The Ultimate Word

"The ultimate Word is not a paragraph but a person. If Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, then the heart of proclamation is personal and relational, not propositional."

Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki * God, Christ, Church, page 135

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A teeny, tiny little sermon


So... It's the first Sunday after Christmas - a.k.a. (along with the Second Sunday of Easter) The-Day-for-the-One-on-the-Lowest-Rung-of-the-Ladder-to-Preach-Sunday!

At our 9:15 and 11:15 services we had Lessons and Carols - so no sermon - but a sermon was still expected for the 8:00 service.


So it's just a little quick one... The text has already been preached three times in the last week, so I didn't figure I needed to kill myself on it. Besides, I'll be preaching a full sermon next week, so I'll save most of my creative energy for that one!



December 28, 2008
Christmas 1B
John 1:1-18

In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

A few years ago Joan Osbourne had a song on the radio that was very popular that dared to ask, “What if God was one of us?” I remember that, at the time, it created quite a stir in the circles of the religious right. How dare she take the holy and give it such a vulgar spin? God is not “one of us”. God is set apart from the huddled masses and better. God rises above. Right?

But it’s worth asking. What if God was one of us? How would our lives be different? What if, every time we passed a homeless person on the street without giving a second glance, what if, then, we had to look into God’s eyes? Would we still be able to walk by without a second thought?

What if, as we were watching the evening news, and hearing all of the stories of woe that surround us every day, what if then, each night, we had to also look into the face of God? Could we just turn off the TV and go to bed?

Part of the purpose of Christmas in the life of Christians is to realize and to remember that God is one of us. In the Gospel According to St. John we hear the familiar words: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory…”

On Christmas Eve we engaged in the tradition of processing into the church with the figurine of Jesus placed on an ornate pillow. We walked all through the church with the congregation and the choir singing, and with grand music playing, before making our way here to place the figure in the crèche. In doing so, we were trying to take part in recognizing the “glory” of the moment. We were honoring the very holy coming of Christ by trying to reenact it with all of the pomp and circumstance that we could muster.

But it’s worth remembering that the “glory” that we have seen in Christ was such precisely because it lacked the grandness that it deserved. Though centuries of prophets had mused about what the coming of the Christ would be like, it was, in reality, a total surprise. He was not a powerful king triumphantly entering Jerusalem with armies and fanfares. He was not processed through the streets in luxury and accompanied by choirs singing songs of praise.

He was just a boy. Born of a woman. A few people that night and in the days that followed recognized that there was something special about this boy, but for most of the people alive in the world that night, it was just a night like any other. Most people never even noticed. God was one of us, and to our great surprise, he went almost entirely unnoticed.

The Word has become flesh and lived among us, but for the most part, we have not seen his glory. For the most part we, like most of those people on that first Christmas morning long ago, have not even noticed. We have seen the face of God and we kept walking as though it was just another face.

But at Christmas, we try to be a little more intentional. We try to recognize that God is one of us, and that it is our duty as Christians to see Christ in the faces around us.

It’s easy to overlook. It’s easy to miss “his glory”. Like those people of long ago, we can be in the presence of God and not even notice.

The word has become flesh and lived among us. God is one of us. Now we must cultivate the discipline of seeing his glory every day.

Merry Christmas.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


So... Today I turned in the last of my work from my required semester at the General Theological Seminary in the City of New York.

This has been a tough semester. Working full-time. Going to school full-time. And then there's all that other stuff that helps to add up to life.

I've spent most of the past four months utterly exhausted!

There's still some big times ahead. I work in a church, so the next week or so is going to be pretty crazy (this is one of our busy seasons...). As soon as that's over, I'll be taking the General Ordination Examination. That's the series of 7 three hour exams over the course of four days where I'm supposed to be able to reproduce everything that I should have learned in seminary. It's the closest thing to the bar exam that those who aspire to the priesthood face.

So though this is the passing of something of a milestone, there isn't a whole lot of time available to rest.

But today, I decided that I needed to take just a little bit of a break and do something just for my own benefit. To celebrate this achievement, I went to my local neighborhood movie theater to see Gus Van Sant's latest film, MILK.


Gus Van Sant's directing was sensitive and compassionate. He made me feel like I was a part of the action those 30 years ago. It made me want to be a part of the action today.

Sean Penn captured the spirit of what I imagine Harvey Milk to have really been like. He wasn't a perfect man. He had flaws and insecurities and sometimes he made flat out wrong-headed decisions, but he was a great man who helped to lead a great movement.

My other favorite character was Cleve Jones (as portrayed by Emile Hirsch). I had never heard of Cleve Jones before this film, but I truly fell in love. I'm going to marry someone just like him someday. Passionate. Energetic. Hopeful. Bright. Human. If this representation of his story is even close to accurate, he is a model for activism to which we all should aspire.

I'm not much of one who cries, but I was on the edge of tears throughout the film, and by the end, I was sobbing like I haven't in years.

It's a touching story, and I insist that you all see it as soon as possible. I'm a little disappointed that I haven't seen it until now!

So go!


And as soon as you get back from the theater, go ahead and pre-order your DVD. This is one to really spend some time getting to know!


Donate to the Harvey Milk School - a high school in New York City that addresses the unique needs of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning youth.

Donate to the fund set up to complete the Claiming the Blessing video Voices of Witness: Africa - a film that seeks to raise awareness for some of the most at-risk people on the planet, LGBT Christians in Africa.

Volunteer! Write letters! (Obama did just invite pro-life, anti-gay pastor Rick Warren to say the invocation at his inauguration - surely that deserves a few strongly worded letters...)

Raise some hell!

Come on folks, there's work to do!

I'm Jon Richardson and Harvey Milk recruited me! (Just the shot in the arm this activist needed to get back out and fight!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Civil Unions Don't Work!!

But of course we've known that for some time now...

It is good to hear, however, that a bi-partisan panel (and generally diverse in many other ways) found the same thing.

I'm not sure what her source is, or I'd send you straight to the horse's mouth, but Elizabeth Kaeton has this summary of the panel's report posted on her blog.

The real gem of it:
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that 'denying rights and benefits to committed same-sex couples violates the equal protection guarantee and can no longer be tolerated under our State constitution.' Implementation of that ruling by the invention of a parallel status failed to deliver equality. It was like planting a toothpick and hoping a tree would grow."
I don't know a Southerner who could have said it better!!

To read the rest of the report of the report on Elizabeth's blog, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Too fun!

With a hat tip to Susan Russell for posting a link to it on her blog, I'd like to share this with you...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

It's just entirely too funny - and studded with many of my favorite stars!

Of particular interest to me: Margaret Cho, Allison Janey, Neil Patrick Harris, Jack Black, and undoubtedly MANY more that I didn't notice in my first viewing.

Who can you find?!

On top of that, you get a little Bible study, a little economics study, and a whole lotta musical theatre just for the fun of it! Enjoy!