Our theme for our worship services during Lent this year is Holy Vessels: a Lenten Season of Recovery. Our scripture passages will come from the healing stories found in Matthew, chapters 8-10. The main metaphor for this series is shards of beach glass. “Each of us is created a holy vessel of embodied love. Our sense of wholeness has been shattered. And so this Lent will be a ‘season of recovery’ after the toxicity of the past year. We will witness Jesus’ solidarity with those who suffer, and seek healing practices for body, mind, and spirit, personal and communal, creating beauty from that which feels broken.”
We began our Lenten Season of Recovery last night with an online Ash Wednesday service on the theme “Shattered.” You can view the video of that service below. . This Sunday our theme will be “Treasure” as we ponder Jesus’ healing of a leper in Matthew 8:1—4. “Beach glass begins as something whole and yet discarded. As it is tumbled by the sea, it is broken and polished until it becomes a treasured “mineral gem.” We do not embrace that suffering is necessary or God-given, but that suffering is a part of life. When pain comes and brokenness enters our lives, Jesus reaches out to touch and remind us of the Treasure that we all are–worthy of new life in the midst of hopelessness. In a year when pandemic has wreaked havoc on our world, we begin by affirming our journey to physical health.” May we be open to the healing that Jesus offers us.
This week we end our Epiphany study of The Light that Shines in the Darkness with a vision of the new heaven and the new earth found in the book of Revelation, in chapters 21 and 22. This wondrous vision of the city of God shows God’s intention to bring the divine light and life of heaven down into our world. It gives us a glimpse of our ultimate future and our true home. And this gives us strength and courage for living.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to cast a dark shadow over all of our lives, but thankfully, we can now glimpse some light at the end of the tunnel with the slow roll out of the vaccines. I say “glimpse” because we are not there yet and won’t be for a while. Though we desperately wish it were sooner, it will likely be many more months before we step out from under the shadow of this pandemic into the light of safety, freedom and community!
It is especially in such dark and challenging times that we need to turn to the light of God for hope, courage, strength and guidance. This week Jesus, the Light that shines in the darkness, tells us that we too must let the LIGHT shine through us. “You are the light of the world”, Jesus says. “Let your light shine.”(Matthew 5:14,16)
This week we continue our Epiphany series on the Light that Shines in the Darkness pondering the great mystery that the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is present not just outside of us, in Scripture and in the natural world, but also inside us – in the depths of the soul. The scripture passages we will look at are Ephesians 5:14, Galatians 2:20 and 2 Corinthians 4:6-11.
When we recognize that God’s light shines in our hearts and souls, a process of spiritual awakening and conversion begins that reorders our personality. And we begin to grow in our capacity to see the world through the eyes of Christ and love the world with his compassion. This process of growth in our ability to see and love is seldom if ever completed in our lifetime, but begin we must.
You can view my message Christ Our Inner LIght, along with special music by Warren, Patti and Sean TenBrook, and David Chavez above. Stay safe and well, and let God’s light shine through you.
This week we continue our Epiphany study of God’s Light with RECEIVING THE LIGHT – a Commitment to TRUTH. Our scriptures for this week include John 3:19-21, 1 John 1:5-10, and John 8:32. As followers of Jesus, the Light of the World, we must always be committed to the truth, no matter how inconvenient. “You shall know the truth,” Jesus says, “and the truth will set you free.”
p.s. Here are a few inspiring lines from 22 year old Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem.
These are dark, challenging days. We are still in the midst of a deadly pandemic, and a less than peaceful and smooth transfer of power. We desperately need some light to guide our way through these times. So this Epiphany Season my messages are on the theme: The Light Shines in the Darkness. This week our focus is on Following Jesus, the Light of the World. Our scripture texts come from John 8:12, 31-32, and Luke 6:46-49. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’” asks Jesus, “and do not do what I tell you?” Those who claim the name of Christ must walk in his way if they acknowledge that he is The Light of the World.
We are living through challenging difficult times. Each day this past week we hit a new record of covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, and then on Wednesday there was the shocking Insurrection where deluded “patriots” stormed the United States Congress, to try to stop congress from certifying the electoral college votes. Their act of desecration succeeded only in delaying the count for five hours, but it was a wake up call to the danger of reckless falsehoods. Words are not neutral.
In this time of pandemic and political transition, we need to focus on the light. My messages throughout the season of Epiphany will proclaim The Light Shines in the Darkness. We begin this Sunday with the magnificent prologue to the gospel of John (1:1-14) which proclaims Jesus as the Divine Word and LIght that shines in the darkness, which the darkness has not and will not ever overcome.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Dear St Andrew’s Members & Friends,
We have made it to the end of 2020 and we look forward with HOPE to the New Year. We hope that the covid vaccines beginning to be distributed will eventually end the “stay at home” shut downs and we will once again be able to freely gather, — with friends and family, with our church family, and even with strangers. How we look forward to that! We see light at the end of the tunnel.
But health experts warn that we still face many more months of hardship and death from this pandemic, so masks, social distancing, and stay at home restrictions are still needed. There is a shadow over our celebration of Christmas this year. So this is an opportune time to read the part of the Christmas story that we often avoid.
This Christmas season we have read Luke’s story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger, greeted by humble shepherds, and Matthew’s story of the mysterious Magi from the East who followed the star and brought the newborn King gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. These parts of the story we have no trouble celebrating; we tell and retell them each year, Our children re-enact them in Christmas pageants and play with them in the mangers we decorate our homes with.
But we tend to stop with the Wise Men dropping off their gifts and heading back home. But Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus doesn’t end there. It takes a dark turn. My message for this first Sunday of the new year is A Shadow Over Christmas.(Mathew 2:13-23) and includes some very special music.
This first Sunday of the season of Christmas we continue the story of the first Christmas with Mathew’s account of the visit of the mysterious Magi who were guided to the Christ Child by the Christmas Star (Matthew 2:1-12).
This advent we have been pondering the true gifts of Christmas: hope, peace, joy, and love. All have their source in the gift we gratefully celebrate this week – the gift of the Christ Child. Sadly, because of the Covid 19 stay at home order due to surging cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, we are not able to gather in person for Christmas services this year. But your staff, worship committee, actors, and musicians have put together a video Christmas Eve service for you. It includes candle lighting, scripture readings, lots of special music, a Cornerstone drama, and my Christmas message The Gift of the Christ Child. We invite you to view it at whatever time works best for you and your family. A special thanks goes out to Mark Isham who edited this and all of our worship videos. “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) Stay safe and well.
p.s. I will also record a video message for this Sunday, Dec. 27, on Matthew 2:13-23, titled A Shadow Over Christmas.