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Lectionary Notes for Epiphany Sunday, Year ABC

Readings for Epiphany Sunday, 1/1/12:
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…

Aunt Clara

My great Aunt Clara died yesterday, after a year long battle with lung cancer. The cancer was already pretty advanced when she was diagnosed, and she has been on a slow but steady decline all year. In the last few weeks, she became more confused, way too thin, and increasingly physically uncomfortable. After a week in the hospital, she died early Friday morning. 


My aunt was the youngest of my grandmother's siblings - nine years younger than grandma, actually, who is herself a tough cookie, so we were all surprised, I think, to lose Aunt Clara at 77. 


What can I say about Aunt Clara? She had some real ups and downs in her life, and whether she was living in a tiny apartment, or what I considered as a child as practically a mansion, she was always generous. You could not leave her home without her trying to give you something - cookies, clothes she actually loved, food, trinkets, whatever. Anything and definitely something. 


One year for my birthday, maybe, Aunt Clara asked what I wan…

Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Advent: Sing We Now of Christmas: Mary’s Song

Sermon 12/11 Luke 1:26-55
Sing We Now of Christmas: Mary’s Song

Today our scripture brings us three vignettes, woven together. First, Mary is visited by God's messenger Gabriel, who tells her that she is favored, and that she will give birth to a son, a child conceived by the Holy Spirit, who is the Son of the Most High. He tells her nothing is impossible with God. Mary has a couple of questions, naturally, but ends by saying, ʺI am God's servant – let it be with me as you have said.ʺ Next, we see Mary travel to visit her cousin Elizabeth, an older woman who is also pregnant. Elizabeth is pregnant with John, who we know as John the Baptist. Mary visits her, and when Elizabeth sees her, John in her womb seems to leap for joy, and Elizabeth calls Mary and the child she carries blessed. And, she concludes, blessed is she who believes that there will be a fulfillment of God's promises. Finally, we find Mary’s song, what we call the Magnificat, a joyful response at what God has c…

Sermon for Second Sunday of Advent: Sing We Now of Christmas: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Sermon 12/4/11 Isaiah 40:1-11, Mark 1:1-8

SingWe Now of Christmas: O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O Come, O Come Emmanuel is one of the oldest hymns you’ll find in our hymnal. The melody itself is a bit younger – written in the 15th century – but the words are much older – dating back at least to the 9th century, written in Latin. These verses are all based on prophecies from Isaiah, and you might recognize the verses as corresponding to some of the passages from Isaiah we usually read during advent. Actually, the original form of the lyrics is not the hymn itself, but is found in your hymnal on the right side of page 211, where you see what are known as the “O Antiphons.” Antiphons are a spoken response that would alternate between verses of a chant or hymn. And these antiphons, in Latin, make up a kind of word game – a backwards acrostic. See, each antiphon is a title for the Messiah – Emmanuel, Wisdom, Adonai, Root of Jesse, Key of David, Dayspring, King of the Gentiles. And if you take the…