Preaching Christmas Eve in the Wake of New Testament Scholarship

So, if your struggling over some of the details of the nativity story, if the experts have left you perplexed, cynical or worried, do not be afraid, for I bring you tidings of great joy. The story is true, every last word of it is true. For just like Dom so wisely revealed to us, the story of the nativity is a parable and like all parable’s it represents a truth that cannot be fully expressed in words. Like all good parables the truth is not to be found in the details, but rather in the Spirit of God that breathes life into the parable. It’s a parable about so many things, but most of all it is a parable about peace on earth giving glory to God.

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Celebrate at Christmas Time

From the Boundless Life collection

Celebrate at Christmas time
Light that only dark can birth,
Light in every baby’s eyes,
Gift of darkened realms of Earth.

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Five tips for a God-centered December

I might be “preaching to the choir,” but these five December tips are worth remembering.

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The Marion Diaries

Reflections by Michael Hollingshead

I could feel the warm afternoon wind blowing a few moments before; right through the window where I was standing, stacking some bowls.

A moment later it blew again, only this time it was cool and refreshing, and even smelled sweet like hyssop, or juniper, or jasmine.

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Poem to Mother Mary

“Blessed Virgin Mary, I’m coming full circle
and I want to be your…what is it I want?
I want to be your child and friend again.
May I?”

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“Keep awake! Watch for we know not when Christ comes.

Advent is about waiting and watching: waiting and watching for the coming of Christ. We wait for just the right time to celebrate the birth of Christ in our midst and we watch for Christ’s promised return. But how do we wait and where do we watch?

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Mary, Joseph, Jesus (The Astronomers’ Carol)

From the Boundless Life collection

Mary, Joseph, Jesus,
The characters remain.
Shepherds and the angels,
Truth travellers’ contain
Shaped in ancient story’s
Sweet mystical refrain.

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When the child is at the center

From the Boundless Life collection

When the child is at the center,
When the babe is in the stall,
When the adult nurtures wonder,
When the carols warm us all,
Then the fragments come together
And the vision shines as one

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MARY’s STORY:  Let It Be 

The way you tell the Christmas story, it all sounds so simple. So simple. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I really like it. It’s just that for so long now people have been telling my story and the way they tell it, it all sounds so simple and easy, so neat and tidy, that I hardly recognize myself in the story. It’s not your fault.  It all started a long time ago. Luke and that other fellow Matthew, they started it all.  They wrote my story down and wouldn’t you know it they cleaned it all up. But who can blame them.  Nobody likes messy birth stories. And as birth stories go, my baby’s birth was a really messy one.

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Pregnant with Possibility:  Was Mary a Virgin or Was Mary Raped?

Mary, this enigmatic woman has remained in the shadows for centuries. All too often the epithet “virgin” has been applied to the young woman who fell pregnant so long ago. As her Advent appearance approaches, I this re-post this sermon which I preached a couple of years ago in which I asked some questions about Mary. At the time I was reading Jane Schalberg’s “The Illegitimacy of Jesus”, John Shelby Spong’s “Born of a Woman” and “Jesus for the Non Religious” along with John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg’s “The First Christmas” and this sermon is laced with their scholarship.

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The Real War on Christmas – Sermon Video

Matthew and Luke tell completely different (and contradictory) accounts of the birth of Jesus. Neither are meant to be taken literally. They were writing a theological message (sermon) to introduce their gospels. Where the two agree is that the Jesus they were going to describe was a messenger who would turn the world upside down, casting down the rich and powerful in favor of the weak and poor. There is our real Christmas story, a story of liberation and justice.

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Shattered Angel

As Christmas draws near, we turn to stories to express the inexpressible. Like the Gospel writers we are at a loss to explain the activity of our God in the world and so we too resort to story telling. Families gather and the reliable old stories are told. And each year new stories are added to our treasure troves as we seek to express the inexpressible and touch the hem of our God who is love. And what better way to touch and be touched by God than to tell stories of God’s love in the world. We all have treasure troves of stories of Christ taking on flesh and dwelling among us. My story took place when I was a young woman determined that my first Christmas living out in the world would be the type of Christmas that dreams are made of.

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