December 24, 2016: THE HOLY FAMILY

A Christmas Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 24, 2016

Lections Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

The extraordinary Nativity of the Christmas story is set by the church in the familiar experience of family life.   We easily picture Bethlehem, a small town along the road, where a young woman and an older man arrive on foot at dusk, planning to stay the night at an inn.  Instead, we go with them out to the barn and breathe in its smells, as the woman is made comfortable on a bedding of hay, and a midwife arrives to deliver her baby.  We hear the noisy animals being watered and fed and the chatter of the day laborers who took care of them and stop to admire the newborn child.  We feel the cold and want to hold the child in our arms.  Outside, the night’s darkness is brightened by countless stars in the sky.    Continue reading

December 18, 2016: THE SIGN OF THE CHILD

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 18, 2016:  The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Lections Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

 

Today I begin with three questions:

  • First, why does God give us signs?
  • Second, what is the greatest sign of all?
  • Third, how is this great sign made?

Starting with the first: Isaiah tells us one reason God gives us signs: because we weary him, that is, we try his patience.  Ahaz, a king in the line of David, pretends to be doing something that he’s not: he’s doing his own thing, even as he says his concern is for God.  Ahaz is egocentric, not theocentric, and Isaiah calls him out:  “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign.”   Continue reading

December 11, 2016: THE ADVENT FAITH (JOHN THE BAPTIST IN PRISON)

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

December 11, 2016  The Third Sunday of Advent

Lections: Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

 

The gospel reading this week continues Advent’s focus on the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist.  Here we have Matthew’s narration of a third encounter between the two.

You will remember the first two encounters from last week.  The earliest was brought about by Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth; both women were pregnant, with Elizabeth’s baby being about 6 months older than Mary’s.  When Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth felt the child in her womb leap with joy, a sign that her baby rejoiced to be in the presence of our Lord.  The second encounter occurred in the wilderness of the Jordan River Valley, north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho, where John lived and where he baptized Jesus.  Afterward, Jesus set out on the Jericho road and walked into the desert, where he stayed for forty days; it was during this time that he was tempted by Satan.  Jesus successfully parlayed Satan’s temptations into a confirmation of his righteousness and readiness for public ministry.   Continue reading

DECEMBER 4, 2016: PREARING THE WAY FOR OUR LORD

PREPARING THE WAY FOR OUR LORD

A Sermon by Pastor Chico Martin

The Second Sunday of Advent

Lections: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72; Rom 15: 4-13; Matthew 3:1-12

 

I remember, as a child, the magical feelings associated with the Christmas season.  My mother would bring the Advent calendar over to me while I was still in bed, and I was delighted to begin the days by finding the window marked with the day’s matching number and then pushing through from the back of the calendar to open its flap and discover the picture inside.  Most years we had snow, frost on the bedroom windows, and Christmas cookies in the school lunchbox.  There was always a crèche to adore and a 4 o’clock church pageant to act out the week before Christmas. At bedtime, we sang carols: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” was my favorite, and I was always exercised to get the Lords and Ladies, the Doves and the Hens in the correct order.  Then, on Christmas Eve, the live tree was decorated, with ornaments and candy canes.  I could barely sleep with the excitement of knowing Santa Claus on a sled pulled by reindeer was coming all the way from the North Pole to drop off presents elves had made for me.    Continue reading