All Posts By

Jared Ayers

Essay

The Rooster

The rooster jolted me awake at 3:45am. I was on a tour group led by Marlin and Sally Vis, midway through a ten-day trek around Israel and Palestine, and we were staying for a few days with Palestinian Christians in…
Essay

My Summer with Dante

When I had journeyed half our life’s way,I found myself within a shadowed forest,for I had lost the path that does not stray. Ah, it is hard to speak of what it was,that savage forest, dense and difficult,which even in…
Essay

The Long Defeat

A few nights ago, I sat down into the worn blue chair crammed into the corner of my sons’ bedroom, and opened the book. The radiator hissed softly, and Philadelphia’s night skyline stretched across the window to my right. My…
Essay

Introducing the O’s

I love having talented friends. Several weeks ago, my friend Bruce, who leads an artists’ collective I appreciate, told me they were publishing a book of meditations and visual art for Advent based on the “O Antiphons.” To my shame,…
Essay

Simeon’s Song

Simeon sang one of my favorite Christmas songs. You may not think of Simeon’s Song—the Nunc Dimittis—as a chart-topping Christmas carol, but it’s become one of my favorites (not least because the odds of Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber releasing…
Essay

Sore Afraid

Mark Richard once wrote a poignant piece of first-person fiction in The New Yorker entitled “The Birds for Christmas.” In it, the narrator describes a childhood Christmas spent as an orphan in a children's hospital ward together with a friend…
Essay

Breaking Stained Glass

Irish writer Colm Toibin once authored a controversial novella about the mother of Jesus called The Testament of Mary. Around the time of its release, I listened to an interview he gave on NPR’s All Things Considered, in which he…
Essay

Advent Calendars & Mr. December

The first Advent calendar appeared in 1851, and featured a biblical-character-a-day to count Christian worshippers down to Christmas. It featured, among others, John the baptizer, since John features in the stories of Jesus’ birth and ministry beginnings. Indeed, John is…
Essay

Putting the Herod Back in Christmas

Around the corner from the church I serve in downtown Philadelphia sits City Hall. Its stately Second-Empire architecture looms over Penn Square, set at the very center of the city. Several years ago, I watched a predictable culture war play out…
Essay

Learning to Say the S-Word

by Jared Ayers Jim Bratt is away today. Jared Ayers, preaching pastor at Liberti Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is our guest blogger. Thanks, Jared! Last spring, I was listening to NPR while scrubbing the dishes one evening, and to my…