Christmas Memorial Sermon – December 10, 2008

The following sermon was preached at the annual Christmas Memorial Service for St. John’s Columbarium on December 10, 2008. The service took place at St. John’s Cathedral in Saskatoon, SK. Matthew 1:18-23Psalm 91John 1:1-5, 14, 18 Many years ago, before the time of Jesus, God’s People, Israel, were struggling with their circumstances as an occupied People, and they were struggling in their relationship with God. The Roman occupiers had control of their land. And though the Jews were allowed to live there and practice their religion, they had to pay taxes to Caesar, deal with the Roman soldiers, and cope with the fact that they were not really free. Of course, this was not the first time that God’s People had experienced being conquered by a foreign power, it was not the first time that they had been controlled and oppressed by a more powerful nation, and it was not the first time that their difficulties led many among them to doubt God’s presence and love and to turn away from God. Through the Season of Advent, in particular, the bible readings that we hear each Sunday in church remind us of other times of struggle and doubt in the history of God’s People. We are reminded that the People of Israel have always experienced troubles in their attempts to maintain their culture, their religion, and the land that God promised to them. The history of God’s People includes being conquered by a series of foreign powers, being exiled from … Read more »

December 19, 2010

Luke 1:26-38 Matthew 1:18-25 Romans 1:1-7 “We are invited to say “YES” to God” The Gospel story that is set for this Sunday in the 3-year lectionary cycle of readings comes from Matthew’s Gospel. It’s a good story for the Sunday before Christmas… a good story about how Jesus was born. Often we jump ahead in the story… as we did last Sunday with the children’s Christmas play. We remember the journey to Bethlehem, the shepherds in the fields and the angels in the sky announcing the birth of the Christ child. Those are the parts of the story that never get left out of the Christmas pageants. But Joseph can easily become a minor character without a speaking part. Today’s Gospel reminds us that Joseph was a pretty regular guy… a nice guy, a reasonable guy. When his fiancé got pregnant before the wedding, he dealt with it. He wasn’t going to turn it into a big to-do, but he was just going to dismiss her quietly. No one could have faulted him for that. But that’s when God got involved in Joseph’s life and decision-making, and nudged him into doing even more than what was reasonable. With every reason to walk away, Joseph chose to stand by Mary, to take her as his wife, and to raise her child as his own. God spoke to him in a dream, and he knew that’s what he had to do. The child was going to be Emmanuel (God-with-us) and Joseph … Read more »

December 22, 2013

Matthew 1:18-25 “Don’t be Afraid, Joseph.” Yesterday I listened to a CBC podcast titled, “While Shepherds Watch Their Flock: The Trials and Triumphs of Clergy at Christmas.” Pointing out that this season, for many Christian clergy, is experienced somewhat differently than for most other people, it included stories from a number of ministers, priests, and pastors about the challenges that come from the demands and expectations of congregations at Christmas. From dealing with a drunken parishioner who kept sliding off the kneeler, to having the singing of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” interrupted on Christmas Eve because it was the “wrong tune,” the stories were both humorous and real. The part that stood out to me most was the fact that these clergy felt such pressure to make Christmas in their churches perfect for everyone. A United Church minister commented that the regular church-goers were quite forgiving if everything wasn’t perfect, but those who attend a few times a year are less-so, and those who only come at Christmas have amazingly high expectations. Some of them want everything to be like it was when they used to come to church when they were children… the service should match what we did back in 1973! They named Christmas as the busiest time of year for ministers, though I’m not sure that’s always true as so many other responsibilities tail-off in December because no one else wants the extra programming or meetings. But it is still a busy time, and we do … Read more »

December 18, 2016

Sermon by the Rev. Amanda Currie Isaiah 7:10-16 Matthew 1:18-25 Listen to this Sermon “God is with us” In this Season of Advent, our Sunday morning scripture texts have been a series of readings from the prophet Isaiah and corresponding texts from the Gospels in which the early Christian evangelists quote from the prophet. And this morning was no exception. Of course, the writers of the Gospels were making a strong effort to explain to their readers the meaning and significance of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only did they want to describe the wonders that he performed, and to recount his wise and life-transforming teaching, but they wanted to make it clear that this Jesus was the one sent from God. They wanted to show that he was the one that their people had been waiting, and hoping, and longing for, the one who would come with the power of God to save them. And so, in our passage today, Matthew quotes Isaiah directly. It’s the passage that I always feel like singing when I hear it: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name, Emmanuel. God-with-us.” The tendency with Christian interpretations of the prophets is to assume that when Isaiah wrote that prophecy, that he was predicting the birth of Jesus. We want to ignore the fact that he wrote it more than 700 years before the time of Jesus, and that Jesus’ birth centuries later would be much too late to respond … Read more »