Second Christmas, Jan. 3 – Bishop Porter Taylor visits

Title:Second Christmas, Jan. 3 – Bishop Porter Taylor visits

Bishop Porter Taylor is our newest bishop, joining the Diocese of Virginia as of July 1, 2020. He was with us Jan. 3, 11am, Morning Prayer.

Bishop Taylor was ordained a priest in 1994 in the Diocese of Western North Carolina. From 1994-96, he served as Assistant Rector of St. Paul’s Church in Franklin, Tenn. He then served as Rector of St. Gregory the Great in Athens, Ga., from 1996-2004. In 2004, he was consecrated the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina. Following his retirement as Bishop in 2016, he joined the faculty of Wake Forest University Divinity School.


Several of our hymns on this Sunday were taken from Moravian Advent and Christmas Hymns.


The bulletin cover used the Matthew reading. The complete bulletin is here

Bishop Taylor preached.

Alex and Nancy were the lectors

Helmut played a violin prelude

The “gallery trio” sang “Unto us a boy is born.” and Psalm 95

The trio in the front sang “The Newborn Babe” , “Peace on earth heaven is proclaiming” and “Faithful Christians, One and All”

“The Newborn Babe,” today’s opening hymn, comes from an anonymous sixteenth-century text that appeared in the 1754 British Moravian Hymnbook. The tune, Tallis Canon, was composed by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), the father of English cathedral music.

The words were appropriate for new year

The newborn Babe whom Mary bore,
Jesus, God blessed forever more,
Brings in another year of grace
for his beloved, chosen race.

Stanza one of “Peace on earth heaven is proclaiming” is from the pen of
Timothy Lamb, a Moravian writer of England, and the second from
Martha Lamb, unidentified but presumably a female relative of Timothy.
1805 is the date of composition

The text of “Faithful Christians, One and All” was written by Martin
Michaelec (d.1547), one of the early bishops of the Unitas Fratrum and
one of its representatives sent to Martin Luther. Jaroslav Vajda, an
American Lutheran pastor who began writing hymns at age 18,
translated the text in 1989 for the Moravian Book of Worship.

Bishop Porter preached on the Matthew Gospel reading (Matthew 2:1-12). He emphasized Bible is a map, a road map or followers. It provides a picture when you walk in the way of God.

He talked about dreams which encourages us to move in a different direction. The birth of Jesus was not just a new life but a birth of something new in us. It is often disruptive leading us in a different direction in places we never dreamed of, moving to a different place internally and externally. It is learning, the root word of “disciple”.

We are called to places we did not want to go, to do things we do not always want to do. It is both how we grow and what God wants. God comes to us disguised – it may be a strong nudge, a comment from a friend or event.

In the case of Joseph it was a life and death issue to move to Egypt since Jesus’ life was in danger. God comes not to make our lives comfortable but to make them close to what God wants them to be.

Christmas shows God breaking into the world, chancing the DNA of the universe. We are part of a large story when we respond to what God is calling.

Bishop Taylor challenged us to listen to what is God is saying to us in dreams and daily life, to embrace it and respond. What parts of our lives have been diminished ? What could we do to embrace God’s message and become what God wants us to be?

He used the cross as a metaphor. The vertical is living our life for God and horizontal to realize our actions have a ripple effect. We need to be like Joseph and move our feet.

Today’s readings assure us of God’s providential care. In Jeremiah, the lord looks forward to a day of reunion and restoration, of celebration and gladness. Paul proclaims that, from the creation of the world, God has worked to bring us into the fullness of Christ. In today’s gospel from Matthew, God leads the Holy Family out of danger and eventually back home again.

When life sweeps us along, and we fumble our way, filled with uncertainty, it is Jeremiah’s confidence that reassures. Those who once left their homeland (like Mary, Joseph and Jesus) return in joy. No longer scattered abroad, they enter a watered garden, the protective circle of God’s providence. Presumably, the holy family enjoyed a time of relative security too, during which the child matured in a peaceful environment.

The sermon on this Sunday in 2016 placed the emphasis on the role of Joseph from Matthew’s flight into Egypt from the Matthew reading.

Sermon’s key points:

1. " Joseph must have had a great faith and strength of character. In the face of possible ridicule and distain, he chose to become engaged to an already pregnant woman ..and he chose to take Mary and the newborn Jesus and to flee to Egypt, a country that no one would choose as a place of refuge, the country in which the Israelites had been held captive for centuries before God heard their cries and with the help of God’s strong arm and the leadership of Moses, they were brought out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

2. " The scripture goes on to tell us that when Herod died, Matthew did indeed hear from the angel once again, who told him that now he could go back to the land of Israel for those who were seeking the child’s life were dead.

3. " What does the little we know about Joseph have to say to us today? Our lives are unsettled in subtle, and for some of us not so subtle ways. And so Joseph can serve a steady companion and teacher for us as we enter into the mystery of this new year. Joseph can teach us to be good listeners to God.

4. " Joseph also teaches us to be good followers and to do what God will call us to do. When he listened to God, Joseph heard that he must offer gracious hospitality and a home to Mary, who already being pregnant, would bring ridicule on Joseph if he took her in anyway. But he did. He chose hospitality for Mary over the disapproval of his neighbors.

5. " So not only was Joseph willing to listen to God and to follow God, but Joseph also trusted and depended on God to get him back to safety. Joseph’s example reminds us to trust in and to depend on God, especially in the uncertain and unsettled times in our lives.

6. " Joseph teaches us in this new year that our home is where God takes us, and that we can make a home wherever that is, knowing that we can depend on God to protect us and to be present with us there.In today’s scripture from Jeremiah, God gathers the remnant of Israel home—home from the land of the north, the farthest parts of the earth, God will bring the people home, in this case, to Zion. This dwelling place with God that the psalmist holds dear is a place so safe that the swallow can make a nest there.

7. "God’s dwelling for us is a place of joy and safety in our hearts that we can take with us wherever we go when follow God on the pilgrims’ way. But most importantly, with Joseph as our guide, we will make our homes wherever God brings us, a place of joy and praise and safety and strength, until God calls on us to move again, and sets our hearts on the pilgrims’ way once more.  "