Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: 1st Sunday after Christmas - ...and now what?
Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday at 10:30am. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community. After the hustle & bustle of the holiday season, come to Scarboro as we look ahead to what comes next.
December 30: And Now What?
Rev. Lee Spice
Like quite a few people, but not everyone, I had the chance to take a little time off between Christmas and New Year’s. After I had completed the Herald’s mammoth crossword puzzle, and most others in the paper, I read a small book about leaving one’s congregation, answered some emails, went for some walks, made an attempt to finish the three or four books that I’ve started…and then began to think about the whole Christmas experience.
The tree has not even begun to seriously drop its needles, and it feels like it’s time to move on.
In the world of the polity of the United Church, to which I am inexplicably being called, there is a collective anxiety concerning the new system of governance. Presbytery and Conference no longer exist, and our new region, Chinook Winds is officially born January 1.
I’ve already been doing some work for the region, and find myself caught in the space between making decisions that used to be accompanied by the ubiquitous United Church “forms,” but are soon going to be enabled by uploading information to the magical new computer information mega-brain called “ChurchHub.” I am a little skeptical.
It’s an “in-between, don’t know exactly what’s next” space.
I wonder how many others are caught in this in-between feeling, especially at this time of year.
The run-up to Christmas takes a lot of energy and requires so much attention. I challenge you to ask any church worker or musician how much sleep they were averaging before Christmas. That doesn’t include everyone who was trying to get gifts or prepare for out-of-town guests.
There’s a lot going on, and then – boom!- Christmas arrives and we anachronistically sing “Silent Night,” and, not including the next day’s frenzy of gift-opening and Christmas dinners, it’s pretty much over.
Seems like an awful lot of trouble for it just to be over.
I have to ask this question: How has the Holy Birth changed the world?
O, yes, having Christianity in the world has changed the course of history, but how has this story of the Holy, being born into the muck and mire of the lives of ordinary people change the world?
I am thinking of the second verse of O Holy Night:
Truly, he taught us to love one another.
His law is love, and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is my brother,
and in his name all oppression shall cease.
Well, that didn’t happen overnight, did it? Although, I think that the hymn has the right idea. There’s a Facebook meme that has been circulating, and it goes something like this: “So you want to put Christ back into Christmas? Then feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, care for the marginalized, comfort the afflicted, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and love your enemies.”
That’s the point, isn’t it? We, like the early Christian community, had and have the expectation that Christ was all about changing the world.
On Christmas Eve, we talked about how the story of The Holy being born into the marginalized population was world-changing in itself. It was a political statement about the dream of the Realm of God, a world where chains are broken and slaves become kindred and oppression ceases.
This scripture that we just read was written before that story of the Bethlehem birth even came to be. The Apostle Paul, if he wrote this letter (we’re not sure), was writing to a young church that was formed out of small communities or house churches.
What the Apostle Paul was trying to get across to the young communities was that the way you knew that Christ was at the centre of the community was in how you treated each other. It was in the relationships.
Imagine that. That the basic fundamental bedrock belief was not about what you believed at all, but how you treated each other.
It’s just that simple. In our relationships, in our homes, in our communities, and in our world.
Folks, we are in the in-between times. We are in-between the birth of God’s Love among us, and the coming again, where every heart is filled with that Love.
We are in between the realization that the Holy is among us, and the time when the whole world opens its heart to the Holy.
And we are in between two stories – the one that tells us about a child in Bethlehem who will change the world, and the time when the world is actually changed.
How are you going to manage in this in-between time?
[one minute to think; a couple minutes to answer]
Colossians 3:12-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord[a] has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[b] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.[c] 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
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