Sunday, December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014 - Christmas 1B

Be with us, O Lord, for if you are with us, nothing else matters; and if you are not with us, nothing else matters. Amen.
            A happy fourth day of Christmas to you all, your four calling birds are on the way. Those of us in the liturgical churches are counter-cultural. Radio stations have stopped playing Christmas songs, many decorations have come down, and come tomorrow, it’s back to business as usual. But not in here. The decorations remain and we sing songs of the Savior’s birth. It’s a question of how you celebrate Christmas. And I don’t mean what you did on December 25. Christmas is the season in which we celebrate that the Lord is come, that earth has received her King. So how do you celebrate that transformational event? Is Christmas something that you delicately handle, wrap in tissue paper, and store in the attic for 11 months out of the year? Or is Christmas something else?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

December 25, 2014 - Christmas Day

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            A very Merry Christmas to all of you. It is a joy to spend Christmas morning with you, singing songs of our Messiah’s birth and gathering around the altar to share a Christmas meal in which Christ is present. This morning, I’d like to briefly consider the idea of revelation, as both our readings from Hebrews and John seem to focus on that element of Christmas. Scholars often speak of Christmas in terms of the Incarnation- when God Almighty took on flesh and blood and came to earth in the fullness of God’s being.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014 - Christmas Eve

May Almighty God, who sent his Son to take our nature upon him, bless you in this holy season, scatter the darkness of sin, and brighten your heart with the light of his holiness. Amen.

     My first word to you this most holy night is “welcome.” There is something special about Christmas Eve. By the time we are usually crawling into bed, the magic of this night beckons us to put on our Sunday best and come to sing glad hymns of the Messiah’s birth. And I am so incredibly thankful that each of you are here this evening. Welcome to all of you.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 21, 2014 - Advent 4B

Lectionary Readings
*Note: This sermon was only preached at the 8am service, as Bishop Hodges-Copple preached at the principal service.

O come, O come Emmanuel. Amen.
            The Annunciation of the angel Gabriel to Mary has been the subject of many famous paintings. A few years ago, I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the Church of the Annunciation was one of the most beautiful and grand places that we visited. There is something about event that has captured the imaginations and reverence of so many people. Mary is an interesting person in the faith today. One theologian has said that part of the fallout from the Reformation is that Roman Catholics have fixated on Mary while Protestants have developed amnesia about her. And I think that’s a fair assessment. Mary has never been much of a part of my spirituality, but I’ve probably been missing out by not learning more from her example of faith.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 14, 2014 - Advent 3B

Lectionary Readings

O come, O come Emmanuel. Amen.
            It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. The Square has been decorated since Halloween, shopping centers are jam-packed, and Christmas music fills the air. But being proper Episcopalians, we all know that we are in the middle of Advent. The word “advent” comes from a Latin word which means “coming.” It seems though that the world has skipped ahead of the coming and is already celebrating the arrival. Advent is a season of preparing ourselves for the birth of Jesus. It is a season to slow down and reflect. These four weeks leading up to Christmas are envisioned as a time to prepare to receive Jesus into our hearts and homes. John the Baptist speaks of preparing for Jesus by repenting- so we often focus on self-examination in Advent. I don’t know about you all, but I’m too busy to be slowing down. There are year-end financials that need attention, extra sermons to be written, and, of course, that we’re doing all of those things at home to make sure that Ellie has fond family memories of the season.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

December 7, 2014 - Advent 2B

Lectionary Readings 
*preached only at 8am service, as Advent Lessons and Carols were celebrated at 10:30am

O come, O come Emmanuel. Amen.
            One scholar has called Exile the “loss of the known world.” That is the context of our reading today from chapter 40 of Isaiah. Scholars tell us that the first 39 chapters of Isaiah were written leading up to the invasion of Israel by the Babylonian Empire and the early years of their captivity in Babylon. The rest of Isaiah was written as Israel was anticipating the return to their ancestral home. Today’s reading begins with that second part of Isaiah and contains some of the most powerful words in all of Scripture- “comfort, O comfort my people.”