December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Christmas Day   December 25, 2016   Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1-4, John 1:1-14, Isaiah 52:7-10          ***************************** How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news – who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” I seldom think of feet as particularly beautiful… But the prophet is talking about beautiful feet on the mountain today – a theme the apostle Paul recycles almost word-for-word in Romans 10. And beautiful feet need some protection, so we’re told in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (ch 6). Where it is written – put on the whole armor of God, which includes put on our gospel shoes. As shoes for your feet, Ephesians elaborates, put on whatever makes you willing to proclaim the gospel of peace. I seldom think of shoes as spiritual armor (even Good News shoes). But the season of Christmas light coincides with a time of natural darkness in our journey around the sun. And the powers of spiritual darkness are also still at work. And our Isaiah text, assigned for Christmas Day every year,  has become been a favorite for me… Because of the beautiful-feet-in-good-news-shoes-connection. Our daughter Rohi still enjoys shoes – but when she was younger – two-to-three- years old – she absolutely loved shoes – especially her mother’s shoes. She loved to put her little feet deep inside her mother’s sneakers and dress shoes. But her everyday routine was putting on Reah’s flip-flops. We’re in the habit of taking off outdoor shoes when we come in the house, and putting on flip-flops as our indoor footwear. Rohi, in those days, had three pairs of flip-flops for her personal indoor use, each pair stylish with a blend of cheerful colors, each pair fitting her small feet comfortably. But she always wanted to wear her mother’s plain blue flip-flops – which were enormously giant-sized on her little feet. Whenever mom couldn’t find her indoor shoes, we knew Rohi had them on again. We also knew because when Rohi had her mom’s shoes on, they sounded like snow-shoes on floor boards – as she trekked around the house spreading good news – clomp, clomp, clomp… And like daughter, like father – this is how I also see myself as a gospel pastor – clomp, clomp, clomping around… Feeling a bit ridiculous – as if I’m wearing snow shoes indoors, as I try to fit into these way-too-big-for-my-feet gospel shoes. Happy Christmas, good news people! Your feet look great. Even my funny-looking feet look good this morning. Our gospel shoes look good on us… But it’s the message that make our feet really beautiful. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news…” *** In the coming to birth of Jesus, God squeezes God’s own self into a human womb – God’s infinite eternal nature entering into human life, human culture, human community, bodily. In Jesus, born a child in a stable, surrounded by farm animals, we see (in the words of Hebrews) “the reflection of God’s glory, and the exact imprint of God’s very being…” And if we’re feeling inadequate as messengers of this gospel truth – as I nearly always am – not to worry. It’s a good thing, and probably a necessary thing, to acknowledge...

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Week of December 25, 2016 – Cataumet

ANNOUNCEMENTS Bible Study No Bible Study this week, December 29th.  Will resume on Thursday, January 5th, at 1:00pm. OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS Bourne Food Pantry   Please remember to bring in your food items. They are much needed! Kids Backpack Program   Please leave your items for the kids backpacks in the bin in the office. EVENTS EVERY WEEK Sunday                        8:00 am                        Choir practice Sunday                        9:00 am                        Worship Sunday                          7:00 pm                          AA Meeting Monday                          7:30 pm                        N/A Meeting Tuesday                         9:00 am                        VNA Exercise Tuesday                         7:00 pm                        AA Meeting Thursday                       9:00 am                        VNA Exercise Thursday                       7:00 pm                        N/A Meeting Friday                            7:30 pm                        Adult Children of Alcoholics Meeting Saturday                        9:00 am                       Osteo...

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Week of December 25, 2016 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, Dec. 25th:  11:00 AM  Worship at Cataumet UMC Sunday, Jan. 1st:  11:00 AM  Worship The Church Office will be closed this Tuesday and Thursday but will be open on Friday the 30th. Messages and emails will still be checked if anything should come up, and Pastor Tim can be reached at the parsonage. Merry Christmas! OUR BIBLE STUDY GROUP will not meet this week, and will resume meetings in January. CHILDREN’S CLOTHING EXCHANGE: We continue to accept gently used warm winter children’s clothes, sizes 0-14, which may be dropped off at the Thrift Shop or in the church hall. The exchange is open the first Saturday of each month from 9:30am to 12pm. BACKPACK PROJECT: These items are urgently needed: Cereal-cold, any kind, Oatmeal packets, Jelly, Mayonnaise, Canned tuna, Canned chicken, Canned pasta with meat-raviolis, lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, Hot cocoa and Microwave popcorn. A complete list is available in Crain Hall.  ...

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December 18, 2016 – A child has been born for us

Advent 4   December 18, 2016    Psalm 98, Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-20   A child has been born for us *********************************************** The Christmas story is so very familiar… we can sometimes need a little jolt… to be able to really hear it… (And this is part of the story…) The angel Gabriel surprises the elderly priest Zechariah in the temple in the first scene of Luke’s gospel, saying “do not be afraid – I bring good news – a son’s on the way for you and your wife Elizabeth.’ Zechariah knows all the stories of what God can do. He’s been praying for a son for many years. But now he’s so terrified by the angel that he can’t believe the angel’s words. Months later, the same angel Gabriel appears to Mary, a young woman in the small village of Nazareth, telling her she will be the mother of a child to be named Jesus, who will inherit the throne of his ancestor King David, and of his reign there will be no end. He will be called Son of God…And by the way, Mary – this will happen before you get married, through the power of God’s Holy Spirit… (And Mary is left to ponder the angel’s words…) Sometime after this, in Matthew’s gospel, we’re told her fiancee Joseph has also been pondering… And now he’s about to call the whole thing off – when an angel appears to him in a dream-like-vision, telling him ‘not to worry – the child to be born of Mary is holy – go ahead and marry her.’ Which he does… And I’m sometimes struck by how much the Christmas story depends on angels….As now a mighty angel appears to shepherds watching their flocks by night… giving the same “Do not be afraid” greeting the angel also gave Zechariah and Mary… And all these scenes from the gospel story are so familiar… I seldom pause to consider: What happens to the story… if we don’t believe in angels? I don’t think that was much of an issue for people in earlier times…. The reality of angels was not even regarded as a serious question… And perhaps angel appearances were more frequent… and more obvious… in days of old. I still believe angels are real…But I certainly don’t claim to understand them well at all…But I do know the word “angel” is literally “messenger” in the Hebrew. And in both the Old and New Testaments, lines are sometimes a little blurry between human and divine messengers… The patriarch Jacob wrestles all night with somebody first called a man, then called God, then (in Hosea) called an angel. And the two dressed in dazzling white at the tomb of Jesus in Luke are called men first, then angels… (Many other examples come to mind, but…) Remember, again the familiar setting of the Christmas story… In the days when Augustus Caesar was Emperor, and Quirinius governor over the Roman province of Syria, a decree when out for all the world to be registered for taxation. Mary and Joseph then journey 70-some miles from their home in the northern village of Nazareth of Galilee, to Bethlehem, home town of King David of whom Joseph is descended, to be registered… And the time came for Mary to give birth,...

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December 11, 2016 – A little child shall lead them

Advent 3   December 11, 2016   Luke 1:68-79 (Canticle of Zechariah), Isaiah 11:1-9, Matthew1:18-23, Luke 1:39-55   A little child shall lead them ******************************************************* God has overthrown the world order – without a shot fired or any public display of force. So Mary’s song, known as the Magnificat, declares. God’s quiet revolution, almost unseen and unheard… is first made known in a quiet household of women bearing babes in their wombs – welcoming each other with joy in God’s beloved community. I like to imagine Mary and Elizabeth having tea and muffins together every day, during that time they had together… Sitting in a small, cozy kitchen like a womb, a warm, nurturing place. Simple humble hospitable space where it’s safe to sing outrageous love songs to God… Or sit quietly without saying a word. The only man around, far as we know, is Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah. Who has been mute, unable to speak, for six months by the time Mary arrives, because of not believing the angel Gabriel’s promise of a son… A promise Elizabeth did believe. And Mary, of course, believed an even-harder-to-believe promise from the same angel a little later… (and…) Zechariah will get his voice back when baby John the Baptist is born – and give a great shout-out then to God, in the words we’ve read this morning in the Canticle of Zechariah. Which, like Mary’s song, is a New Testament Psalm… A re-telling of the prophet’s word – “A little child shall lead them.” *** A little child shall lead them… So the prophet Isaiah declares more than 700 years before the births of John the Baptist and Jesus the Messiah… And many parents can attest – a little child, especially our firstborn child – will surely lead us – even from the womb. Lead us in decisions we make – places we go, things we do – words we speak and don’t speak… (and–) The children Mary and Elizabeth carry in their wombs are for sure the lead topic of  conversation, as these women, young and old together, greet each other… Baby John the Baptist leaping for joy in the womb of Elizabeth at the sound of the voice of Mary… Mother-to-be of Jesus… The child who now leads us all… *** All children come as a gift from God… equipped with holy imagination and holy power from God to influence their parents and others… And it is right for us to let children lead us… because… Children can imagine God’s kingdom better than most of us… Children can imagine animals that act like humans…Imagine kingdoms beyond the familiar world we know… Without bogging down in whether the vision is literal or parable or both… Children may have many, many questions, but – children can enjoy the Narnia Chronicles of CS Lewis, in which intelligent animals act like humans at their best… Some better, even, than the best humans… (Thinking mostly of Aslan the lion, the Christ figure in the Narnia tales. But there’s also times when even a slightly-above-average dog, cat, or horse acts better than a lot of humans…And…) We need to let our little children lead us… because… Children can imagine the peaceable kingdom Isaiah sees and sketches out for us today. A vision from God in which “the wolf shall...

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