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So here we are just 12 days into the new year!  How are things going??  If current global events are any indication, 2020 is already starting to show some cracks in the promise it made that “everything would be better in the new year!”  And I’m guessing – if you’re like me and lots of others who set out to be better in the new year – now is about the time when we begin to notice that, despite our intentions and resolutions, we are failing to be any more awesome, more beautiful, more disciplined, more productive or more organized.  Which is all just another way of saying, “more worthy of love.” (more…)

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It’s nice to visit friends and family over the holidays, right?  It may be the only time during the year when we see certain people.  And it’s always worth it to spend time with relatives – getting caught up – reconnecting – laughing – playing games – sharing meals together – being a family. It’s nice to have overnight Christmas visitors in your home or just for a meal or party. And it’s nice when everyone goes back home too! It feels wonderful to have adult kids and grandkids home for Christmas.  It’s sad when the visit is over and they have to go home or back to school. (more…)

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Christmas Day, 2019

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

 

Christmas is about the origins of the man Jesus.  When the story of a life is told, where else do you begin, right?  At the beginning. At one’s birth.  Like us, Jesus was born of a human mother.  His flesh began soft and tender like every human infant.  As his story continues we see more of his humanity – his life unfolded in many ways like an ordinary human being.  He was circumcised at 8 days like all Jewish boys, presented in the temple at 40 days – he made the trek to Jerusalem as a 12 year old boy;  He attended synagogue – made the pilgrimages – he ate and drink, he traveled around Palestine with his companions.  And then like all human beings, he died.  Matthew, Mark and Luke lay out the story of Jesus’ life from birth to death and beyond.

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Christmas Eve, 2019

Timing is everything.  And apparently, timing was important in the events that took place on the first Christmas.  In one of our readings tonight from Galatians we read, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” That tells us that God’s timing wasn’t accidental.  He selected that precise moment in history to reveal his Son and his plan of salvation.

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During each of the four Sundays of Advent we have heard from the prophet Isaiah.  Each of these readings imagines a radical turnaround that takes place when God comes – when the Savior arrives.  Isaiah has been painting some pictures for us to show how dramatic these changes are.  For example, on the first Sunday of Advent he spoke of swords turning into plowshares.  Then we saw a wolf and a calf lying down together in safety.  Last Sunday we had the image of streams flowing in the desert.  And today we hear of a virgin becoming a mother. This is the promise of God coming to us.  That everything – including us and our lives – gets turned around. It goes against all conventional wisdom and expectations.  And it creates a new reality and new – wilder – expectations!

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god with us peace starry nightOur theme for Advent Evening Prayer is GOD-WITH-US.  Which is a lot more than just a nice Advent theme.  GOD-WITH-US is a name.  The name in Hebrew is Emmanuel.  EMMANU means “with us”  and EL is the word for God.  Emmanuel is still used as a name.  It is the first name of French President Macron.  And others.  More importantly it was the name given to a child born some 600 years before the birth of Christ during the time of Isaiah.  And most importantly, it was the name applied to a child born in Bethlehem by the Gospel writer Matthew as he tells the story of the birth of Christ. (more…)

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“In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, ‘Repent.’”

 

I’m not a big fan of John the Baptist.  I mean, he’s got the weird get up and the strange diet and what seems to be an obnoxious “in your face” demeanor.  But even more than all that, I’m not a big fan of anybody who tries to tell me what to do.  And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.  Most of us don’t respond well to people making demands on us or who think they know better than we what we should do with our own lives. In fact, if you tell someone what to do here’s what happens:  that thing you just told them they should do just became the last thing they’re gonna do.  And I have to admit, when I hear John the Baptist say, “REPENT” part of me is saying: “Make me.” (more…)

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