Sunday, December 31, 2017

December 31, 2017 - Christmas 1

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            If the season leading up to December 25th is “the most wonderful time of the year” then the time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is the most confusing time of the year. You all, of course, know that Christmas doesn’t actually begin until December 25 and lasts until January 5; but if you look around the world, it doesn’t seem like much Christmas is left. You can find trees that used to have ornaments adorning them discarded on the curb. You won’t find any Christmas sales or Christmas music on the radio – they’ve already got your money, so Christmas is no longer useful to the capitalistic machine; they’re already gearing up to sell you chocolate for Valentine’s Day or a mattress on President’s Day. Those who insist that we keep Christ in Christmas have moved on to the next culture war and are already feigning outrage about something else. The gifts, which for too many are the highlight of Christmas, have been given, and perhaps even already exchanged at the store. The parties are over and decorations have become passé. So what is left for us to do with Christmas as we bide our time until we get overly excited about getting to use a new wall calendar?

Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25, 2017 - Christmas Day

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            Merry Christmas! What a joy it is to be with you all on this splendid morning on which we celebrate the Incarnation of the Lord. Sacred time calls for sacred rituals and it just wouldn’t be Christmas for some of us without coming to this beautiful church, singing hymns of praise on cause of our Messiah’s birth, hearing John’s rich nativity poem, and partaking of the Holy Eucharist. As much as I enjoy the Christmas traditions of home and family, of breakfasts and presents, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without taking the time to remember what this day is all about and worshiping accordingly. So it is my joy and honor to be spending this sacred day with each of you.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

December 24, 2017 - Christmas Eve

In the name of God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
            What a joy it is to see each of you on this holy night. There’s something about the Midnight Mass that is magical, perhaps because it taps into the majesty of that first Christmas when the angel announced the good news of great joy that the Messiah has come. This good news calls us out of our usual evening routines to this sacred place. One of the things that I find so interesting about the Midnight Mass is that I have no idea who about half of you are. Each Christmas Eve, I’ve noticed that we are blessed with people who don’t ordinarily come to St. Luke’s. Perhaps it’s that Christmas is the only day that makes any religious sense to you. Perhaps you’re here visiting family or friends. Maybe you’re not even sure how much you believe, but you have fond memories of attending Midnight Mass from when you were growing up, and you’ve come for the nostalgia. Whatever brings you here tonight, it is our joy to have you here. So in the name of Christ, welcome to each of you. Let us all journey in heart and mind to Bethlehem to adore the newborn King.

December 24, 2017 - Advent 4B

O come, O come, Emmanuel. Amen.
            As you’ve already figured out, this is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, not Christmas Eve. When the evening comes, we’ll then transition into celebrating that, but for at least the next hour, we remain firmly grounded in Advent. And I’m so glad to have each of you here to celebrate the fullness of Advent before rushing into Christmas. So your reward for coming to church this morning is a sermon about hell.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

December 17, 2017 - Advent 3B

O come, O come, Emmanuel. Amen.
            “Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try.” John Lennon wrote those words from a religionless point of view. But to those of us inside the church, it really isn’t that hard to image there’s no heaven. You’ll recall that on the first Sunday of Advent, I mentioned that the word “eschatology” means “the last things.” And Advent has been a time that the Church has historically focused on the Four Last Things of death, judgment, heaven, and hell. But many have accused the modern Church of having a case of eschatological amnesia. In other words, we have forgotten our future. We have forgotten the end of things, and in that forgetfulness, we lose the meaning of the present.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10, 2017 - Advent 2B

O come, O come, Emmanuel. Amen.
            A fascinating and captivating scene of faith was the event that led to John Boehner’s resignation as Speaker of the House. I do want to be crystal clear – this is a story of faith, not politics. The fact that Boehner happens to be Republican makes no difference; the story would work just as well had it been the Democrat Nancy Pelosi at the center of the story. It was at a joint session of Congress that Pope Francis was speaking, and Boehner was sitting where the Speaker of the House does, right behind the podium, so we were able to see Boehner’s reaction throughout the speech. He sat there with tears rolling down his face as the Pope spoke. Within a day, he had resigned from his position as Speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in the world.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017 - Advent 1B

O come, O come, Emmanuel. Amen.
            Advent is arguably the most important liturgical season we have and also the easiest to miss. The most important because it comes first. The liturgical year starts not in January, but on the first Sunday of the Advent. The Church’s calendar could have been deemed to start with Easter or Pentecost, both of those would have been fine places to begin our calendar. But in her wisdom, the Church has realized that Advent is the proper place to start because it names the reality in which we Christians find ourselves – preparing to celebrate the radical claim that  the Creator of the universe took on human flesh and lived among us while also waiting for the culmination of his reign.