The Greatest Birth Story Ever?

Luke 1:26-38, a sermon for Advent 4B

Imagine what it must have been like for the early followers of the man Jesus of Nazareth; a peasant, rabbi, radical, and disturber of the peace, executed as a political threat to the Pax Romana. Jesus of Nazareth went to his death insisting that peace through victory was no peace at all. Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed the radical notion that peace, true peace can only be established and maintained through justice.Peace, true peace, is the result of everyone having enough. Distributive justice which ensures that the poor and the powerless, the marginalized and the despised have all they need to live in peace.It was such a radically dangerous notion that the powers that be could not let it live.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914

As December cold enveloped the Western Front, a very remarkable Christmas story developed – an unofficial truce was observed by an estimated 100,000 British and German troops on the first Christmas Eve of the war.

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Keeping Christmas Well: a Christmas Resurrection Story

a sermon for Advent 4B

I used to think that A Christmas Carol was the story of Scrooge’s metamorphosis. The scene in the movie were Scrooge realizes that it is Christmas morning and that life doesn’t have to be the way it has always been and he does that wonderful dance and sings: “I don’t know anything! I never did know anything all on a Christmas morning!” I always thought of that wonderful dance as the culmination of Scrooge’s metamorphosis, like a butterfly bursting forth from a cocoon. But now I see it for what it really is. It is a dance of resurrection. For Scrooge was dead. Dead and gazing at his own tombstone, when suddenly, and suddenly for me always indicates the work of the Spirit, suddenly, Scrooge realizes that what he is seeing are only the shadows of things that might be. Suddenly, Scrooge knows “that men’s deeds foreshadow certain ends. But if the deeds be departed from surely the ends will change!” Scrooge is born again and is able to declare with confidence, “I’m not the man I was.” And so, the resurrected Scrooge becomes all that God intended him to be.

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A Christmas Letter to my Community of Readers

I want to express my gratitude to you for being part of this effort. The idea that we could put online a serious adult Bible study and contemporary issue subscription service that would attempt to breach the gap between the Christian academy and the Christian pew and to help us all learn how to think theologically in a new way, was once nothing more than a dream. Each of you has helped to turn that dream into a reality.

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Living Nativity

Several years ago Lesley attended a small church in the suburbs. Every year toward the end of Advent the members of this church would create a living nativity. About a week before Christmas when most people were …

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Worship Materials: Christmastime/Christmas Day

Theme: The Everywhere God

If we allowed ourselves to meet God everywhere, each day would become a Christmas.

Christmas is not so much a season of the year as a season of the human heart.

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Christmas Midsummer

In the mild mid-summer pleasant winds can blow;
Balmy zephyrs soothe us; wafting to and fro;
Christmas has its beauty; Mary’s pain is past;
Lullaby her first born; parents’ joy at last.

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Worship Materials: An Inclusive Christmas Celebration

On the theme: The Tree, The Carol, the Child

Christmas is a time to move into the world of
images and dreams, a time to allow the ‘make
believe’ happen. Let us be still and reflective.

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What Child Is This? The Reason For The Season

What can we learn from the Christmas story? I believe that just as Jesus seemed to be aware of the Divine Spark (or Christ) presence within him, which allowed him to love almost unreservedly and break boundaries, so too we are invited to see this Divine Spark within ourselves. God is literally with us. And isn’t this what we need in today’s world, where we see atrocities and tragedies such as the ones I listed above? If each of us were to acknowledge our inner divinity, and then recognize our neighbour’s inner divinity – regardless of their religious beliefs or non-beliefs – would we then see larger stepping stones toward global peace?

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The Birth of Jesus

While Luke’s narrative, the most detailed account of the birth of Jesus, is lyrical and inspiring, in the Birth of Jesus, Spong persuasively demonstrates it is allegory. Layer by layer, Spong weighs every element of the New Testament stories against Old Testament legends building a convincing case. Spong’s essays step backward and forward through the scriptures demonstrating why each element was chosen by the early CE writers to establish Jesus’ lineage and divinity. It is a fascinating and persuasive journey and a remarkable illustration of Biblical scholarship.

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O Ultimate Mystery

O Ultimate mystery,
who comes to us in many pictures,
grant that the story of Christmas may
awaken the child within us

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Christmas Celebrations 2014 with songs

I invite you into the way I celebrate Christmas. It may be different to the way you celebrate and think about Christmas, but I ask you to join me as I bring you into what I think can be a joyful way of celebration in the 21st Century. One of the biblical scholars has helped me crystallise what I find difficult about the traditional presentations of Christmas. Greg Jenks, in his book ‘Jesus then and Jesus now’ has asked the question, “Has the Jesus tradition become a giant fairy-tale for children, and little more than an annual exercise of ‘let’s pretend’ for grown-ups?” (Page 123) That is the question which plagues me every Christmas.

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Tiptoe, softly, gently

From the Boundless Life collection

Tiptoe, softly, gently
To the Christmas stall;
Space where hope is singing
Peace on earth for all.

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God is present in each baby

From the Boundless Life collection

God is present in each baby
And throughout all time and space,
In the chaos and the order,
In each tender touch and face.

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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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Advent: The Waiting is Over

The season of Advent is upon us. For most people it is simply a flurry of activities to prepare for the Christmas and New Year holidays: a time of decoration, a time of shopping, a time of baking, a time of lights and candles. For some, it is simply the most stressful time of the year. But historically, advent has been a time of inward preparation in anticipation of the birth of Jesus. It recalls the themes of a late-term pregnancy: waiting and suspense, hope and expectation. Advent literally means ‘arrival.’

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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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