priest, storyteller, and photographer. He enjoys talking about "the big questions," and those who know him have been waiting for this book, I'm sure. Earlier, Bud served in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, where he learned much from his friend, Bishop Frank Turner, as they challenged each other with "the big questions." Retired as the Officer for Ministry Development for the Episcopal Church, Bud now serves as an interim priest, consultant, and EfM trainer. He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Bud loves to tell stories, and he has a lot of them. It seems that wherever he has worked, or served, or encouraged, he has gathered some interesting stories about the people he has come to know there. Every chapter could begin or end with stories and what we can learn from them. There is a line of type across the book cover that says Kissed by the Past, Beckoned by the Future and it may draw you in to hear the stories.

Did you know, or did you recently hear that now, in the Old Year, before we move via Advent to the New Year, we have already begun to hear of incidents that happened many years ago in the New Year! Why? Does the Lord want us to know now! Yes, he probably does. So some of the stories happened  before January 1, and the stories and incidents were recorded earlier. The Lord wants us to know now! So we begin the New Year knowing what is coming, already praying about what will happen. We may be feeling the presence of God rising in his people.

Bud Holland says that "The yearning for the coming of Messiah was palpable in the hundreds of years leading up to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews felt assured that God would not abandon them." Along with them, we may be singing O Come, O Come Emmanuel on that day and we may be feeling God's presence "in the present moment, kissed by the past, and beckoned by the future."

---Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks

Friday, November 13, 2015

Facing Cancer and Death...

There are many who are facing cancer and death these days. It seems like every day we hear of another friend who has this possibility ahead. When Steve Hayner was diagnosed, he and his wife Sharol decided to begin sharing information with friends and asking for prayers by joining Caring Bridge, a service for those with computers.  And after years of ministry on both sides of the country, the two of them had many friends who wanted to know what was going on. Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the spring of 2014 and he died in early 2015.

That was a short time, but Steve and Sharol decided right away to be open with all who wanted to know: "how are you feeling?" and before they knew it, they had a book called Joy in the Journey, Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death, published by IVP Books, at There is a brief preface by co-author Sharol Hayner, who explains that their messages to family and friends on the Caring Bridge website were not intended to be a book, but somehow they grew. And we begin to read about the happenings of the days ahead for Steve and Sharol.

Perhaps I should warn you: this is an amazing, powerful book, in which two people who love each other, and who love Jesus, the Lord of all, share difficult health problems, deep feelings about each of their problems, better have tissues ready, that's all I can say just now....

Steve was serving as president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia at the time of his diagnosis in the spring of 2014 and Steve and Sharol were living in the president's house. Before that, he had served as pastor, preacher, teacher, and for a time as president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, He also served on several mission boards, including World Vision, Fuller Seminary, the Navigators, and others.Steve became "president emeritus" at Columbia Seminary, and they were given the privilege of remaining in the president's house, convenient to Emory Hospital.

Steve was known for signing  his letters "Joyfully," and he and Sharol continued to search for and find moments of being grateful to God and moments of joy in their daily experiences. Their book is unusual, so open in sharing their feelings. so trusting in God, a great example for each of us.

---Lois Sibley, ireviewreligiousbks