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Lectionary Notes for Epiphany Sunday, Year ABC

Readings for Epiphany Sunday, 1/2/11:

Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

Isaiah 60:1-6:
On Epiphany Sunday, we use many light/dark images which correspond to good/bad, and sometimes, unfortunately, white/black. Make sure to double check your language for overtones that may be perceived as racist or convey a message that you don't intend!"Lift up your eyes and look around." Sometimes things that we need/want/pray for/hope for are right in front of us, we just fail to see them because we are not looking. During seminary, I had the chance to travel to Ghana, West Africa, and walk across high-suspended canopy bridges in Kakum National Park. I had to remind myself to stop, breathe, and look around at the rainforest that I was crossing high above!This passage is addressed to Israel, as the people have been permitted by the Persian King Darius to return to the Holy City Jerusalem. This is a homecoming story, an image of a big party thrown for Isra…

Lectionary Notes for Christmas Day, Year ABC

Readings for Christmas Sunday, 12/25/10:
Isaiah 52:7-10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12), John 1:1-14
Isaiah 52:7-10:
"beautiful feet" - I've known this verse, though not where to find it in the Bible, since I was in a summer-camp production of "Sandi Patti and the Friendship Company" in junior high, where "Beautiful Feet" was one of the songs. Lyrics here. Beautiful feet - what a great image! Are your feet beautiful? What message do your feet carry from place to place? Do you bring peace with your feet? Salvation?Isaiah speaks of the joy of Israel returning back home after exile to Babylon. When have you experienced your most joyful homecoming? When have you been away from home and not wanted to be away from home? Homesick? Without a home?According to Chris Haslam, the reference to "God's arm" is a reference to God's power. Sort of envisioning a God-flexing-muscles picture.Psalm 98:
Oof - watch out - there's "God's arm"…

Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Advent, " Redefining Christmas: Recreate"

Sermon 12/19/10, Matthew 1:18-25
Redefining Christmas: Recreate
            Sometimes when we get what we want, we don’t know what to do with it after all. Sometimes Advent can seem like a long time, when you’re at the beginning of it, reading those strange world-catastrophe texts a few days after Thanksgiving. But then, what seems like just a few hours later really, we’re at the fourth Sunday of Advent, and in our text today from Matthew Jesus is born, and maybe we wonder a little: now what do we do with this? I know for me, at least, I found it a little easier to preach about those other strange texts, less familiar texts, than I find it to preach about a text so much more familiar and seemingly simple. Let's look at our passage. The text we read from Matthew is notable because here, it is really Joseph's story, not Jesus' or Mary's. Poor Mary, the mother of the Christ Child, hardly gets a mention from Matthew. This passage is about how Joseph handled everything that w…

Sermon for Third Sunday of Advent, "Reveal"

Sermon 12/12/10 Matthew 11:2-11
Redefining Christmas: Reveal

            Have you ever had your expectations completely shattered? Have you ever been totally off base in your expectations about something? Well, I guess I can answer that for you. Of course you have. We all have, I’m sure, in our many experiences had a time when what we expected, and what we got, were two completely different things. A trivial example: In seminary I took my United Methodist history, doctrine, and polity classes online. My seminary was big into embracing technology, and taking the class online was convenient. (I have to also tell you it involved a lot more work than some of my traditional classes!) Anyway, the professor was a professor who was based right on Drew’s campus. I’d just never seen him before. He worked mostly with Doctor of Ministry students, and I was a Master of Divinity student. His office wasn’t in the main seminary building. And I’d just never seen him before. So as I was taking this online…

Sermon for Second Sunday of Advent, "Redefining Christmas: Repent"

Sermon 12/5/10 Matthew 3:1-12, Romans 15:4-13

Redefining Christmas: Repent

            As you might know, a small group of us are currently enjoying a Bible study called, “Christmas from the Backside,” written by J. Ellsworth Kalas. Kalas takes different themes: Christmas, Easter, Parables, Old Testament Stories, etc., and tries to help the reader look at them from new points of view. His first chapter in our study was called, “The Scandal of Christmas.” Kalas says that although the idea of the tiny baby in the manger is a lovely idea, Christmas really begins with a scandal that we don’t like to own up to. Christmas only happens, we only needed, and need Christmas, he says, because of the scandal, and the scandal is that we’re sinners. He argues that we try to think of sin as things that other people do – sin as drugs or crime or adultery or addictions – things that other people do, but in reality sin is being disobeying God. When we disobey God, we sin. We might try to give it a softer …