Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December 25, 2009. Christmas.

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections

The Collect

O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Note: the collect does not say “that we…may not be too afraid when we behold him as our judge.” The authors of the collect do not anticipate disjuncture between Christ as our Redeemer and Christ as our Judge. Hence, we dare to be glad, joyful, and confident. We need that kind of Christmas every day of the year.

Isaiah 52:7-10

You have beautiful feet: keep them so with a pedicure!

How many times have you complimented a friend for his feet? More for female friends?

I monitor the anniversary of ordination to priesthood of all clergy deputies since 1994 and of all bishops. If I have someone’s email address, I send special good wishes on that occasion, usually referring to the message itself as a pedicure. Through the years at least a dozen have asked what a pedicure has to do with their ordination. It is always a pleasure to quote this passage,

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."

All of us are charged to bring news genuinely good to absolutely everybody, even to highways and hedges, indeed even to the uttermost part of the earth.

I am amazed at how few of those adamantly opposed to lgbt persons have invested anything at all in bringing news of any kind to us. They risk missing out on important opportunities to see Jesus, who always hangs out with those whom we consider the least among us.

Not a very joyful thought for you? Not one compatible with the high spirits of this night?

The holy family did not spend the holy night in a 5-star hotel or a first-rate cathedral, as comfortable as those may be.


Worn-out manger, speckled slightly with sheep
dip, stuck with bits of straw and prickly
angel hair. Smells a tad like joss sticks.
Unsuitable for fashionable crèche.
Contact Joseph, 1-800- 243-2836. Telex:
EFRATA. Email: Carpenter@INN.il. MasterCharge,
American Express, and Visa not accepted.

--Louie Crew

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)

We pause in this your joyful celebration for this brief public service announcement, to remind us of why we are singing, why we are giving gifts, why the world is taking any notice whatsoever in this holy day:
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word.

Now back to our regular programming.

John 1:1-14

Sometimes when I am listening to a concerto or a violin solo on NPR, talking heads create an arbitrary intermission, even if the performance is recorded, not live. At times they tell me how old the composer was when she wrote the piece, or where the soloist was born and educated. Somewhat uncharitably I refer to these interruptions as “the Presbyterian interlude.”

I went to a prep school founded by devout Presbyterians, and they were great at explaining even the most minute details. When major controversy arises, Presbyterians insist on issuing “confessional statements” to say definitively how the whole denomination currently responds, and they hope ’for all times’ will respond.

I am decidedly an Anglican. Anglicans don’t issue confessional statements. (The drafts of an “Anglican Covenant” are a break with that tradition, and if the Communion does in fact agree to a confessional covenant, we will have changed our polity radically. I don’t anticipate that happening.)

Anglicans have rarely had enough members to risk requiring that all of them agree. “Jesus is Lord!” we agree on. The Nicene and Apostles Creeds we agree on -- so long as we don’t insist on clarifying exactly what it is that we believe them to say. Nor do we wire congregants with lie detectors when they say the creeds.

In his gospel John is attempting to tell us not just the details of a birth narrative, but the philosophical meaning of Jesus’ birth. “In the beginning was the Word” (in Greek, the logos) -- a word that embraces mind, order, understanding, critical and logical thinking. For John and for Christians generally, the birth of Christ is not just any birth, but a very special birth: the God of the universe, the maker of heaven and earth, the divine creator, became flesh, and dwelt among us as a mortal.

John’s tells not only who Jesus is, The Word, but also what it means to us who believe in him: “All who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”

Psalm 98 asserts:

Sing to the LORD a new song, *
for he has done marvelous things.

Yes, God has!

Brother, sister, Merry Christmas!

-- Quean Lutibelle (a.k.a. Louie)

See also

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