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The Second Sunday of Christmas - 2 January 2011

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The Second Sunday of Christmas Jeremiah 31:7-14 Psalm 84 Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a Saint Luke 2:41-52


BACKGROUND – In the Gospel for today, St. Luke comments, “…and Jesus increased in wisdom…”.For some New Testament authors and commentators in the early church, Jesus not only increased in wisdom, he was Wisdom.Wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures was a variety of things.It was, to some extent a reflection of the wisdom (everyday aphorisms that guided daily life) that was seen in all Ancient Near Eastern cultures.Layered onto this was the understanding that Wisdom was a female manifestation of or emanation from God.All of this thought makes its way into the New Testament as well, especially in the Gospels of Saint Matthew, Saint Luke, and Saint John.For Paul, Jesus is God’s veritable Wisdom.Matthew sees in Jesus’ actions and miracles a manifestation of Wisdom.Jesus is the not just the promise of wisdom, but Wisdom herself.This is the thought that underscores the naming of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, …

Saint Stephen - Deacon and Martyr - 26 December 2010

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St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr Jeremiah 26:1-9, 12-15 Psalm 31:1-5 Acts 6:8-7:2a, 51c-60 Saint Matthew 23:34-39

BACKGROUND – By chance, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord is followed by three significant commemorations that offer some level of commentary on what it means to celebrate Christ’s birth.The days are: St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr (26 December), St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (27 December), and The Holy Innocents (28 December).Some have spoken of these days as “three heavenly birthdays” following the birth of the Christ.Others have commented on the days by noting that Stephen was a martyr “in will and in deed”, John was a martyr “in will but not in deed”, and the Innocents were martyrs “not in will, but in deed”.The days point out the cost of honoring the Baby born in Bethlehem, and serve as a caution when Christmas is over sentimentalized.There is little cost in these days if one honors the Christ, and perhaps we should be aware that there ought to be.Stephen knew that co…

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ III - 25 December 2010

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The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ III Isaiah 52:7-10 Psalm 98 Hebrews 1:1-12 Saint John 1:1-14













BACKGROUND – Christmas.There is an aspect to Christmas celebrations (although it is not only Christmas, but also Lent and Easter as well) that is largely lost to us in English-speaking America.In the Lectionary there are provisions for readings for three separate services, which is a shadow of a more ancient practice surrounding the Nativity as celebrated in Rome.The liturgy was not isolated to just one church, but in fact moved from one stational church to another, the faithful following in procession from one mass to another.The first mass was celebrated at St. Mary Major in Rome, followed by a celebration at the Byzantine court on the Palatine, and finally at The Basilica of St. Peters.In this way the Roman Church attempted to reflect the ancient practice of the Church in Palestine, where the first mass was at the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, and a second mass at Jerusalem.The Las…