Light on Main Street

rudy-taylor.jpgMy uncle Rudy is one of my heroes.

In his lifetime he’s taken stands for truth and faith that have led to some family and friends distancing themselves from him because he professed a more open view of the body of Christ outside the particular little church community in which he was raised. No reason for me to go further into that story, which I would only get wrong but it’s enough to say that I believe Uncle Rudy stood for what he believed Christ would do were he in his shoes.

And, I respect Uncle Rudy also for one of the same reasons I respect my dad (Rudy is my dad’s younger brother): they’ve both settled into small towns and made their mark not just on the political, social, religious, and physical landscape of the town but upon people’s lives. They’ve displayed for nine decades (between them) in two communities how to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and mind and to love their neighbors as themselves.

My dad is a builder. Rudy is a small town newspaper editor, a dying but important and respectable breed who bring the vital local angles on the news that really news is meant for: to actually do something about. News that we typically take in is not depressing only because it’s bad news but depressing because it’s information we can do nothing about, actively participate in little that we read. So the small town newspaper is important to the social and political well-being of a community, and I predict that these will make a great come back in another form, currently in the form of town web sites and blogs, and the same is true for church communities and other political groups.

Rudy is a good man and one of the best storytellers I know. He gets that from my grandma Grace (who we affecionately called, “Amazing”) and her father, Spike Walker. Rudy also married into a newspaper family, so he’s part of the continuation of a local newspaper for nearly 100 years.

Rudy has had a book percolating under his lid for years, and a whole town and friends and family have been coaxing him to write it, and it’s now in print

The book is called Light on Main Street. Uncle Rudy’s office light was often cast out his window upon Main Street these last several decades. He’s burned the candle on both ends, but he’s still remained a family, church, and community light.

Rudy’s web site

To order books:

Here’s a little more “official” bio that tells more about what Rudy Taylor does.


Rudy Taylor began his career as a publisher in 1970 when he bought his Rudy Taylorhometown newspaper, The Caney Chronicle. He is now publisher/owner of the Oswego Independent, Edna Sun, Altamont Journal, Chetopa Advance, Sedan Times-Star, Flint Hills Express,and Montgomery County Chronicle—all southeast Kansas weeklies—and publisher of The Coffeyville Journal. Taylor writes columns, editorials, and feature stories for all of them. His column “Off the Cuff” has won numerous state and national awards, and even one international award. But he does not write his columns to win awards—he simply writes from the heart. His articles are frequently nostalgic, reflecting back to his growing-up years in the 1950s. His commentary is often humorous, sometimes tearful, and even hilarious. Taylor’s first love was radio and television, and he still makes commercials for local broadcast stations and advertising agencies. He is in the process of publishing his first book, Light on Main Street. Taylor’s wife Kathy is a fourth-generation journalist, and they have three grown children and four grandchildren. The Taylors live in Caney.

Blended families

Yes, what Fajita said is accurate, and I wanted to share a quote to add on to that. Many of our families are blended. Few if any families in the world today are not impacted by divorce, re-marriage, polygamy, adoption, abandonment. Jesus’ was what we would call a stepchild to Joseph. He was not Joseph’s flesh and blood but born of Mary who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. Ponder for a moment that Joseph was a stepfather, and Jesus was a stepson.

Joseph justifiably felt dishonored by Mary’s pregnancy. His hand was forced, and nothing on earth could stop him from divorcing Mary. He planned to divorce her quietly, but, of course, silence is no protection to a single woman in her third trimester in a village community. A divorce would have been disaster for both Mary and Jesus. God sent an angel to call Joseph to what may have been a more difficult role than Mary’s call. He was asked to support and protect Mary and the child that was not his. The birth in the stable must have felt like total humiliation and failure on his part as the head of the family. However, he was responsive and obedient to God’s warnings and took his small family to Egypt to prevent Jesus from being murdered. The last time we see Joseph is when he and Mary find Jesus in the temple talking with the elders at the age of twelve.

(From Family in the Bible, eds. Richard S. Hess and M. Daniel Carroll R.)

Why don’t we hear from any of the four Gospel writers about Joseph after this, about his death? He’s not at the wedding at Cana and he’s not at the foot of the cross. He’s not with his mother and brothers when they come to check on him at an overflowing house where Jesus is healing and teaching. Where is Joseph? Today, consider that he is with us as one of the great cloud of witnesses who was faithful, who endured shame, who protected Mary and Jesus, who raised Jesus, who was a great stepfather.

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

Nativity Stories

I read this book recently and couldn’t wait to tell you about it, so I wrote a review and posted it at Wineskins. Part of my urgency was to put it up before Christmas, because our interest in Mary is usually around Christmas, which is part of what Scot McKnight, who I consider one of the top five theologian/writers to watch and listen to today, is trying to move us away from. Mary is so much more than a “Christmas Character” but a courageous and prophetic disciple who not only says “May it be” but also “do what he tells you” and hears and believes the words of Gabriel when he says, “Nothing is impossible with God,” even the rise of a peasant boy who will cause the rising and falling of many, and one who will be pierced by the sword to her heart and soul.

The Real Mary

I also posted a review of The Nativity Story, more than what I posted here a few days ago, on Wineskins.

Review of The Nativity Story

I’m not a “real” movie reviewer, so here’s some more legit reviews . . . of course it’s all freestyle stuff and sometime “real” reviewers are a little more highbrow and may not relate to everyperson watchers. If you read my movie reviews, that’s what you’ll get is just a guy in a movie seat telling you what he saw, but you’ll sometimes miss some of the Hollywood insider stuff I’m clueless about.

Rotten Tomatoes reviews of The Nativity Story

Joseph, stepfather of the Lord

I asked at a Christmas party last night for those gathered to tell one part of the Christmas story that stood out in their hearings so far this Advent. One person said she was touched by the fact that Jesus was part of a step family.

Here is a little-read line from the beginning of Luke’s version of the genealogy of Jesus:

“He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph” (Luke 3:23b)

Want a LIVE Christmas tree this year?

My mission teammates Mark Moore and Clint Davis, with the help of Kibo Group supporters, continue to come up with creative ideas and funding for development in East Africa. Clint is just back from a trip to Rwanda where he joined other board members of the Imbabazi Orphanage to set direction after Roz Carr’s death. Being involved and supporting the orphanage is one way Kibo impacts East African development, and another way is through a creative and earth-renewing tree planting project. Click the picture below to find out more.


What if you were Mary?

Keisha Castle-Hughes stars as “Mary” in New Line Cinema’s release of Catherine Hardwicke’s drama, The Nativity Story.I asked high school students last week to visualize Mary, depicted so well in The Nativity Story, conflicted, wondering how anyone would believe her story about the Holy Spirit conceiving in her a child.

When you wonder how this teenaged Jewish girl might have felt to be the mother of the Messiah, ask teenagers how they might feel . . .

Students wrote their feelings on cards and here are a few things they wrote, compiled in one paragraph:

I would be confused but happy in a way, I am overwhelmed, humbled, scared but excited, awed, honored, scared spitless, loved, sacred, angry, unbelievable, amazed, WOW! then I would faint, wouldn’t know what to think, doubtful, afraid, honored God chose me, a spiritual peace and logical fear and she says to herself, “this is what I was made for,” curious, mysterious, proud, worried, joyful, anxious, unready for responsibilities to come, WOW, me Lord? You want me to do this for you!?

Photo: Keisha Castle-Hughes stars as “Mary” in New Line Cinema’s release of Catherine Hardwicke’s drama, The Nativity Story. Photo Credit: ©2006 Jaimie Trueblood/New Line Productions

Baptism on ice

I’m going to tell you a story about how my wife and I tried to plan our daughter’s baptism and how snow and family travel plans and a broken baptistery met with resolve of a young girl to be baptized in the place where her church worships and nowhere else.

The details might bore you, but they are told to show a different way of baptizing our children that includes advanced planning for presence of family members and friends and celebrating with words of blessing. If you want to skip the story and read the baptism ceremony plans, those are at the end.

We’d been planning for several months to baptize our thirteen-year-old daughter December 1. In the 48 hours before that day, Tulsa was snowed in with a record storm. Jill’s parents were to fly in and my parents were to drive down from Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Flight was postponed to Friday and my parents couldn’t even get out of their driveway. We got stuck in the airport parking lot picking up Jill’s parents.

Meanwhile, the aging baptistery at Garnett Church of Christ had no working heater, filter, and it leaked. This baptistery was laid in before the 2,400 seat auditorium was built. It’s like a small pool. So plans had also been made to start work on this same weekend to cut out the old fiberglass and replace the baptistery with a newer, more efficient, smaller one. The decision was made Wednesday, before the storm, to allow a crew to try and rip out the old baptistery and put the new one in before Ashley’s baptism. Then the storm hit and the complicated (it took two huge semi-truck-sized dumpsters to dispose of mildewed old staging, planters, and baptistery) work took longer than expected, and my parents still couldn’t get out of their driveway, and we were faced with a decision to move the baptism to Sunday, December 3. Ice was still bad, and church was cancelled. We moved the baptism to December 10.

Jill’s parents would not be able to witness the baptism, but they gave Ashley a necklace, a card, and verbally blessed her and prayed over her before they flew back out after the weekend.

Our desire to plan and have grandparents travel to bless Ashley, to plan a celebration with communion and cake that one grandma would bake and engraved lockets and balloons and planned prayers and blessings, was thwarted by weather and a baptistery transition.

At various suggestions and jokes that we baptize her in another church or in pool or pond (break the ice), or in a snow drift, or by sprinkling, Ashley said, “I want to be baptized at my church.”

Ashley read the following ceremony plans and suggested that it’s too formal, and it is for us and it won’t be followed verbatim but with feeling and heart-felt remarks and skipped parts and choked up tears and thoughts from several people who are witnessing.

Note: I wrote the following after reading back over a section in Down in the River to Pray that I adapted from a Mennonite baptism ceremony. I realized that even in the book, it wasn’t done directly but more like a report of what Mennonites do. This is more of a direct ceremony plan, and you are welcome to use and adapt it for your purposes. Please send me adaptations if you like. I’ll be happy to continue to make this better. The key, I think, is to personalize it and bring the community directly in, and connect everyone to Father, Son, Holy Spirit who together make the whole moment real and living and beautiful.

Baptism Celebration

Leader: “Those gathered here with you have pledged to renounce Satan and our sin of self-centered living and to bind ourselves under the authority of Jesus Christ to live in God’s holy community, the Church, according to Christ’s rule and kingdom.”

Leader: “Do you join with these believers gathered to witness your baptism into Christ’s body in pledging to renounce Evil and your sin of self-centered living and to bind yourself under the authority of Jesus Christ to live in God’s holy community, the Church, according to Christ’s rule and kingdom?”

Disciple: I do.

Lord’s Prayer
All: Our Father . . .

Uniting with Jesus
Just as Jesus was baptized and the Spirit came down on Jesus like the presence of a dove, and God the Father said, “This is my son, in whom I am very pleased,” so I say to you, my child, I am very pleased with you, your mother, brother and sister, grandparents and other family members and Christian family are pleased with you, but we also call you into a different kind of life, one united with Christ. It’s time to put on new clothes of Christ, to wash away your old life and begin anew, to be transformed and receive God’s Spirit.

We now baptize you in the same way as Jesus was baptized, with the presence and the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with you, that you may receive forgiveness of sins and continual washing by the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, that you may receive life everlasting.

After baptism
Welcome circle (Pops)

Song: I have decided to follow Jesus

Blessings (Nammy, Mimi, Pawpaw, others)

Place hands and pray (Jill and Greg lead and all gather around)

“Arise, shine, for the light of the Lord is upon you.” (Ashley’s friends, Anna, Jacob)

All together: “We make a covenant with you as we renew our own covenant with our Lord: to bear one another’s burdens, to share in the experience of forgiveness, to share in the abundance of this world’s goods, to assist each other in times of need, to share our joys and our sorrows, and in all things to work for the common good, thus manifesting God’s presence among us to His glory. As we unite with each other now, may we all be joined with Christ our Lord.”

Communion and cake and celebration