Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The work of Christmas begins

Howard Thurman
(African-American theologian, educator, and civil rights leader)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

26 December ~ Merry Christmas!

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod's jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.

John Donne (1572-1631)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Merry Christmas!

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.

May God, who sent his angels to proclaim the glad news of the Savior’s birth, fill you with joy, and make you heralds of the Gospel. Amen.

May God, who in the Word made flesh joined heaven to earth and earth to heaven, give you his peace and favor. Amen.

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be upon you and remain with you for ever. Amen.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

24 December ~ Advent ~ Recognizing Jesus

The old prophet Zechariah recognized Jesus as the one, the child of God, the Son of God, Emmanuel, God with us, the one who has "come to his people and set them free."  An amazing thing, to recognize Jesus as the one.  Zechariah, in his last days was able to see Jesus, and see Jesus as the Son of God, the savior, the one who would show the world the love of God in tangible form.  The one who came down from heaven to give us all abundant life.  The one who would bring light to the world.  The one who would allow people to love themselves, and in so doing, would love not only their neighbors, but also act on that love, and actualize that love in action.

May we also recognize Jesus in our lives.

The Song of Zechariah Luke 1:68-79
Benedictus Dominus Deus

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;*
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,*
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies,*
from the hands of all who hate us.
he promised to show mercy to our fathers*
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham,*
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship him without fear,*
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,*
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation*
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God*
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,*
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

23 December ~ Advent ~ Do it for the least of these

This child born in a manger has been born because God loves us, and has become Incarnate with us.  This child is the one who loves us, and who also judges us.  This child will teach that when we care for the least, the last, and the lost, we are caring for him, and when we neglect to show mercy and kindness, we are neglecting him.  So, we have an opportunity, to serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself, as we pledge in our Baptismal Covenant.  This is our opportunity.  Jesus appeared as a vulnerable child, a person living in a difficult time, in a difficult place, among a wide variety of peoples, who reached out to them, to show and model God's love for them.  We can take up the mantle, take up the cross of Christ and also model this love.

Matthew 25

31 'When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me." 37Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" 40And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."

Friday, December 22, 2017

22 December ~ Advent ~ Room for us

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Isaiah 40:5

When Isaiah prophesied "the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed" I do not know whether he thought that "all flesh" would include some of the amazing characters who would actually visit Jesus after the birth.  What about the shepherds, those rough-hewn outsiders to "normal" and "polite" society who spent more time with sheep and goats than with people?  Living in the out of doors, what was their world-view?  What was their theology?  Some kind of mix of nature religion, agnosticism, and perhaps an amalgam of religious traditions of the traders and visitors who wandered through the many trade routes, perhaps?  What about the animals living in the manger?  Would Isaiah have thought that they would be among the "all flesh" who would witness this holy birth?  And, what about the magi, traveling from "afar" bringing strange, wonderful, and symbolic gifts to a child who seemingly had no need for them.  Gifts of kingship, but also gifts which would usually be used for worship, and others which would be used for preparing a body for burial. 

With visitors like these, God surely has thrown open the doors to the Glory which has been revealed, and has welcomed strange visitors to this event.  There is room for us as well.