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First Sunday after Christmas

Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18 Life itself has come into being through Jesus, the Christ. He is life which is light and a hope that is for all people. What we might call Jesus is “life itself,” the making of a life worth living, treasuring, embracing, and sharing. No, Jesus’ light does not eliminate the darkness, it does not make all the pain go away, it does not give us a name that knows no suffering. The life that is introduced by Christ is a light that will always burn, however, even in the darkest pain and turmoil, even when we are most bereft of hope. The Light of Jesus, which is the way, the truth, and the LIFE is more than eternal life, though it is surely th

Good Christian Friends rejoice

Merry Christmas!! As we travel through the twelve days of Christmas, my heart turns toward gratitude. For some reason, this felt like a really long December. How about you? There were many projects, challenges, and activities at work, home, and in the community. I felt, I must confess, the week before Christmas, a bit overwhelmed. I preached on Christmas morning specifically about obligations and how our life can become (perceived or in reality) a series of obligations to be fulfilled and joy can be pushed far out and away from us. And we can become worn down by the weight our life’s challenges which can feel like burdens. But, as I walked into the church to prepare for the early service and

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas! This little piece of Luke’s Gospel – the prelude to Jesus’ birth – is often overlooked. Jesus was born in a barn, because the inn was full. And, by the way, they were only in Bethlehem to fulfill the Roman requirement to be counted in a census that would determine how much that area would be taxed by the Romans – to help fill the Roman coffers, doing little to nothing to help the plight of poor people like Joseph and Mary. And I was put in mind, as we are gathered together on this most blessed Day, that we can often gloss over the joy of Christmas and not truly realize what a gift Jesus the Christ is to us. We can look at the Christmas season as a time of obligation to go to

Christmas Eve Family Service

Hey, can you remind me where Jesus was born? Stable, barn…some people think that he may have even been born in a cave, which is where they often had places set up for animals. What are caves like? Not big huge ones, but small ones, like a bear might live in? What are they like? Cold. Damp. Hard. Dark. Not like places that where we born, right? Today, people are born in what kind of places? Hospital. Special centers. Homes. In Jesus’ time, most children were born at home. Some had a midwife to help, others older relatives, like their own mother’s. But Jesus’ mother, Mary was probably alone, with just her husband, who probably didn’t know much about babies. They were very poor and far away fro

It came upon a midnight clear

I have always loved, loved, loved the hymn we just sang: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. The lovely, almost haunting melody is one that I can hear again and again. Sometimes the melody can obscure the solemnity of its message: that upon a midnight clear came the answer to human need, human struggle, and human crisis that had never found a true rescue or release. Verse three sings, “Yet with the woes of sin and strife, the world has suffered long; beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled, two thousand years of wrong; and warring human kind hears not the tidings which they bring …” Sometimes the Christmas miracle that escapes us is the utter blessing that God breathed into the long-suffering, ne

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5:2-5a; Psalm 80:1-7; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45 (46-55) God is on the move! We have heard this phrase many times before. The Holy Spirit is moving us! Yet, sometimes it feels like nothing is moving; like the world is flying past us as technology moves ever further into the future, while we, as a race of people, can feel very spiritually stuck. Yes, the world has advanced technologically and scientifically in leaps, but have we learned to be kinder, gentler; a wiser and more peaceful people? Or have we, rather, found more sophisticated ways to wage war, funnel money to the super rich who get forever richer, while so many more grow poorer and poorer. We have a lot of fancy gadgets th

And the angel departed from her

Then Mary said, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1: 38 I have often wondered, “Where did the angel go, after Mary gave him her affirmative reply?” He didn’t have to wait long for her to say, “Yes, let it be as God has decided.” What did he do next? Did you hurry, fly, speed his way to Almighty God to give God the news himself? Did God immediately know? Did the heavens rejoice that this woman, who proves herself to be an extraordinary disciple, the first disciple, had said yes? We often reflect on the Blessed Virgin Mary during this time of year but she cannot be overstated as a wondrous symbol of loving dis

Third Sunday of Advent

Zephaniah 3:14-20; Canticle 9; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18 The exultancy of the first readings today shatters any gloom that might threaten us! “Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O, Israel! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you … he will rejoice over you with gladness!” Paul echoes this joyful strain of good news as he declares in Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice … the Lord is near.” The promise of Israel’s return, of the expectant closeness of God is cause for rejoicing, always. Yes, we speak often and strongly about the need for repentance during this season of Advent, and John the Baptist reminds us, least we forget. We are called this

Second Sunday of Advent

Baruch 5:1-9; Canticle 16; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6 When I looked at the reading from Luke for the first time on Monday, I thought to myself, “Wow, I feel sorry for the poor soul who is going to have read all those Greek names on Sunday.” Then I remembered, that poor soul was me! It seems rather important to Luke to set the record straight. “In the fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea ...” It is vital for Luke to give a time, place, and context for the greatest story ever told. He is giving us history, the times of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. But what happens when history runs counter to the story that the winners want to

God's love is revealed in this way...

Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 1 John 4: 8-9 Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. We struggle to think of St. Nicholas without thinking of, well, St. Nick, that “jolly old elf.” But St. Nicholas was more than a giver of gifts. Yes, Nicholas of Myra was a man of deep Christian faith who sought to share that faith with a world that, even then, lay in the grip of darkness. Today, we might remember the millions and millions of children who die or struggle each year from preventable disease or starvation (imminently avoidable). St. Nichola