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Shoot from stumps (sermon for Advent 2 A)

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Second Sunday of Advent: December 9, 2007
Matthew 3:1-12; Romans 15:4-13; Isaiah 11:1-10 Psalm 72:1-7,18-19

Silver mapleWe sang: Come, Thou Long-expected Jesus; I Waited; Open the Eyes of My Heart; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Open Our Eyes, Lord


The sermon: I want to show you something about God that is built into creation. Towering over my house is a massive old silver maple.

In fact, it used to be literally “over” the house, till the tornado of ’98maple over garage took down a great branch. Leroy trimmed it up, now it looks like this (right) – you can see where the branch used to be.

If you look closer (below left), you’ll see something remarkable:

maple stub

Where it used to be a thick, strong, single stub, it’s now covered with new growth. In fact, the more you look at this tree, the more you see this has happened all over it.

We like big, strong trees, and Leroy tells me this isn’t a particularly good thing if you want trees like that. But regenerative growth like this is so built-in to the universe, that for centuries entire industriescoppice tree came from it. Read the rest of this entry »

Worship music for Advent 2, 12-10-06

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Mary and Elizabeth MeetRather than a Psalm from Psalms, this week’s psalm reading is Zechariah’s song. Zechariah’s been unable to speak for all of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and now bursts into a “Blessed be the Lord God …”

So, why not begin similarly:

Blessed Be Your Name

Blessed Be the Lord God Almighty – which includes the line as your people declare your mighty works – exactly what Zechariah was doing.

Next, thinking of Zechariah’s months of silence, and of Advent’s long wait for Messiah, and whatever it is you and I await:

I Waited (I waited for the Lord on high. I waited, and he heard my cry.)

Meanwhile, the angel has revealed to Mary that she’ll be giving birth as well. Perhaps as reaction to the suspicion of the neighbors – and even her fiancee – Mary goes to spend some time with her cousin, Elizabeth, who’s waiting for her own baby to arrive. Is Mary there to enjoy Elizabeth’s instant understanding and escape the stares of Nazareth?

You Are My Hiding Place

Finally, the day’s gospel reading recounts the beginning of John the Baptist’s preaching. And John makes it clear from the beginning that he’s there to tell of someone else – someone yet to come – who is to be the focus of all his work. Perhaps we echo his thoughts:

Jesus, Be the Centre

Wherever you worship this week, I hope you experience the reality and presence of God himself!

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Written by Monte

December 7, 2006 at 5:27 pm

O Come, Emmanuel

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A four minute video—with the haunting medieval melody, O Come O Come Emmanuel, in the background— in celebration of the beginning of the Christian season of Advent. H/T Godspace and Sanctifying Worship.

May your patience find its reward!

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Readings for Sunday, Jan 20, 2008

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Baptism of Jesus, Russian icon, ca. 1430

Baptism of Jesus Christ, Russian icon, ca. 1430.

Well now, what’s this? We’re plugging along – Mathew, Matthew, Matthew – only to land in John’s gospel. Here’s how the Revised Common Lectionary defends itself:

Although it is not given a year of its own, the gospel of John is used during the major seasons, the so-called “festal” days of the year. . . . it is certainly not a sequential, chronological narration as much as it is a liturgical, theological explanation of the paschal mystery. Others would understand the gospel of John as being catechetical or mystogogical [there’s a word you’ll be needing over lunch this week – M.], since it examines what it means to be the community of Jesus Christ.

So, then: Wishing you the finest of mystogogeries, off we set into preparations for this week’s worship gathering!

Second Sunday after the Epiphany

January 20, 2008; John 1:29-42 • 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 • Isaiah 49:1-7 • Psalm 40:1-11

John 1:29-42
The God-Revealer
29-31The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 16, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Joseph’s Dream (readings for Dec. 23, 07)

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Fourth Sunday of Advent; December 23, 2007
Matthew 1:18-25; Romans 1:1-7; Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7,17-19

The Dream of St. JosephMatthew 1:18-25
The Birth of Jesus
The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—’God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

December 17, 2007 at 12:04 pm