Sermon for the Frist Sunday after Christmas - Luke 2:22-40
Christmas is God’s “Hello” and “Goodbye” to his world all wrapped into one. He comes into this world as a major hello. Here I am. See me in the most vulnerable state you can. See me as a baby. As one who is expected to sit still, obey, and be quiet. But also one who is needy, who is often desired above all things, who is cradled and coddled and ogled over. An infant. A child. Don’t think I don’t notice you all eyeing little Henry and begging for the chance to hold him. Now think Jesus. God as a child. Suddenly this baby is here and the child is this “Hello” of God into the world.
Sermon for the Nativity - John 1:1-14
It is hard to try and preach on Christmas, because everyone knows the story. Everyone likes the Nativity scenes, and has either been part of the Luke 2 narrative in a Christmas program at church, or they read it as a family every year. Caesar, census, fields, shepherds, angels, Gloria, baby, manger, Mary, and Joseph.
At least with Christmas Day we get the rest of the story. We get John explaining to us the whole story in a theological way. In a way we might try and understand the idea of incarnation. God-con-carne. God, the creator of all things, putting on flesh. God who has no form necessarily, becoming a human being, taking on a form. Giving flesh and blood to his voice. Needing his voice, his sermon to become physically present among a people who would rather have him be silent.
Sermon for the Eve of the Nativity - Luke 2:1-14
The danger of Christmas is our own passivity. I mean it comes upon us every year. We know it is coming. December 25th. It’s already on our calendars before we even think about it. Then we get inundated beginning around September, whenever Wal-Mart puts out Christmas candy and decorations. We bemoan it. We groan. Having to listen to Mariah Carey scream out “All I want for Christmas is youuuuuuuu”, months before we even know what we want or even need.
Sermon for the 4th Sunday in Advent - John 1:19-28
As kids we would play this game called “Marco Polo.” I’m sure you’ve played it. Normally it would take place in a pool, or the shallows at the ocean, and one person would be “it.” They would close their eyes and wander around saying “Marco,” while everyone else would say…”Polo.” Good. You know the game. We would try and get as close as possible to the person without being touched while saying “polo.” If you got touched you were “it” and the game would start all over. The “not-its” would have to be daring and quick. The “It” would have to be able to listen. To hear the “woosh” of the water. There also would need to be people, other players, calling out the words. You can’t play the game by yourself. Well, you could but it would be very lonely, and never end.
Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Advent - Matthew 11:2-10
John had to hear it one more time, and he was this Elijah foretold. This Elijah being one whom we read of last week who was to come and get everyone ready for the advent of the Messiah. He was a big deal. He went to seminary. Read his Bible every day, prayed the hours, attended services twice weekly, preached and taught confirmation and lived to tell the tale. Yet, all that ministry, that Elijah work, gave him one outcome – prison. The first Elijah was a prophet that stood up to the evilest of kings and most voracious of politicians, working to turn the people of Samaria back to God. Now the new Elijah is sitting in jail, fulfilling his role, because he had the audacity to tell King Herod that he could not steal his brother’s wife from him. This John, in his sufferings and doubts, he needed to hear from Christ again. Just one more time. Are you he? Are you the one? Tell me. Was this all in vain? Did I get it wrong?
Sermon for the 2nd Sunday of Advent - Luke 21;25-33
We truly do live in a world in which signs in the heavens and terrors on earth are very much real. We don’t have to be 1st century Jews and Greeks to understand this. I still remember going to a hill top in 1986 to see Halley’s Comet pass by. A marvel. Something that won’t come again in my lifetime. That was also the same year of the Challenger explosion. That shocked us as a nation. I have never seen the northern lights but I know many of you have. We have sent men to the moon. Many of you could tell me where you were when that happened. We now have people orbiting the earth in a space station. We’ve sent a rover to Mars. Fascinating stuff. We, however, also receive reports from NASA quite often of another giant meteor passing way too close to earth, again. Dinosaur extinction anyone? We continue to have discussion around Star Wars missile defense, the Space Force, nuclear proliferation. A doomsday clock always moves back and forth towards midnight of doomsday. Thinking that we are just on the precipice of it all.
Sermon for the 1st Sunday in Advent - Matthew 21:1-9
Childbirth is an amazing thing. A new baby. This little fragile life that had to be cradled by the mother for months now breaks forth into this broken world, and it takes all our might as parents to keep them from being broken themselves. I remember when I first became a dad. After my wife did all the work, and this amazing miracle happened of another life being created, I’m holding my daughter and that little hand latches onto my finger and I was done. I was terrified to hold her the first time. To give her a bath. To change her diapers. To feed her. Driving home from the hospital, I never drove so slow or carefully in all my life. Nothing so vulnerable or intimidating as a newborn baby. So small you worry you might drop her. Crush her. Neglect her. But then you also have a job. She needs love. She needs food. She needs cleaning. She needs warmth, naps, fresh air, stimulation, to be taught, to grow, to mature, to test herself, her gifts, her talents, to hear the word of God pronounced over her. Life happening to her, not by her. Eventually baptized in water she did not ask for, and marked with the cross of Christ forever, because this whole Christian life and the work of Jesus is something that comes to us. Happens to us. No us involved apart from being these recipients of the glory of Christ.