The news coverage is nonstop. Twenty-four hours a day, we can find the latest information, gossip, analysis, and arguments about why Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (or Gary Johnson or Jill Stein) should or should not be our next President. One presidential debate took place earlier this week; two more will follow in the next month. As a nation, we can hardly contain our excitement – not to mention our hopes, our disillusionment, our fears, and our anger – about this whole process.

Honestly, I have grown weary of this political season. As I scrolled through my Facebook timeline last night, I saw nothing but aggressive, one-sided posts (supporting either major candidate). I saw people arguing angrily with their friends about one issue or another. I saw memes and jokes that belittled one candidate or another. I saw long, thoughtful articles explaining why we should all vote for one candidate or another.

But I didn’t see much of Jesus in the discussion. Continue reading

Tara and I sing with the Midland Chorale, a choral group that presents a number of concerts throughout the course of a year. This fall, we are singing a new piece by Mark Hayes called “The American Spirit.” In three movements, it tracks our nation’s historical emphases on self-reliance, individualism, equality, justice, optimism, and dreams. The second of these movements draws the bulk of its lyrics from a sonnet entitled “The New Colossus,” written in 1883 by Emma Lazarus.

The civil war in Syria began in 2011. For the past four years, violence, oppression, and despair have marked the lives of everyday Syrians. You have probably seen the news, especially in the past month, of how many people have fled from their homes in Syria because of the ongoing conflict. Presently, some four million Syrians have left their country, fleeing – often on foot or via traffickers – to nearby places like Turkey and Lebanon, as well as more distant nations such as Germany and Egypt.

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