Showing posts from December, 2012

Reflections on the Gospel – Luke 2:41-52 - Christmas I

Read the text here: Luke 2:41-52 --> We do not have much information about Jesus’ childhood.   In fact the Gospel lesson for the 1 st Sunday after Christmas – Luke 2:41-52 – is about all.   Of course we would be curious about what Jesus was like and what kinds of experiences he might have had when he was a child.   This natural curiosity prompted the creation of a book called The Infancy Gospel of Thomas in the 3 rd or 4 th centuries.   The book pretends to have been written by the disciple Thomas, but is a rather fantastic set of stories that make Jesus sound more like the pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter who didn’t know how to use his power and ended up causing all kinds of havoc as a result.   As fun as this book is to read, we can glean nothing about Jesus from it.   So we really only know two things about Jesus’ childhood for certain.   The first is that Jesus grew up in Nazareth that at that time was a small village.   Nearby, within sight, since Nazareth is on a hi

Christmas Eve – 2012 - Luke 2:1-20

Read the text here:  Luke 2:1-20 --> Holy Time “In those days…” begins the Gospel story.   “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus”   Luke is very specific about those days.   Which days are those days?   They are days marked by those who hold absolute power – Caesar Augustus and Quirinius the Roman Governor in Syria.   “In those days…” daily life is lived – both at the time of Jesus and in our own time.   “Those days…” are marked with successes and failures, joy and sorrow, loss and grief and most of all fear.   “Do not be afraid” says the angel first to Zechariah then to Mary and now to the Shepherds.   “Do not be afraid!”   Why is it that every proclamation of the angels in the story that takes the first two chapters of Luke is prefaced with these words – “Do not be afraid”?   Because fear defines and governs “ those days .”   Fear is what prompts decisions and shapes relationships.   And this is true for us as well, isn’t it?   Fear continues to s

Advent IV - The Magnificat - Luke 1:46-55

Read the text here: Luke 1:39-56 Singing of the Promises In many ways the opening two chapters of the Gospel of Luke is a lot like a great musical.   Every time you turn around someone is bursting into song.   There are a total of 4 songs within the first two chapters.   It is as if the joy is too great to be conveyed in words and the various characters have to resort to song: 1.      Mary’s Song - The Magnificat, 1:46-55; (Sermon for Advent 4) 2.      Zechariah’s Song – The Benedictus, 1:68-79 (Sermon from Advent 2) 3.      The Angel’s Song – Gloria in excelsis, 2:14 (Sermon for Christmas) 4.      The Song of Simeon – Nunc Dimitus, 2:29-32 (Sermon for New Year’s Eve) We begin with the elderly priestly couple Elizabeth and Zechariah.   Elizabeth is barren, but hopes for a child. Zechariah is visited by an angel who declares that he and Elizabeth will have a child – John – who will be a prophet and prepare the way for the Lord’s anointed.   Zechari

Advent III - "Rejoice?"

On Saturday I completely re-wrote my sermon for Advent III in light of the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT.  The sermon attempts to address this shooting in the context of Advent III and the lessons appointed for the day: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-8. You can listen to a recording from the Saturday evening service here:   Listen to Advent III Sermon The sermon makes mention of an Altarpiece from the 15th century artist Matthais Grünewald - 1475-1528.  Here is a digital copy of that beautiful artwork - please note how John the Baptist is pointing his finger towards the cross. Here is a link to an article that I found very helpful for answering the question about how to relate to those who are experiencing this kind of pain and grief: Dealing with Grief - 5 Things to Say and Not to Say   Finally - let us pray.... "When aimless violence takes those we love, When random death strikes childhood’s promise down, When wrenching loss becomes our daily

Reflections on the Song of Zechariah – Luke 1:68-79

Read the text here: Luke 1:68-79 Promises – Ancient & Modern On this 2 nd weekend in Advent we receive two gifts: 1. We are introduced to John the Baptist in the first of two weekends devoted to him during Advent; and 2. We get to sing the song which John’s father Zechariah sang when John is presented in the temple.   The song, the 2nd of 4 beautiful songs that appear in the first two chapters of Luke, is known as The Benedictus, after the first word – Blessed (be the Lord God of Israel) – and has been a part of Christian worship since the early church.   The song focuses on promise .   In fact, one could almost make the case that the entire opening of Luke’s gospel focuses on promise – the promise given by God to God’s people and the promise brought to fulfillment in the birth of Jesus. What is this promise?   For the answer to that question we need to turn to the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis.   Right in the very first few verses of the entire adventure of