I’m going, I’m going …

I arrived in church continuing my reflection on simple pleasures, this morning pondering the pleasure of being the first to arrive at church on a Sunday. Opening doors, checking lights, making sure everything is ready, waiting for people to begin to trickle in. I’ve always thought it felt like getting ready to welcome guests. Then I unlocked my office door and found this guy waiting – quite stiff, if that isn’t apparent. The mice want my office, it seems; they’ve been making that clear for a month or so. OK, I think I get the message …

A sermon for Christmas morning

Every year at Christmas we stand at the creche in awe and wonder and poder again what it means to say that we believe that God came into our world as an ordinary, helpless, human baby.

It has so many ramifications. You should never run out of ideas for Christmas sermons. It harkens back to that most beloved of Bible verses, John 3:16: “God so loved the world … “ God sent Jesus, God sent the Son into the world. It speaks of a love that is so enormous that it can’t be contained. It overflows into Creation, and it overflows into this great act of love in Jesus.

It says to us that all of creation is holy. That the earth is holy. That it’s a sacrament of the presence of God. It says that God is with us in the most profound way, that we’re never alone, that God is with us in our joys and in our sorrows. And I talked last night about Mary theotokos—the idea of Mary as the Christ-bearer. This morning I did bring the Christmas card from the diocese. I’ll let you pass this around. 

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A sermon for Christmas Eve

Way back when I was a young newspaper reporter, I worked for an editor who just loved human interest stories. Those are the ones that show the human face behind the headlines. They’re stories about real people the readers can identify with. A good human interest story helps us to understand the world we live in and very often it can also help us to understand something about ourselves and the kind of people we want to be.

People love a good human interest story, and the story told in the Christmas gospels is one of the best human interest stories ever told. No matter how many times we hear it, it still has the power to fill us with hope and expectation. It’s a story about a family making it through a tough situation. It’s a story about love. And it’s a story about a baby—and who doesn’t love a baby? One part of why we love it is that it promises to satisfy some of our deepest human longings: Those longings for peace and love, for the beauty and promise of new life, and ultimately for the redeeming of all human brokenness. It’s a wonderful story partly because of the way it fills us with hope.

And the Christmas story has the power to pull us right in to a personally. It calls us to remember all the times that we’ve heard it before, to remember where we were and how we felt and who we heard it with. And those memories often make us feel both glad and sad.

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True peace

When I was little, I wished I could fly. I thought it would feel so peaceful to be able to rise above all the cares and concerns of life on earth, to watch them disappear as I flew on by. Now I know that true peace is found in love: “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.” 1 John 4:16

#AdventWord #peace

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Peace train

Even if we’ve heard this story countless times before, it still has the power to fill us with expectation because it touches—and promises to satisfy—our deepest human longing: for peace and love, for the beauty and promise of new life, for the redeeming of all human brokenness. Like any good story, it fills us with new hope and calls us to believe that hope is real.

#AdventWord #expect

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(And yes, I do love living in a place called “New Hope.”)

On fire with love

Sitting by the blazing hearth: a simple pleasure that makes my heart glad. I love to watch the dancing flames, to hear the crackle of the burning wood, to feel the warmth that radiates into the room. So the wild force of fire, set loose by the strike of a match, becomes a source of heat and light and a power for good. I wonder if grace, the lived experience of God’s love, isn’t something like that.

#AdventWord #ablaze
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Outward signs

John preached a baptism of repentance in preparation for the coming of Christ, and this ritual washing wasn’t just about purification, it was a sign of personal transformation, a commitment to live in a whole new way. Is there an outward sign of your own inner preparation for Christmas?

#AdventWord #wash
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Photo: Baptistry of Neon, Ravenna, Italy