Sermon: “Blasphemous Rumors”

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“Blasphemous Rumors”
Isaiah 7:10-16 and Matthew 1:18-25
Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 22, 2013
First Christian Church
Mahtomedi, MN

I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours
But I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor
And when I die I expect to find Him laughing

-Blasphemous Rumors, Depeche Mode, 1984

Those are the lyrics of a song called “Blasphemous Rumors” by the British New Wave band Depeche Mode. It’s an interesting song, because it takes on the topic of suffering and where faith intersects. In the song, we hear of a young girl trying to commit suicide, failing at first and then succeeding and another girl who became a committed Christian only to end up in a accident that left her on life support until the decision was made to turn the machine off.

There was a time in my life when I didn’t like this song because it seemed to denounce God for not stopping the evil that overtook these two women. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to see how this song is a song of complaint and questioning. Why does evil exist in this world? How can a good God allow such bad things to happen?

Saturday was the Winter Solstice, the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the day in the year with the shortest amount of daylight. A number of churches are starting to do services around that day that are little less festive than the rest of the season. The service goes by different names: Blue Christmas, Longest Night, Service of Light and so on. I’ve done a Blue Christmas service at First Christian in Minneapolis in 2011 and 2012 and I hope to do one here next year. The point of the service is to help those who might be facing a Christmas without a loved one, or are facing a job loss or anything that could keep you from celebrating during the holidays. These services provide a space for grief and sadness amidst the joy. It helps people remember that God has not forgotten them. Continue reading “Sermon: “Blasphemous Rumors””

Sermon: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

I preached this tonight at our Blue Christmas Service.

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”
Isaiah 49:14-16 and Matthew 2:1-23
Blue Christmas Service
December 19, 2012
First Christian Church
Minneapolis, MN

It’s Christmastime!  It’s the time of the year that we are supposed to be happy and we consider it “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes.  We can imagine this manger scene where Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus gather together with all the animals and the shepherds.  It’s just a wonderful picture.

But you know, I did something this year.  I actually kind of read some of the lectionary texts for Advent and you know what?  At least in the Bible, it is NOT the most wonderful time of the year.   The first Sunday talks about the second coming of Christ and it wasn’t something to look forward to.  Then we have a few Sunday focused on John the Baptist who calls the people who come to be baptized, snakes and tells people to get ready for Jesus, which again doesn’t sound nice.

If we go to Christmas and beyond, we again don’t have the bucolic scenes that so many of us are used to.  The Three Wise Men come and visit, giving gifts that fortells the grim future that Jesus would face on the cross.  King Herod, who hears about a rival king orders his soldiers to kill all young boys age 2 and under.  During the 12 days of Christmas we are faced with this tragedy called the Holy Innocents which is commemorated on December 28.

So, Advent and Christmas are not so happy at least not in the way we would like to think.  Which is probably a good thing, because let’s face it, all is not calm in our world.  We are only a few days out from the horrific shooting of 20 little children in suburban Connecticut.  As we tried to comprehend the evil that was taking place, time and time again, people posted Matthew 2:18 on their Facebook pages, which states: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Continue reading “Sermon: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?”