Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011

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Title Sermon Date Liturgical Scripture
Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B March 18, 2012 Sermon, Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B Numbers 21:4-9, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21
Third Sunday in Lent, Year B March 11, 2012 Third Sunday in Lent, Year B Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 2:13-22
Second Sunday in Lent, Year B March 4, 2012 Second Sunday in Lent, Year B Mark 8:31-38
Sermon, First Sunday in Lent, Year B February 26, 2012 First Sunday in Lent, Year B Genesis 9:8-17, I Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1: 9-15
Ash Wednesday Service, Feb 22, 2012 February 22, 2012 Ash Wednesday Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
Last Sunday After Epiphany, Year B February 19, 2012 Last Sunday after Epiphany 2 Kings 2:1-12, Psalm 50:1-6, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9
Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 12, 2012 Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Mark 1: 40-45
Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B February 5, 2012 Fifth Sunday after Epiphany, Year B Isaiah 40:21-31, Mark 1:29-39
Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 29, 2012 Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B I Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28
Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B January 22, 2012 Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:14-20
Second Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B January 15, 2012 Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-17; John 1:43-51
First Sunday After The Epiphany, Year B January 8, 2012 First Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B Mark 1:4-11
Sermon on Joy, Epiphany, 2012 January 6, 2012 Epiphany Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011 December 25, 2011 Christmas Day, 2012 Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20
Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 2011 December 24, 2011 The Eve of the Nativity of our Lord Luke 2:1-20

 

Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2011

Sermon Date:December 25, 2011

Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 2:1-20

Liturgy Calendar: Christmas Day, 2012


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One of the great promises of the prophets is the return of peace to the earth, a richer peace than the innocent one that lay over the Garden of Eden at the beginning of creation.

The peace that the prophets promise is a peace that will come to the earth when justice and mercy kiss each other, and when people live in right relationship with God and with one another—having  goodwill toward one another.

In fact, this rich, fulfilling peace is the peace that the angels proclaim to the shepherds. 

In  the Greek, the angels say, “Glory in highest places to God and on earth peace among men of goodwill.”

And the way to this peace and to good will among one another is through the good tidings of great joy that we receive today—for unto us is born a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord,

The Savior who will grow up and be called not only Wonderful  Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, but also,

The Prince of Peace. 

Because if we give our Savior authority in our lives, and in  creation, then the promise of the prophets and of the angels is that  there shall be endless peace.

As the frail human beings we are, we know that peace in our lives, in our nation, and certainly in the world seems to be elusive and fleeting.

And we can either give in to hopelessness, despair, cynicism, depression, or—we can make a decision to accept this great gift that God has given us—

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace,

And this Prince of Peace brings the great gift of endless peace to our lives, if only we dare to accept that gift. 

How each one of us will experience and pass on  endless peace is unique to each one of us,

But when The Prince of Peace reigns and endless peace flows through our lives, others benefit. 

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Today I’d like to share with you the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who lived in the 1800’s and is still considered one of America’s great poets. 

Longfellow knew a great deal of sadness and sorrow in his life. 

In fact, he wrote, “Believe me, every man has his secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.”

By the time he was twenty-two years old, Longfellow already had a successful academic career and an outstanding reputation.  He also had a wonderful wife, but she became ill and died.

For seven years,as he grieved over his loss,  Longfellow threw himself into his teaching, and ultimately, he remarried.  He and his second wife had five children, and Longfellow became rich and famous.

 

Fanny Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861)

 

But in 1861, tragedy struck again, and as she was lighting a match, Longfellow’s wife accidentally caught her clothes on fire, and she burned to death.

And then came the Civil War, which Longfellow hated.

Longfellow’s family had immigrated to the United States in the 1600’s, and had been instrumental in the building of the new country.  Longfellow believed that this war was caused by the greed and sinful nature of human beings, and he fervently prayed to God to end the war. 

 

 

 

 

 

Charles A. Longfellow (1844-1893)

 

 

And then Longfellow’s nineteen year old son was wounded in battle, and Longfellow’s prayers of petition turned to prayers of rage.

As Longfellow tended his son’s injuries, saw a stream of wounded young men on the city streets of Cambridge, MA, and talked with families who had lost sons to the fighting, Longfellow kept asking God,

“Where is the peace?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Heard the Bells – 1864

Longfellow wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” as he searched for the answer to this question—

“Where is the peace?” 

The  third stanza  we sang today captures his worry over the lack of peace in the nation—

“And in despair I bowed my head:  “There is no peace on earth,” I said.  “For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.” 

In the last two verses, however, Longfellow turns to God—God, our Prince of Peace is not dead, or asleep, and justice will prevail.

Longfellow then describes the world revolving out of darkness into light, ears open to hear, not the roar of war, but the voice, the chant sublime, of the angels—who cry out,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among men of goodwill.”

This hymn, which we have sung today was set to music in 1872.  Our version is exactly as Longfellow wrote it, minus the two verses that dealt specifically with the Civil War.

Ace Collins points out in his book, Stories behind the Best Loved Hymns of Christmas, that this hymn is “a very personal song.  With its pleas of sanity in a world often gone insane, with its hope that somehow the joy, comfort, and peace that Christ was born to offer would be realized, the song has been a musical anchor for millions during the dark days of World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.  Even today, when conflicts and turmoil rule so many different lives and countries, millions still ask where peace and goodwill reside.”

Longfellow provides this answer in his famous hymn.

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.

Hear the the bells on this Christmas Day.

Listen for the angels. 

They sing  that same song they sang at the beginning of God’s life as one of us.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Our Savior, Christ the Lord, the Prince of Peace.

On this Christmas Day, 2011, when peace is in short supply and hopelessness and depression march through our lives like soldiers of an enemy force,

Claim this gift.

Accept the Prince of Peace as your Lord and Savior. 

And live as if he really is in authority over your life, by having goodwill for one another. 

For only if we open our hearts to his presence among us and live justly and righteously will the prophecy of Isaiah finally come to pass—

“His authority shall grow continually,

And there shall be endless peace

For the throne of David and his kingdom.

He will establish and uphold it

With justice and righteousness

From this time onward and forevermore.”

Amen

 

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