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Christmas

Jan. 5, 2020 – sermon

Posted by on Sun, Jan 5, 2020 in Christmas, Epiphany, Sermons

“They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was.” They followed that star for some time, arriving in Jerusalem, where they likely presumed it would lead. But after their trek all the way to Jerusalem, the one born to be king of the Jews is not there. The ask Herod, and get rerouted over to Bethlehem, and off they go again, this time arriving at the humble place where the infant lays, watched over by a young mother and an ordinary carpenter. How did they know this was it? Wouldn’t they have expected something grander or more king-like? If they’d known he wasn’t in Jerusalem, with all its beauty and glory, how can they be sure they’ve found the king of the Jews in stable in Bethlehem? The same way we do; by following the wild holy star no matter where it leads, and then kneeling low enough to let it touch our souls.

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Dec. 29, 2019 – sermon

Posted by on Sun, Dec 29, 2019 in Christmas, Sermons

Our first reading from Isaiah sets an interesting context for the whole idea of what it is we celebrate in Christmastide. We heard the wonderful traditional words from Luke’s Gospel telling the story in words that recall for us pageants and nativity scenes and even movies about the birth of Jesus. We also heard John’s Gospel, which while lacking visual cues certainly fills our hearts with awe and invites us to contemplate the mystery and power in God’s Word wrapped in human flesh.

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Dec. 25, 2019 – sermon

Posted by on Wed, Dec 25, 2019 in Christmas, Sermons

Last night was vibrantly glorious, God’s house was filled with noise and friends, hearty voices by the scores singing out, the children’s pageant excitement was palpable, as were many loving homecomings for college students, grandparents and old friends. We crowded into this place filling it with raucous glad tidings! Like a box of it stuffed and filled until it bursts open with happy fanfare. This morning is quieter, deeper, and still our hearts are overwhelmed by the beauty of this good news of great joy which has come, once again. This is the Word incarnate that runs deep into the ground of our being, taking root in the crevasses of our souls and saying once again, ah, this is what we’ve waited for, this is what the Christ-seeking heart hopes to find. 

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Dec. 24, 2019 – sermon

Posted by on Tue, Dec 24, 2019 in Christmas, Sermons

Like many of you this year I unpacked our nativity scene or crèche, arranging Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, even a tiny bird. It is a ritual our family has always done, and maybe yours does too. The one here at church has detailed figures that invite children to touch and inquire, and we bless animals and figures as they come each week to the crèche. Yours may be very different, perhaps handmade, or from far away, maybe the indestructible Lego version. Artists create them as if the first Christmas happened in their own country, to people and animals looking like their neighbors. Each culture makes it their own, thereby placing us in the scene.

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Dec. 24, 2018 – Christmas sermon

Posted by on Mon, Dec 24, 2018 in Christmas, Sermons

We need both faith and courage from cradle to grave, to get us up when we tumble, to restart us when we fail, to continue on even in the face of danger and fear—to find that light which shines in the darkness and focus more on the light than the dark. It may have taken courage to come here tonight! It is one of the qualities I most appreciate because it is so closely tied to our becoming who one really is, and courage is necessary to really know oneself. Let me be clear, it’s not about the courage to try and then succeed, it’s about courage to act knowing you may not succeed, not get what you want, and we may not like what we end up with. Every person in the Christmas gospel reading tonight shows courage in the face of danger or difficulty.

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Dec. 24, 2017 – Christmas Eve (sermon)

Posted by on Sun, Dec 24, 2017 in Christmas, Sermons

As much as children are preoccupied with pageant thoughts and wondering about gifts they hope to receive this year, adults may be focusing on those gifts we are giving, and the pleasure in looking forward to doing so. I’m not sure when that shift happens for us, that move from expectant receivers to excited givers, but it does, and sometimes we forget how to let go of our giving momentum long enough to stop and once again be gracious receivers. Today we celebrate God’s cymbal-crashing entrance in the gift given to us all, and our most critical job is to receive him. Advent has meant waiting and preparation for this gift, I hope, and there is a lovely children’s Christmas tradition from France that calls attention to both our posture as givers and as receivers. During the Advent weeks before Christmas, children are given pieces of straw or hay for acts of kindness and generosity to others. They save these up, and take them to church on Christmas Eve to help ‘soften the manger’ for the pageant arrival of the baby Jesus. Certainly, they all hope to proudly carry forward the largest bundle of hay that night, as they make the manger ready to receive this infant in a soft bed created of their own kindness and generosity. It makes me wonder about how we prepare the mangers of our hearts to receive the one whose birth we honor tonight.

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