Sermons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

women Matthew1

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we try to reach beyond the lectionary to the folks who won’t make it to church on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning by forgoing the prescribed readings in favour of reading the entire Birth Narrative.

Click on these links to find  sermons I have preached on Advent 4

Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

The Greatest Birth Story Ever???

The Nativity: A Parable So Simple a Child Can Understand It!

Mary and Elizabeth: Visitation or Escape 

Fear Not for the Progressive Grinch Who Stole Christmas Does Indeed Have a Heart

“The Force Be With You” or “Live Long and Prosper” 

Like All Myths, the Stories of Jesus’ Birth are True, For Myths Only Become Untrue When they are Presented as Facts

Keep Watch: John the Baptist, Like Christ Has Many Disguises!

homeless-manThere was a  young woman who lived in an apartment, in a very rough neighbourhood.  It was the east end of a very large city.  Many of the people who lived in this neighbourhood got by on welfare, others earned their living any way they could.  The young woman moved into the apartment because it was close to the office where she worked, the rent was cheap and quite frankly she was young and foolish.  She ignored all the warnings of her family and friends and moved into the apartment convinced that she could handle anything that came her way.

Her neighbourhood contained the most unsavoury of characters.  The office where she worked was just down the street from her apartment and every morning as she walked to work she would meet some of her neighbours returning home from an evening of plying their trade on the streets and in the alleys.  Each morning, she would be met at the entrance to her office by an old man named Ed.

Ed had been living on the streets for years.  He was very hairy, very dirty, and he tended to rant and rave a lot.  Ed was a wild man.  He slept on the doorstep of the young woman’s office because it was somewhat protected from the winter weather.  Even though Ed made the young woman nervous, she got used to seeing him in her way.

Ed always gave the young woman a warm welcome when she arrived.  He knew that when she got inside, she would brew fresh coffee. He used to tease her that, she was a sucker for a sad face as he waited patiently for her to bring him a cup of coffee.  They never talked much, though.  Ed would just rant and rave about the injustices of the world.   The young woman never found out how Ed ended up on the streets.  She didn’t know how he spent his days. Continue reading

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

women Matthew1

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we try to reach beyond the lectionary to the folks who won’t make it to church on Christmas Eve or on Christmas morning by forgoing the prescribed readings in favour of reading the entire Birth Narrative.

Click on these links to find  sermons I have preached on Advent 4

Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

The Greatest Birth Story Ever???

The Nativity: A Parable So Simple a Child Can Understand It!

Mary and Elizabeth: Visitation or Escape 

Fear Not for the Progressive Grinch Who Stole Christmas Does Indeed Have a Heart

“The Force Be With You” or “Live Long and Prosper”

 

Keep Watch: John the Baptist, Like Christ Has Many Disguises!

homeless-manThere was a  young woman who lived in an apartment, in a very rough neighbourhood.  It was the east end of a very large city.  Many of the people who lived in this neighbourhood got by on welfare, others earned their living any way they could.  The young woman moved into the apartment because it was close to the office where she worked, the rent was cheap and quite frankly she was young and foolish.  She ignored all the warnings of her family and friends and moved into the apartment convinced that she could handle anything that came her way.

Her neighbourhood contained the most unsavoury of characters.  The office where she worked was just down the street from her apartment and every morning as she walked to work she would meet some of her neighbours returning home from an evening of plying their trade on the streets and in the alleys.  Each morning, she would be met at the entrance to her office by an old man named Ed.

Ed had been living on the streets for years.  He was very hairy, very dirty, and he tended to rant and rave a lot.  Ed was a wild man.  He slept on the doorstep of the young woman’s office because it was somewhat protected from the winter weather.  Even though Ed made the young woman nervous, she got used to seeing him in her way.

Ed always gave the young woman a warm welcome when she arrived.  He knew that when she got inside, she would brew fresh coffee. He used to tease her that, she was a sucker for a sad face as he waited patiently for her to bring him a cup of coffee.  They never talked much, though.  Ed would just rant and rave about the injustices of the world.   The young woman never found out how Ed ended up on the streets.  She didn’t know how he spent his days. Continue reading

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

women Matthew1

Click on these links to find  sermons I have preached on Advent 4

Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

The Greatest Birth Story Ever???

The Nativity: A Parable So Simple a Child Can Understand It!

Mary and Elizabeth: Visitation or Escape 

Fear Not for the Progressive Grinch Who Stole Christmas Does Indeed Have a Heart

 

Sermons for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

Click on these links to find  sermons I have preached on Advent 4

Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

The Greatest Birth Story Ever???

The Nativity: A Parable So Simple a Child Can Understand It!

Mary and Elizabeth: Visitation or Escape 

LIVING NATIVITY

blackSeveral years ago Lesley attended a small church in the suburbs.  Every year toward the end of Advent the members of this church would create a living nativity. About a week before Christmas when most people were busy getting ready for the holiday they would conscript a few volunteers to begin the preparations for the living nativity. Out on the front lawn of the church, the volunteers would slap together a few boards in the shape of a stable. Costumes would be created out of old sheets and bathrobes so that children from the congregation could be dressed up as Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels and wise folks. Then the children would be arranged in the make-shift stable so that people passing by in their cars would be reminded of what took place in Bethlehem on the first Christmas. The church was located at a fairly busy intersection and year after year, Lesley would marvel at the fact that the living nativity had never caused an accident, as drivers strained to see a motley band of children pushing and shoving each other inside what only remotely resembled a stable.

The living nativity was the brainchild of Deedee the dreaded church organist.  Deedee was a rather severe woman, who always wanted everything to be done just so.  Deedee worked hard to plan various grand events that she felt would benefit the congregation.  But somehow, Deedee’s grand plans were always beyond the capabilities of the volunteers that she usually managed to conscript. Over the years, people in the congregation learned to hide whenever they saw Deedee coming toward them with her clipboard. If Deedee managed to corner you and your name got put onto her clipboard, you were sunk.  Once your name was on the list, you were one of Deedee volunteers.  Deedee’ s conscripts never really knew what it was they had volunteered for until they arrived for their first rehearsal.  And by then it was too late, because Deedee had never been known to let a volunteer slip through her hands.  Continue reading

Shattered Angel: an Imperfect Christmas Story

As Christmas draws near, we turn to stories to express the inexpressible. Like the Gospel writers we are at a loss to explain the activity of our God in the world and so we too resort to story telling. Families gather and the reliable old stories are told. Each year new stories are added to our treasure troves as we seek to express the inexpressible and touch the hem of our God who is love. What better way to touch and be touched by God than to tell stories of God’s love in the world? We all have treasure troves of stories of Christ taking on flesh and dwelling among us. My story took place when I was a young woman determined that my first Christmas living out in the world would be the type of Christmas that dreams are made of.

It’s a story about the quest for the perfect Christmas. When I was growing up, I always wanted Christmas to be just so. But the reality of life with all its inherent dysfunctions coupled with financial limitations meant that we just couldn’t pull off the perfect Christmas. I used to comfort myself with the notion that when I grew up things would be different. When I grew up, I’d do things better. I’d save up my money so that no one would be disappointed and there’d be enough to ensure that the house would be filled with Christmas cheer! The decorations would be perfect and no family arguments or disappointments would be allowed to ruin my dream of the perfect Christmas. I knew that just as soon as I had my own place, I’d be able to pull off the kind of Christmas that would be so full of peace and harmony that the angels wouldn’t be able to keep from singing. Continue reading

Keep Watch: John the Baptist, Like Christ Has Many Disguises!

homeless-manThere was a  young woman who lived in an apartment, in a very rough neighbourhood.  It was the east end of a very large city.  Many of the people who lived in this neighbourhood got by on welfare, others earned their living any way they could.  The young woman moved into the apartment because it was close to the office where she worked, the rent was cheap and quite frankly she was young and foolish.  She ignored all the warnings of her family and friends and moved into the apartment convinced that she could handle anything that came her way.

Her neighbourhood contained the most unsavoury of characters.  The office where she worked was just down the street from her apartment and every morning as she walked to work she would meet some of her neighbours returning home from an evening of plying their trade on the streets and in the alleys.  Each morning, she would be met at the entrance to her office by an old man named Ed.

Ed had been living on the streets for years.  He was very hairy, very dirty, and he tended to rant and rave a lot.  Ed was a wild man.  He slept on the doorstep of the young woman’s office because it was somewhat protected from the winter weather.  Even though Ed made the young woman nervous, she got used to seeing him in her way.

Ed always gave the young woman a warm welcome when she arrived.  He knew that when she got inside, she would brew fresh coffee. He used to tease her that, she was a sucker for a sad face as he waited patiently for her to bring him a cup of coffee.  They never talked much, though.  Ed would just rant and rave about the injustices of the world.   The young woman never found out how Ed ended up on the streets.  She didn’t know how he spent his days. Continue reading

The Greatest Birth Story Ever?

WOMAN DOVE

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 23, 2012

Listen to the sermon here

Greatest Birth Story Ever?

Keep Watch, Prepare Ye! For John the Baptist, Like Christ Has Many Disguises!

homeless-manThere was a  young woman who lived in an apartment, in a very rough neighbourhood.  It was the east end of a very large city.  Many of the people who lived in this neighbourhood got by on welfare, others earned their living any way they could.  The young woman moved into the apartment because it was close to the office where she worked, the rent was cheap and quite frankly she was young and foolish.  She ignored all the warnings of her family and friends and moved into the apartment convinced that she could handle anything that came her way.

Her neighbourhood contained the most unsavoury of characters.  The office where she worked was just down the street from her apartment and every morning as she walked to work she would meet some of her neighbours returning home from an evening of plying their trade on the streets and in the alleys.  Each morning, she would be met at the entrance to her office by an old man named Ed.

Ed had been living on the streets for years.  He was very hairy, very dirty, and he tended to rant and rave a lot.  Ed was a wild man.  He slept on the doorstep of the young woman’s office because it was somewhat protected from the winter weather.  Even though Ed made the young woman nervous, she got used to seeing him in her way.

Ed always gave the young woman a warm welcome when she arrived.  He knew that when she got inside, she would brew fresh coffee. He used to tease her that, she was a sucker for a sad face as he waited patiently for her to bring him a cup of coffee.  They never talked much, though.  Ed would just rant and rave about the injustices of the world.   The young woman never found out how Ed ended up on the streets.  She didn’t know how he spent his days.

As Christmas approached the young woman became very busy with her preparations for the holiday.  This was the first year that she had more money than she needed to celebrate with.

She decorated her apartment, she bought all sorts of gifts and spent hours wrapping each one.

This year she wasn’t going to be rushed.  She wasn’t going to miss out on anything.  Christmas wasn’t going to come and go without finding her in the Christmas spirit.

That year the young woman had drawn the short straw and had to work on Christmas Eve.  So, before she left her apartment, she packed a small package of goodies for Ed.  She was delighted that she was so well prepared that she could take time for others.  But when she got to the office, Ed was no where in sight.  She asked some of the women who worked the streets if they had seen old Ed.  But no one knew where he was.

The young woman went about her duties and soon forgot all about old Ed.  She finished her work early and went off to celebrate Christmas Eve with her friends.  She had been looking forward to Christmas for weeks and was eager to celebrate.  Together, she and her friends  shared a fine Christmas goose with all the trimmings and then they went of to a candle light service.  The service was beautiful.  They really pulled out all the stops, great music, lots of activity.  The preacher even managed to keep his sermon brief.  But somehow the young woman was left feeling like there was something missing.

The next morning she celebrated with her family.  Her nieces eagerly unpacked dozens of presents and on the whole the family managed to keep their disagreements down to the minimum that year.  But the young woman felt detached, like she was just going through the motions.  Despite all the elaborate trimmings, she felt like she had missed out on her fair share of the Christmas spirit.

As she drove back to her apartment in the city she found herself wondering if this was all there was to it.  Christmas had come and gone and she didn’t feel like anything had changed at all.  By the time she had parked her car, she was feeling quite depressed.  Christmas was over and nothing much had changed.

When she got to the entrance of her apartment, she saw Ed.  She had never seen him anywhere near her apartment before and it made her more than a little nervous.  She wondered how he had found out where she lived.  Indeed, it frightened her that Ed  had taken the trouble to find her apartment.  Ed looked very agitated.

Nervously the young woman greeted Ed and asked him why he was at her doorstep.  Ed explained to her that he needed her help.  The young woman became very uneasy.  The odd cup of coffee at work was one thing, but this old man showing up on her door step was quite another.  And now he wanted something.  Ed asked the young woman if she would come with him to the park.  Caught off guard, the young woman reluctantly agreed.  When they arrived in the park,  Ed introduced the young woman to Karen.

Karen was a very scared looking teenager. She couldn’t have been more than about fourteen years old.  Ed explained to the young woman that Karen had run away from home on Christmas Eve.  He said that lots of kids ended up on the streets at this time of year and there were usually lots of unsavoury characters to meet them  when they arrived.  When Karen arrived at the city bus depot, Ed had spotted her.  From the moment she arrived, Ed had carefully watched over Karen, making sure that she came to no harm in the city.  Karen’s two days on the streets and Ed’s gentle persuasion had convinced her that she should really go back home and try to work things out with her parents.  Ed explained to the young woman that Karen needed money for a bus ticket home.

After they had called Karen’s parents and safely loaded her onto a bus, the young woman asked Ed if he would come and share a meal with her.  Ed refused the offer of a meal but agreed to share a cup of coffee with the young woman.

In the coffee shop, I took a long hard look at old Ed.  That night in the coffee shop, I looked into the eyes of a wild man.  I didn’t know it then, but I know it now, in his own way, Ed had helped me to prepare the way for Christ.  Ed was the prophet who pointed to Christ.  I had almost missed it.  Christ had come.  I was so busy looking up that I had forgotten to look around me.

Christ came to me in Karen.  “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”  Christ comes to us in the most unlikely of places wearing the most unlikely of faces.

Just as Advent moves us toward the remembrance of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem in the first century, it also reminds us that most of the world was preoccupied and utterly unprepared for that first Advent and many missed the whole thing.  The question is:  Will we miss the whole thing again?”  For we do not know the day or hour, no one knows.

Therefore keep awake–Christ may come suddenly and find you asleep.  So be prepared. Keep awake! Watch for we know not when Christ comes. Watch, so that you might be found whenever and wherever Christ comes. Prepare the way for Christ.