Monday, December 27, 2010

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas



Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Today's sermon - "God's dream is bigger"



Sunday after Christmas
26 December 2010

The story is an old one.
God created all that there is.
The planets, the seas, the land, the boa constrictors,
The Redwoods, the mosquitoes,
The Himalayas and the Shenandoahs.
And humans, in his likeness.
And God blessed it and it was good.

But there was a break.
A rupture between God,
And humans.
And since that time
God tried all sorts of ways
To repair the rupture.

He chose an elect people
A chosen family
Through whom the world would return.
And this worked
for a time
but, also did not work.
Prophets ignored,
holy women and men forgotten,
But the chosen family endured
through all this time
the ups and downs
and the Joy and the pain.

But the rupture was not repaired,
and God’s dream was of a larger family.
God’s dream was of reconnection with
All God’s People.
God’s dream was of reconciliation with
All God’s People
And of reconciliation with one another.
God’s dream was bigger.
God’s imagination was beyond human conception.

So, God decided to throw open the doors.
God decided to actually invite everyone to the wedding feast.
God decided to come right down among us.
God with us.  Emmanuel.

God came to earth.
We did not earn God’s fatherhood,
and certainly did not enact the Incarnation.
We did not do anything to earn God’s love.
God loves us, and because God loves us God wants us to be with him.
He sent his son to the earth
so that we might be wrapped up in God’s love.
Even when we are cast to the ground
even when we feel like we’re living in the gutter
even when we ARE living in the gutter,

We are welcomed into the very household of God,
the blessed company of All God’s People.
He gave us power to become children of God
God’s love for us pours out on us.
And God’s loving-kindness,
God’s chesed,
Comes to us,
as a gift.

Jesus came from above,
but was also human,
but was also God.  
Not partway one
not partway the other,
but wholly above and wholly below, wholly God and wholly human.  
Do we get it?  
Perhaps,
perhaps not.  

The one who was born in no house
has opened the doors to God’s household for us.
We were once slaves, but now we are sons and daughters.
The doors were thrown open by Jesus the Christ
For All God’s People.
Jesus the Christ,
God became Human and dwelt among us.
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

But God does things unlike us,
God does things that blow our very minds.  
God's peace is the peace which passes all understanding,
and we are to join in the great dance that God began
in the beginning
and changed the beat radically when God became human as Jesus.  

We are to join in the great dance of the Body of Christ
Christ dances when we turn to one another in love,
Christ dances when we show our love for God when we love our neighbors,
Christ dances when we work for peace and justice,
Christ dances when we forgive,
Christ dances when we give,
Christ dances when we take on racial reconciliation,
Christ dances when we seek to do the good and not count the cost.

So join in the dance of God,
and welcome the crazy reality of God,
becoming human so that we might live,
and live abundantly!

We will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
our whole being shall exult in our God;
for he has clothed us with the garments of salvation,
he has covered us with robes of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.



A beautiful morning

A beautiful morning here in Virginia.

Merry Christmas!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas sermon by Rowan Williams - 2010

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams' Christmas Sermon

This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet'. Phrases like this echo like a refrain through the nativity stories in the Gospels – and indeed the stories of Jesus' trial and death as well. The stories of Jesus' birth and death were, from the very first, stories about how God had kept his promise. The earliest Christians looked at the records and memories of what had happened in and around the life of Jesus and felt a sense of déjà vu: doesn't this remind you of...? Surely this is the same as...?
Bit by bit, they connected up the details of the stories with a rich pattern of events and images and ideas in Hebrew Scripture. Utterly unexpected pregnancies – like Abraham's wife Sarah, or Hannah, mother of the prophet Samuel. A birth in Bethlehem, where Jacob's wife died in bringing to birth the last of the ancestors of Israel, where an impoverished young widow from an enemy country was welcomed and made at home, to become the grandmother of the great hero King David. Shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem where young David had looked after his father's flock before being called to be shepherd of the whole kingdom. A star like the one foreseen by the ancient prophet Balaam as a sign of Israel's victory; foreigners bringing gifts of gold and incense, as the psalm describes foreign potentates bringing tribute to King Solomon . A murderous attack on the children of God's people by a Godless tyrant, a desperate flight and an exile in Egypt. The plain event at the centre of it all, the birth of a child in a jobbing handyman's family, is surrounded with so many echoes and allusions that it seems like the climax of an immense series of great happenings; like the final statement in a musical work of some theme that has been coming through again and again, more and more strongly, in the earlier bars. The last triumphant movement in God's symphony.

The story of Jesus is the story of a God who keeps promises. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 'however many the promises God made, the Yes to them all is in him'. God shows himself to be the same God he always was. He brings hope out of hopelessness – out of the barrenness of unhappy childless women like Sarah and Hannah. He takes strangers and makes them at home; he brings his greatest gifts out of those moments when the barriers are down between insiders and outsiders. He draws people from the ends of the earth to wonder – not this time at the glory of Solomon but at the miracle of his presence among the humble and outcast. He identifies with those, especially children, who are the innocent and helpless victims of insane pride and fear. He walks into exile with those he loves and leads them home again.

This is the God he has shown himself to be; and he has promised that he will go on being the same God. 'I am who I am' he tells us; and 'I, the Lord, do not change', and 'I will not fail you or forsake you.' When we are faithless, he is faithful; when we seek to escape or even to betray, he does not change. In what is perhaps the most unforgettable image in the whole of Hebrew Scripture, God says that he has 'branded' or 'engraved' us on the palms of his hands (Is.49.16). He has determined that he will not be who he is without us. And in this moment of climax and fulfillment, in this last movement of the symphony, he shows in the most decisive way possible that he will not be without us; he binds his divine life to human nature. Never again can he be spoken of except in connection with this human life that begins in the stable at Bethlehem.

From one point of view, then, a story of triumphant persistence. Nothing has shaken God's decision to be with those he has loved and called, and now nothing ever will. Nothing, as St Paul again says, can separate us from what is laid bare in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. And yet from another point of view, it is a story of unimaginable cost and apparent tragedy. For if God has chosen to be with us in this way, he is associated with our weaknesses, humiliated by our betrayals, exposed and vulnerable to our casual decisions to take our custom elsewhere. In the book of the prophet Hosea, we see this depicted in harrowing terms as the marriage of a faithful man to an unfaithful woman, a marriage which the man refuses to accept is over. I suspect that a good many of us have seen cases of a faithful woman sticking obstinately to an unfaithful man. In human terms, such faithfulness is likely to look naïve, foolish or just pointless self-punishing. But God, it seems, knows that whatever limitation and humiliation our human freedom lays on him, we cannot live without him; and he accepts everything for the sake of our well-being.

Christmas is about the unshakeable solidarity of God's love with us, not only in our suffering but in our rebellion and betrayal as well. One mediaeval Greek theologian, deliberately out to shock, described as God's 'manic passion', God's 'obsession'; manike eros. And so it is a time to do some stocktaking about our own solidarity and fidelity, our own promise-keeping.

There are at least three things we might ponder in that respect, seeking to understand ourselves better in the light of the Christmas story. The first is our solidarity with one another, in our society and our world, our solidarity with and loyalty to our fellow-citizens and fellow-human beings. Faced with the hardship that quite clearly lies ahead for so many in the wake of financial crisis and public spending cuts, how far are we able to sustain a living sense of loyalty to each other, a real willingness to bear the load together? How eager are we to find some spot where we feel safe from the pressures that are crippling and terrifying others? As has more than once been said, we can and will as a society bear hardship if we are confident that it is being fairly shared; and we shall have that confidence only if there are signs that everyone is committed to their neighbour, that no-one is just forgotten, that no interest group or pressure group is able to opt out. That confidence isn't in huge supply at the moment, given the massive crises of trust that have shaken us all in the last couple of years and the lasting sense that the most prosperous have yet to shoulder their load. If we are ready, if we are all ready, to meet the challenge represented by the language of the 'big society', we may yet restore some mutual trust. It's no use being cynical about this; whatever we call the enterprise, the challenge is the same – creating confidence by sharing the burden of constructive work together.

The second is something quite different, but no less challenging. Next year, we shall be joining in the celebration of what we hope will be a profoundly joyful event in the royal wedding. It is certainly cause for celebration that any couple, let alone this particular couple, should want to embark on the adventure of Christian marriage, because any and every Christian marriage is a sign of hope, since it is a sign and sacrament of God's own committed love. And it would be good to think that I this coming year, we, as a society, might want to think through, carefully and imaginatively, why lifelong faithfulness and the mutual surrender of selfishness are such great gifts. If we approach this in the light of what we have just been reflecting on in terms of the Christmas story of a promise-keeping God, we shall have no illusions about how easy it is to sustain such long-term fidelity and solidarity. There will be times when we may feel stupid or helpless; when we don't feel we have the energy or resource to forgive and rebuild after a crisis or a quarrel; when we don't want our freedom limited by the commitments we've made to someone else. Yet many of us will know marriages where something extraordinary has happened because of the persistence of one of the parties, or where faithfulness has survived the tests of severe illness or disability or trauma. I admit, find myself deeply moved at times when I speak with the families of servicemen and women, where this sense of solidarity is often so deeply marked, so generous and costly. As the prince and his fiancée get ready for their new step into solidarity together, they will have plenty of inspiration around, more than you might sometimes guess from the chatter of our culture. And we can all share the recognition that, without the inspiration of this kind of commitment in marriage, our humanity would be a lot duller and more shallow – and, for the believer, a lot less transparent to the nature of the God who keeps his covenant.

And lastly, a point that we rightly return to on every great Christian festival, there is our solidarity with those of our brothers and sisters elsewhere in the world who are suffering for their Christian faith or their witness to justice or both. Yet again, I remind you of our Zimbabwean friends, still suffering harassment, beatings and arrests, legal pressures and lockouts from their churches; of the dwindling Christian population in Iraq, facing more and more extreme violence from fanatics – and it is a great grace that both Christians and Muslims in this country have joined in expressing their solidarity with this beleaguered minority. Our prayers continue for Asia Bibi in Pakistan and others from minority groups who suffer from the abuse of the law by certain groups there. We may feel powerless to help; yet we should also know that people in such circumstances are strengthened simply by knowing they have not been forgotten. And if we find we have time to spare for joining in letter-writing campaigns for all prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International and Christian Solidarity worldwide will have plenty of opportunities for us to make use of.

Economic justice and Christian marriage and solidarity with the persecuted – very diverse causes, you might think. But in each case, the key point is about keeping faith, sharing risks, recognising that our lives belong together. And all this is rooted for us in that event in which all God's purposes, all God's actions, what we might call all God's 'habits of behaviour' with us come into the clearest focus. 'This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken'; this was the 'Yes' to all the promises. And what God showed himself to be in Hebrew Scripture, what he showed himself to be in the life and death of the Lord Jesus, this is what he ahs promised to be today and tomorrow and for ever. He cannot betray his own nature, and so he cannot betray us. And by the gift of the Spirit, we are given strength, in all these contexts we have considered and many more, to let his faithful love flow through us, for the fulfillment of more and more human lives according to his eternal purpose and unshakeable love.

From the website of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Preview of tomorrow's sermon - 26 Dec 2010

"God's dream is bigger"

courtesy of wordle.net

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 2
Psalm 85
1 John 4: 7-16
John 3:31-36

Click HERE for today's readings

Jesus came from above, but was also human, but was also God.  Not partway one not partway the other, but wholly above and wholly below, wholly God and wholly human.  Get it?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  The central theological tenet of Christmas is that God became Human and dwelt among us, the Incarnation - but it totally blows our minds that God would become human, and that God would become human in this way.  We pretty it up with church pageants and pretty movies, but God becoming human in a barn, born to a young woman in the midst of the oppression of the Romans and in the midst of corruption of the religious authorities?  Huh?

But God does things unlike us, God does things that blow our very minds.  God's peace is the peace which passes all understanding, and we are to join in the great dance that God began when God became human as Jesus.  We are to join in the great dance of the Body of Christ as we turn to one another in love, as we express our love for God in the way that we treat our neighbors, in the way that we work for peace and justice, in the way that we forgive, in the way that we take on racial reconciliation and in the way that we seek to do the good and not count the cost.

So join in the dance of God, and welcome the crazy reality of God, becoming human so that we might live, and live abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From John's gospel today:


The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 2
Psalm 85
1 John 4: 7-16
John 3:31-36

Click HERE for today's readings

Jesus came from above, but was also human, but was also God.  Not partway one not partway the other, but wholly above and wholly below, wholly God and wholly human.  Get it?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  The central theological tenet of Christmas is that God became Human and dwelt among us, the Incarnation - but it totally blows our minds that God would become human, and that God would become human in this way.  We pretty it up with church pageants and pretty movies, but God becoming human in a barn, born to a young woman in the midst of the oppression of the Romans and in the midst of corruption of the religious authorities?  Huh?

But God does things unlike us, God does things that blow our very minds.  God's peace is the peace which passes all understanding, and we are to join in the great dance that God began when God became human as Jesus.  We are to join in the great dance of the Body of Christ as we turn to one another in love, as we express our love for God in the way that we treat our neighbors, in the way that we work for peace and justice, in the way that we forgive, in the way that we take on racial reconciliation and in the way that we seek to do the good and not count the cost.

So join in the dance of God, and welcome the crazy reality of God, becoming human so that we might live, and live abundantly!

Merry Christmas!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

From John's gospel today:


The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.

The first Christmas Sermon

John Chrysostom's Christmas Sermon from AD 387

Timeless and wonderful!


BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.  The Angels sing.  The Archangels blend their voice in harmony.  The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise.  The Seraphim exalt His glory.  All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven.  He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice.  And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields.  For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God.  This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not.  For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His.  Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny.  Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech.  For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.
What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth.  The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.
Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace!  The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption.  For what reason?  That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see.  For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature’.  For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made.  Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator.  For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say!  And how shall I describe this Birth to you?  For this wonder fills me with astonishment.  The Ancient of days has become an infant.  He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger.  And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men.  He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands.  But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life.  He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity.  For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ‘in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.
Why is this?  Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh.  He did not become God.  He was God.  Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother.  So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him.  Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.
To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever.  Amen.

for the reminder, hat tip to Tony Jones 

Merry Christmas! "Join the dance of the Lord!"

Christmas Day

Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 2
Psalm 85
1 John 4: 7-16
John 3:31-36

Click HERE for today's readings

Jesus came from above, but was also human, but was also God.  Not partway one not partway the other, but wholly above and wholly below, wholly God and wholly human.  Get it?  Perhaps, perhaps not.  The central theological tenet of Christmas is that God became Human and dwelt among us, the Incarnation - but it totally blows our minds that God would become human, and that God would become human in this way.  We pretty it up with church pageants and pretty movies, but God becoming human in a barn, born to a young woman in the midst of the oppression of the Romans and in the midst of corruption of the religious authorities?  Huh?

But God does things unlike us, God does things that blow our very minds.  God's peace is the peace which passes all understanding, and we are to join in the great dance that God began when God became human as Jesus.  We are to join in the great dance of the Body of Christ as we turn to one another in love, as we express our love for God in the way that we treat our neighbors, in the way that we work for peace and justice, in the way that we forgive, in the way that we take on racial reconciliation and in the way that we seek to do the good and not count the cost.

So join in the dance of God, and welcome the crazy reality of God, becoming human so that we might live, and live abundantly!

Merry Christmas!


From John's gospel today:

The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true. He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In those days

Luke 2:1-14(15-20)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "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." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Archbishop of York's Christmas Youtube

Archbishop of York's Christmas Youtube Message

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 93
Psalm 96
Isaiah 35:1-10
Luke 1:67-80

Click HERE for the readings for today

A new song, a new year, a new day, and yet, on this day we remember a birth that happened many years before, a pebble thrown into the ocean with ripples that continue to our very shores.  We remember a birth that happened, and yet we also pray that we might give birth to something new this year, this day.  We tell the same story, we hear the same words, we act out the same parts, we sing the same songs, but the day is new, the year is new, and we are new, though we may feel older, we are new .
Sing to the Lord a new song!  What would it sound like to really sing a new song?  What would it look like to live our lives anew?  God has become human, and God has knit us one to another in the Body of Christ.  He came so that we might live our lives abundantly (John 10:10), he came so that we might live our lives anew.

May we sing to the Lord a new song, and may our lives today be that song that we sing anew.

Merry Christmas!!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Psalm 96

1Sing to the LORD a new song; *
sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.
2Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 93
Psalm 96
Isaiah 35:1-10
Luke 1:67-80

Click HERE for the readings for today

A new song, a new year, a new day, and yet, on this day we remember a birth that happened many years before, a pebble thrown into the ocean with ripples that continue to our very shores.  We remember a birth that happened, and yet we also pray that we might give birth to something new this year, this day.  We tell the same story, we hear the same words, we act out the same parts, we sing the same songs, but the day is new, the year is new, and we are new, though we may feel older, we are new .
Sing to the Lord a new song!  What would it sound like to really sing a new song?  What would it look like to live our lives anew?  God has become human, and God has knit us one to another in the Body of Christ.  He came so that we might live our lives abundantly (John 10:10), he came so that we might live our lives anew.

May we sing to the Lord a new song, and may our lives today be that song that we sing anew.

Merry Christmas!!

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Psalm 96

1Sing to the LORD a new song; *
sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.
2Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

Christmas Eve - "Sing a new song"

Christmas Eve


A new song, a new year, a new day, and yet, on this day we remember a birth that happened many years before, a pebble thrown into the ocean with ripples that continue to our very shores.  We remember a birth that happened, and yet we also pray that we might give birth to something new this year, this day.  We tell the same story, we hear the same words, we act out the same parts, we sing the same songs, but the day is new, the year is new, and we are new, though we may feel older, we are new .
Sing to the Lord a new song!  What would it sound like to really sing a new song?  What would it look like to live our lives anew?  God has become human, and God has knit us one to another in the Body of Christ.  He came so that we might live our lives abundantly (John 10:10), he came so that we might live our lives anew.

May we sing to the Lord a new song, and may our lives today be that song that we sing anew.

Merry Christmas!!


Readings from the Daily Office

Psalm 93
Psalm 96
Isaiah 35:1-10
Luke 1:67-80

Click HERE for the readings for today


Psalm 96

1
Sing to the LORD a new song; *
sing to the LORD, all the whole earth.
2
Sing to the LORD and bless his Name; *
proclaim the good news of his salvation from day to day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the bleak midwinter

A Christmas Carol
Alternate Title: In The Bleak Midwinter
~ Christina Georgina Rossetti 


1. In the bleak mid-winter 

  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, 
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, 
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.


2. Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him 

  Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
  When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter 
  A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, 
  Jesus Christ.


3. Enough for Him, whom cherubim 

  Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk 
  And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels 
  Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel 
  Which adore.


4. Angels and archangels 

  May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim 
  Thronged the air,
But only His mother
 In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved 
  With a kiss.


5. What can I give Him, 

  Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
  I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
  I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, 
  Give my heart.






A Christmas Carol
Alternate Title: In The Bleak Midwinter
Words: Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894), 1872;
appeared posthumously in 
The
 Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, Poem #426,  1904.
Music: "Cranham," Gustav Theodore Holst, 1906

Day 26 of Advent - "Leaping for Joy"

Day 26 of Advent
Thursday in the 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 80
Isa. 29:13-24
Rev. 21:22-22:5
Luke 1:39-56

Click HERE for today's readings

Leaping for Joy!  How often do we leap for Joy?  How often do we leap at all?  For those of us who have rounded the corner of middle-age, leaping itself may seem to be only in our past.  However, this portion of Luke's story of Jesus birth is quite telling.  The child of Elizabeth, the child who would become John the Baptist, recognizes his cousin from the womb, recognizes Jesus, recognizes God with us, Emmanuel.  The child of Elizabeth leaps with joy!  And what of us, are we open to the Joy that is constantly breaking into the midst of our world?  Are we open to the Joy that is breaking into the dark and dismal days of our lives?  Are we open to the Joy that even comes in the midst of disappointment and desolation?

The Joy that God provides is a deeper Joy than even the womb of our imagination can contain.  The Joy that God provides.  The gift of God's Joy is beyond our thinking, our dreaming, and our understanding.  We may not think that we will leap for joy like we once could, but the Joy that God provides is that which lifts us beyond our dreams, even in the midst of this world, God's Word become realized in our world, as Joy that cannot be contained by the womb of our imagination.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey




Luke 1:39-56 (NRSV)
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary¹s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 

Day 26 of Advent - "Leaping for Joy"

Day 26 of Advent
Thursday in the 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 80
Isa. 29:13-24
Rev. 21:22-22:5
Luke 1:39-56

Click HERE for today's readings

Leaping for Joy!  How often do we leap for Joy?  How often do we leap at all?  For those of us who have rounded the corner of middle-age, leaping itself may seem to be only in our past.  However, this portion of Luke's story of Jesus birth is quite telling.  The child of Elizabeth, the child who would become John the Baptist, recognizes his cousin from the womb, recognizes Jesus, recognizes God with us, Emmanuel.  The child of Elizabeth leaps with joy!  And what of us, are we open to the Joy that is constantly breaking into the midst of our world?  Are we open to the Joy that is breaking into the dark and dismal days of our lives?  Are we open to the Joy that even comes in the midst of disappointment and desolation?

The Joy that God provides is a deeper Joy than even the womb of our imagination can contain.  The Joy that God provides.  The gift of God's Joy is beyond our thinking, our dreaming, and our understanding.  We may not think that we will leap for joy like we once could, but the Joy that God provides is that which lifts us beyond our dreams, even in the midst of this world, God's Word become realized in our world, as Joy that cannot be contained by the womb of our imagination.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey




Luke 1:39-56 (NRSV)
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary¹s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 

Leaping for Joy!

Day 26 of Advent
Thursday in the 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 80
Isa. 29:13-24
Rev. 21:22-22:5
Luke 1:39-56

Click HERE for today's readings

Leaping for Joy!  How often do we leap for Joy?  How often do we leap at all?  For those of us who have rounded the corner of middle-age, leaping itself may seem to be only in our past.  However, this portion of Luke's story of Jesus birth is quite telling.  The child of Elizabeth, the child who would become John the Baptist, recognizes his cousin from the womb, recognizes Jesus, recognizes God with us, Emmanuel.  The child of Elizabeth leaps with joy!  And what of us, are we open to the Joy that is constantly breaking into the midst of our world?  Are we open to the Joy that is breaking into the dark and dismal days of our lives?  Are we open to the Joy that even comes in the midst of disappointment and desolation?  

The Joy that God provides is a deeper Joy than even the womb of our imagination can contain.  The Joy that God provides.  The gift of God's Joy is beyond our thinking, our dreaming, and our understanding.  We may not think that we will leap for joy like we once could, but the Joy that God provides is that which lifts us beyond our dreams, even in the midst of this world, God's Word become realized in our world, as Joy that cannot be contained by the womb of our imagination.




Luke 1:39-56 (NRSV)
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary¹s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Snow in Florence

Day 25 of Advent - "Nothing will be impossible"

Day 25 of Advent
Wednesday in 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 72
Isa. 28:9-2
Rev. 21:9-21
Luke 1:26-38

Click HERE for today's readings

We've heard the story so many times that we almost forget that the impossible became possible became improbable became probable and actually occurred there in Bethlehem.  For nothing will be impossible with God.  Of course, God becoming human sounds to us impossible.  The greatness of God  is that God sets aside the greatness and the power in order to empty himself, to become a vulnerable child, and then, finally, through that child will redeem the world.

And so, then there is us, in our everyday lives - how many impossible things do we face.  Do we emphasize the impossibility, or do we step up and live as if, just maybe, the impossible may become possible, may become improbable, may become probable and may actually happen!?

Nothing will be impossible with God, and God makes this abundantly clear through the Feast of the Incarnation.

May we live and move and breathe with the deep understanding that God makes all things possible.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey



Day 25 of Advent - "Nothing will be impossible"

Day 25 of Advent
Wednesday in 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 72
Isa. 28:9-2
Rev. 21:9-21
Luke 1:26-38

Click HERE for today's readings

We've heard the story so many times that we almost forget that the impossible became possible became improbable became probable and actually occurred there in Bethlehem.  For nothing will be impossible with God.  Of course, God becoming human sounds to us impossible.  The greatness of God  is that God sets aside the greatness and the power in order to empty himself, to become a vulnerable child, and then, finally, through that child will redeem the world.

And so, then there is us, in our everyday lives - how many impossible things do we face.  Do we emphasize the impossibility, or do we step up and live as if, just maybe, the impossible may become possible, may become improbable, may become probable and may actually happen!?

Nothing will be impossible with God, and God makes this abundantly clear through the Feast of the Incarnation.

May we live and move and breathe with the deep understanding that God makes all things possible.

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Day 24 of Advent - "New heaven and new earth"

Day 24 of Advent
Tuesday in 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 66
Psalm 67
Isaiah 11:10-16
Revelation 20:11-21:8
Luke 1:5-25

Click HERE for today's readings

The time has turned so that the days will be growing longer for the next 6 months here in the Northern Hemisphere.  The Winter Solstice is upon us, and while this holiday is not essentially Christian, the notion of the light coming into the dark dark world is some of the deepest theological metaphor that we have when we view God coming into the world as Jesus.  The incarnation of God as human is the coming of light into the world.

And so, with the turning of the dark days to light, we also are preparing for the Feast of the Incarnation in but a few days, the coming of Christ into the world, and the coming of light into a dark world.  We have strived to put on the armor of light, we have worked to anticipate and prepare for his coming, and we have reflected deeply upon our lives, working to prepare a place for him in our hearts.

God will provide for us, even in the chilly and dark place of the mid-winter, even in the dark and lonely place of our lives.  God will wash away every tear from our eyes and will work out a new heaven and a new earth.

"To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."

Amen

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Revelation 21:3-8
God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.² 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ³See, I am making all things new.² Also he said, ³Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.² 6 Then he said to me, ³It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Day 24 of Advent - "New heaven and new earth"

Day 24 of Advent
Tuesday in 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 66
Psalm 67
Isaiah 11:10-16
Revelation 20:11-21:8
Luke 1:5-25

Click HERE for today's readings

The time has turned so that the days will be growing longer for the next 6 months here in the Northern Hemisphere.  The Winter Solstice is upon us, and while this holiday is not essentially Christian, the notion of the light coming into the dark dark world is some of the deepest theological metaphor that we have when we view God coming into the world as Jesus.  The incarnation of God as human is the coming of light into the world.

And so, with the turning of the dark days to light, we also are preparing for the Feast of the Incarnation in but a few days, the coming of Christ into the world, and the coming of light into a dark world.  We have strived to put on the armor of light, we have worked to anticipate and prepare for his coming, and we have reflected deeply upon our lives, working to prepare a place for him in our hearts.

God will provide for us, even in the chilly and dark place of the mid-winter, even in the dark and lonely place of our lives.  God will wash away every tear from our eyes and will work out a new heaven and a new earth.

"To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life."

Amen

~The Rev. Peter M. Carey

Revelation 21:3-8
God himself will be with them; 4 he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.² 5 And the one who was seated on the throne said, ³See, I am making all things new.² Also he said, ³Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.² 6 Then he said to me, ³It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Day 23 of Advent - "God's vision"

Day 23 of Advent
Monday in 4th week of Advent

Readings

Psalm 61
Psalm 62
Isaiah 11:1-9
Revelation 20:1-10
John 5:30-47

Click HERE for today's readings

Are we in need of salvation?  What does salvation mean?  The word can be translated as healing as much as it can be translated as "saving."  What would healing and wholeness look like?  What is God's vision for the world?

Well, Isaiah has a vision of a world dominated by righteousness, in which the "normal" and "expected" hierarchies are transformed, where the strong and the weak live together, where the predators and the prey coexist, where blue states and red states find common ground, where women and men can finally find a way to communicate, where liberal and conservatives stop fighting over minutae, where religions set aside their conflicts and find common ground, where we no longer study war any more.

Are we need of salvation?  What would healing and wholeness look like?  Well, God has a vision, and it is our job to jump into service to help enact that vision.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to join in the great adventure of helping to make God's vision a reality.  All we have to do is do it, and know that it's not all up to us!

~The Rev. Peter Carey

Isaiah 11:5-9
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder¹s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.