Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Christmas Day, Selection III – RCL

Isaiah 52:7-10. Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12), John 1:1-14

When my alarm went off at 6:15 this morning, after hitting the snooze-button a couple of times, it was a long Christmas Eve day, after all, I was lying in bed thinking about how comfortable that dark room and warm bed was – the comfort of darkness.

I realized how easy it is to go through life wanting to stay in those comfortable places when all that is familiar surrounds you. For me, and maybe for most of us, this instinct was automatic.
As a baby in the warmth of the womb, I didn’t seem interested in moving from that place. Even after 24 hours of labor endured by my mother, and with my twin sister by my side, I was still unwilling to leave the comfort of that safe place.

Perhaps it was an instinctive fear of leaving this darkness that caused my heart to quiver, literally. Yet, the heart irregularities prompted the doctor to perform a Caesaria-section – forcing me out of that darkness that had become a very comfortable place to be.

Even as an adult, I tended to navigate the “safe” path. Knowing I needed to find a job after college, I studied accounting instead of religion, which was my desire – go figure!

And on my career path in the banking industry, I moved through my career successfully, but no bold moves, staying with the same company for some twenty years. Yes, there’s something to be said for loyalty, but I think it has more to do with “safety”. Sticking with a boss I knew and worked well with, familiar systems and processes – you get the idea.

On the personal side, I spent a bit of time hiding who I was for fear of what others would say if they found out I was gay. What shame that might bring on my family, who has a prominent presence in Houston, where I lived.

Ultimately I realized that my hiding, was really more about me maintaining the status quo, because my parents, family and co-workers embraced me just as I am. I know everyone isn’t that fortunate…

But I’ve come to realize that when I find myself hesitant to share myself fully, or to take risks, I am falling back on my desire to stay in those warm bed-covers…

The comfort of darkness can be strong. Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

4th Sunday of Advent – Year A RCL

Isaiah 7:10-16, Romans 1:1-7, Matthew 1:18-25


But now things are getting interesting!

Today’s gospel lesson begins by saying: “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way.” We’re on the edge of our seats! We want to hear the story; the WHOLE story – because then it will be Christmas! No more waiting!

And although we DO hear the whole story in today’s reading, it isn’t the one we’re used to hearing. It doesn’t mention the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, or the journey back to Bethlehem. There are no shepherds in the field startled by a multitude of angels announcing the birth of the Messiah. No baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. All of that is in Luke’s Christmas story – in that story, Joseph doesn’t get much attention, instead Mary is at center-stage.

Matthew’s story, though, is very different, where Joseph has the prominent role.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

2nd Sunday of Advent – Year A RCL

Isaiah 11:1-10, Romans 15:4-13, Matthew 3:1-12

Advent is a time of waiting…

It is a time of hopeful anticipation and cheerful expectation of God breaking into our lives anew!
The reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans says, “Whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”

The lesson from Isaiah describes even more fully what is hoped for. Saying that The spirit of the Lord will rest upon the one that is a descendant of Jesse, that is Jesus. “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.”

When we judge with our eyes and ears, we often bring our preconceptions and prejudices. But when we judge with our heart, that is with righteousness and compassion, as Jesus did, this will bring about the kind of harmony that allows the wolf to live with the lamb and the leopard to lie down with the kid.

This is surely something to be hopeful for… and if possible, to help bring about.

But the gospel text from Matthew has a very different tone. It doesn’t seem to speak of hope at all. Instead, it begins with a call by John the Baptist to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

I don’t know about you, any sentence that begins with REPENT is surely not one of HOPE… or is it?

Read the rest of this entry »

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