“Born . . . not of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13)

A sermon for the Sunday before Epiphany

Ephesians 3:1-12

Every day it is a little lighter. In a few days, January 6th, it will be Epiphany, the coming of the light. Epiphany is a minor festival for those of us in the Western Church, even though for those in the Eastern Church (three hundred million of them), Epiphany is the most important celebration next to Easter. We forget that what we call Christmas did not become a holiday in the Western Church until 336 A.D., more than three hundred years after Christ died and rose again.

What is Epiphany?

When we talk about light and darkness, we know in physics that light is simply that which overcomes darkness. Darkness is simply not having enough light. The same with cold and heat. It’s just a physical thing.

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Born of the Virgin Mary

A sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent

This is Mary Sunday. What do we say about Mary? In the Apostles’ Creed we confess “born of the Virgin Mary.”

This is part of the larger question: What is Christmas about? We say: “Let’s get back to a real Christmas.” What has happened is that Christmas has become frantic with shopping. Where is Christmas? Or is it just “Xmas,” and the “X” is the whatever, the unknown and you supply whatever is meaningful to you?

How do we put Christ back into Christmas? How do we get back to real Christmas? To talk about this is to raise the question: “Are you going to be a spoil sport? Don’t spoil Christmas. This is a magical time of year.” The reason that Christmas has become confused is our own fault. We have made it happen this way, and we have to face it.
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Catch me if You can, Lord!

Matthew 24:36-44

A sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent

Many people know the 2002 movie, “Catch me if you can.” It’s the true story of a twenty-one year old young man, a skilled forger, who passes himself off as a doctor, a lawyer, a pilot and the FBI agent who pursues this young man over the course of several years.

There is also a children’s game: “Catch me if you can.” It’s similar to tag and hide and seek.

We play this game with God as well. Most of all, it’s a game of good works. The whole New Testament is full of exhortations to do good works. It says in the Sermon on the Mount:  “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). It’s not only there but is found throughout the New Testament. In 1 Peter 1:15-16: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (Leviticus 11:44). It’s the same in Romans 10:5 and Galatians 3:21.

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Therefore Be Ready

A sermon for the first Sunday in Advent

Matt 24:36-44

We look for the signs and the warnings about the weather to come. When we see those huge thunderheads, a storm is coming, maybe hail. Or if it’s cold, a blizzard. We look for signs and warnings: What is going to come?

One of the most startling examples of signs and warnings happened in the year 544-545. In the Eastern end of the Mediterranean, the Roman Empire had not fallen. In the first case of recorded history, the Black Death struck from Turkey to Egypt and about 50% of the people died. The Black Death continued in a lesser form until 590. The people said: “Isn’t this a sign of the end?”
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