The 2nd Day of Christmas

A postcard for Christmas 2022
My version of an Advent wreath.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Christmas is not a day, it is a season. You can keep right on saying “Merry Christmas” through January 5 (a.k.a. The Twelfth Night). Then is the Feast of the Epiphany, where we remember the coming of the Magi from the East and their acknowledgment of who Jesus was.

I am so very thankful for the cards, gifts, and treats. I was well-fed on my journey on Christmas Eve. It was wonderful to celebrate Christmas three times over with the good folks at St. Barnabas in Roanoke, Messiah in Heflin, and Holy Spirit in Alabaster. It was a joy-filled day.

At the beginning of Advent, I shared a prayer by Howard Thurman. As we are in the midst of the 12 Days of Christmas, it seems appropriate to share another Thurman prayer:

I will light Candles this Christmas,
Candles of joy despite all the sadness,
Candles of hope where despair keeps watch,
Candles of courage for fears ever present,
Candles of peace for tempest-tossed days,
Candles of grace to ease heavy burdens,
Candles of love to inspire all my living,
Candles that will burn all year long.

From “The Mood of Christmas…” by Howard Thurman

A sermon for Christmas Eve offered at the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Heflin, Alabama, 12/24/22:

Principal texts: Luke 2:1-20

Audio only

Another Christmas Story

A postcard for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, 12/18/22.
My version of an Advent wreath.


A sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Advent for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greensboro, Alabama, 12/18/22:

Principal text: Matthew 1:18-25

“Matthew’s Christmas, without the familiar and comfortable manger scene, reminds us that Christmas is about God coming to us and God with us. Christmas is about the beginning of the recreation of the world. It challenges us to act beyond our current understanding of righteousness and compassion. It challenges us to give up our expectations of what God should be doing.”

Where are you finding joy?

A postcard for the Third Sunday of Advent, 12/11/22.
My version of an Advent wreath.

We finally got to light the pink candle.

The Third Sunday of Advent reminds us that we are supposed to be experiencing joy in this season. The challenge of Advent to slow down and wait for God is also meant to create spaces of joy. I know for me, the busyness of the season can squeeze out the joy.

Here is a prayer from Henri Nouwen that invites us to seek the joy of the Advent season:

Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, “Come Lord Jesus!’
Amen.

Henri J.M. Nouwen

A sermon for the Third Sunday of Advent for the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Heflin, Alabama, 12/11/22:

Principal texts: Matthew 11:2-11

Audio only

Coming next

  • December 18 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro — 4th Sunday of Advent
  • December 24 – St. Barnabas / Messiah / Holy Spirit, Alabaster — Christmas Eve
  • January 1 – OFF

Saint Nicholas

A postcard for the Second Sunday of Advent, 12/04/22.
My version of an Advent wreath.

Saint Nicholas (a.k.a. Santa Claus) was a real person.

There are many legends told about Saint Nicholas, but we also know a fair amount of facts. Nicholas was born around 270 AD. He was not yet a priest when he was elected to serve as the Bishop of Myra. He likely attended the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, and he is remembered as working for the unity of the church. Nicholas was known for his humility and charity. He would pay marriage dowries for poor girls. He intervened on behalf of three innocent men condemned to death, as well as intervening for other unjustly imprisoned. Other legends say that he calmed a storm at sea, and others that he brought food during a famine.

Nicholas is the traditional patron of seafarers and sailors and of children. Many of the accounts of Nicholas’ life recount his habit of secret gift-giving to those in need, a tradition that many Christians have felt inspired to continue in his honor. As a bearer of gifts to children, his same was brought to America by the Dutch colonists in New York, from whom he is popularly known as Santa Claus.

Grant, Almighty God, that your church may be so inspired by the example of your servant Nicholas of Myra, that it may never cease to work for the welfare of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lesser Feasts and Fasts, 2018.

A sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent for St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Alabama, 12/04/22:

Principal texts: Matthew 3:1-12

Audio only

Coming next

  • December 11 – Messiah, Heflin — 3rd Sunday of Advent
  • December 18 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro — 4th Sunday of Advent
  • December 24 – St. Barnabas / Messiah / Holy Spirit, Alabaster — Christmas Eve
  • January 1 – OFF

Welcome to Advent

A postcard for the First Sunday of Advent, 11/27/22.
My version of an Advent wreath.

It is hard to believe, but Advent is here.

The next few weeks are likely busy for most of us. Work things to get caught up on before the end of the year. School semesters ending. Holiday travel. Holiday shopping. There is no shortage of things and events to distract us at the end of the year.

The season of Advent breaks into all of our busyness and asks us to focus on God. To remember in all our comings and goings, we are preparing for Christ’s coming in glory and the fullness of the Kingdom of God. 

Here is a prayer that I am carrying with me this Advent season:

May the sounds of Advent stir a longing in your people, O God. Come again to set us free from the dullness of routine and the poverty of our imaginations. Break the patterns which bind us to small commitments and to the stale answers we have given to questions of no importance. Let the Advent trumpet blow, let the walls of our defenses crumble, and make a place in our lives for the freshness of your love, well-lived in the Spirit, and still given to all who know their need and dare receive it. Amen.

A Prayer for Advent by Howard Thurman


A sermon for the First Sunday of Advent for the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, Heflin, Alabama, 11/27/22:

Principal texts: Romans 13:11-14 * Matthew 24:36-44

Audio only

Coming next

  • December 4 – St. Barnabas, Roanoke — 2nd Sunday of Advent
  • December 11 – Messiah, Heflin — 3rd Sunday of Advent
  • December 18 – St. Paul’s, Greensboro — 4th Sunday of Advent
  • December 24 – St. Barnabas / Messiah / Holy Spirit, Alabaster — Christmas Eve