Good News: a sermon for the first Sunday after Christmas 2017

Christmas, Sermon

In Wes Anderson’s 2001 film, the Royal Tenenbaum’s, the title character, Royal Tenenbaum, played by Gene Hackman, is a quick witted, narcissistic, and failed lawyer. Broke and recently ejected from the hotel in which he had lived for decades, Royal cons his estranged family into believing that he is dying of cancer, in the hopes that they’ll let him move back in to the family house. When they discover the fraud, they kick him out again. Standing next to the cab, he exclaims to his son, “I feel like a different person, I really do.”  Confused and a little exasperated, his son replies, “Dad, you were never dying.” Royal enthusiastically exclaims, “but I’m gonna live!”

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Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a textbook case of a false gospel. Royal deceives his family, and once they are on to him, he tries to deceive them a second time with good news.

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Christ the King

Christ the King, Sermon

Proper 29, Christ the King Sunday

Texts: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24; Psalm 95:1-7a; Ephesians 1:15-23; Matthew 25:31-46

This Sunday is the last of the Church year. In some Church calendars it is called Christ the King Sunday. Next Sunday we begin the new church year with Advent, a season that for a long time now the Church has recognized as a time of preparation.

For what are we preparing, you may ask? I spoke with my kids about this briefly yesterday. After we joked about preparing for gifts, for Santa, for good food, for time off school, one of them eventually asked, why do we need to prepare for Jesus’ birth. It happened already. Aren’t we just remembering?

Aren’t we just remembering?

Picturing Mary

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Madonna-and-Child-with-Angel-Madonna-Knitting

Eric Gill, The Madonna and Child with an Angel: Madonna Knitting, Wood engraving, 1916-19

I visited the National Museum of Women in the Arts yesterday to see their “Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea.” It really is an impressive exhibit. Pieces featured include liturgical art — there’s a chasuble with the Mary and Elizabeth scene on it, African art, lots of Renaissance painting, and icons. As an aid to your reflection on Christmas, the exhibit is timely.

Perhaps understandably, the exhibit didn’t include any Eric Gill. But I love this Madonna and Child. Gill’s wood engravings always communicate simple but profound truths, often in the context of basic, every day activities. Here, a child sits on his mother’s lap while she knits. But the powerful grace of the domestic scene is witnessed to by an angel.

If you’re in the DC area, I encourage you to check out the NMWA’s exhibit.