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Showing posts from December, 2019

A Christmas Carol- Christmas Eve

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Luke 2:1-20
Tonight, I would like to reflect on one of my favourite Christmas stories. As you probably remember, the opening lines of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens are “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that”. … Marley was Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner. Marley has died, but I think there is an implication that even in life Marley was “dead”. Scrooge was Marley’s only friend, and it seems to be the case that Marley was also Scrooge’s only friend. Even so, Scrooge seems to be more concerned with getting a good deal on the funeral, than mourning for his dead friend. Dickens describes Scrooge saying,  “…he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” His sole purpose seems to be to accumulate wealth and not disperse it. Scrooge i…

Advent 4

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Isaiah 7:10-16; Matthew 1:18-25
The stores are packed with everything you need to have the perfect Christmas. The variety is staggering- shelves and shelves of evergreen branches, Santa statues, and lights for your house. The stores ring with Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby singing Christmas songs. The magazines on the stand boast perfect holiday dishes and decorations.

While some are planning the perfect Christmas experience, others are finding it difficult to get in the mood. Some have experienced a death that the holidays seem to highlight with an empty chair at the table. Some are dealing with family problems that just never seem to get better. Some don’t even really know why they aren’t into it, they just aren’t feeling much cheer. They feel out of step with what is going on around them. Everyone is planning a perfect holiday and their lives feel so far from perfect they don’t even want to try.

The first Christmas was more of the out of step variety…

Advent 3

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Isaiah 35:1-10; Matthew 11:2-11
Our Gospel has a pretty surprising question being asked by John the Baptist. John, who baptized Jesus and seemed pretty confident that Jesus was the one they were expecting, was now sending his followers to ask if Jesus is the one they were expecting. Why is John suddenly doubting?

There might be a few reasons for John’s doubt. One is that John has been thrown into prison. It is probably normal to be full of doubt while locked away in prison.

Another reason may be that Jesus wasn’t behaving in expected ways. His disciples weren’t following a strict habit of fasting the way John’s disciples and the Pharisees did. Jesus also kept questionable company. He gained a reputation for hanging out with tax collectors and other sinners. He was called a glutton and a drunk. This was not the expected behavior of the messiah.

The other reason for his doubt might have to do with what he thought the mission of the messiah was. The Messiah was to bring judgement, the…

Advent 2

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Matthew 3:1-12
“In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming,‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’ … Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him”.
If we were to declare that at St. Leonard’s we are going to preach on ‘repentance’ for the next 6 months I doubt that the people of Red Deer would flock to St. Leonard’s. … But, that’s what happened with John the Baptist. John left the centers of political and religious power (he wasn’t preaching in the streets of Jerusalem or in the temple). He went into the wilderness. He dressed like a prophet and called the people to repent.

The wilderness was very symbolic. When they left Egypt they entered the wilderness. It was there that they received the Law. John was calling them to reenter the Promised Land through the Jordan River, just as their ancestors did with Joshua. He called the people to repentance and they flocked into the wilderness.

So why wo…

Advent 1

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Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:36-44
Today is the church’s New Year. The Church year always begins with Advent. Advent is a season that brings a certain level of tension. Our culture wants to sing Christmas Carols and begin celebrating Christmas, but Advent wants us to wait. It can be a time of year that we can seem very out of step with the rest of our culture. The mall echoes with songs like “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”, and we see images of cozy sleigh rides, fire places, and hot chocolate and peppermint. … But, when we get to church we hear readings that warn us to prepare for a coming judgement as we wait for Jesus to return. It can feel a bit like Lent invading our Christmas celebrations. There are a lot of people that want to “bah-humbug” Advent. They see Advent as a serous downer that gets in the way of Christmas celebrations.

Our readings are not what our culture expects at this time of year, but they are important to prepare us.

Isaiah, the old prophet, …