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Sermon: The Power and Grace of Christmas

Sermon.12.30.18 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Isaiah 61.10 -62.3; Psalm 147; Galatians 3.23-25; 4.4-7; John 1.1-18 Christmas! “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” (John 1.14; NRSV). We have noted before that this is variously translated as “pitched his tent among us,” or as “dwelt among us.” One modern translation, The Message, uses the phrase “moved into the neighborhood” (Karoline Lewis: http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2303). I like some of the connotations associated with “moved into the neighborhood.” It calls to mind the old lament, “There goes

Sermon: Merry Christmas!

Sermon.12.24.18 Merry Christmas! When we hear these words, I suspect most of us have images of holiday merriment – of feasting, friends, family, singing carols, drinking some eggnog, giving and receiving presents. A few days ago, some of us rang bells for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Appeal. We greeted people with Merry Christmas and were greeted in return. While these connotations are good, there is one which is more excellent – it is connected with love, the more “excellent way,” of which the Apostle Paul speaks. Christmas celebrates God’s love for us. We boldly proclaim this love in the Eucharistic Prayer: “Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and, w

Sermon: God's Love in Unexpected Ways and Places

Sermon.12.23.18 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Micah 5.2-5a; Psalm 80.1-7; Hebrews 10.5-10; Luke 1.39-55 It’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, and the emphasis is on God’s love. An attentive reading of the Scriptures reveals that God’s love to us often comes in highly unexpected ways; it sometimes breaks through when and where we least expect it. I suspect Micah’s prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Ephratha surprised more than a few people. Wouldn’t Jerusalem, the seat of power and authority, be the more logical place? If we were anticipating a Messiah, it would be reasonable to expect the Messiah’s arrival in Washington, D. C. Imagine our surprise if some lo

Sermon: Rejoice!

Sermon.12.16.18 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Zephaniah 3.14-20; Canticle 9; Philippians 4.4-7; Luke 3.7-18 This Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, is Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is Latin for the exhortation: “Rejoice!” So that is the theme we should find in our readings. Let’s begin with the gospel. Well, you have to admit, John the Baptist started his sermon in a way that got their attention: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance.” I think John anticipated their response: “Now, John. Wait a minute. You must remember who we are. As children of Abraham, we observe the sabbath, and we offer the obligatory sacrifices. Yea

Sermon: Preparing the Way

Sermon.12.09.18 St. Paul’s Episcopal – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Baruch 5.1-9; Canticle 4 or 16; Philippians 1.3-11; Luke 3.1-6 The Lectionary Readings for today have a great deal to say about our human frailty and the need to prepare for the birth and the return of our King, the Lord Jesus Christ. The readings also reveal various Advent themes. Let’s begin with the Apocryphal book, Baruch, named for Jeremiah’s scribe. Tradition has it that Baruch wrote the book, but there is reason to question its authorship and date. The book opens with Baruch reading the book to King Jeconiah and the people of Judah, the captives of Babylon who were deported after the fall of Jerusalem. The city of Jerusale

Sermon: Hope

Sermon.12.02.18 St. Paul’ – Brookings Fr. Larry Ort Jeremiah 33.14-16; Psalm 25.1-9; 1 Thessalonians 3.9-13; Luke 21.25-36 Advent calls us apart to wait, to reflect upon God’s promises, to pray, to anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and to rekindle hope for Christ’s Second Coming wherein all things shall be renewed. We are called apart from the bustling activity of shopping for a Christmas tree and gifts, from decorating, from Christmas concerts, from attending parties and open houses. How do the readings for today reflect the spirit of Advent? In Jeremiah we read, “The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house

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