Sunday, December 18, 2005

December 24/25, 2005 - Year B - Christmas

Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98
Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14


Christmas Eve and Christmas Day all get wrapped up together. Use your imagination about the various choices the differing traditions have made regarding text. Do you resonate with your own tradition's choice, or another? Are you drawn more to the eve or the day - - and it was evening and morning the next day? Is Christmas a settled doctrine for you, or a surprising revelation?

7 comments:

  1. Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

    Whether we look at the presence of Jesus Christ as being grounded in the nastiest of political/military situations or the grandest of creation settings, there is a basic mystery to be encountered -- the reality of glory among us, of stars and shepherds, of angels singing peace to all and Baptist John announcing light for all, of going ahead anyway, whether in an untenable geopolitical setting or a family that refuses to see who you are.

    We again wait for the surprise of life being filled with more than that for which we can account. It may come on the eve or the morning of our next day. It may not. To be sure of one or the other takes us out of the arena of surprise and mystery. May we find ourselves alert to the possibility of surprise and open to receive it, however it may show itself, without forcing it to come on our terms or otherwise discount or miss it.

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  2. Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

    Living lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly has no reward to be waited for. They are, in themselves, the reward already. If you are hoping for something, the way toward it is to begin living it in the present. We are to be the peace we desire.

    On the other hand, if you wait long enough and get your timing down right, God will finally come around to sending the cavalry to the rescue. Salvation has nothing to do with our living well, only GOD's living well.

    With these two comes the joy of discernment, knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em.

    A part of what is behind the differing traditions of salvation is the whole business of incarnation. If it were merely a matter of correct doctrine we would run in one direction or the other. When dealing with real live life, we need to be able to go in either direction with equal ease and even to go in both directions at once, thus confusing the heck out of ourselves and others who look for some seamless garment to throw over every issue of living.

    Indeed, this freedom is the image of GOD, the reflection of GOD, and whatever glory GOD wields.

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  3. Psalm 96 / Psalm 97 / Psalm 98

    Sing to the Lord a new song: Judgment is grounded in equity, righteousness, and truth. (96)

    Sing to the Lord an old song: God loves, guards, rescues. (97)

    Sing to the Lord a new song: Remembered steadfast love and faithfulness. (98)

    If you had to embody one of these songs, which would come first to your lips? This is almost a personality test and it doesn't make any difference whether that is a gift hard-wired or learned through experience.

    Are you into
    - judgment on what has already happened?
    - being proactive in peace and justice ministries?
    - living as you would have the future become?

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  4. How about:

    Sing to God, for God,
    the very song
    the only song
    that only you can sing
    the song that only your voice can carry,
    the song that only your heart and mind and spirit can dream of.

    What if all else
    is nothing more or less
    than a denial of God?

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  5. Isaiah 9:2-7 / Isaiah 62:6-12 / Isaiah 52:7-10

    Sentinel and "Son" and Light get paralleled here. The qualities of one run into the qualities of the other.

    The authority of each grows continuously. It is only in this constant growth that the possibility of endless peace comes to pass. Our tendency is to plateau our growth (for shorter and longer terms) and at each we not only consolidate our gain (light the path we have come by), but we lose sight of our journey and settle for a present peace based on the past that can't bear the weight of tomorrow's realities without more growth.

    A call comes to move beyond our current plateau, to "build up" the road to which we have set our foot. A light dawns, a sentinel calls out, a child pushes the boundaries to say, "Ensign Pulver, here, its time for more life than this old bucket or plateau can hold! We'll seek it first in anti-authoritarian silliness which is appropriate to Holy People, the Redeemed."

    What's going to allow folks to join in with the next stage of journey. Well, there will be false promises of peace at the next plateau and that will pull some folks on. Some will get lonely when others have journeyed on and begin see the road isn't quite as rough as they had feared. Some won't ever move and they'll be buried in their grave to mark this plateau. Some will hear a sentinel "son" of light singing for joy about that which is yet to come, no matter what plateau we are on.

    As we near a time of celebrating birth of a prince of peace who will need to grow into and past that designation, it will help if we recognize that the sentinel, "son", light of old are yet floating around in our gene pool, in what it means to be created in the image of GOD. They are part of us and it is appropriate to allow them to be born again within us. May we use Christmas to not only celebrate a past birth, but a present birth of ourselves.

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  6. Titus 2:11-14 / Titus 3:4-7 / Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

    G*D spoke in the prophets. G*D spoke in Jesus (and Joseph and Mary and shepherds and manger beasts and magi). G*D speaks still in you, in me. G*D still speaks in the lives of others.

    The prophets reflected G*D's glory (remember Moses' veiled face?). Jesus reflected G*D's glory. You and I, images of G*D, reflect G*D's glory. G*D's glory is reflected in the lives of others.

    This glory of G*D is shown in goodness and loving kindness that does not dwell on acts past, but enhances deeds right now. It has been poured out upon us by Jesus, adding to the pouring out upon us of image at creation, and asks us to pour it out on others.

    Thus salvation is brought to all. Thus we are active in our waiting. Blessed Creation, Merry Christmas, Joyful Today.

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  7. Luke 2:1-14, (15-20) / Luke 2:(1-7), 8-20 / John 1:1-14

    Christmas Eve Day comes as a witness to testify to the light. On this night there will be larger crowds in churches than tomorrow morning. So what light is being testified to? It apparently isn't regular, congregational worship. Might it be spectacle that is being looked to? Something creation-wide, huge? Completed?

    If this something is to be recognizable, does it have to be on our scale, lived among us? Is that what a child is about, filled with all the expectations of the generations and the parents that this will be the one to do what we have not yet been able to do? And yet we carefully teach each little one to expect to be perfect but to do so within the limitations of our fears, and so not to be able to make a difference. It is amazing that any progress is made unless this is somehow tied up with such a fragile thing as light not being overcome by darkness.

    Witnesses are needed because when we go to look for the announced difference-maker (in some manger hereabout) one hardly knows where to begin to look, particularly if an on-again, off-again star is not your guide, just some song. Were the shepherds ready to give up when they finally found Joseph and Mary or did they have beginners luck and stumble upon them right away? Was there a relative among the shepherds (another descendant of David's) who had the skinny, the low-down, the right data base to search?

    John calls out, the angels call out, the shepherds call out, the manger calls out, the light of creation calls out, but we still need to journey to find. May this Christmas Eve set your journey aright and energize you to hear, "Peace to all" and know that "all" means "all". May this Christmas Eve be treasured in your heart and see you through the trials of this next year. May this Christmas Eve help you return to your usual life, rejoicing, glorifying and praising for all you have experienced and been opened to new experiences.

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