Advent/Christmas

Christmas 2016

One word is the topic of this Christmas sermon: "character." The first sermon I ever preached was in January 1983, and I touched on all the readings, and then some. As the years have passed, I have focused more and more, on two readings, one reading, then only a couple of verses, and tonight — just one word. If you look at the reading from the Letter to Hebrews, not by St. Paul, incidentally, you will see these words: “he is … the exact imprint of his being…” We all know that no translation can perfectly render what is said in one language into another language. The word translated as “imprint” is also “image” or “representation” in all the Romance-language Bibles I looked at. The Latin says “figure”, while the Germans always use the same word, which means “exact picture”.

Joyeux Noël

Christmas 2014, The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. We get “joyous” from “joyeux.” The English say “happy” Christmas, Americans have kept that lovely word “merry” alive. “Noël” is a mysterious word, not Latin or Greek or even Hebrew in origin. Originally it was a cheer when the king visited or the queen gave birth or French arms won a victory. Hooray for the newborn Prince of Peace! Joyeux Noël is also the name of a film that came out nine years ago. It depicts an event that happened exactly one hundred years ago tonight. On Christmas in 1914, French, British and German troops declared a truce in order to celebrate Christmas together...

[Anglican Communion News Service] Isaiah looks forward to God rescuing His people, instantly recognisable, leading them in victory. Hebrews looks back at the great line of prophets and says this arrival is the climax to the whole of history. John starts with those words that send shudders up the spine, consciously echoing Genesis, “in the beginning ……. ”

[December 2013] Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in her Christmas Message 2013 prays: “May you discover that humble authority born again on the edges of the world’s notice. May that royal inheritance and authority of the stable be born in you, enliven your heart, and rest on your shoulders.”

Advent Note

The really important part of Christmas is something immensely simple. Yet it eludes us, as well — perhaps because it is so simple. In his "Mass", Leonard Bernstein has a song, "A Simple Song", which says that "God loves all things/ For God is the simplest of all." The English theologian Charles Williams called Jesus Christ "The Divine Thing." A simple thing, namely, God one of us. The Reason for it all...


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