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First Sunday after Christmas

Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18 What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart. (Last stanza, In the bleak midwinter, Christina Rosetti) I absolutely love Christmas hymns and wish, in our tradition, we sang them just a little longer. And even among my many favorites, In the Bleak Midwinter, the words by Christina Rosetti, stands out as a super favorite, like a super-delegate for Christmas hymns. Rosetti’s poem, from which the hymn is taken, tells us how we are saved from a world of iron – hard and impenetrable – by God’s redeeming work in Christ. The Chr

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Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit…” Acts 6: 3-5a Today is the Feast day of St. Stephen, early Christian martyr and among the first to be selected deacon in the church. We know almost nothing about Stephen but he is generally thought to have been a “Greek” (i.e. a non-Jewish) convert to Christianity. A modern deacon’s responsibility is to “communicate the needs of the world to the church” and their

Christmas on the Edge

Today is one of those days for which I have no words, really. Shocking, I know, to anyone who truly knows me that I would ever, ever run out of words …. But by Christmas morning, I have preached a funeral homily on Saturday, two sermons on Advent 4 (that’s was Sunday, folks), at 4 pm with the wonderful kids, at 10:30 last night and now, again, today. But it is not the many homilies that must be prepared or the time of day or night or whatever, it is simply, when we think about it, stunning to take in it all; to comprehend all that God has done and will do, and how much we are loved and held by God in this crazy, challenging, and yet mysterious and beautiful old world. So, I say with all the

Christmas Eve Homily

Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14(15-20) The older I get the more I realize that I am terribly sentimental. I am moved by nearly everything and cry much easier than I did in my youth. And Christmas is, perhaps, the most sentimental season of all for me. There are not many better feelings that I have had – other than wife, children, etc., of course – than as I cut out the lights in the Church on Christmas night and take one last look at the creche, one last smell of the greenery, one final glance at the place that has been so transformed by the trappings and decorations of Christmas. And for any of us who are in any way sentimentally inclined, Christmas memories and thoughts often fill us with whims

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus took place this way ... Kind of hints at the beginning of an authoritative story, doesn’t it? And then, it really doesn’t tell us about how Jesus was born; we are given a glimpse into how Joseph dealt with finding out how his fiancé had become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He thought he was getting married, then he needed to “put away” his fiancé for infidelity and then, told by the angel in a dream how things really were going to be. An amazing story, right? Quite a dream ... When I was 16 my grandfather died. I was very close to him, the elder George from whom I got my name. When I was a boy, I often w

All flesh shall see

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Isaiah 40:5 The first thing I saw when I looked at the Morning Office for today was the above little verse from Isaiah. We are (egads!) less than a week from Christmas morning, when we, officially, celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord. We celebrate all the wonder of God with us in the Christ Child as “the glory of the Lord” IS (no longer shall be) “revealed….” Have we seen it? Will we see it? The coming of Jesus was so easily, and understandably, missed in His own day. He was a wee babe, like all wee babies, born to poor, unsung parents who had made a long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the censu

Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 35: 1-10; Matthew 2: 2-11 I am about to make a confession. In 1980, at the age of 17 (now I’m dating myself, as well) I was in the thrall of Australian metal-band AC/DC’s new album, Back in Black. The guitar riffs of lead guitarist Angus Young were to die for and the irreverence and rebellious nature of the band appealed to a scrawny teenager who was typically more at home with John Denver and James Taylor than Iron Butterfly. One particular song I remember my other church-going friends and I singing with relish – an AC/DC tune from their previous album – was a piece called “Highway to Hell.” And in this rock-guitar-fueled anthem (Angus Young is depicted on the album cover with full-o

Enduring with patience

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord …. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged … As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. James 5: 7, 10 I commend to you all of our Sunday reading from James (5:7-10), as it talks about what is, for most of us, the hardest part of living faithfully in the world today: patience. I absolutely loathe, for instance, standing in line (Disney World, take note), so it is small wonder that being patient with the bigger things (like the return of Jesus, the remaking of the world into the reign of God, for starters) with any sense of grace? Yesterda

Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12 There was a teacher who held a lemon and asked a student, “If I squeeze this lemon, what will come out?” “Lemon juice,” she replied. “Will orange juice come out?” he asked again. “No,” she said. “Why not?” he asked. “Because it is a lemon.” “Would apple juice come out if I squeezed this lemon?” “No,” she said. “Why not?” he asked again. “Because it is a lemon,” she finished. “Why is it,” he said, “that when you squeeze a lemon, that lemon juice comes out?” “Because that is what’s inside,” she said. “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown in

Forgiveness, releasing you and your neighbor

I saw a wonderful movie with 15-16 amazing women on Tuesday. Yes, I unwittingly crashed the Women’s Night Out and saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, the new movie that features Mr. Rogers but isn’t about Mr. Rogers, per se. The film begins with (no spoilers here, I promise, because I think everyone should see this film) Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) defining forgiveness as “releasing a person from the feelings of anger that we have toward them.” The real Mr. Rogers once said this about forgiveness: “Forgiveness is a strange thing. It can sometimes be easier to forgive our enemies than our friends. It can be hardest of all to forgive people we love. Like all of life's important copin