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Ordinary Holy Night

Welcome to the holiest night of the year…

and yet at first glance, it might seem ordinary.

Once upon a time, the entire world was covered in darkness that allowed hopelessness, injustice, corruption, oppression, misery and hate to flourish within its shadows.

Until our story begins with a young, pregnant, engaged but not yet married woman named Mary traveling with Joseph to Bethlehem per government census. They were Israelites, whose land was occupied by the Romans.

As the Gospel according to Matthew wrote, Joseph had reasonably questioned Mary regarding her condition and claim to not engaging in the necessary activities with him or another man. Joseph came to believe Mary after an angel appeared in his dream assuring him to take Mary as his wife and shared God’s plan for redeeming all humankind and the entire creation. But, I imagine that doubters remained who whispered to one another about Mary, Joseph, and this baby. I also imagine God did not send an angel to each doubter.

Upon their arrival in Bethlehem, the couple is not able to find a room for the night and I would imagine with a little hesitation but with gratitude accepted the offer to stay in a stable.

In the fields that surrounded Bethlehem, shepherds were watching their flocks as was normal.

I imagine that the night sky was darker than dark polka-dotted with beautiful but distant stars offering little light for them and their sheep.

But on this ordinary night, God would use these ordinary people, place, and event for a holy drama. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2019 in Sermons

 

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The Light Returns

You may or may not be aware, so I will confess that I am a Religious Studies nerd.

Thus, I find it interesting that during specific times of the year that we (humanity) across nationalities and religious faiths have similar realizations about our world and the divine. This time of year (late December) is no different.

A few nights ago, it was the winter solstice and thus the longest night of the year.

I grew up in Arizona, so that never meant a whole lot to me as the difference between the length of summer and winter nights were not extreme due to being closer to the equator.

But in Indiana (or Ohio), you notice in the fall that the days are becoming shorter while the nights become longer, darker, and colder.

It was even worse in Washington State, where I came from most recently.

We notice it is darker.
We begin to long for that winter solstice.
We begin to long for the returned light, even its tiny glimpses breaking through the clouds. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Pondering Mysteries: Mary’s Story cont’

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Merry Christmas!

We know why we are gathered tonight. We are here to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

I had some of you in church this morning while some were not there, but my sermon does build upon this morning. Therefore, I will do a brief re-cap.

The Fourth Sunday in Advent is always Mary being visited by the archangel Gabriel.

Although all angels are massagers of God, Gabriel is the supreme massager and therefore if you have a message that MUST be delivered… he is your angel.

Saint Anne, mother of Mary, was unable to have children. She prayed to God, who enabled her to conceive and give birth to her daughter. When Mary was a young child, she was returned to the Temple in the service of God under the religious authorities. When Mary was about 12-14 years old, the religious authorities decided she needed to leave the Temple and fulfill her obligations as a wife and mother before (potentially) returning to Temple service. BUT, they could not let her become engaged to any man and underwent a process. Mary would become engaged to Joseph, a widower.

This is where the Gospel accounts begin Mary’s story with a visit from Gabriel, whose message is that she will conceive and give birth to the Christ (the Messiah).
That is a job that I would not want.

This evening, we find Mary and Joseph in a manger, but a LOT has happened between Gabriel visiting Mary and now. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2018 in Sermons

 

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