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: June 16th (Combo Post)

3 Comments


Psalms: 84, 85, 86
Old Testament: 1 Samuel 2:27-36
New Testament: Acts 2:22-36
Gospel: Luke 20:41-21:4
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by St. Cyprian

I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover, my flesh will live in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One experience corruption.
You have made known to me the ways of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence (Acts 2:25b-29)

So….heathen that I am…..I didn’t post anything last night or this morning. Rest assured much praying was being done on my part 🙂

Last night, after a wonderful dinner…I was privileged to attend a service of Confirmation and reception.

At this particular liturgy, some 20 young people made commitments to Christ as adults, claiming their place as stewards of the Church universal, and also to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit for each of their individual ministries. :).

As an added blessing, a lovely young lady was received as a new member of the Anglican Church of Canada Congrats to all! 🙂

In his homily for this service, our bishop gave what I thought was a great message……which doesn’t always happen with episcopal sermons lol ;).

In essence, Bob reminded those gathered in the Chapel that we come together as a community to remember Christ; and to celebrate the Trinity in our midst. Without that….we are nothing but a hollow, institutional shell.

That’s why I love reading the sermons from Acts like the one we have this evening. In his loose paraphrase of Psalm 16, we hear of Peter giving witness to the life, teaching, and effect of Jesus’ ministry on his own heart…and extending that invitation to all of Judea.

Notice that in both the original Psalm, and in Peter’s re-framing of it, a sense of celebration is retained. Our faith is not something that is meant to bring burden and strict moral obligations. Rather it is something that causes us to be glad of heart and rejoicing with all our might.

Does that mean we can discard those parts of Christianity that stretch us? What about those times when we feel crappy and not joyful at all? Can we ignore the commandments of Jesus if a particular commandment does not cause us to feel warm and gooey inside???

Call me crazy…..but I don’t think that’s what Peter is after here….Notice that Psalm 16 doesn’t say we will never fall into despair….or find ourselves with difficult moral choices to make. Rather it’s that God will lift us up out of the Pit….give us a Light to follow in the darkness.

Even when we have to be uncomfortable, and are called to do something which seems impossible, Christ will always be there to look us in the eye and give us strength and support.

Thanks be to God for such a wonderful gift. 🙂 + ❤

Evening Prayer: Wednesday in Holy Week

Leave a comment


Psalm: 74
Gospel: John 12:27-36
Patristic Reading:An excerpt from a treatise of St. Augustine

‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ (John 12:27-29)

Tonight, I had the absolute pleasure of attending Evening Prayer @ the Cathedral using the Holden setting composed by Marty Haugen. There were about a dozen of us altogether and the music was superb.

I also got to hear a wonderful sermon preached by the Deacon. In her homily, she used the illustration to hammer home the significance of the crucifixion.

A bridge operator working the night shift decided to take his son into work with him one evening while working the night shift. As the midnight train came through, he got a call to lower the bridge so it could pass. Without thinking, the operator lowered the bridge.

To his absolute horror, he heard a blood-curdling scream. His son had wandered off onto the tracks when he was not looking and was caught in the mechanism that lowered the bridge.

The Father had a choice. Knowing that the train did not have enough time to stop and save the boy, he could either let his son live and have the train crash into the river, or save his son with the consequence that hundreds of passengers would die.

Faced with this agonizing decision, the father did the only thing he could do. He pressed the button to lower the bridge and let the train pass. Sacrificing his only Son while the people on the train ate, drank, and slept peacefully en route to their destination.

Such was the pain for God when Christ was put on the Cross.

Christ knew the pain and he laid on the tracks anyway. With a troubled spirit and a fearful heart, he faced death head on. Not so that he could be saved. But that we would be saved and God glorified.

I wonder how many of us realize how high the price of our salvation really was. Thanks be to Christ our Lord who valued us beyond all telling. +

Evening Prayer: Feb. 21st

Leave a comment


Psalm: 106:19-48
Gospel: Matt 5:1-8
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from a sermon by St. Gregory of Nyssa

I am so lazy right now it’s not even funny :P…….but one thing I want to throw out there (if I hadn’t already) is that the “blessed are” in the Beatitudes refer not to a state of holiness….but rather a statement of solidarity. “Blessed are” can be read as “God is with” the poor in spirit, the hungry, the mournful, and those who work for peace and who are persecuted in the cause of Truth.

May we stand with those the LORD stands with and live out our baptismal covenant……respecting the dignity of every human person and the Light of Christ in all creation.+

Evening Prayer: Feb. 7th

Leave a comment


Psalm: 77
Gospel: Mark 9:30-41
Patristic Reading: An excerpt from St. Bonaventure’s Breviloquium (Scroll down to second reading)

Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ (Mark 9:36-37)

If I may, I would like to share a personal story….. 😀

Last year, I had the privilege and honour to preach on the parable of the Prodigal Son. Technically, I should not be allowed to do this as I have no lay license, nor am I ordained :P.

But by the grace of God, I find myself with a congregation and pastor at St. Jude’s who have been kind enough to let me hone my homiletical skills I began to learn in seminary school, and are incredibly supportive of my ministry.

For that continued trust and oppurtunity, I am blessed, humbled and eternally grateful. ❤

In preparing the sermon, I was incredibly perplexed and nervous. What could I possibly say about a parable that is so well known and ingrained in the Christian consciousness???

I had all the exegesis done……I knew the basic narrative structure, the emphasis on repentance, the unconditional love of the Father for us all……But I felt like there was no way I could express it accurately……And then, a mircale happend 😀

On March 8th, my nephew Liam was born, and the lightbulb went on for me.

God loves us–all of us–as precious infants. With no precondition, no expectations, no hinderances……He just loves us as we are, and through all of our ups and downs. 😀

When I finally realized this….and proclaimed it out loud on Sunday….something changed within me. I realized that in the same way I could love my nephew in the first second of meeting him, that is how we are all viewed by the Father. As such, that is how we are called to recognize others. After all, we are all children of God. 🙂

Our friends, family, and even those we hate were at one time tiny infants. At one time, we were all innocent and totally dependent on another for our lives and for love and affection. None of us can claim to be any more or less special than anyone else on earth. We are all precious to God and to one another. :D. Alleluia! Alleluia! ❤

%d bloggers like this: