Sunday, December 30, 2012

Whatcha Doin'?

First Sunday after Christmas
Colossians 3:12-17

• Ten days of winter vacation, what to do.
Phineas and Ferb, Disney TV show about two brothers about ten years old who seek to make the most of their summer vacation. Phineas is the ringleader. Intelligent, creative, inventive,  friendly. Near the beginning of each episode some interesting problem is brought up, and the lightbulb goes on and Phineas says “Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today.” And they embark on some fantastic adventure.
At some point in the episode, Isabella, a neighbor who has a schoolgirl crush on Phineas, comes up and says “Hi, Phineas, watcha doin?”

• Christmas behind, New Year’s ahead… Watcha doin?

I have a FB friend, doesn’t like NY resolutions that people just make for show
She posted: “I do try to be more like Christ every day. & I challenge you to live more like Christ every day. Can you handle that?”
My response: measure how.

• Christmas Eve I talked about pride and fear, and how Jesus delivers us through his incarnation and being Immanuel, God with us.

  & in this section of Colossians, Paul reminds Christians who are living in fear, under persecution, under fear of the church falling apart, under fear… You’re Baptized! God did not give a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline (2Tim1:7) You’re Baptized! You belong to God! God is with you! And That’s Powerful!

  Your baptism connects you to the life and death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ!

• Christmas behind, New year’s ahead… Whatcha doin?

• Read Col 3:12-17… Put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience. Put on love. Be forgiving. Be governed by the peace of Christ. Be thankful. Be a person of praise. Read it every day (there’s a habit you can track! How might you make these suggestions, these commandments, part of your every day?). Continually celebrate the birth of Christ, Immanuel God is with us, and continually seek him. Make him part of your daily habit as much as you make getting dressed a part of your daily habit. And see if it doesn’t make your life adventurous. So that when Isabella asks you “whatcha doin?” you can say “gang, I know what we’re gonna do today.” Christ the Savior is born, he lives in me. Glory to God.

• 163 As With Gladness Men of Old

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Humble Manger

Christmas Eve

• Advent is waiting for the coming of God, the fulfillment of God’s plan.

• What am I waiting for? The end of spam mail. For real. Oh the problems we have, right?

• I've been thinking about the troubles of the world, and how does Christmas, how does Jesus & faith in Jesus address them.

Two biggies: pride and fear. 
Pride being Mine is better, I am worthy of your attention, my priority is me, I am the most trustworthy in my life, I don’t trust you or government or God, I trust me.  Perhaps an exaggeration but you can’t remove from pride that pride has “I” in the middle.

Two biggies: pride and fear. 
Fear being someone may try to take what I have, or I may somehow lose what I have. Loss of freedom, safety, security.  Fear that we are alone.

Fear and pride are partners, and they separate us from others and from God.

What’s Christmas have to do with this?

Jesus came in an ultimate example of humility, and came that we might not fear, and that we might not be alone. He came humbly, perhaps to ward off pride, perhaps to teach us to do the same, perhaps to say to us “I know. I’m there with you.”

Others came to steal and destroy, Jesus says in John 10, but I came that they might have life to the full. Life free from fear, free from pride, full of the goodness of God.

• photo caption (Rev. Adam Hamilton shared a photo of a rural domestic cave that he thinks is similar to what Jesus was likely born in. I used that picture in worship along with Rev. Hamilton's caption: )
As you likely know, the tradition is that Jesus was born in a cave which served as a stable for the animals. This was, and continues to be a common practice in the area around Bethlehem The cave was located underneath a house (not an inn - the word in Luke's gospel often translated inn is better translated as "guest room"). The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is built atop a cave said to be the site of Jesus' birth. 

While hiking in the Judean wilderness this past February, I came across this home near Bethlehem. It is undoubtedly larger than the home where Jesus was born, but it gives you a sense of the humble conditions of his birth. Note the cave in the foreground where the animals are still kept to this day. This is the kind of place I imagine Mary gave birth to Jesus. Sorry it is a bit out of focus - I had to blow the pic up and crop it as it was shot from a mile away. 

• Therefore examine your own pride, and fear, and humility. Make room in your heart for Jesus, & every living being. Yourself included. And participate in God’s lighting of the world.

• Pray: We love you, there is room in our hearts for you. Thank you. Keep speaking.

• Adult Choir Cantata: God Speaking

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Thread

Fourth Sunday of Advent 

At the beginning of Advent, as we lit the Advent candles, it was shared in a dramatic dialogue that the British Navy used to weave a red thread into their ropes so that their ropes could be easily identified as belonging to the British Navy.
Today we read through a Festival of Lessons and Carols, touching on nine scripture lessons from Genesis through the Gospels, seeing the thread of God's promise of salvation woven throughout the witness.
I also shared the story of the "Footprints in the Sand"
• Advent is waiting for the coming of God, the fulfillment of God’s plan.
• Thread. Footprints in the sand. Today’s scriptures have looked at some of those footprints.
Now I encourage you as you stand there on the beach looking at the footprints with Jesus to look the other direction… the direction of things to come.
In one sense, we know that Jesus will be walking with us as he has the whole time.
And in another sense we walk expectantly, anticipating his arrival, trusting his words after the resurrection Go ahead and we will see him there just as he told us.
So hold these different things in your head: Jesus in the past and in the future, his birth and his resurrection, our present darkness and his coming light. Jesus is the light of the world. He is coming, he is there before us, and we bear his light here and now.

• Good Christian Men, Rejoice 151

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Light in the Darkness

Third Sunday of Advent *
Zechariah 1:67-79
• Advent is waiting for the coming of God, the fulfillment of God’s plan. Lotta people wondering where is God, hoping for God’s return
• There have always been acts of evil. And until Jesus comes again, there will always be acts of evil. Perhaps the frequency or intensity of those acts will increase before his return, I can’t say. But there are a few things I can say.
• A friend cried out on Friday “So we can't go to the mall or send our kids to school wtf?”
My response: “No. You CAN go to the mall. You CAN send your kids to school. You NEVER had a guarantee of safety, and you CANNOT live in fear.”
• And we find in scriptures that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), and that there are three things that endure: faith, hope, and love (1 Corinthians 13:13). We find that when God sends his angels among us they always bring the words Do not fear.
• And we find that it was not into a world of love and light that God sent his son… it was into a world of darkness into which God sent his light. He did not remove the darkness, he did not take it away, he brings light into the darkness, and asks that we be bearers of that light.
• Thy kingdom come, Lord.

• Children’s presentation**

* This message was shared on 12/16/12, two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre
** Our children presented a musical called "O Little Christmas Town" 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Partners in Grace

Second Sunday of Advent
Philippians 1:3-11
• Advent is waiting for the coming of God, the fulfillment of God’s plan.
• I thank God every time I mention you in my prayers. (v3). My prayers of you are full of joy. My hope is your continued growth towards completion, perfection, shalom, wholeness as God would have you be.
What would that wholeness look like? (wait for it)
I think today it would look like security. Safety. Economic and social. To know that not only *I* would know peace and prosperity, but that my children & grandchildren would know peace & prosperity. That and maybe world w/o war, disease, poverty.
Can you imagine that? Is there anything you can do to work towards that? Could you do it if you had a partner? If that partner were God?
Sounds like The Promised Land. Sounds like God’s anticipated reign.
Economic aspect to promised land, to God’s reign.
• I have a friend who is depressed, has pretty much given up, in good part because of the political and economic situation of the nation. What to tell him? Do what you can do. Even if what you can do is write letters from your house. Eagerly but not anxiously await The Coming. And work regardless of what YOU may achieve – the Israelites who left Egypt wandered in the wilderness for their children…
• Teach your children what’s important, by word and action.
Some factors in are in your control, (do what you can)  Others are not.
          And don’t stop at adversity
          Hello, Mary, Hello, Joseph. Years of scrutiny, behind-the-back whispers…
          Hello, Paul.  Prison, multiple beatings.
• Don’t stop @ adversity but worship. Do what you can, and don’t fret @ the rest. God is amazing, and God will bring the world to God’s completion.

• Closing song, Amazing Love (Christmas version)

Sunday, December 2, 2012


First Sunday of Advent (year C)Jeremiah 33:14-16
• Advent is waiting. We know Christmas is going to get here, and we know that God keeps God’s promises, and how we wait is up to us. There is Bad waiting and good waiting. Anxious waiting and calm. Frenzied and productive.
• You can stress about decorations and shopping and cram so much in that by the time Christmas gets here you’re ready for it to end. Or you observe Advent with candle lighting and devotions, and put up the tree just before Christmas. You COULD choose to worship on Christmas Day, and give gifts on January 6th, Epiphany, when we remember the gifts of the magi, but that might be a little more countercultural than you bargained for.
• live today today, tomorrow tomorrow. End of world on 21st (Mayan calendar) Live it up, make ‘em good, they say.  Says I, would it be any different if you knew you had 21,000 days? If you’re living in God, it doesn't matter how many days you have "left". The end of my days is the beginning of the rest of my life, and the living of my days is doing the work of the one that sent me.
• God tells us he’s coming, he’s going to fulfill his promise, he’s going to raise up a righteous leader who will bring salvation and safety, and while we look forward to the fulfillment, we wait on God with patient hope and faithfulness, and without anxiety or frenzy.
• Story of the boy who wanted to meet God (google Twinkies in the park with God).  He prepared in a good way, with some simple food for the journey (we’re going to have some simple food for the journey pretty soon, provided by God) In unexpected way, with nourishment for the journey and with an unfrenzied heart.
• Use these 23 days, these 4 Sundays of Advent to prepare for the fulfillment of the promise by reading the promise, partaking in the food for the journey, and reflecting on the beauty of God.

• Choral Anthem: Beautiful Star of Bethlehem
Followed by celebration of Holy Communion