What’s The WORD?

December 25, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Christmas III
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

John’s gospel account of Jesus coming into the world is powerful and poetic. It doesn’t tell of the birth of a child in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem, but instead, the opening words of John’s gospel bring to mind the creation story of Genesis, which begins:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Gen 1:1-5, NRSV)

But, John’s gospel backs up even farther. It doesn’t begin with the creation of the heavens and the earth, but instead, with the nature of God. In light of the incarnate Jesus, God can no longer be understood in the same way God was understood before. After the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, there was a deeper understanding of the complexity of God – that this one-God whom the people of Israel followed is actually a three-in-one-God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Now, while this doesn’t seem too complicated to you and me, having heard of this Trinity God from the beginning of OUR religious context, this was pretty radical stuff a couple of thousand years ago; certainly for the people of Israel. One thing that set them apart from the gentiles was their devotion to ONE God, not may gods. Remember, the first commandment brought down by Moses from Mt. Sinai was:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods besides me.” (Ex. 20:2-3)

So, then comes Jesus, and Houston, we have a problem! Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Emmaus House Episcopal Chapel, Atlanta, GA

2nd Sunday after Christmas – All Years (RCL) – Jeremiah 31:7-14, Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a, Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

This was the first Christmas in my life that I was not with my family on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. For some of you that may seem unfathomable and for others you still can’t imagine what it would be like to spend Christmas without your family or that special circle of friends.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t celebrate the holiday with my family. We are a pretty practical bunch, so since everyone was traveling to Houston for a wedding before Christmas we had our holiday meal and gift exchange a week ahead of schedule. It was a wonderful time filled with laughter.

I knew that upon my return to Atlanta I would be embarking on a Christmas of another kind… an Emmaus House Christmas! During the week I was introduced to this community’s traditions… elves of all ages wrapping and sorting gifts, decorating a tree with fruit instead of traditional ornaments, and volunteers gathering on a cold Christmas Eve morning to bring joy to many who might otherwise not have much under the Christmas tree. And although being part of this wonderful event was gratifying, it still wasn’t my Christmas tradition. Read the rest of this entry »

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