Christmas 1 all years

Reflection on Psalm 147 by the Rev. Deacon Helen Hanten

Psalm 147 has many images of as Creator, caring for and loving the creation.”He counts the number of stars and calls them by name.” Of course! God is Truth, and there is a truth, unknown to us, of the number of stars. The phrase “God only knows” applies to many things unknowable to us.”God covers the heavens with clouds and prepares rain for the earth.” How basic water is to life on earth and how marvelously made is the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration, movement of clouds by winds or air currents, and again, rain falling on the earth.”God makes grass to grow on the mountain and green plants to serve humankind.” For everything alive their is a way for it to make its food, or find something to eat for its food, in a whole web of interdependence.”Food for flocks and herds and young ravens,” all provided in the continuous recycle of elements and transfer of energy.

“How good it is to sing praises to our God! How pleasant to honor God with our praises!” The earth is a paradise for the web of life to flourish. How arrogant it is to waste or spoil gifts of creation!

Inauguration by Water—The Baptism of Jesus, by the Rev. Dr. Leah D. Shade

Excerpt: For Christians, the tests of character that come with being baptized have important ramifications because they are linked to both the Matthew and Isaiah passages. It’s worth noting that for the Israelite people, the call to be God’s servant wasn’t necessarily for one person—it was for their whole nation. God empowers people to do the work of building the peaceable kingdom; it’s a divine transference of power. This is a commissioning.  God is telling the people: I have given you as a covenant—you are a sign of the covenant. You are blessed in order to be a blessing.

As Christians, can we as a baptized community of faith be a people who do this? Can we be blessed by our baptism to be a blessing to others? And can we be a blessing for the very water with which we were baptized?

Complete Article: https://sites.google.com/site/lrcoldsite/the-baptism-of-our-lord-in-year-a-1

Love God Love Neighbor, by the Rev Sally Bingham

Excerpt: What does this mean, and why does it matter?  I grew up thinking that Christ’s birth was something that took place just once, long ago, in a far away place, to a person I would never know.  Jesus of Nazareth was somehow both fully human and fully divine, and the rest of us lowly human beings could only marvel and worship from afar.  But if we imagine that the incarnation is something that happens only once, and only to someone else, then what meaning can it have for us, and what power does it have to change our lives?  How astonished I was when I first heard about the teachings of the so-called Church Fathers – teachers and writers in the early Church, such as Ireneaus and Clement of Alexandria and Athanasius – who spoke about “divinization,” the process by which human beings are so transformed by the grace of God that we share in God’s nature; we participate in God’s very being, and become in a sense divine.  These early Christians were convinced that God became human so that humans might become divine.  Reading them, I began to see that maybe the incarnation was not only for Jesus Christ.  Maybe the incarnation was in fact our human destiny, the very purpose for which we were created.

Complete Sermon: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kq9bSRI2LlqItIkcRrIYv50AgZHbfOTw

Reflection on John 1:1-18, by John G. Gibbs, PhD

John 1: 1-18 is, we all know, a major statement of the movement from Christology to cosmology. It has one eye on Jesus’ birth and the other on the creation of all that is: “In the beginning was…” To the cosmic perspective of earliest Christians (I Cor. 8:6), then of the Apostle Paul (above), we now add that of the Fourth Gospel.

Much more is proclaimed by this text than can be expounded on Christmas Day alone. One could, then, preach twice on this text, the first time at the Principal Mass on Christmas, and the second time on the first Sunday after Christmas. This twofold mining of the text might proceed on the basis of this Prologue’s basic structure or outline, which we can work out from the text or by comparing the text with various outlines suggested by commentaries.

Whenever we meditate on this text, we do well to observe that its movement is only from Christology to cosmology, and not from cosmology to Christology. If the Fourth Gospel presents Jesus in the form of the Logos or Wisdom of God by which the world was created, it does not move from nature-mysticism to Christ-mysticism.

As C. H. Dodd put it: “We do not start with cosmology, ascending to knowledge of God through His works in creation and the eternal forms behind them. We start with faith in Jesus, which involves the recognition that the meaning which we find in Him is the meaning of the whole universe – that, in fact, that which is incarnate in Him is the Logos. Only he who knows God in Jesus Christ, knows what the Logos is, by which the world was made.” [The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (CUP, 1953), 285] This evangelist says in effect: “‘…let us assume that the cosmos exhibits a divine meaning which constitutes its reality. I will tell you what that meaning is: it was embodied in the life of Jesus, which I will now describe'” [Ibid.] Then the gospel follows with its highly theological story about Jesus.

This movement from Jesus to creation is instructive for us as we go in search of “sacred places.” To make that a specifically Christian search, we do not go alone. That is because Jesus was born as one among us, he pitched his tent in our midst, and we cannot forget it. As in Psalm 19, creation does not produce any creed. But because of our creed (Torah, in the psalmist’s case) we see the light of the divine Wisdom, which worked in Jesus, now being reflected in the heavens and on earth wherever we go. Creed is reflected and confirmed in creation.

These observations bring us to the threshold of new and vigorous discussions between scientists and theologians. (See bibliographies from MEESC.) In congregations where this can be done, it would be exciting to explore the vibrant rapprochement between science and theology that has sprung up mutually at this end of the second millennium.

The whole universe is designed for praise, by Kieth Innes

Psalm 148 : The whole universe is designed for God’s praise. While humans praise him rationally and consciously, other sentient beings and inanimate objects praise him purely by being themselves

Luke 2:41-52: Jesus grew to maturity by ‘normal’ processes (although with a developing awareness of a unique relationship with God). God’s redeeming grace is still worked out within nature, and not by escaping into a private ‘spiritual’ realm.

http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/econotes1.htm#Christmas1

 

Stewardship of Creation, by David Rhoads

Excerpt: The Bible says unequivocally that God’s purpose is to restore all creation. The whole notion of incarnation—God becoming flesh (John 1:1)—is that the divine movement is not an escape from Earth but a movement toward embodiment in creation. Jesus became flesh to bring “new creation” (Gal 6:15). Paul testifies to this vocation when he claims that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains” ready to “be set free from its bondage to decay,” as it “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:18-25) who will care for each other and for Earth. We are called now to be those children of God who exercise stewardship in relation to all creation.

Reflection on Galatians by John G. Gibbs, PhD

Excerpt: The Bible says unequivocally that God’s purpose is to restore all creation. The whole notion of incarnation—God becoming flesh (John 1:1)—is that the divine movement is not an escape from Earth but a movement toward embodiment in creation. Jesus became flesh to bring “new creation” (Gal 6:15). Paul testifies to this vocation when he claims that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains” ready to “be set free from its bondage to decay,” as it “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:18-25) who will care for each other and for Earth. We are called now to be those children of God who exercise stewardship in relation to all creation.

Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18; Psalm 147

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