December 30, 2018

Christmas 2   December 30, 2018   Psalm 85, Isaiah 49:1-6, Colossians 1:15-18, Luke 2:41-52          In our Father’s house ************************************************************** Even Jesus goes through a bit of a difficult growing-up phase. (Thankfully, for his parents, it only lasts three days.) But – here, today, we see Jesus – twelve years old – going on thirty… Jesus and his family have gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual week-long festival of Passover – as was his family’s practice every year. But this year, on the way home, his parents notice they haven’t seen Jesus all day. They search for him among family and friends. People typically traveled together as extended family-and- friendship-groups in those days (as some still do). It wouldn’t be unusual for older children to travel together a bit apart from grown-ups and younger children for much of the day. (That still happens.) But when Jesus still hasn’t shown up at the end of the day at the campsite, now there’s cause for alarm… So his parents anxiously return to Jerusalem to search for him in the morning… (The full day’s journey they’ve gone towards Nazareth, and the full day’s journey back to Jerusalem probably count as part of the three days in which Jesus is missing. Though the gospel doesn’t seem interested in explaining chronology for us…) On the third day they find Jesus, finally, in the temple with the teachers of the Law and Prophets of Israel. Listening to them and asking questions. In the next breath we’re told – all who heard Jesus were amazed by his understanding and his answers – suggesting that already, as it will be later, his questions and his answers are essentially inseparable… Doubtless Mary and Joseph are also astonished. Though not exactly overjoyed, I expect, to find Jesus here like this – having disappeared, it seems, without having said good bye. I can’t imagine his explanation, “Didn’t you know I must be in my Father’s house?” could have been much comfort for his parents. And when St Luke tells us “his mother treasured all these things in her heart” – it catches my attention – thinking, for me, as a parent, this would be a bit like treasuring a memory of surviving a car crash. But I’m not Mary – I can’t know all that was in her heart… Though I do remember… Luke’s gospel has mentioned Mary pondering several times previously. Pondering when Angel Gabriel tells her she’ll become the mother, though still a virgin, of a holy child who will be called Son of God. Pondering again, and this time treasuring also the words she hears when shepherds show up on the night of nativity, testifying of a host of angels appearing to them, proclaiming her son’s birth. (This latter pondering and treasuring is our Thought for the Week). I have no trouble envisioning Mary pondering, again, this Jesus coming-of-age episode – though this time St Luke’s word treasuring – seems like a stretch. But pondering – treasuring, whatever we call it – here’s our heads-up sign of what lies ahead… As Jesus lets his parents – and us along with them – know – he’s already got the vision of his life’s work – as he tells us he must be in his Father’s house – doing his...

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December 23, 2018

Advent 4   December 23, 2018   Psalm 98, Isaiah 52:7-10, Hebrews 1:1-4, Luke 2:1-20          How beautiful are the feet ************************************************************** Long ago, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, God spoke to us through the prophets. God still speaks through the prophets – especially, in this season of Advent, through the prophet Isaiah – whose scroll the early church sometimes called “the fifth gospel.” The prophet Isaiah proclaims “how beautiful are the feet of the messenger… who – announces peace – who brings good news – who announces salvation…” But in these last days, Hebrews says, God has spoken to us by his Son – whom he has appointed heir of all things – through whom he has created all the worlds. Which is one very big download. No wonder sometimes we’re a little slow…in  figuring out how best to be messengers of… God’s stupendous grace… It’s difficult to visualize God’s peace unfolding in this war-torn world. Hard to picture God’s good news triumphing over all the world’s bad news… God’s full salvation prevailing over the world’s despair… Yet in this darkest time of the year we are reminded – God’s ways are different from our ways. As the Son of God Most High is born to a young unwed mother in the lowliest of circumstances. No room in Bethlehem for the Son of God to be born… except a stable. Where his mother lays him in a manger for his cradle. And… some time… late in the middle of that night…A band of shepherds, strangers to Mary and Joseph, glimpsing, perhaps, light shining dimly in the stable… Enter… and quietly draw near… to see this child wrapped in bands of cloth… lying in a manger…The child of whom they’ve heard angels speak… And sing… *** The Christmas story is still so very strange and beautiful… But often the story gets so mixed together with the mythologies of the commercial Christmas season… that the story sounds either so long-ago-far-away… or so overly familiar in not-very-beautiful-ways… that the story becomes hard to hear…Hard to find our part in. Unless – we’re young, pregnant, poor, about to give birth… Or homeless, not sure where we’ll lay our head tonight… Or accustomed to long, searching, silent conversation with God… Or used to noticing the merest whisper of God’s Spirit… Used to God leading us in strange directions… If any of this is part of our experience… Maybe we can identify with Mary and Joseph… Or…perhaps if we’re a night-shift worker used to being outside at night for long hours… A night watchman… a fishermen or sea-farer out at sea… a police man or woman on night patrol… Perhaps if we’re used to looking up in the night sky a lot… Listening… to every shift in wind and weather… We can identify with the shepherds… Watching flocks by night. But for most of us Christmas can be a difficult time to hear the genuine Christmas story… Unless some how the story catches us by surprise… And we find ourselves… anew… caught up… in the story. *** I’ve prayed and read the Christmas story…Sung the songs of Christmas… many times these past few weeks getting ready… Still I’ve found myself far more often than I had hoped… suffering various forms of seasonally-affected-dysfunctionality. Which is...

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December 9, 2018

Advent 2   bournecataumetparish.org/?p=2626 (Canticle of Zechariah, Isaiah 9:1-7, Philippians 1:3-11)    Luke 1:26-38   Then the angel… ************************************************************ Then the angel departed from her… Leaving Mary to ponder what has happened… And what she has heard… and what she’s said… I’ve got no doubts as to the truth of the words of St Luke’s gospel…But I can’t help wondering about the rest of the story – the parts undisclosed – like, what can Mary have been thinking? – as this encounter with the angel happens…And I can’t help imagining Mary asking God – and asking herself – “‘Did this really happen?’ (And… realizing yes, it surely did – did I really say – ‘yes?’”) Remembering… There was no way in those days for Mary to snap a selfie with the angel. Even if there had been, would the image of the angel be visible to anyone but Mary? I’m very sure we don’t see or hear everything God is doing…. We don’t see or hear everything God keeps inviting us to see and hear… And quite possibly God chooses Mary partly because she is a very good listener… (but…) We have no way of knowing what may have gone through Mary’s mind. The bible  respects our privacy and seldom discloses our innermost thoughts (except where not to tell would be worse than telling). We get to overhear only these brief snippets of conversation between the angel Gabriel and young Mary – engaged, not yet married, still a virgin – now, suddenly, invited to become mother of a child to be named Jesus who will be called Son of God, who will inherit the throne of his ancestor David and rule over the house of Jacob forever… And ‘not to worry’ the angel tells her – ‘all this will happen by the power of God’s Spirit. The child to be born to you will be holy.’ And as the moment of encounter is fulfilled… I picture Mary praying silently, urgently… and God’s Spirit stirs within her… and the assurance of God’s presence comes over her….And I imagine… the first word that comes to Mary is a deep, almost silent – Wow. The whole conversation’s takes only a few moments…   But… this very short conversation between Mary and God’s messenger turns out to be more than enough…. to keep the universe pondering ever since…  what has now begun… in this invitation from God Most High…and… This yes – let it be with me … response… from Mary. ***** Getting to Yes with God seldom goes anywhere near as quickly for most of us… as it seems to go with Mary… I often feel guilty about how slow I am to listen and hear what God is asking. And I’m probably a little afraid of some of the things I imagine God might ask. Still, I resolve, often, to try to do better at listening. So it was good for me, last Thursday, when Pastor Sandra Smith and I attended a workshop on prayer, led by Kristen Vincent with Upper Room Ministries (publishers of The Upper Room daily devotionals). As we went around the room answering Kristen’s opening question – “What is prayer for you?” – I was relieved to hear it’s not just me – a lot of us talked about prayer...

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December 16, 2018-Cataumet

ANNOUNCEMENTS Family to Family Gift tags must be returned by December 16th. Free Christmas concert, Dec. 17. See bulletin insert for details. OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS Bourne Food Pantry Needs at this time include boxed cold cereal, jelly (plastic bottles), mayonnaise, snacks and hot cocoa packets. Thanks for your help. Bible Study will take a break until January. Prayer Group only had one meeting this month. EVENTS EVERY WEEK Sunday   7:45 am Choir practice Sunday   9:00 am  Worship Sunday   7:30 pm  AA Meeting Monday    7:30 pm  N/A Meeting Tuesday     9:00am   Exercise Tuesday  7:00 pm  AA Meeting Wednesday  7:30 pm  NA meeting Thursday  9:00 am   Exercise Thursday      7:00 pm  NA Meeting Saturday  9:00 am  Osteo...

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December 16, 2018 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday,  December 16th:                     11:00 AM      Worship Service                                                                      12:15 PM      Living Gift Market                                                                       1:30 PM      Wrap and Tag  Party                                                                       3:00 PM      Piano Recital                                                                       3:00 PM      Girl Scouts         Monday, December 17th:                        6:00 PM      Finance Committee Meeting            Tuesday, December 18th:                      4:00  PM       Brookside Sunday , December 23rd:                     11:00 AM      Christmas Service   Sunday PLEASE REMEMBER  all Family to Family Gifts are due today, we will be wrapping at 1:30. FREE CHRISTMAS CONCERT on December 17th at 7pm, Swift Memorial United Methodist in Sagamore. Please see insert for details. CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES: December 24th: 4pm  Family Service — Pop-up Christmas Pageant 9pm  Lessons and Carols. BIBLE STUDY will meet next on January 3rd at 1:00pm. PRAYER GROUP will meet next on January 9th, at 10:00am. BACKPACK PROGRAM needs at this time include boxed cold cereal, jelly (plastic bottles), mayonnaise, snacks and hot cocoa packets. Thanks for your help.:) CHILDREN’S CLOTHING EXCHANGE: We continue to accept gently used children’s clothes, sizes 0-14, which may be dropped off at the Thrift Shop. The exchange is open the first Saturday of each month at 10am.  ...

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