Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Christmas Eve
Isaiah 9.2-7; Luke 2.1-20
Thursday, December 24, 2015 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

Here we are. Christmas Eve. The day we have been awaiting for the last four weeks of Advent, if not longer. All the preparations are done. The shopping is done. The gifts are wrapped. All that is left is to enjoy the festivities. For some that may have already begun. For most, that will probably come tomorrow morning. Spending time with loved ones. Feasting. Opening presents.

In our culture, particularly our secular culture, we place a great deal of emphasis on the gift-giving aspect of Christmas. The gifts we give and the ones we receive. At times, we might get upset at and rail against the consumerism that is inherent in this aspect of the Christmas season. But the giving and receiving of gifts is also a holy act. It is a sacramental act. A sacrament is defined as the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace that we experience in our lives. Gifts are the outward and visible signs of the inward and invisible love that we feel for those who are important to us. This sacramental act symbolizes the focus and primary sentiment of this season – love.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

"Rejoice in the Lord Always"

Third Sunday of Advent (Year C)
Zephaniah 3.14-20; Canticle 9; Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.7-18
Sunday, December 13, 2015 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

As we continue our journey through the season of Advent, and mark that journey by the lighting of successive candles on the Advent wreath, we see that today we have come to the third Sunday, for which a pink candle is lit. Why a different color from the otherwise blue candles of this liturgical season? Because the third Sunday of Advent has a decidedly different tone than the other Sundays of Advent. This Sunday is commonly known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for rejoice. So this is “Rejoice Sunday.” So, to distinguish the “lighter” tone, a different, more celebratory color is used.

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Sunday, December 06, 2015

Prepare the Way of the Lord

Second Sunday of Advent (Year C)
Malachi 3.1-4; Canticle 16; Philippians 1.3-11; Luke 3.1-6
Sunday, December 6, 2015 – St. Paul’s Emmanuel, Santa Paula

[While this is the sermon I prepared, this is not what I preached. Due to the tragic shootings by terrorists in San Bernardino, I felt led by the Spirit to go off-script and talk about that event and our Christian response. I did, however, end with portions of this printed text.]

Anticipation and preparation are foundational to the season of Advent. Anticipation of and preparation for the coming of our Lord, both at his birth at Christmas and his Second Coming at the end of the ages. We dealt with these aspects as related to the Second Coming last week. Now over the remaining weeks of Advent we turn our attention more and more to the First Coming at Christmas.

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