Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fr. Jack's Christmas Eve Sermon

This is a summary of a Christmas Eve sermon from 2006. For more possible Christmas sermon topics, read this 2007 post with two sermon ideas, one cautioning against routine at Christmastime and one about Christmas as it relates to Christ's teachings, or this 2008 post about Mary's obedience to Gabriel.

As I've done almost every year since 2000, I went to church this Christmas Eve at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Father Jack, an all around great-guy and retired priest who doesn't really act retired, gave the sermon. He usually speaks on church history or symbolism, but this week he spoke about theology (albeit flavored with history - just the way I like it!).

Father Jack is much more conservative than I, but I really enjoyed his Christmas Eve sermon. It's my favorite Father Jack sermon. In a nutshell: The shepherds, by visiting the newborn Christ, risked all that was important to them. A shepherd's job is to guard his sheep no matter what, less a few get picked off by wolves or lions. Nothing is more important to a shepherd than the sheep - and yet, the shepherds Luke writes about abandoned these all-important charges to go and look at a baby. In doing this, they risked their jobs, their livliehoods, their reputations, and their families. This was the most irresponsible thing they could do (though it occurs to me that ignoring a host of angels above you might be a tad more irresponsible), but they did it anyway. I notice a parallel to Jesus' later call to his future disciples to abandon their lives to follow him - leave your father in the fishing boat alone, and let the dead bury their dead.

That said, Father Jack asked us if, in the spirit of the sheperds, we too would come and visit the manger.

For whatever reason, this holiday season seemed abbreviated to me, and it's somewhat shocking (and, as always, sad) that it's now over. Was it because I listened to less holiday music than normal? Because I was in New Orleans for the first part of the season, whereas I've become accustomed to wintery Decembers? Because I (shame on me) never put out the nativity scenes, and didn't read as much Scripture as I should have? Because I didn't read A Christmas Carol like usual? Because I crammed all my movie watching into a couple of days, rather than spreading it out? Because I didn't up the outside lights? Because we didn't get our tree up until the 22nd? (I doubt it was the last four reasons - I think these are more the result than the cause of things feeling abbreviated.) I don't think it's just me. My acolyte brother overheard the rector, Father Pat, on Christmas Eve saying it didn't feel like Christmas.

Sad. I'll just have to try harder next year, and do my best to remember to stay more connected to Scripture. And Dickens.

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