Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meditation for 30 December: “light and life and love”    

John 1: 1 – 14 is the Prologue to the Gospel of John, which is often called the most spiritual Gospel. It is about Light and Life: “I am the Light of the World; whosoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” 8:12)…and “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (14:6) and “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:9.) It is the Gospel which most emphasizes the divinity of Jesus, in his mission of bringing life into the world, in creation and in eternal life, and in enlightening humanity.

Why do we read the Gospel of John and especially the Prologue at Christmas time? Because the Word “dwelt among us,” “full of grace and truth,”stressing the salvation message and the new command of the Incarnation: love of God, of Jesus, and of each other.  “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (13:35). Like the star, the true light “shines in the darkness”…”in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” 

At Christmastime, we celebrate not only the birth of Jesus Christ, but especially his embodiment of light and life and love

Painting is St. John the Evangelist by El Greco. Image, courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sermon: C Christmas Day 25 December 2012

Is 62: 6-12; Ps 97; Ti 3: 4-7; LUKE 2: 1-20

Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place. AMEN.

Merry Christmas and welcome here this happy morning.

Sometimes I wonder about swapping seasonal hymns—wouldn’t “Welcome happy morning, age to age shall say” suit this day as would many other Easter hymns, although there are often stanzas and verses about the crucifixion which would suit less well, because that’s looking too far ahead. This morning, we’re only at “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head.” Christmas hymns are allowed sweet sentiments, and even sentimental images, and yet they need not to stop there. The risk is of seeing an image of Mother and Child, and stopping at that ordinary, gentle, and familiar scene, and forgetting the complex reality of that seemingly recognizable family picture.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

C Christmas Eve 24 December 2012 Go Tell it on the Mountain: Jesus Christ is born today

Is 9: 2-7; Ps 96; Ti 2:11-14; LUKE 2: 1-20

“Fear not, for lo, I bring you good tidings of great joy! For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.  AMEN.

Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and yours! On this joyful occasion, welcome to St. John’s, and Merry Christmas.

The angel said to them, (and to us I’d opine,) “Do not be afraid; for see— I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. Think of what there was and is to be afraid of. Make your list briefly—guns; money—macroeconomics/personal finances; health, unmet hopes/expectations/needs; and so much more. The personal list is there too, things done and left undone, whether sins of omission or commission, and an uneasiness of not being/doing/aiming for more—on whatever level, but especially the personal. Why didn’t I… When will I ever get to…Can’t I be better at…

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sermon: C 4 Advent 23 December 2012

Mi 5: 2-5a; Cant 15 (LK 1: 46-55;) He 10: 5-10; LUKE 1:39-55

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver, the hope of the nations and their Savior, Come and save us, O Lord our God. AMEN.

This antiphon or short sentence preceded and followed the day’s psalm or canticle historically. This is the 7th of the O Antiphons, the one written for the 23rd of Dec. Since we sang The Magnificat instead of the Psalm, and we sang two hymn versions of this canticle, we omitted either a regular chosen antiphon or this ancient one from these O Antiphons, those written for the seven days leading to Christmas Eve. We know them best from “O come, O come Emmanuel.” We ask the Lord, rex et legifer noster, our king and lawgiver, law bearer, to save us. This antiphon names Jesus, calls out to him: “God with us,” to come to save us.

Friday, December 21, 2012


My soul doth magnify the Lord,
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.

He hath shewed strength with his arm.
He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat
and hath exalted the humble and meek.

He hath filled the hungry with good things.
And the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel
as he promised to our forefathers Abraham, and his seed forever.

Johann Sebastian Bach: Magnificat BWV 243, directed by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Duccio:  The Madonna and Child with Angels, courtesy of Wiki Commons

Sunday, December 16, 2012

In memory

"When we look at Earth from space, we are faced with a sobering contradiction. On the one hand is the beauty of our planet, on the other is the unfortunate reality of life on our planet for many of her inhabitants. Our prayers are with the victims + families in CT #LoveConquersAll" — Ron Garan

Image by NASA

Sermon: C Advent 3 December 16, 2012

Zeph 3: 14-20; Cant 9 (Is 12: 2-6); Phi 4:4-7; LUKE 3: 7-18

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say Rejoice. AMEN.

My preaching guide, the one I so often use, oddly titles this Rose Sunday “A Call for Repentance.” Many of us are far closer to that feeling this morning, despite the Zephaniah and Philippians readings and Isaiah’s Canticle, which we just sang—“Surely it is God who saves me; I will trust and not be afraid.” Even after today’s Gospel begins with John the Baptist’s naming the crowd, “You brood of vipers,” it ends with the observation that, “So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Meditation for the 3rd Sunday in Advent: gaudete!

even now the axe is at the root of the trees:
gaudete! dare we rejoice?
flee! says the prophet:
still we cling to all that cheered us,
moth fretted securities, corroded treasures,
narrow rooms and meaner habits.
gaudete! dare we rejoice:
we vipers who live on usury?
flee! says the prophet:
g-d has shown what is required of you.
do justice, love mercy, walk humbly:
bring fruit worthy of repentance.
gaudete! the apostle answers:
let your gentleness be known to all. the lord is near.
leave the narrow land, divest yourself of extra coats:
and in the wide wilderness the peace of christ will
establish your hearts.
even now the axe is at the root of the trees:
gaudete! dare we rejoice?