Posts Tagged ‘Christmas Sermon’

Shine: A Written Christmas Sermon

Sunday, December 24th, 2017

One of the most beautiful blessings in the Bible runs thousands of years old.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious until you.  May the Lord life up his countenance upon you and bring you peace.

Called the “Levitical Blessing”, I love this blessing for many reasons.  Its rhythm. Its cadence.  And the word “shine.”

The blessing fits well with Christmas.

I imagine my personal favorites of the Advent story – the shepherds – knowing, deeply what “shine” means.

There was a great deal “shining” that night.  A star. An angel.  A “heavenly host.”

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them

And there was this… two parents. A manger. An infant.

Did the baby Lord “shine”?  Yes.  All babies do.  The experience of those shepherds, catching just a glimpse of that baby … holding the prophecy in their hearts … maybe hearing that ancient blessing … maybe hearing the words again anew “May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you.”  Brings tears if we ease ourselves into that place and that time.

From a New Church perspective, life and its greatest perfection is, surprisingly, not thinking. It is perceiving truth in the light of truth.  Hard to imagine a more wondrous light than that night, Christmas Eve.  That light, that night, was not then a thought per se, or an argument, or a proposal of some sort.  It was an infant.  A shining face.  Somehow the truth more perceived than understood.

And how must the shepherds have left that place? That manager in Bethlehem?

Maybe with an acknowledgement of God written on their hearts, now inside of everything they did and said.  The amulet, the Levitical blessing, figuratively no longer on the outside but forged as one with  the best God-given intentions of their hearts. Shining.

And maybe they came to know what it was like to “shine.”

Imagine how the story grows from that point in time on.  Not just Christmas but THE STORY.

A simple example.  An ancient story of God giving his people “manna” in the wilderness to feed them in a time of desperation and despair.   And then Jesus, in a story cast thousands of years later, giving his people “bread and fish” in the wilderness … a never ending abundance.  Christmas is that bridge as it were between the two stories, a bridge between a detached, caring, and apparently often angry God to a Light, God incarnate, God with us, God for us, in flesh and blood, offering very real gifts.  And a model: “…this is the way. Walk in it.

So the story no doubt grew for these shepherds as well.

The Lord enlivens what we know by bringing Goodwill into it. True Christianity 249

Goodwill.  The angels proclamation that night, “Peace on Earth.  Good will to humanity” no doubt became ever more true.

A goodwill growing in their hearts.

  1. Goodwill as a “loving desire to ACT”
  2. Goodwill that passionately wants only “what is best for others.”
  3. Goodwill working itself into all the varied forms of how we serve God and others. (TCR, 388, 408 392)
A goodwill that drives faith.
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And where does this all end up?  Well, we shine.
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Not a light of our ego or our ideas or our plans. But a light born of Christ.  Shining through us.  A light falling on us and others, gentle and generous.
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Can Christianity Be Inclusive?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

This Christmas season, this question weighs heavily: “Can Christianity be inclusive?” Frankly Christianity in its many forms is largely – and often deservedly – not seen that way. Instead of inclusive, it is often viewed instead as clubbish, judgmental, set apart.

And yet this … the “good news” proclaimed in the Gospel is to be good news for “all nations.”  That remains the call.

What does it mean then to be “good news” to “all nations”?

Maybe this …. If Christianity is to be good news, it must be good news for everyone.

  1. Do our neighbors experience our churches as good news for the community where we serve?
  2. Do other nations feel a sense of relief when they think of this nation as being a largely Christian nation?
  3. Do other faith leaders in non-Christian houses of worship, as well as those with no faith, regard it as good news when they interact with their Christian neighbors?
  4. Do the poor, the suffering – widows and orphans as the Bible phrases it – experience in Christianity good news as they face a wide array of needs and challenges?
  5. If you are a Christian, do others experience “good news” when you enter a room?
And see it is not about delivering good news.  Not about a proclamation from on high. It is about being good news. A lived and largely unspoken proclamation. About living the message of a loving God who walks with all in blessings and brokenness.  A loving, presence-filled healing for us and for others.  Freed from agenda and judgment.  Willing to work.
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In other words … an inclusive Christianity. (To hear more … LINK)
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