Monday, December 28, 2015

Looking Forward to January 3, 2016 -- Sunday Closest to Epiphany

This being the first Sunday of January we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Communion.

The famed (in song at least) 12 Days of Christmas technically refer to the Christmas season of the Christian Year. This season begins on December 25 (December 24 being the last day of Advent) and continues until January 5th, the day before the Feast of Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the Magi as told in Matthew's Gospel. Theoretically worship to celebrate Epiphany should happen on January 6th. Pragmatically, many of us mark the occasion on the Sunday immediately preceding the actual date.

The Epiphany story is told in the 2nd chapter of Matthew, and actually has two parts. Part one, the part we usually tell, is the magi traveling and visiting with their gifts. Part two, which is often skipped over because it is much less celebratory, tells of Herod's response to hearing that a child has been born "King of the Jews". We will read the whole story (which coincidentally is also the whole chapter). So our reading this week is Matthew 2:1-23.

The sermon title is Adoration and Murder, The Refugee Messiah

Early Thoughts: Did they know what the result of their visit would be? When the Magi did what probably seemed obvious to them, and asked the current King of the Jews where the baby was did they know how murderous his response would be?

I hope not. Because if they did they were being incredibly negligent.

The fact remains that Herod's response IS murderous. The story is clear that in the space of a few sentences the child goes from being lauded by foreign visitors to running for his life. The Messiah is a refugee, who never returns to live in his birthplace.

Now to be honest, it is plausible that the whole story is theology that Matthew is attempting to turn into history. But still why does it ring so true? Certainly Matthew portrays Herod acting in a way that, based on his reputation, he likely would have done. Certainly tyrannical rulers tend to look unkindly on those who might replace them. And we know full well that refugees are not a new thing. When the world fails to be what it could be, when people try to win the day through death and murder, there are those who flee for their lives.

What does it mean for us to remember that Jesus, Emmanuel, the Messiah was also a refugee?

O Come let us Adore him?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Looking Forward to December 24 -- Christmas Eve

We have two services this Thursday. One at 6:30 which is aimed at young families, and the other at 8:00.

At both services we will be hearing the Christmas story as told by Luke.

At the 6:30 service the story will be told with action! As people arrive the younger folk will be invited to take a part in the story and then as it is told they will play out their parts.  There will be some speaking parts as well.

The 8:00 service will feature:
  • the Jr. Choir
  • the Sr. Choir
  • the Handbell Choir
  • candles
  • 2 Christmas poems
Oh and the story as well!

The Meditation at this service is called The Angel's Story

Early Thoughts:  What would the story be like if the angel told it?

What might the angel have to say to us at Christmas 2015?

We will hear the story from the perspective of an angel serving under the "wing" of Gabriel, the grand herald of heaven.  What did this angel see and hear?  What impression did the messages and events have on him?  And maybe, just maybe, there is a message to us that needs to be shared as the story is told...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Looking Ahead to December 20, 2015 -- Advent 4

The Scripture readings this week are:
  • Luke 1:26-45
  • Luke 1:47-55 (VU p.898)
The Sermon Title is Joy that Changes the World

Early Thoughts: Hail Mary full of grace!  You're pregnant.

That would be a discussion one might remember.

Mary fascinates me. We sing carols about her gentle-ness, traditionally she has been called meek and mild and obedient.

I think we miss something.  I think she was a revolutionary.  I think she helps set up the landslide that changes the world.

"For the world is about to turn" says one of the songs we will sing on Sunday.  Christmas is about that turning.  Christmas, whatever else it is about, is about God sending a Messiah and that changes the world.  That is the "glad tidings of great joy that shall be for all people" we hear about from the angels on Christmas Eve.  It isn't just about the God who will not, can not let go of God's people.  It is about a God who sees that the world needs to be changed and goes about changing it.

Joy to the Earth, the Saviour Reigns!

Joy, which is far more than happiness, is a powerful emotion.  Joy springs from a sense of God's presence.  Joy leads to hope, hope leads to power, power changes the world, undergirded by love, bringing out God's Peace.  NOt the Pax Romana, or the Pax Brittanica, or the Pax Americana. God's Peace. 

THe day is coming, the world is about to turn.  And for that we are joyful.