May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be always
acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
It IS still Christmas!
And today, we specifically get the great joy of celebrating the feast of the
It’s a special feast day in the Christian World:
And it rarely falls on a Sunday
(So we don’t get to formally celebrate it that often.)
Our gospel text today is an excerpt of what we read on Christmas Eve:
(Which is also unusual to hear on a Sunday!)
We normally just get our Christmas reading:
And then MAYBE the reading about the wisemen visiting.
But this year:
Due to Christmas falling on a Sunday:
We get to hear the familiar Christmas story yet again.
With one extra sentence added which is this:
“After eight days had passed (since Jesus’ birth)
It was time to circumcise the child;
And he was called Jesus:
The name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
And today is:
Since our celebration on Christmas eve:
We’re commemorating (in real time)
The Jewish ceremony of circumcision and naming:
Taking place 8 days after birth.
It’s a special day in the Christmas season:
And it IS still Christmas:
As today’s Gospel reading clearly illustrates to us.
So I thought it might be nice:
To share wit you the Christmas message from our Bishop.
He writes this to YOU:
From time immemorial people have gathered around campfires, fireplaces,
and stoves for warmth and light.
And the fire has been the center of community, whether of family, friends, or
strangers crossing paths on the way.
Before central heating, the hearth was the heart of any home.
One of my favorite paintings of the Nativity is ‘The Adoration of the
Shepherds’ long attributed to Rembrandt,
but now thought to be by one of his students.
In the painting, Jesus, lying in the manger, glows with warmth and light.
Mary and Joseph are illuminated as they kneel near the holy Baby.
Shepherds and others are gathered around Jesus as if drawing near to a fire
to escape the gloomy cold of night.
Whether or not Jesus actually glowed with light and warmth,
the painting points to the understanding that Jesus is the light of the Truth
and the warmth of the Love at the heart of everything.
He is the fire in the equation of reality enfleshed to reveal the truth of who
we are and who we are meant to be as beings created in the image of God.
He embodied the love that is lived within the Holy Trinity from eternity.
On Christmas, the manger became the hearth of the world bearing the light
and love of God into this cold and gloomy world.
There is goodness and beauty in the world for sure.
And in each of us.
But there is also the gloom of ignorance, dishonesty, prejudice, and greed.
There is the coldness of selfishness, division, meanness, and violence.
Increasingly, we are disconnected, isolated, anxious, fearful, and lonely.
At Christmas we are reminded that One has come to invite us to gather
together out of the gloomy cold and draw near the Fire that he is to be
enlightened and warmed by his truth and love.
In the coming year, may our congregations glow with the light and love of
May each member bear that light and love into the anxious, lonely, divided
world around us.
May we better see others in the light of God’s love.
May we especially bear that love to those who the world pushes into the
Maybe part of our vocation as disciples of Jesus in these times is to be
to remind ourselves and others of the truth that we belong to one another
and to engage with others regardless of affinity or agreement.
By doing so, we can take the light and warmth we have experienced from the
Hearth to the hearts of those we encounter.
Since it’s still Christmas:
And Bishop Matt is urging us to glow with the light and love of Jesus:
I thought we’d better give our Jesse Tree, one more week to gather things for
What can you find:
That helps you to glow with the light and love of Jesus?
OR what can you find:
That has been a symbol of the light and love of Jesus for you?
What can you find:
That when you see it in your house throughout the year:
Will remind you to go be the light of Jesus to everyone you come across?
Mine is this olive-wood statue of Jesus washing feet.
But it’s also a lot more than that.
My mentor, and former bishop
(Who you’ve heard me talk about a lot)
Bought this statue when he was on a trip to Jerusalem.
I remember when he got it.
He displayed it in his office:
As a reminder to himself:
To always strive to be a servant:
To serve the lowest of the low.
The neediest of the needy.
To: as Bishop matt is urging us:
Be the light of Jesus in the world.
When he died in 2020,
His wife sent this statue to me.
I keep it in my office here at the church:
And it is a constant reminder to me:
To be a servant:
To bring light in the darkness:
To bring people Jesus.
And it’s deeply personal too:
Because it reminds me of how much my mentor loved me.
That his wife would choose to give something so special to me.
And knowing how desperately I have been loved:
Pushes me to give that love:
That light I the darkness:
Right back into the world.
Or as my favorite bible verse says:
In the book of first John:
(and it’s perhaps no mistake: but a murmuring of God,
That my beloved mentor’s name was also “John.”)
But the book of first John says:
“We love because he fist loved us.”
Let’s take one more week:
Until the close of Christmas:
To finish out our tree:
With something to remind us:
To carry the Christian spirit of love:
Of light in the darkness:
With us into the world:
Well after Christmas has ended.
Enjoy the weekly sermons at anytime.