A Christmas Reflection: And Then You

As you prepare for your Christmas celebrations, take a few minutes to read Luke 1:26-55 and then use this prayer for your reflection…

And then you

We arrange our lives as best we can,
to keep your holiness at bay,
with our pieties,
our doctrines,
our liturgies,
our moralities,
our secret ideologies,
Safe, virtuous, settled.
And then you -
you and your dreams,
you and your visions,
you and your commands,
you and our neighbors.
We find your holiness not at bay,
but probing, pervading,
insisting, demanding.
And we yield, sometimes gladly,
sometimes resentfully,
sometimes late…or soon.
We yield because you, beyond us, are our God.
We are your creatures met by your holiness,
by your holiness made our true selves.
And we yield. Amen.

- Walter Brueggeman

Sermon: Isaiah Nailed It!

Isaiah 42:1-8

When you visit 34th St. in Hampden in December, you can not miss the light spectacular on one block. Literally every house is decked out, most of them quite garishly and all of them definitely over the top when it comes to the sheer quantity of light bulbs strung on and around the row houses, filling up the tiny front yards, and even running across 34th street, connecting the houses with their neighbor across the street! You know it is definitely over the top on the BGE bill as well. People come from all around to walk the street, buy hot chocolate or fried oysters and soak up the Christmas spirit, appreciating the lights piercing the dark winter night. The lights announce that Christmas is coming. Every display says: “We love Christmas!” and “Hey, look at us!” But then residents of each home also announce their own, more personalized messages with their theme, their banners, their figurines all lit up. One is focused on peace, another on Maryland items like crabs and old bay, another on the figures from the birth of Christ, another on local beers. The light display allows for a lot of creativity, it takes a lot of time and devotion to “the cause”, and it brings joy to many, many people every year. Basically our neighbors on one block of 34th St. are announcing their message without spoken words (although some do have Christmas music playing). They are a light to Baltimore every year.

The prophet Isaiah employs a certain amount of creativity as he includes within his prophecy four distinct poems about God’s Servant who suffers. He uses them to announce a unique, new message about the way God will work in the lives of God’s people, and about the way God will work in the world. Continue reading