Christmas Eve Sermon

Leave a comment


Since I will be at Christmas services until midnight or shortly thereafter, I have decided to post my sermon notes/pointers in lieu of MP/EP. Keep in mind that this is not the script I use, as I rarely preach with notes in front of me…..but it conveys the basic gist.

I hope this night finds you surrounded by the love, peace, and joy of the Christmas season……Unto us, a child is born, Alleluia! O come, let us worship!

O Lord touch the words of my tongue so that only the truth may be spoken, and only the truth heard. Amen.

Merry Christmas everyone! For those who are visiting here, I hope you find this service one of warmth and hospitality as we all gather to celebrate the Nativity of our Lord.

I have no problem telling you that while I am joyful this evening, I am also incredibly nervous. This is my first opportunity to preach on Christmas Eve and I’m just a *little* freaked. I think part of the reason is that this holiday means so many different things to a whole lot of people.

I shared some of this anxiety via a FB status last week….and I got many solid pieces of advice. One of which was: “Keep it short, and sweet and they’ll love you forever”…I’ll definitely try and do that as we hear this gospel passage together.

The other bit of conversation that has been shaping my thoughts this week is a conversation I had with my girlfriend on Monday.

We were hanging out, and I asked her what Christmas was all about (half-expecting her to repeat Linus’ monologue from Charlie Brown’s Christmas) when she looked up at me and said with excitement “PRESENTS?!?”

We laughed about it at the time…..but for whatever reason it stuck in my head. I LOVE presents. I have fond memories of receiving all kinds of interesting gifts….like the one year I got a punching bag for Christmas…..which I think I touched maybe half a dozen times after the holidays……or the time when my sisters and I were taken downstairs to have a pool-table and air-hockey table magically appear before our eyes.

Not gonna lie. That stuff is awesome. And I’m very lucky that my parents had the resources (especially as they got older) to get us these gifts.

But why is it such a natural impulse to give gifts at Christmas? We all want stuff….but why would we spend 3 hours in a mob of people at the shopping mall to get it?

I think at the heart of it….when we buy or make someone a gift…..we are making a statement……

In presenting someone with a gift, we want to honour and surprise the person we care for by giving them something meaningful……to quantify—or make known in some sense—what they really mean to us.

I know that this year (at least for me) things have been financially tight. I haven’t been able to spend as much and sometimes feel like I’m being cheap……that my gifts don’t always accurately reflect what I want to say…..they don’t say “I love you” loud enough.

And that’s where tonight’s gospel challenges us. God wanted to give us a gift too….He wanted to shout to all humanity…..beyond everything else…..I love you…..

God could have given us anything…..piles and piles of gold…..he could have asked each individual in the world what they wanted and granted it…..and yet…..what do we find??? A baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.

Instead of “stuff” we get something else. Something we don’t expect…..An infant arrives in a stable……a light to those in darkness……Emmanu-el, God with us….to say without a doubt…..I want to give everything I have…..eveything that I am….to you. You are my beloved.

Oftentimes we don’t conceive of God as someone who WANTS to be with us…Rather it’s because he’s the big sky-god that needed to come down and save us from our sins….

But the message of Christmas is something entirely different.

God says that this night and tomorrow shall be his dancing day, I would my true love give the chance to see the legend of my play and call my true love to my dance. Sing O my love, my love, this have I done for my true love.


Through Christ becoming one of us, God invites us into a new way of living. A way that’s not based on stuff…..but on giving the gift that counts the most….our hearts.

The best way that anyone can express their love for another is to spend time with them, to weep with them when they cry, to laugh with them in times of joy, and yes even to dance when the occasion calls for it.

As you leave this place to celebrate the rest of the holidays, I leave you with this thought….indeed Christmas IS all about the gifts….but not the stuff we can find at the store……

It’s about giving the gift of ourselves to those who are important to us. To let them know exactly how we feel about them…and to extend that love to others who might not otherwise experience it.

Whenever you can, let people get to know you. Whether they be a total stranger on the street or someone you’ve known for a long time. And I say this not as some self-help lesson….but because in doing so, we are following the Christ who gave us the greatest gift possible…and allowed us to see God face to face. Amen. +

Evening Prayer: Even of All Hallows (Hallowe’en)

2 Comments


Psalm: 34
Old Testament: Wisdom 3:1-9
New Testament: Revelation 19:1,4-10

Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, ‘You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ (Rev 19:10)

Growing up, I was definitely one of those Roman Catholic kids that didn’t understand the whole saint thing. To me, they were the people enshrined in the stain-glass……their stories often seemed unbelievable……their lives of virtue and inner peace entirely too convenient.

Even stranger to me was the whole idea of praying to the saints….asking them to talk to God on our behalf…..why wouldn’t I just pray to the Father or Jesus directly???

I’ll touch on the theology of intercession tomorrow…but for right now, I want to concentrate on what we hear from Revelation. In his vision, John is so overwhelmed that he feels moved to spontaneous worship.

Not knowing the proper outlet for that praise, he starts to bow down before the saint (holy one) that is unveiling the message of what the apostle sees.

Startled, the saint stops him….and–in my head at least–I can picture that exchange being very awkward for both parties. Wanting to dissuade any false illusions, the white-robed companion immediately directs the writer’s attention back to Jesus.

Contrary to the way the cult of the saints was taught to me in RC circles, the saints are not the object of worship. Rather, looking at their lives is SUPPOSED to lead us to Christ, and the virtues that he teaches in the Gospel……a point which is not always explicitly made.

Tonight, on the eve of All Saints, we are also made aware that the Church–the community of the faithful is an eternal reality. Made not only of the people living in the world today…..but of all who came before us, and those who will follow in the future.

The seemingly endless tales of Christian men and women are a call to be holy as God is holy….and in the next few days we celebrate the fact that progress in a faithful life is not only possible, but that it has the power to shape the world…..and shape it for the better. A transformation that began and was made possible by the One who clothes us in righteousness with His blood. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Eve of Pentecost

Leave a comment


Psalm:33
Old Testament: Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20
New Testament: 1 Peter 2:4-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. (1 Pet 2:9)

Sometimes I think Christians take their claim of holiness and priesthood a little too seriously….or rather not, seriously enough. In the zeal to evangelize, and to bring Christ to the masses, Western culture (Canadians included)…has found it tough to avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.

We are the ones who have the Gospel, right???? We are the smart ones…we know the Truth. We are the one’s saddled with responsibility and The White Man’s Burden laying heavy across our shoulders.

In taking such an approach, we have justified the destruction of First Nations people, sanctioned exclusivity on part of the Church, and condemned people to hellfire and damnation :P.

All because we didn’t pay attention to Peter’s next verse:

Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:10)

Read that verse, and the whole context changes. Now we cannot perceive ourselves as great….or as superior..but as a people who have been lifted up from the dust. Not as masters who can decide the fate of others, but of slaves given freedom and new life.

We are called not to judge each other……but to build one another up. Not to lament our brokenness, but celebrate in the collective joy we find in Christ Jesus…Not to look down on others, but encourage one another living in the Spirit.

I pray that on this birthday of the Church, we can not only celebrate the Spirit in our midst…but give Her the space to transform our hearts, our minds, and the way we each live in this world. 😀 +

Evening Prayer: Holy Saturday (Easter Eve)

Leave a comment


Psalm: 27
New Testament: Romans 8:1-11
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon on Holy Saturday

He suffered under Pontius Pilate. Was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead….

This part of the Creed–much like Holy Saturday–often gets overlooked in our excitement for Easter Sunday. One of the fundamental aspects of our faith is that the Resurrection was not just for us….but for all of the faithful throughout all space and time. I think the Patristic reading is absolutely beautiful in its description of why Holy Saturday and the Harrowing of Hell is so important to commemorate:

Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear….

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve.
The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light….”

Christ’s victory over death is so gracious, so complete, so all-encompassing that Satan is literally left with nothing. The chains of death are shattered and all are invited to live life with abundance once more.

Everything our Lord did….all the insults he endured, the pain and suffering he faced, the utter humiliation of the Cross…..it was for us. ❤

Like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, Christ greets all sinners with the open arms of love. He adorns them with the jewels of Grace and Forgiveness and welcomes them to his table.

Alleluia! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia! +

Evening Prayer: Eve of the Annunciation

Leave a comment


Psalms: 8, 84
Old Testament: Genesis 3:1-15
New Testament: Romans 5:12-21

The Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.’ (Genesis 3:14-15)

As I think most of you know I grew up as a Roman Catholic…….and if you went through the Catholic school system (at least in Hamilton, Ontario) you have most likely seen the statue of Mary pictured above at some point in your life. 🙂

In case you can’t see it all that clearly, it is a serene image of Mary. Her arms are extended in a warm embrace while crushing a snake beneath her feet.

This is a clear allusion to the Genesis passage. Just as Christ is the new Adam who brings abundant Grace and pardon in place of Sin, Mary is the New Eve who resists the temptation to follow her own will…and instead crushes the devil forever. ❤

I will freely admit that I have no particular devotion to Mary but I am starting to appreciate her more as I continue to study systematic theology. 🙂

In Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Annunciation is a dual purpose and (in some sense) a reciprocal event. In becoming Flesh, Christ sanctifies all human Flesh, and yet, in Mary freely accepting the pregnancy, she is the one who gives Christ the tabernacle of her womb…to be nurtured, sustained, and to grow….so that all people might be able to see the face of God. <3. Ave Maria, Alleluia!+

Morning and Evening Prayer: 7th Day of Christmas

1 Comment


Psalms: 46 , 48
Old Testament: Isaiah 26:1-9
New Testament:2 Cor 5:16-6:2
Gospel: John 8:12-19
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Leo the Great

As we look a the readings appoiinted for today…there is a lot of discussion around light, ministry, and celebration. With tonight being New Year’s Eve, thereis definitely a party atmosphere around.

For many people, the New Year is a time to make resolutions and major changes….a commitment to making a fresh start. The life of faith–ideally at least-is to dedicate ourselves to being ambassadors for Christ. The whole of the Christian message is that Jesus’ atonement on the cross offers a fresh start for everyone regardless of who they are or what we have done.

May all of you be blessed in 2011 with every kind of happiness and with inspiration by the Holy Spirit to be reconcillers. +

Evening Prayer: Christmas Eve

Leave a comment


Psalm: 89:1-29
Old Testament: Isaiah 59: 15-21
New Testament: Phillipians 2:5-11

I really can’t say it any better than Linus 😀

Merry Christmas all :D……may the Light of the Christ-child fill you with joy and peace this Christmastide. Many blessings to you and your loved ones. + ❤

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: