Saturday, December 29, 2018

1st Sunday of Christmas Yr C Dec 30 2018




Audio 1st Sunday of Christmas Yr C Dec 30 2018 John 1:1-18
John begins at the beginning; in the beginning was the Word. John, very intentionally, places us at the beginning, the first words of the first book of the Holy Scripture that John had on his heart, in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. And John very intentionally introduces us to one of the themes that for him shape all of faith, the light that is in the world.

In John 1 from The Message we hear, “The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!—came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.”

Genesis 1 from the Message we hear “God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning—Day One.”

How do we imagine this wondrous thing that God does? Creation, incarnation, resurrection. Try this. Imagine you are swimming, maybe snorkeling or even SCUBA diving in a beautiful, sun filled ocean. You dive. You dive deep. You dive to the depths of the ocean. It is cold, and dark, and beautiful. You see fish you’ve never seen before, and vegetation, but it is through the darkness of that ocean water. You see only what is in front of your face. Your breath is shallow, not deep and complete. There are fish that look like monsters. You return to the surface and the sun and warmth and light, but very slowly, because you must having dived so deep. At your return, you see more clearly, breath more deeply, love completely; in ways you could never have imagined before, feeling the warmth of the sunshine all over your body.

This is what incarnation is like, this is what resurrection is like, this is what life is like, I think. God dives down deep into our lives, our lives as we live them in the depths of the ocean. This is Jesus, and Jesus swims around and enlightens our underwater vision so we can see and care for all of the teeming creation. And Jesus picks us up off the bottom of the ocean and carries us into that sunshine, into that new life that we inhabit.

Incarnation, resurrection, birthed out of the waters of creation, the waters of baptism, the waters of new life. Bathed in the light that dispels the darkness. For John, there is hope that the smallest source of light might create the possibility of belief. The darkness represents the lack of relationship.

God speaks the Word into this world, Jesus dives into our lives for light, for love, for relationship. John calls us to turn around and face the Light, to fall on our knees and be forgiven. And today John calls us to be partners with him in showing the way to the Light.

We are yet in the season of incarnation, God in the flesh meeting us in the flesh. God came to be with us in the flesh not to relieve us of the mess and the muck of this life, but in the flesh God stands by our side, takes our hand, sometimes even carries us, and loves us. And that kind of love changes us, we can't help but be changed. God in the flesh reminds us in our flesh that we don't need to be perfect because we are perfectly loved. We don't need to consume and acquire to possess worth, we are enough just the way we are created. God in the flesh reminds us in our flesh that we don't need to gain attention to earn God's love, God has already loved us into ourselves. 

Incarnation is a mystery, and yet it is not so hard. Incarnation, God in the flesh, is about love in a very real sense, it is about God’s commitment to you and to me to walk this journey with us, or maybe to swim this journey with us, and it is about our commitment to love. Christmas is not about the presents; it is about God’s presence with us, and your presence with those whose path you cross.

Incarnation is about showing up, and showing forth the light that covers all darkness, and the love that wins. I’ve watched you do these things. You contributed toys and food so families would have some holiday. You’ve helped Wendi and her family clean out her home and move. You’ve helped serve a meal on Christmas day, and you prepared and served a meal yesterday. You’ve practiced music and lifted this congregation in singing God’s praises. You’ve made this space beautiful for all of us, and many more, to come and experience the light that is growing stronger. You’ve hosted your own families and friends, and given gifts. It’s been both joyful and difficult for many of you.

Love is born into human flesh. We are at the beginning, and we are at the end. But here in the middle, is where love turns us around, turns our world around. Here is our commitment to love as we have been loved.

I leave you with a poem today. Because Madeleine L’engle can always say it better than me.

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.
He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine.
He did not wait till hearts were pure.
In joy he came to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.
He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.
We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Madeleine L’Engle, First Coming, from A Cry Like a Bell

Amen.

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2nd Sunday after the Epiphany Yr C Jan 20 2019

Audio   2nd Sunday after the Epiphany Yr C Jan 20 2019 Isaiah 62:1-5 , 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 , John 2:1-11 , Psalm 36:5-10...