Daily Archives: December 25, 2017

Dietrich Bonheoffer ‘just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong’

And then, just when everything is bearing down on us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.”

–Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from a letter he wrote to his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer from prison, Dec 13, 1943; God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas (Louisville: john Knox Press, 2010 E.T.), p. 5

Posted in Christmas, Christology, Church History

The Queen’s Christmas message for 2017

‘Today we celebrate Christmas, which itself is sometimes described as a festival of the home. Families travel long distances to be together.

Volunteers and charities, as well as many churches, arrange meals for the homeless and those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.

We remember the birth of Jesus Christ whose only sanctuary was a stable in Bethlehem.

He knew rejection, hardship and persecution; and yet it is Jesus Christ’s generous love and example which has inspired me through good times and bad.

Whatever your own experiences this year; wherever and however you are watching, I wish you a peaceful and very happy Christmas.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Christmas, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Sheffield delivers his first Christmas Day sermon

For the next ten minutes, I want to say a few words about each of those two scenes in turn. I want to ask, first of all, what the manger might’ve meant to Mary and Joseph; and then secondly, what it might have meant to the shepherds. I hope that by the end we may glimpse what that manger can mean to you and me as well.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Preaching / Homiletics

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s Christmas 2017 Sermon

The nature of God who has all power, and from whom all power comes, is to lay it aside for love’s sake and thus without fear, force or manipulation to offer true freedom for every human being. God is showing all truth in its completest form, all love in its purest aspect, the true light of freedom all wrapped up in the baby in Bethlehem.

The light needed witnesses at the beginning and needs them to this day. It is the calling of every Christian to be a witness to the light, in word and deed, in all circumstances.

In Coventry Cathedral is one of my favourite pictures, the Stalingrad Madonna. It was drawn on paper in charcoal on Christmas Day 1942, 75 years ago, by a German medical officer under siege from the advancing Russian armies near Stalingrad. It shows Mary huddled against the terrible cold, holding Jesus, sheltered, to her cheek. Round her are the words “Licht, leben, Liebe” (Light, Life, love). Christ offers life of true freedom in love, in the darkest places his light shines. Every human being is invited to share that life and freedom. Christians are its witnesses.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for Christmas Day (III)

Most merciful God, who hast so loved the world as to give thine only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life: Vouchsafe unto us, we humbly pray thee, the precious gift of faith, whereby we may know that the Son of God is come; and, being rooted and grounded in the mystery of the Word made flesh, may have power to overcome the world, and gain the blessed immortality of heaven; through the merits of the same incarnate Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

–[The] Book of Common Order

Posted in Christmas, Spirituality/Prayer

Christmas Morning

On Christmas day I weep
Good Friday to rejoice.
I watch the Child asleep.
Does he half-dream the choice
The Man must make and keep?
At Christmastime I sigh
For my good Friday hope
Outflung the Child’s arms lie
To span in their brief scope
The death the Man must die.
Come Christmastide I groan
To hear Good Friday’s pealing.
The Man, racked to the bone,
Has made His hurt my healing,
Has made my ache His own.
Slay me, pierced to the core
With Christmas penitence
So I who, new-born, soar
To that Child’s innocence,
May wound the Man no more.

–Vassar Miller (1924-1998)

Posted in Christmas, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Christmas Day (II)

Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

–Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Posted in Christmas, Spirituality/Prayer

Music for Christmas 2017–Jesus Christ The Apple Tree

Ever since I first heard it, my favorite Christmas song–KSH.

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Sharon’s Christmas Prayer

She was five,
sure of the facts,
and recited them
with slow solemnity
convinced every word
was revelation.

She said
they were so poor
they had only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
to eat
and they went a long way from home
without getting lost. The lady rode
a donkey, the man walked, and the baby
was inside the lady.
They had to stay in a stable
with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)
but the Three Rich Men found them
because a star lited the roof.
Shepherds came and you could
pet the sheep but not feed them.
Then the baby was borned.
And do you know who he was?
Her quarter eyes inflated
to silver dollars.
The baby was God.

And she jumped in the air
whirled around, dove into the sofa
and buried her head under the cushion
which is the only proper response
to the Good News of the Incarnation.

–John Shea, The Hour of the Unexpected

Posted in Christmas, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer for Christmas from E B Pusey

Good Jesu, Who didst empty Thyself of Thine eternal glory and become a little child for love of me: empty me wholly of myself, and make me a little child, that I may love Thee wholly, as Thou didst love me infinitely.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Christmas, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and his anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

–Psalm 2:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture