Mary the Birthgiver of God: the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Mary the Birthgiver of God

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Sunday Before the Nativity

Luke 1:46-55

December 24, 2017

 

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, Our Lord and Our Redeemer.  Amen.

The Christmas story we celebrate this morning will soon culminate in the Nativity, and in the final moments of our preparation for this wondrous event, Mary accepts for us her central role.  In return, nightly throughout the world, as part of the Church’s daily Vespers service, thousands of voices recall the beauty of Mary’s song, by reciting it as prayer in praise of God.  The words to the song are perhaps the loveliest words ever spoken by a human being, and they are imbued with the extraordinary radiance of the woman who speaks them.  “My soul glorifies the Lord,” Mary says, “and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”    Continue reading

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The Light of the Deliverer: 3rd Sunday of Advent

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 17, 2017

Lections: Isaiah 61:1-4; 8-end; Psalm 126:3; John 1:6-8

            “God of all Being, Speak to us once more
your Word of truth, that our lives may be filled with your joy,
this day, and forever. Amen.”

The gospel reading this week continues Advent’s focus on the relationship between Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist; last week, our readings described John’s preparation for the world to receive the gift and gift-giver who was the promised Deliverer of humanity from its bondage to wrong-doing.   This week the emphasis is on the character of the Deliverer, that is, Light, and the special requirements necessary to receive the gift of Light in the World. As the turn of repentance gives our lives new meaning, we move from the desert and its harsh solitude to the towns where we make our home with others.  We are like the watercourses in Israel’s Negev, its Desert of the south; our steps forge new relationship with others.  We come to embody Love, moved by the same Spirit revealed in the appearance of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus.   Continue reading

Advent in the Wilderness: the Second Sunday of Advent, Year B

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 10, 2017

Lections: Isaiah 40:1-11; Mark 1:1-13

 

Two dogmatic assertions are associated with today’s lighting of the candle of love: first, God is love, and second, God is a gift-giver.  When we talk about the “timeless grace” of God, as we do in our opening prayer, we are talking about God as gift-giver.  When we sing “Love Came Down at Christmas,” we are singing about God as love. Putting these two concepts together, we see that love is the timeless act of divine-giving. It is fitting, therefore, that we exchange gifts to celebrate the birth of the child who is both gift and gift-giver. Creation is sustained by an on-going and timeless act of sacred gift.   Continue reading

The Present through the Promise

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 3, 2017  1 Advent Year B

Lections: Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-37

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We begin our celebration of the new Church year with a verse from Isaiah, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (64:8). Isaiah is telling us God shapes each person, much like a potter shapes clay; clay is a symbol for what comes out of the earth. We can dig clay in the fields behind the parsonage, and this marks the distinction between God and persons:  God creates the material world, and we are creatures made from the stuff of that creation, stuff like clay. The potter God, however, is not fashioned by clay. The one God, creator of everything that is, doesn’t even exist in the sense that the person, a creature, does.   Continue reading

Ancient Kings and Jewish Eschatology: The Shepherd/King in Our Midst

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 26, 2017 Christ the King Year A

Lections:  Ezekiel 34: 11-24; Matthew 25: 31-46

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Thanksgiving morning, out on a walk with my in-laws, I was asked about my sermon for today; what was it about?   Ancient kings, I answered.  One person commented, “Surely, we are better off without monarchs governing us,” and I would not disagree. We need look no further than to recent events in Saudi Arabia to cringe from advocacy of any form of kingship and applaud George Washington’s insistence that he not be crowned another King George.   Why then, we might ask, is the last Sunday of the Church year celebrated as Christ the King Sunday?   Continue reading

Love and Gratitude

A Thanksgiving Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 19, 2017

Lections: 1 Samuel 7:7-13; Luke 17:11-19

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This morning, as we give thanks to the Lord our God, we also look forward to the holiday of Thanksgiving which we will celebrate later in the week.  It is right, as we say in our Great Thanksgiving, always and everywhere to give God our thanks and praise.  Truly, we are blessed in many ways.

Of course, when we pause to recount our blessings, we aren’t necessarily having an easy time of it. We all experience difficulties and hardships, and being grateful doesn’t mean we should overlook the conditions and circumstances of our lives. Conditions and circumstances change, and we are more thankful for some changes than others.  As people of faith, however, we recognize a goodness that abides unchanging.  And it is from the depth of this abiding goodness, which we experience as love, that gratitude arises.   Continue reading

WISDOM AND THE TEN YOUNG BRIDESMAIDS

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

November 12, 2017

Lections:  Wisdom 6:12-20; Matthew 25:1-13

 

A friend stopped by last week.  He hadn’t been doing well, and he had gone to India for a few weeks to pull himself together.  He enjoyed a wonderful time, and experienced all sorts of feelings he had thought were gone for good.  Then he came home.  And guess what?  His re-entry was predictably difficult.  Most notably, the news: He wonders, how to tune it out?  Is it even possible?

This might be a good time for us to ask ourselves the same question.  Today’s parable has a pedestrian stress: the wedding details were familiar in their context.  In the mix of shifting identities that the language of parables makes possible, we can read ourselves into the role of bridesmaids, for we are responsible for preparing the bride – that is, the church –  to meet the bridegroom, Jesus the Christ.  This is a responsibility that we begin to assume at an early age – and grow more fully into as we move through all our days.  The Wisdom of Salomon, found in the Septuagint, is intended as a guide for “those in authority” but has many practical applications for growing “on the Way” in the conditions and circumstances of everyday life.   Continue reading