Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve


Ecclesiastes 5:1-20 OR 7:1-14 OR Ezekiel 33:23-33
Matthew 12:22-50 OR Luke 11:14-36 (37-54)
James 1:17-27

Holy and Loving God, by your Holy Spirit, your son Jesus Christ came to expose the darkness of this world, to cast out demons, to deal death to death, and to inaugurate your new heavenly reign in the midst of our languishing earthly reality. Christ Jesus, the only begotten, has declared that everyone who does your will is his brother and sister, and he has blessed all who hear your word and obey it! Indeed, he himself is the Word of God. Help us, therefore, this night and always, to hear and receive him and all the good news concerning him, that we might forever be occupied with the true joy of hearts: Jesus Christ, the Son of David; greater than Solomon, greater than Jonah, greater than all, he is the Word and the Wisdom that gives life!

NOTE ON THE LECTIONS: These lections may seem peculiar for a Christmas Eve service, but I would urge the preacher to consider the possibilities that arise in light of the implicit logos Christology evident in the Epistle of James, in lieu of the more explicit logos Christology of the Johannine literature, then view the other texts through that theology of the Word. The contrast between careless, foolish, vain human speech and the divine and "implanted" word of truth is one that I think frames the whole feast of the Incarnation and the prospect of Epiphany (or Christophany) rather well, actually. In other words, do not be put off by the seeming lack of Christmas themes here. No, there are no nativity stories included, but neither is there a need to preach in isolation from them. The primary consideration, I think, is to approach these lections, not as though they have nothing to say of Christmas, but in the very light of Christmas itself, the Revelation of God in the Incarnation of Jesus: God's saving, embodied speech to the world. Let Christmas have its sway over these texts and vice versa, and new insights will undoubtedly emerge. Ezekiel will remind us that God's revelation is not merely beautiful, but true. Jesus and James will call us to live the faith and not merely profess it. The light of Christ shining amidst the darkness will be understood, not merely esthetically, but in terms of his mission to overthrow the cosmic forces of evil. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Numbers 14:1-25
Psalm 144
John 3:22-38
Hebrews 5:11—6:20


O LORD of heaven, come down! Let your lightning flash and scatter the darkness! Send out your arrows and rout your enemies. Stretch out your hand from on high, and set this people free from those who speak lies and those who love violence. For you, O LORD, are above all and your testimony is true! Your Son, whom you have sent, has spoken the words he has heard from you, our heavenly Father. May he give to each of us, and to your church, your Holy Spirit without measure.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Third Sunday of Advent

Joshua 23:1-16


It is the Lord your God who has fought on your behalf, keeping your foes and enemies at bay. It is Christ Jesus himself, the Son of God, who has done all things well, and fulfilled God’s promise of a Savior. Therefore, hold fast to the Lord your God, and be very steadfast to observe and do all that he has commanded you, for by the grace of Jesus Christ we are forgiven and saved.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Second Sunday of Advent

You, O God, are the builder of the all things, and Christ Jesus, your Son, the faithful builder of your house, even as he serves as its head and cornerstone. Help us, O Lord, as partners with Christ, to be the house in which you dwell, that we may hold firm to faith and hope until the end, with boldness and unwavering confidence in you. Show your holiness, O God, to this assembly, among this people where your glory abides, in Jesus' name.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

University of Dubuque's Christmas at Heritage (2016): Salvation Unto Us Has Come

It has been my honor and privilege to contribute the narrative for this lovely event for the last three years. Last night I also had the opportunity of reading as well. Thanks to President Jeffrey Bullock and his lovely wife Dana, and the good people of the Fine and Performing Arts Department and the Heritage Center for including me. The program begins at 18:00. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Here is a list of the narrative interludes between the musical numbers. 

I. DAVID'S PLEA: "Restore to me the joy of your salvation!"
II. JACOB'S SIGH: "I wait for your salvation, Lord." 
III. HABAKKUK'S ASSURANCE: "I will exult in the God of my salvation!"
IV. ISAIAH'S PROMISE: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
V. MOSES' TESTIMONY: "The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."
VI. JEREMIAH'S COMFORT: "Truly in the Lord is our salvation."
VII. SIMEON'S DOXOLOGY: "Mine eyes have seen your salvation!"
VIII. A Hymn on the Nativity of My Saviour (Ben Jonson, 1572—1637)