November 25, 2012

2 Samuel 23:1-7 Revelation 1:4b-8 John 18:33-37 Over tea and homemade pie yesterday afternoon, a church member asked me about the church’s celebration of Christmas. He remembered that when he was growing up in Scotland there were no special church services for Christmas, and gifts were exchanged at New Year’s rather than on December 25th. Indeed, Christmas didn’t become a national holiday in Scotland until fairly recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t know when Canadian Presbyterians or other Protestants began celebrating Christmas, nor did I know when Canada made Christmas Day into a statutory holiday. I could point out that all the Churches have gone through some significant liturgical reform over the last 30 or 40 years. One significant reform is the celebration of the Church Year in most of the mainline Churches. The Church Year includes not only special Christmas services, but also special seasons like Advent to anticipate and prepare for our Christmas celebrations. Growing up in a Canadian Presbyterian Church in the 1980’s, we were already lighting Advent Candles on the Sundays leading up to Christmas, and I think it was a fairly long standing tradition to gather for worship on Christmas Eve for a service of lessons and carols that was one of the highlights of my early religious experience. Reading a little more about Christmas celebrations online yesterday, I discovered that the earliest celebrations of Christmas on December 25th took place as early as the fourth century. And though some of the Protestant Churches went through periods … Read more »

April 7, 2013

Revelation 1:4-8 John 20:19-31 “Not the End of the Story” Welcome to the second Sunday in the Season of Easter. I don’t know about you, but it kind of feels like a low Sunday to me. The church isn’t as full as it was last week, and the energy level and anticipation isn’t quite as high either. Someone said that there was something pretty special about the experience of coming in to church last Sunday. Everyone was so joyful and upbeat. It was definitely a day of celebration as we sang the songs of Easter and proclaimed the resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord. But when the Easter weekend came to an end, many of us went back to the grind of work on Monday or Tuesday. We came face to face with exam time looming, or a house in need of a good Spring cleaning, or the challenges of health issues, or a strained relationship in need of repair, or the stress of tax time and worry about how to make the payments, or just the news from the world this week that some young Canadian men have become terrorists, that there was a shooting in a Gatineau daycare, that all is not yet right in the world. Lauren Winner, reflecting on the day of her baptism as a young adult, remembers a typo in the Communion prayer response: It said, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ has come again.” (Instead of Christ WILL come again. It said … Read more »