Showing posts from December, 2013

The True Light Cometh -- Lectionary Reflection for Christmas 2A

John 1:1-18 (New Revised Standard Version)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the …

Generations -- A Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas

Matthew 1:1-17

On Christmas Eve we watched as four generations of one family gathered to light the Christ candle. What a wonderful sight it was, because it doesn’t happen all that often.  In fact, largely due to the mobility of our society, our opportunities to gather across the generations has become increasingly difficult.  One of the few places where multiple generations do gather on a regular basis is at church, even if these multiple generations aren’t part of one specific family. This morning’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew is known for its “begats,” because that’s the word the King James Version uses to count off the forty-two generations of Jesus ancestry, stretching from Abraham to David, from David to the Exile, and finally from the exile to the Christ child.  While some of the persons named in this passage are familiar, most are not.
When we read a passage of scripture like this one, our eyes can begin to glaze over and our minds begin to wander.  There are a few names i…

Parental Guidance Advised: Adult Preaching from the Old Testament (Review)

PARENTAL GUIDANCE ADVISED: Adult Preaching from the Old Testament Edited by Alyce M. McKenzie and Charles L. Aaron Jr.  St. Louis:  Chalice Press, 2013.  Xi +147 pages.

The biblical story, especially the section of it Christians most often refer to as the Old Testament, is not G rated.  For the preacher to take up the Biblical text and discern a message for today requires a great deal of wisdom and recognition that not all parts are appropriate for children.  The Old Testament has stories of rape, adultery, divinely commanded infanticide (Abraham and Isaac), and more.  There is violence and there is even the erotic.  It is no wonder that many preachers shy away from the Old Testament in their preaching, because it can easily push buttons we're not ready to handle.
It is helpful for the preacher to have, if not parental guidance, expert guidance in ways of handling these texts.  Such a word from those wise in communicating the message embedded in the Old Testament comes to us packa…

Muslim Perspectives on "Remembering God" at Christmas -- Sightings

Over the past few days my Muslim friends have shared Christmas greetings.  That might seem odd to some, but its important to remember that Islam honors Jesus as a founding prophet and affirms the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.  In this piece written for Sightings, Scott Alexander helps provide helpful insight into ways in which Muslims remember God at Christmas.  Take a read and perhaps offer your thoughts.

Muslim Perspectives on "Remembering God" at Christmasby SCOTT C. ALEXANDER
Thursday | Dec 26 2013                                                                                                                           Photo: Scott C. Alexander

The Christmas tree, and minaret of the Mosque of 'Umar b. al-Khatab in Manger Square, Bethlehem To get some sense of what Muslims think about Christmas, I decided to poll a cross-section of my Muslim friends and colleagues.

A Muslim from India alluded to the stories of the angel's visit to Mary and the birth of Jesus which ap…

God Includes All -- Alternate Lections for Epiphany (David Ackerman)

A new year is at hand.  We find ourselves thinking about the future -- what will 2014 be like.  What is required of us?  In this set of lections, David Ackerman, inBeyond the Lectionary: A Year of Alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary, offers us an opportunity to trust in the Lord, consider the boundaries of the community, and discern the center.  Each text in its own way invites us to consider God's gracious offer of inclusion.  May the New Year be one in which we both experience and share in a new way that welcome God has shown us in Christ.

Epiphany/New Year’s Day
“God Includes All”
Note:  If desired, these texts may be used in place of the readings for Christmas 2.
Call to Worship:  Isaiah 56:3-5 NRSV
One:  Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.”
Many:  For thus says the Lord:  To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things …

Build Each Other Up -- Alternative Lections for Christmas 2 (David Ackerman)

Although it seems as if Christmas should be over, such is not the case.  There are two Sundays that follow upon Christmas this year.  With these passages we have the opportunity to continue the conversation as to what Christmas means for us.  The idea that the call of Christ involves building up one another may not always be at the top of our minds, but may this be an opportunity to share that very message.  If you're a preacher considering what to share this coming Second Sunday of Christmas, I invite you to consider these passages and supporting matierals that David Ackerman has provided us with his Beyond the Lectionary: A Year of Alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary. .

Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2
“Build Each Other Up”
Note: Another option for this day is to use the readings for Epiphany.
Call to Worship:  Psalm 106:47-48 NRSV
One:  Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.