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Have You Heard? Luke 2:8-20

We have all experienced them.  You know those times...the dark times.  Those periods in our lives when it seemed like everything in the world was in complete chaos...the times when nothing good was ever going to happen again.    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow experienced those times.  For Longfellow those times lasted over three decades.  It began in 1834 when his wife of three years suddenly became sick and died.  Almost thirty years later, his second wife died after striking a match and her clothes accidently catching fire.  Still mourning the death of his second wife, Longfellow slid further into the darkness, as he watched his beloved nation, the United States of America, erupt into civil war.  Being a man of deep faith, Longfellow entered into fervent petitions asking God to bring end the chaos.  Longfellow was pushed over the edge, though, when his nineteen-year-old son, Charles, was wounded in the chaos of that war and sent home.  Seething with anger, Longfellow watched soldier aft…

O Come Thou Wisdom - Isaiah 29:13-14; 1st Corinthians 1:18-25

Today we conclude our Advent journey through O Come, O Come, Emmanuel considering the various names of Jesus lifted up within this age-old and classic Advent/Christmas Hymn/Carol.  We have considered the name “Emmanuel” where Jesus presence reminds us that God is with us…that God is not separated us in some far off galaxy, but here with us now.  We considered how Jesus is both the “Root of Jesse’s Tree” and “Branch of Jesse;” that Jesus is the one who fulfills the promise made to David that there would be a descendant of David on the throne forever…Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Last week we, as the choir offered the cantata, we reflected on Jesus as “Dayspring” or “Sun of Righteousness” that Jesus is the one who comes into the darkness of our world and brings light and hope.  This week we conclude by considering Jesus as the “Wisdom of God.” We are used to hearing stories of foolish criminals, like the burglar who used Santa Claus as an inspiration for his method of br…

O Come, Thou Root of Jesse's Tree - Isaiah 11:1-10

The lion was proud of his mastery of the animal kingdom.  One day he decided to make sure all the other animals knew he was king of the jungle.  He was so confident that he bypassed the smaller animals and went straight to the bear.  "Who is the king of the jungle?" the lion asked.  "Why, of course, you are," the bear replied.  The lion gave a mighty roar of approval. Next he asked the tiger, "Who is the king of the jungle?" The tiger quickly responded, "Everyone knows that YOU are, oh mighty lion." Next on the list was the elephant.  "Who is the king of the jungle?" the lion asked. The elephant immediately grabbed the lion with his trunk, whirled him around in the air five or six times and slammed him into a tree.  Then he pounded him onto the ground several times, dunked him under water in a nearby lake and finally dumped him out on the shore. The lion — beaten, bruised and battered — struggled to his feet.  "Look," he told the …

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25

We found ourselves there in the craziness.  We had decided that we just wanted the experience.  People were everywhere.  We could not even see our destination.  We had checked it out earlier and it didn’t look too bad, but when we arrived, the crowd had more than tripled.  There was a great police presence there to try and keep order.  We were forty-five minutes early, some folks had arrived days early.  It was crazy, but there Anita and I were lined up along the wall of Target, waiting to get into Best Buy at midnight when the Black Friday sales began.  As we were standing there, I got to thinking about waiting.  It was amazing to see how many people were there waiting, because as a society we are generally people who do not like to wait.  Yet here we were, amongst hundreds of folks waiting to get into Best Buy. In a society where we do not like to wait—we have instant communication and internet with “smart mobile phones,” we have instant coffee, instant credit, instant messaging, ins…

Tenth and Final Word of Community Design - Deuteronomy 5:1-5, 21

A Sunday school class was studying the Ten Commandments. They were ready to discuss the last one. The teacher asked if anyone could tell her what it was.  Susie raised her hand, stood tall, and quoted, "Thou shall not take the covers off the neighbor's wife." My brothers and sisters, we conclude, today, our ten-week journey through God’s Words of Community Design, or as we more commonly call them, The Ten Commandments, recalling that the Hebrew word we frequently translate as commandment is actually more commonly, throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, translated at “word” or “saying.”  Along this journey, we have come to encounter the commandments or words in such a way as to understand that they are not simply a list of do’s and don’ts but God’s guidance in helping us live together in community as He designed it to be. In the first word, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other God’s before me,” we…