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Showing posts from December, 2008

Sermon for December 21, 2008 (Advent 4)

Birthing a Promise
Luke 1:26-38

Advent begins in darkness. Sometimes I think the world wishes it was different. Around this time of year, the world asks us to rush into the light. Just hours after we finish the leftover turkey and trimmings from Thanksgiving, the bells start ringing, the carols start playing, and the lights blink in our neighbor’s windows. The malls have been “Christmased” since October. With a world that resists the darkness, it’s even more important to stick to God’s plan. Advent begins in darkness.

And in that darkness, God asks us to do some things that are not part of our nature. Take it slow and steady. Savor the journey. Be honest and acknowledge that how we feel inwardly does not always match how the world insists we feel outwardly. No amount of tinsel or lights can take away the aching loss of a loved one. No amount of caroling can erase a frightening diagnosis or an impending surgery. No person can make you feel merry and bright when the real worries of the wor…

Sermon for December 21, 2008 -- Advent 3

Finding Joy in the Season
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

In an early October evening in 1843, Charles Dickens stepped from the brick-and-stone porch of his home near Regent’s Park in London. The cool air of dusk was a relief from the day’s unseasonal humidity as the author began his nightly walk. Dickens was deeply troubled. The 31-year-old father of four had thought he was at the peak of his career. The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby had all been successful novels. But now the celebrated writer faced serious financial problems. Sales of his the new novel were not what had been expected. It seemed his talent was being questioned. Dickens supported a large, extended family and his expenses were already nearly more than he could handle. His father and brothers were pleading for loans. His wife, Kate, was expecting their fifth child.

All summer long, Dickens worried about his mounting bills, especially the large mortgage that he owed on his house. He knew that he needed an idea th…

Sermon for Sunday, December 7 (Advent 2)

Messengers of Hope
Mark 1:1-8

More housecleaning will be done at this time of year than any other. You know it if you have a live Christmas tree, because you’ve already vacuumed the floor about 6 times this morning. We clean because holidays mean company. Company means you have to move the stacks of gifts, fold or hide the piles of clothes, and clean or hide the stack of dishes in the sink before anyone comes over and finds out what your house looks like most of the time. When people come, we like to prepare for them–we clean, we cook and serve food, we decorate, and do what we can to make the visitor feel welcome. In the ancient Middle East, there was a practice much like our own: people would clean and to get ready for the visit of a dignitary. When the dignitary was a king or emperor, the cleaning included improving the roads leading to the city. It was kind of like an ancient New Deal. All kinds of jobs were instantly created, and the citizens of the area would be conscripted into …