Dec 27, 2015, First Sunday After Christmas Day

CHILDREN BY ADOPTION AND GRACE

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections:  Ps 148; Col 3:12-17; Luke 2:41- 52.

Most of us, I think, tend to smooth out our experience of time’s measured passage:  we judge the duration of the year 2015 to be equivalent to the year 2014.  Each lasts for 12 months, and 12 months equals 52 weeks; and each week has 7 days, etc.  Even when one year “feels” as if it were longer than another, our “reasoning” informs us that this cannot be so. We move through time at a regular pace.

The narrative of Luke’s Gospel, however, moves at an irregular pace; Chapter 2 begins with the birth of the Divine Child Jesus, and ends when he is twelve years old, sitting among the rabbis in the Jerusalem Temple, “listening,” “asking them questions,” and amazing everyone with “his understanding and his answers.” Fully a third of his lifetime and more has been put behind him, and we have barely begun our story; for we are in an unfamiliar realm of time, where great things are expected to occur, again and again, at the same time of year.   Continue reading

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Dec 24, 2015, Christmas Eve, Year ‘C’

Christmas Eve Reflection

by Pastor Chico Martin

Prayer:  The Virgin today gives birth to the highest Being; and the earth provides the Inaccessible One with a cave.  The angels with the shepherds glorify Him; the Wise Men journey with the star, because, for our sake is born a little Child, the Eternal God.  Amen.

Our church tonight, so lovingly decorated by our tree with lights, and garlands and flowers throughout our sanctuary, humbly displays the beauty and splendor of the life, love, and peace of the eternal childhood of God, which we celebrate with our children and with each other, remembering that we too remain children; for on this night we are loved as children, and welcomed into the Kingdom of God as children, and the hope that we have held onto is delivered unto us, in the beauty and splendor of the good news proclaimed by the angels 2,000 years ago, when The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Tonight, we rejoice!  Tonight we fill this building, our homes and communities, and all the earth, with the love of God among us. Tonight His promise is fulfilled, and we relax into His peace. We look outside ourselves and see the truth within.   Continue reading

DEC 20, 2015, 4th SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR ‘C’

MARY THE BIRTHGIVER OF GOD

A SERMON BY PASTOR CHICO MARTIN

Lections: Micah 5:2-5; Ps 80:1-7; Luke 1:39-56.

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

Today is one of my very favorite days in the church year; for on the fourth Sunday in Advent, as we prepare for the Nativity and anticipate its wondrous occurrence, we behold Mary and her expression of our Christian faith.  The song we know as the Magnificant, or Canticle of Mary, sung every night throughout the world as part of the Church’s Vespers service, has perhaps the loveliest lyrics of any song, suffused, as they are, with the extraordinary radiance of the woman who speaks them.  ““My soul magnifies the Lord,” sings Mary, “for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is His name!”  Continue reading

Dec 13, 2015, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year ‘C’

BE JOYFUL

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Luke 3:7- 18.

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth!” (Ps. 100:1), “Shout for joy to God, all the earth” (66:1). “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4); Paul’s imperative, echoing the Psalmist’s, forces the question: are we to will ourselves into a joyful state? Can we be always joyful? Suppose we are not able always to feel joyful?

“We work with you for your joy,” Paul tells the Corinthians (2 Cor 1:24). “Do not be afraid,” the angel tells the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” The mission of the church to the world is no other than this: “Do not be afraid,” we announce to the terrorized and traumatized, the oppressed and the poor, “We bring good news of a great joy—for everyone!” “God with us” is the Christmas message. Continue reading

Dec 6, 2015, 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year ‘C’

TAKE HEART

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

Lections: Canticle of Zechariah; Mal 3:1-4; Luke 3:1-6

We all know the sadness that comes from offering hope and encouragement to someone who won’t take it. Many of us also know the sadness that comes from being that someone who can’t take hope and encouragement when we need it. “Take heart” is an idiom that instructs us to be confident and comforted in difficult circumstances and conditions: to be strong and hopeful when things aren’t looking so good.

Luke tells Theophilus that he is writing his “orderly” gospel “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”  Luke’s account is the result of the “eyewitness” of the disciples and Luke’s own “careful investigation” of everything “from the beginning” (Luke 1:1-4).  Faith needs to be built up, and its sure foundation needs to be kept in view.    Continue reading

Nov 29, 2015, 1st Sunday of Advent

 CHRIST’S NATIVITY

A Poem by Pastor Chico Martin

 

Chaste Joseph, betrothed to a virgin,

summoned the timely midwife

and heard the just born baby cry.

 

His bewildered mind,

straightened by extraordinary dream

and warped again in darkness,

struggles with wily doubt,

 

even as the light of day,

its radiance renewed,

brightens affliction.

 

At the hill’s wide mouth,

shepherds and animals crowd close

to glimpse the burial-clad child

who has known everything

 

and centers on himself

the lost world wanderers

and prophets vouched

he moves and re-creates.

 

Respectful Joseph sits apart,

senses the reclining mother

turn toward him her face

and tender thought, and hears

the festive busyness pitch sound

 

at pleasing intervals.

The fragrant air joins

in the chorus of hymns

delivered by invisible attendants.

 

Twelve days distant, magi,

led by a new made star,

move out from partial guidance,

as Joseph, defender of virginity,

leaves dejection for joy,

 

observing the midwife,

perplexed by easeful birth,

wash the stainless infant,

likeness unto himself.