December 20, 2015

Advent 4 December 20, 2015   Psalm 96, Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 2:1-20 ******************************************************* A story so very familiar, we can hear it almost without listening. The birth of Jesus – Savior, Messiah, Lord – born in a stable, laid in a manger – angels singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will toward men.” I’m quoting now from the old familiar King James Version translation of the angels’ words. The New Revised Standard Version in our bulletin says “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace among those whom he favors!” There is a small, but significant difference here in emphasis – between peace and good will toward all – and peace to those whom God favors. Scholars find evidence to favor both translations. Either can work… But… The older I get the more I prefer the ‘peace, good will to all’ translation – since it keeps getting harder for me to have much confidence in my own or anyone else’s ability to really know who God favors. For example, in the current election cycle nearly all candidates seem to be sure God favors them (– almost as if they were born in a manger) – and they all seem equally sure God does not like their opponents much at all. At least not for higher office. Which is relevant today because… St Luke’s gospel is all about who really rules in higher office – and – because Luke’s gospel begins the account of our Savior’s birth by contrasting Jesus with Augustus Caesar, CEO of the Roman empire. Caesar’s decree that all must be registered for taxation is, of course, what causes the holy family to travel all the way from Nazareth in the far North, to Bethlehem, the city of David, several days journey to the South, where Jesus is born. Augustus Caesar’s birth story isn’t narrated in our gospel, but historians tell us when Emperor Augustus was born, a new imperial calendar was created, with his birthday now made to be first day of the new year for all the empire. One of the altars built to mark his birth bears an inscription saying: “The birthday of the god has marked the beginning of the good news for the world.” St Luke not-very subtly reminds us of the contrast in the way emperors and followers of Jesus use the same words – peace and good news. Augustus Caesar’s Press Secretaries claimed Augustus was a son of God, a divine savior, and celebrated his rule of peace. But “good news” in Empire-speech meant yet-another military victory for the Empire. And “peace” according to Caesar meant something very closely resembling the remark of one of our recent candidates, who spoke about ‘carpet bombing them till the desert glows.’ Caesars were famous for peace through power – killing, even crucifying, one’s opposition was a standard tool of the trade. Up to five thousand Jewish men at a time were crucified by Rome on suspicion of rebellion. Jerusalem was finally burned to the ground for resisting Roman rule. There’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to Empires striking back. And whatever the empire wants, it takes. So in the birth of Jesus we have quite a contrast. Not only is there no...

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Week of December 20, 2015 – Bourne

THIS WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE PARISH Sunday, Dec. 20th: 11:00 AM Worship & Church School 5:00 PM Mazheika Student Piano Recital Monday, Dec. 21st: 10:00 AM Church Office Open (until 1pm) Thursday, Dec. 24th:    4:00 PM Family Christmas Eve Service 9:00 PM Lessons and Carols Service Friday, Dec. 25th: Merry Christmas! Sunday, Dec. 27th: 11:00 AM Worship & Church School WELCOME TO OUR GUEST MUSICIANS this morning! Robin McIntyre, baritone; Bob Beardsley, baritone and Robert Taft, tuba. THE CHURCH OFFICE will be open on Monday, Dec. 21st from 10:00am to 1:00pm, and Tuesday from 9:00am to 1:00pm. The office will be closed on Thursday and Friday this week. CHRISTMAS EVE SERVICES: (Thursday, December 24th) 4:00pm Family Service – ABC’s of Christmas (Bourne UMC) 7:00pm Lessons and Carols (Cataumet UMC) 9:00pm Lessons and Carols ( Bourne UMC) THE 2016 ALTAR FLOWER CHART has been posted. Please sign up! PHOTOS NEEDED: Do you have any photos of recent church events? (Cookie Walk, Caroling, UMW Potluck, Thanksgiving Dinner, etc.) We’d love to have them! Please submit photos on a CD or email them to the church office. We like to have up-to-date photos on our website and Facebook page. Thank you!  ...

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