Lectionary: Christmas Eve/Day December 24/25

by Hugh Brown

“The Announcement”
Luke 2:(1-7),8-20

“He’s here!”, announced the angel of the Lord. This great proclamation made to a unique and unsuspecting audience. Shepherds. The true embodiment of the Savior of the world.

David, a shepherd before he was king, wrote in Psalm 23,

“The Lord is my shepherd…”  Continue reading

Poem: “Jesus’ Birth”

by Timothy J. Donovan

“Jesus’ Birth”
Holy child of virgin birth,
born to bring salvation to this earth.

Down from heaven you did come,
so that your Father’s will is done.

Not to bring peace, but the sword,
to separate your own from the horde.

Capstone of God’s glorious plan,
to bring redemption for every man.

Lying in a manger with your star overhead,
destined to die and be raised from the dead.

To fulfill the promise you’ll be hung on a tree,
becoming a curse to set men free.

Easter Vigil

by Matthew B. Harper

Isaiah 55:7 – Let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thought; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon…

Psalm 42:1 – As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Romans 6:4 – Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death…so we too might walk in newness of life

Matthew 28:7 – Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘he has been raised from the dead

All of these readings come to us from the service for the Easter Vigil, and together they sum up our faith journey.

The words from Isaiah are in a chapter that my Bible titles “invitation to an abundant life.” They are the words that invite us out of our old life of Sin, and into the life of God. We are a fallen people, and the only way back is through a proper relationship with our God. But we cannot go as we are. We cannot be with God when we love our wicked ways.

I am in constant fellowship with godly men who have been criminals of all kinds. The very foundation of their repentance and transformation is to forsake their wicked ways. There comes a day in every person’s life when they are just tired of being wrong, sinful, and alone. To give up what is wrong, and to return to the Lord, is the beginning of all good things.

When we first begin to turn from our sin, and to turn our face back to the Lord we have such a passionate hunger for our God. We want to be with God and to know God’s ways in all things. It is a sad truth that the ways of the world can make that passion dull in our minds and hearts over time. When we are complacent we can forget that there are bigger things than us. We lose our focus on God, and that puts the whole world out of focus. We have to take time to refocus our hearts and minds.

Christ’s death is something we like to talk about, and we cannot allow ourselves to forget that it is our death as well. When we were baptized we were buried with Christ, so that we could be raised in Christ. This Lent we have worked to put to death those things not of God, and to bring forth those things that are of God. This Easter morning we will celebrate Christ’s rebirth just as we celebrate our own rebirth through Christ. Through Christ all of us are in newness of Life.

Mary Magdalene has often been called the ‘disciple to the disciple’ because of the commandment given to her by the angel. It was she that was the first one told to ‘go’ and to tell the good news, and she did. But it did not stop there, and this commandment is given to us as well.

When we realized we are a fallen people, we turned to God; when we thirsted for God, we were filled; when we were crucified with Christ, we were resurrected to new life. In all things we have been given an unbelievable gift from the creator of all creation, and it is the only natural thing that we should go forth and proclaim this goodness to all people. If you are a Christian, how can you not want that very same thing for everyone?

Tonight is the Easter Vigil, and we sit and await the resurrection of our Lord. We sit as if we were children on Christmas Eve; we sit with great anticipation awaiting the new morning. We may already know what will happen on Easter morning, but we cannot allow ourselves to miss the majesty of it. So rise again this Easter. Rise again a new creation, forgiven of your sins, and alive in Christ. Trade your happiness for Joy, find Peace in a troubled world, and pass on the Love of Christ to everybody you meet.

O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. BCP 295


Manger Maker (Christmas Eve)

Christmas Eve – December 24th

Luke 2:1-14 (15-20)

“Manger Maker”

by CM

The Nativity story has always held a special place in my heart. It’s a scene in which the most glorious of all existence enters the turmoil of a chaotic creation. And in the duration of time that encompasses this event, peace and joy enfold all of space, all of time, and it’s all because of a baby named Jesus who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

There is a host of individuals who helped make this moment possible, each on divinely situated to play an important and specific role to bring about God’s designed purpose. Of course, we have Mary, whom we all call blessed. There’s Joseph, Mary’s husband, and descendant of the House of David. Caesar Augustus, for only an Emperor could issue a decree to all the world that would compel Joseph to make the trip to Bethlehem. We need a historical reference point to narrow down the period of time, so we have the governor of Syria, Quirinius. We have the shepherds in the field to bear witness to the event, the angel, and the host of heaven to praise and worship. All of the these people are identified so we’ll have contextual depth and texture for this story. But there’s one more person, one whose touch is so important that without him we’d have a totally different accounting of this story. Can you identify him?

The fact that Joseph and Mary were turned away from the inn shows that they didn’t have the manger on their minds when Mary’s time to deliver came. That means that the manger just so happened to be there, or was it really that much of a coincidence? Someone built it, someone gathered the materials and used his skills to construct the place where Jesus would be born, where the shepherds would find him, and a place where, in an imperfect world, perfect timing and placement were demonstrated by an unnamed craftsman, whose importance was so vital that God personally commissioned him to do so.

Some of you who may be tempted to esteem your value, your importance, your vital presence and dynamic contributions as being less significant than those of the “named” stars of the show. Consider the world into which Jesus was born and the first place he found prepared for him. Did the “Manger Maker” know the significance of his work project at the onset of his undertaking? Probably not. But God did. And while we don’t know that craftsman’s name, God does. And in that example, recognize the fact that your own worth is measured by your faithful dedication to perform and the fact that God knows your name.

For it is in such, I believe, that we find a long list of names. Names of a silent majority who make sure God’s projects come to pass, a list whom Jesus will personally greet with a warm embrace and add the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”A simple, yet profound, “Thank you.”