Rev. John Houlker is a native Rhode Islander, having grown up in Cranston and graduated from Cranston High School East in 1969. He received his BA degree from Springfield College in 1973, and MA degree from Gordon Conwell Seminary in 1975.He has served churches in RI and New Hampshire, and, prior to his move to WCBC, served as field staff for National Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA, concentrating in areas of discipleship and youth ministry. He has traveled extensively throughout the country, serving as a consultant, seminar/workshop leader, speaker, and conference organizer. Rev. John has been serving as Pastor of WCBC since June of 2006. John and his wife Patty have two grown children, and are presently making their home in Cranston.
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I saw an online post that said something to the effect that We Need Christmas More Than Ever this year. I didn’t pay much attention to it, and will not go back searching for its content. But, as I sit to type this page, it was the first thing that crossed my mind. Also, I don’t need to revisit the article to create a long list of reasons that we need this season more than ever. From the Presidency on down, we have been exposed to the sexually predatory nature of politics, entertainment, and business. We have come to realize how little we actually know about so many of those in positions of power (and, often, we know more than we can strand). The leaders of the two nations with nuclear capabilities are emotional children, tossing schoolyard insults across half the globe. The citizens of this once great society have forgotten the bare rudiments of respectful public discourse. Our most vulnerable citizens are about to take it on the chin once more, as a new tax plan is unveiled. My goodness, I could fill a couple pages with this type of negative reflection! It is quite easy to get on a role about all the issues plaguing our lives, our country, and the world, isn’t it? AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT MAKES THIS SEASON SO NECESSARY.
The advent season, and the realities that surround the birth of our Lord provide us with a strong dose of ultimate reality.
- We need the shepherds to remind us that we are never outside the touch of our God. Those who were considered unclean, and disrespected by the mainstream culture given the blessing of hearing the message, “Unto YOU is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.”
- We need the Magi, to remind us that God gives signs of his workings in the strangest of circumstances. He not only speaks through angels, but through stars and anything else that will affect those who are paying attention along the journeys of life. The involvement of the Magi reminds us that the Lord often goes outside of one particular group of people to accomplish his purposes.
- We need the account of how the parents of our Lord were forced into a refugee status, in order that our hearts might remain open and loving towards those who have endured such horrific treatment in their own nations that they turn to us in hope and trust that their lives and families might survive. We are reminded that “as we have done to the least” so we have done to the Lord.
- We need the good news presented once again in scripture and song, in those ways which we hold dear, as well in new and creative ways, so that our message might not further lose its power, the power lost in the familiarity just another Christmas.
Well, it looks like we will be receiving that which we need again this year! The scriptures are ready and waiting to provide marvel and hope. The music is ready and offering stir our souls. All that is really needed now are hearts willing to seek God’s guiding light. Will our attitudes as people of faith make a difference in any lives this year? Will a country and world in such need of a blessing be able to rely on us for that blessing?
Yours for HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, and JOY