A Sermon for the Feast of the Nativity + December 24, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ: Christmas Eve
First Lesson: Isaiah 9:2-7
Psalm 96
Second Lesson: Titus 2:11-14
Gospel: Luke 2:1-20

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

imgMerry Christmas! This time of the year reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of all the wonderful memories that I have from seasons long past and from growing up in a warm and loving family during the holidays. It brings me back to a time in my life when I looked forward to so many exciting things during the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, and now, as a father, I get to share those same joys with my own children- decorating the Christmas tree with beautiful, colored lights and hand-made ornaments, putting up Christmas decorations outside and around the house, and getting to watch all of my favorite, must-see Christmas specials and movies on television.

At our first Theology Uncorked gathering back at the beginning of the month, I opened our conversation with a little icebreaker question. I asked the group, “What is your favorite or most unusual Christmas tradition?” We went around the table, introducing ourselves and answering the icebreaker question for the night. There were a lot of great answers. When it came time for me to answer the question, I said to the group, “My favorite tradition has to be watching ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ on television. To me, it just isn’t Christmas until I hear those beautiful, jazz arrangements of some of my favorite Christmas songs and watch the story unfold as Charlie Brown seeks to discover the true meaning of Christmas while he and his friends work to prepare for the local Christmas play. Continue reading

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A Sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent + December 17, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Third Sunday of Advent + Year B
First Lesson: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126
Second Lesson: I Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

25463991_1578264392264811_890519488_nLast Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the ordination of the newest priest in the Diocese of Alabama, Worth Stuart, who is currently serving as the curate at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Hoover.

It was a lovely ordination service. Worth’s family and friends were there to support him in his new role as a priest of the Church. The music was lovely. There were several priests and deacons from around the diocese who were present, and the hosts at Holy Apostles were gracious and accommodating. Continue reading

A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent + December 10, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Second Sunday of Advent + Year B
First Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Second Lesson: II Peter 3:8-15a
Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

25317069_1571097999648117_299564482_oOne of the things that I love most about the season of Advent is that we get to sing so many beautiful hymns each week. I was reminded of this last Sunday evening during our service of Advent Lessons and Carols here at St. Catherine’s. The hymns of Advent have a lot to teach us about the importance of this season and why we spend four weeks preparing for the birth of our Savior and anticipating his return.

The popular Advent hymn, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” for example, speaks to the expectancy of the one who will come to dwell with us, the one who is Emmanuel- God with us. Or, “Lo! he comes, with clouds descending,” the eighteenth-century hymn by Charles Wesley which looks beyond our present time to the second coming of Jesus at the end of the age. Continue reading

A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent + December 3, 2017

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church
Chelsea, Alabama
Sunday, December 3, 2017

The First Sunday of Advent + Year B
First Lesson: Isaiah 64:1-9
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
Second Lesson: I Corinthians 1:3-9
Gospel: Mark 13:24-37

Now, O Lord, take my lips and speak with them. Take our minds and think through them. Take our hearts and set them on fire for your Gospel. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

24337584_1564489326975651_1342812250_nToday is the First Sunday of Advent. Today is the beginning of a new year in the life of the church, and with a new year comes new life and new possibilities. You’ll notice that the Nave and the outside of the church have been decorated with beautiful greenery and special symbols of the season, such as the Advent Wreath. The greenery symbolizes for us the eternal hope that we have in Jesus Christ, and the Advent Wreath, with its four purple and pink candles, reminds us of the four central themes that we focus on during the season: hope, faith, joy, and love, one candle for each Sunday in Advent. The white candle in the center is the Christ Candle, representing Jesus – the True Light who has come forth into the world to save us. We’ll light the Christ Candle for the first time on Christmas Eve. Since today is the First Sunday of Advent, only the first candle on the Advent wreath has been lighted. This candle serves as a symbol of hope as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift at Christmas and as we prepare for our Lord’s triumphant return.

The season of Advent is a time of waiting in hopeful expectation as we prepare for Christmas, but it’s also a time of prayer and introspection as we wait for our Lord’s return. As the psalmist writes in today’s selection from Psalm 80, “Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” Advent provides time for us to examine our lives and ask ourselves, “Are we doing the work of ushering in God’s kingdom?” “Are we ready for Christ to return?” Continue reading