Saturday, December 24, 2016

Year A Christmas Eve 2016 Lighter In My Pocket

Year A Christmas Eve 2016
“The Lighter In My Pocket”
St. David’s Church, Aylett, VA

Here is the audio file of today's sermon: AUDIO FILE

The Lord be with you! [And also with you.] Let us pray.

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Merry Christmas! Tonight we gather to remember, that there is hope in this world. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it.” And that is what we celebrate this night. That light which cannot be overcome, cannot be comprehended, cannot even be grasped. The Greek word used here in John 1:5 is just that, an ambiguous word, κατελαβεν, KATELABEN means “grasp” & “against,” take hold of, either physically or intellectually. I love that this verse speaking of the relationship of light and dark has this ambiguous meaning. Darkness is not the equal of light, it is the antithesis of light.

Hate is not the opposite of love. Love is an intense feeling of affection, while Hate is the intense feeling of dislike. But Apathy, apathy is the opposite of love. Apathy cannot understand caring, cannot conceive of caring. Apathy cannot even compete with Love. Love is all consuming, and when we see someone in Love, we know it, we celebrate it, we honor it. When we see someone proposing, we all stop and hold our breath. When they say yes, we cheer. But Apathy is nothing, Love is everything. Darkness has the same relationship with Light. It cannot even compete. Once light has come, darkness has lost its meaning. Darkness may remain, but only in its hiding places from the light.

I have to remember that when there are dark days. I have seen the light. The light has come. Darkness cannot even compete. I hold the light. I share the light. I know that there is light even when I cannot see it. Darkness has no meaning. Darkness only remains in its hiding places from the light.

A story is told of children who were rescued from the concentration camps. They were horribly scarred. Most of the scars were psychological. They lived in fear and terror and want for so long, they did not understand that their dark days were behind them. Often the children would wake up screaming in the night, terrified all over again. They were so terrified that could not separate the Then of the camps with the Now of their safe, new homes. Their guardians and therapists were at a loss with what to do. That is until the thought about the one time of the day when they were not afraid. It was when they were eating. When they had a plate of food, they acted calm, and eating ravenously. They ate fast, not knowing if or when the food would disappear. So one of the counselors started handing out bread before bedtime. The children would take a simple roll with them, and what they found was that when the children woke up scared, they would hold onto the bread and know that the dark days were over.  Sleeping with bread gave them hope.

Light in the darkness gives hope. That is why we have Advent every year. It is our Bread in the midst of the Night, these shortening, darkening days, every year. We are reminded every year, that the light has come. The Darkness cannot overcome, comprehend, even compete with the Light. That is Christmas.

If you have ever taken a beginning psychology class, or had a seminar on helping meet people’s problems, it all comes back to needs. Abraham Maslow’s famous pyramid of needs, his Hierarchy of Needs it is called, looks at a slow progression of basic needs at the bottom and moving all the way of to a sense of Meaning at the top. It begins with the Physiological: air, water, food, shelter. Safety comes next, and that sense of being secure. Love/Belonging is next, with the care of one’s interior life. Growing out of Love/Belonging is Esteem. Esteem is the care of our inner life. It can only be addressed when all of the other needs are cared for. Finally, at the pinnacle for Maslow comes Self-Actualization, when we are finally able to be who we were born to be. It is hard for me not to hear Jesus speaking to all of these needs in his coming. He cared for people’s basic needs in the feeding of the 5,000 and he spoke to Self-Actualization at the Great Commission sending people out to share his message and Good News. And Jesus covers all the levels in between. The Gospel is particular and authentic as it meets people where they are. To the Hungry, the Good News is Food. To the Blind, it is Sight. To the person feeling unloved, it is Community and Family. To the person feeling Unworthy, it is the still, small voice promising that they are Worthy. To the person searching for meaning, why they are here, the Gospel is a calling and a purpose. “For Freedom Christ has set us Free,” Paul reminds us. (Galatians 5:1) And that is the Light that shines in the Darkness, wherever we are, and whatever we do. Christ came so that we might have life, and have it to the full.(John 10:10b)

I used to take kids into caves. I got paid to do it at the summer camp where I worked. A big part of learning to be in a cave is learning what Darkness truly is. Most of us have never, ever been truly in the Dark. At one point in most caves, you are in deep enough that the light cannot get in that far in from the surface. We use light all the time to orient ourselves. We use it to orient ourselves to our position, to the time of the day, to so many things. And while we use light, learning what it is like without it is important, too. We would get in a safe spot, and show the children what it was like. We would leave on light on, and describe what was about to happen so they would all feel and stay safe. I would cover over my flashlight and the glow would break through my fingers. That faint glow would seem like so much soon. And then, when all was ready, we would turn out all lights, and sit in the Darkness. After about a minute I would invite the kids to wave their hands in front of their faces. Their brains, so conditioned to being in the light, would convince them that they could see their hands waving. I would ask them to close their eyes and do it again, and again their brains would “see,” supposedly, their hands waving. We so long for the light. Our whole bodies are designed to seek and absorb the light. I would pull out a lighter, and ask them to look toward where my voice was coming from. They would look my way, and I would strike the lighter. Having become accustomed to the dark, the individual sparks would stand out, and the flame would seem blinding. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome, comprehend, or even compete with it.

The kids would often go off and explore in the halls and nooks and crannies around where we were sitting, and I would sit there alone in the dark. I would place myself in the tunnel leading out so no one could get past me. I could hear them, and see the faint glow of their lights in the distance. After a few minutes, I could only hear them. And still I would sit there in the dark. I was not scared, I knew I had a flashlight in my hand. I was not scared, because I knew I had a lighter in my pocket. I was not scared, I knew the way back to the Light outside the cave.

Christmas is just that, the celebration that the light has come into the world. Especially when we feel that the world is dark, and that there is no light in the world. Remember, you know the light. In fact, you have a lighter in your pocket. When the world seems darkest, that means the dawn will soon be here.

From the beginning of the Gospel of John…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

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. From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

[Light candle.] The light shines in the Darkness and the Darkness cannot even compete. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Year A Advent 4 2016 "Called to be Saints"

Year A Advent 4
St David’s Episcopal, Aylett, VA 18 Dec 2016
“Called To Be Saints”

Today’s Scripture focuses on one of the quiet heroes of the Bible. We know little about him, other than his name and occupation. And a miracle in and of itself, he did the right thing without even being asked. Can you tell I have two kids when I see doing what you are supposed to do as a miracle?.

A story is told of a preacher who was visiting a small town in the South to preach a revival. (Remember those?) One of the evenings he spoke on being True. “Be true, even when no one is looking!” he proclaimed. After the service he was walking around the little town square and was feeling homesick. As he was heading back to the hotel, he spied the phone booth (Remember those?) and thought he should call home. He pulled out all his pocket change (Remember pocket change?) and got the operator to help make the long-distance call. (Remember when you had to get help?) The operator gave the amount for the call, and the preacher inserted it. He had a good talk with the wife, and said goodnight. When he hung up the phone, all his change came out. All the money he had put in to make the phone call came right out, and he was surprised. About to pocket it, he thought better, and called the operator. She was actually surprised as well. “I didn’t think you would do that!” she said. He asked what she meant, and she went on, “You see, Pastor, I started my shift right after service tonight and I recognized your voice. You said to be True, even when no one was looking. I guess you meant it.” She told him to just re-insert the money in the phone, and thanked him for being True.

We never know who is watching do we?

And today’s Gospel, while telling the Christmas story, focuses on one man and his choices. Today we speak of Joseph, the unheralded hero of Christmas.

This week I watched a documentary on Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock on Star Trek. Several of his Jewish friends said that the one word to describe him was “Mensch.” That term, from the German, normally means just Man. But in the Yiddish, it takes on a certain connotation. The best translation I can think of is a “Stand Up Guy.” Nimoy, aka Spock, was one such guy according to all his friends, and so was Joseph. He was a  Mensch, a Stand-Up Guy. Joseph was the type of guy who did the right thing, before being asked, just because it is the right thing to do.

I do not think it is accidental that God chose a man like Joseph to be the earthly father of his only-begotten Son.

We know that Joseph was a carpenter from the city all the way up in the North of Israel/Palestine called Nazareth. He was of the house and lineage of King David, of which the prophesied Messiah was to come. The problem was that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, way to the South, about 10 miles south of Jerusalem.

He probably had no thoughts that a son of his would be seen to be the Messiah, but a certain census took him and his betrothed south to be registered.

Now his betrothed, the girl he was engaged to be married to, Mary, in all likelihood was a young teen. He would have been older, perhaps significantly older. I always grew up thinking of Joseph being younger and nearer her age, but he would have been established with a business that could support a family.

Now today’s Gospel tells us, Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
From this we know that Mary and Joseph had not been together as husband and wife, and that  Jesus was Mary’s first born from Luke 2 (v. 7). Joseph was not the father of the baby.

Now, in that day and time, he could have done a number of things. He could have demanded much from her family, perhaps even her stoning. But, this was not the type of man Joseph was. He did the right thing even when it hurt. And it probably hurt a lot. Not many of us like to think we have been cheated on. If this were an arranged marriage, he may not have known her much or at all. He may have just known her as a girl running around Nazareth with her friends. Another thing, according to our Catholic brothers and sisters, Joseph may have been a widower. She may be a second wife to this man. Catholic scholars note that Jesus had brothers and sisters, this is told in several of the Gospels. But that because she is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Joseph and Mary never had relations. When I first heard this I was surprised, but it does answer a few things. When Jesus was crucified, and asked his “beloved disciple” to take care of his mom, I always wondered why his brothers and sisters did not take on that role. If his mom was their step-mom, that would help this make more sense. Or, as I have traditionally thought, Jesus was the firstborn, with siblings coming after. We don’t know, we cannot from the information we have been given. I have no problem with her being a first wife, or her being a second wife, and there is adequate supporting details to back up both views.

We know that Joseph died before Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps Jesus delayed his ministry till he was 30 so that he could make enough money to care for his mother after he left to begin his work? We just cannot know. It is fascinating to think about. But despite all we do not know, we do know this:
Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

You see, Joseph was a Stand-Up Guy. He chose to be loving to this girl who had humiliated him. All the neighbors’ tongues would have been wagging. “We always thought she was a good girl.” Joseph would have known, he lived in the same society. He, however, did not want to disgrace her any more, and was going to call off the wedding quietly. I have been booked to be the minister at weddings that were called off. It is heartbreaking. And it is rarely quietly done. But you see, Joseph was a righteous man. He was thinking more about her than he was of himself and his reputation. That was the type of man he was. What I love is that all this took place before the angel ever showed up. He decided to do the right thing before it was asked of him. It helps me see why God chose a man like this.

Then, Joseph had a dream. DO NOT FIND THIS ACCIDENTAL! Remember Joseph in Genesis, and how God spoke to him in dreams and the interpretation of others’ dreams? Do you see this parallel between Joseph of Genesis and the Joseph of the Gospels? It is hard to miss.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”

He was told that despite the social stigma, to follow through with the marriage, and to take Mary as his wife, and in so doing, raise the baby as his son. Later And even more, he was given names for the baby: Jesus, which means God-saves, or more specifically, Yahweh-saves. And Emmanuel, God-with-us. Both are beautiful. Jesus is the Greek form of the name Yeshua, or what we transliterate as Joshua.

And what did he do?

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

He did what he was told to do.

And may it be the same for us. You see, we are called to be saints. Not just believers, because you and I both know we can say we believe a  lot of things and it may have no earthly difference in our lives. But like Joseph, we are to be righteous, a stand-up guy or gal, a mensch.

We are to do the right thing, even when it costs us in time, money or reputation. Like Joseph.

We heard in Romans 1 today about this one we follow, whose birth we just explored, Jesus Christ:

Jesus Christ ... promised beforehand through [the] prophets in the holy scriptures... [who] was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ… who are called to be saints.

The Scriptures today remind us of a humble man, a workman from a backwater town. He never expected to be on the world stage, and on this side of heaven, he never knew the impact of his choices and life. He was just living his life, and doing the right thing as best he knew. And maybe that is what God wants of all of us, to follow in humility the life of faith. To “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” according to the prophet Micah. Or as Paul said, we have “received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith.”

We have been journeying for four weeks now, wearing the purple of contrite hearts. We have recognized that we have Hope, Peace, and Joy along the way, and today we have both the outcome and the attitude that enables it all. Love. Today we have Love. It is for Love, that Joseph decided to treat with Mary’s shame quietly, and then to follow through with the marriage, in Love of her and in the Love of God. And we, who are called likewise, to Love God enough to do the proper thing whenever and wherever we can.

And  in our humble, daily offering, we prepare a place for the Christ child to enter in. In our collect today we prayed: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself.

I graduated from high school when we could still sing about Jesus. I was in the a cappella choir my senior year, and we got all kinds of opportunities, including singing for President Reagan in the White House at Christmas 30 years ago this year. But of all my memories from that group, my favorite was singing a song taken from a text from the early Modern era. It was called The Best of Rooms, by the poet and Anglican priest Robert Merrick. He wrote this in 1620.
       Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er he comes,
To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms:
Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part
Of all the house: the best of all’s the heart.

Humble Joseph, who sought a room for his bride to give birth, opened his heart to God. He was a saint, who never thought he would be remembered and revered. He just lived his life in such a way to give glory to God. We, too, are called to be Saints.  May Christ enter in this Christmas, and every day throughout the year. We are called to be Saints. May we be so worthy. Amen.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Year A Advent 3 2016 “Not Even Fools”

Year A Advent 3
11 Dec 2016, St. David’s, Aylett, VA
“Not Even Fools”

[Please note, all texts used are included at the end. Blessings!]

The prophet proclaims:
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

On God’s highway, no one, not even fools can get lost. [Self-deprecatingly] Gives me hope!

This third Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of Joy, which is why we lit the pink candle. The purple is often a sign of contrition, much like Lent, and we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming and coming again, much like we do for his Resurrection. But today is Joy, for there is Joy that the waiting is almost done. The Savior is almost come.

And as we look at the Way of the Lord, we see that many are joyous, our fellow pilgrims on the Lord’s Highway.

I love this time of year. I love the music. I love the buzz and stir, the excitement is palpable. It seems like everyone is on the same page, we all got the memo. We have much to be thankful for, much to give joy for...
  • First and foremost the coming of Jesus. Hallelujah! But we have added so much more.
  • Family.
  • Community.
  • Light against the darkening skies.
  • It is a festive season and all the best gets lumped in.

People do not think twice about santa hats or silly sweaters, and people laugh and enjoy rather than point fingers.

Our canticle that we read, the Canticle of Mary, proclaims the Joy and Hope and Faith of her, a young teen probably whose faith was greater than the fear of possible judgment, scorn, or even death for shaming her family. She declares the greatness and goodness of God.

Some days faith is easy. We have strong feelings and can shout Hallelujah! We know without a doubt that God is God and God is good. God rules from heaven and all's right with the world! She said:
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

This season is a resounding bell of faith. Faith that the shortening days will lengthen. Faith that the darkening moods with lighten. Faith that the wrong shall fail, and the right prevail.

Today’s collect calls us to the strengthened and renewed faith. Let nothing stand in our way of coming to God. Jesus opens the door, and allows us in. We prayed in our Collect for the day:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord...

I think that is why candles and light are so inextricably bound to this time of year. Light is the symbol of what we are feeling.

The last few years our family has enjoyed going to Busch Gardens for Christmastown to see the supposed 8 million lights. We always make sure, despite the cold, to take the Skyride, the gondolas on the cables going from country to country so we can begin to get a scope on the millions and millions of lights shining. It is a bit overwhelming, but oh so beautiful.

We went on Friday night, earlier this year than we usually go, but we wanted to beat the crowds that come as the holiday gets closer. It was a cold, cold night. I should have had an extra layer on, but I didn’t. At the end of the night, we got in line for our traditional Skyride to end our day. In France, there was no line, we got right on. But at the transfer station in Germany we had to get off and get back on. There was already quite the line there. We waited about 10 minutes, not too long, when the ride suddenly stopped. It just stopped. The employees kept announcing to those way up above the ground to stay in their seats and not worry. It was only a temporary delay.

I was quite glad we were still in the station, not up on the cable out in the wind. What was a fun and enjoyable cap on the evening could have become a long and cold pause on the joy if we had been stuck up there. After 10 or 12 minutes, the ride got going again, and we jumped on not thinking about it.

The joy is contagious and palpable for many this time of year. It SEEMS like everyone gets the memo. The Joy is there for many. But not all.

I think of the people stuck in the skyride cars, alone, in the dark, waiting. This was supposed to be fun, right? But in the cold and dark they sat alone swinging, seeing the lights far below and far away, and here they were apart. Trying to get to the joy, but something is holding them back.

In all of our Joy this time of year, some see the memo, but cannot get on board. On this day of Joy I want to speak to those who might be feeling it this year.

Some are like that, stuck away from the Joy of the Coming. John the Baptizer was like that. In fact, exactly like that. We see him at the baptism, and at the sending off of two of his disciples to follow Jesus, but then he is arrested. Prophets of God get that a lot. They speak the Truth to Power, and they are the ones who pay the price for this. John certainly did. He accused Herod of inappropriate relations with his dead brother’s wife. Herod knew he was in the wrong. His wife, though, hated John for it and it would eventually cost him his head. Literally. But now, his ministry is over, he is in prison awaiting his fate, and he begins to have doubts. He hears what is going on with Jesus, the success he is having, the crowds coming to him now. And John wonders, Is he the one? I mean, really? I thought he was. He seemed to be. My whole life has been about what HE was to do, but if that is true, what am I doing here? Let me be sure.

So he does the only thing he can do, send word to his cousin, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” He wanted to know. Just like the people stuck in the Skyride on Friday night, the announcements kept going up, This is only a temporary delay, please stay calm and in your seats. Thank you. And Jesus sent a message to John, one that John would get immediately. He could have said YES, but he did something more. He reminded him of what was promised hundreds of years before they both were born about what would happen when the Messiah finally came. Jesus’ answer was a reminder of the promise, and an affirmation that it was coming true.

We read the promise today in Isaiah:
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
"Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you."
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

John, despite being a mighty prophet of God, was just like the rest of us. There are moments of fear and doubt. There are times when even the best of us wonder, what is going to happen. We all have moments of Fear. It is said that the Bible says Fear not! Or Do not be afraid!  365 times. Even if we are afraid every day, the Bible speaks to our fear.

So instead of answering the question, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus sends this message.
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus was telling John in a way that he would hear and understand. Those promises of long ago from God are coming true. And in reminding him this way, I thoroughly believe he would have heard the words from Isaiah, “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, do not fear!’”

In a moment of fear and doubt, just like we all have, John was honest and real. He needed to know. His days were numbered, and he knew it. And Jesus said, between the lines, You know the truth. Fear not.

Sometimes we just have to be reminded.

Just like John will always be pointing to and affirming Jesus, most of our major characters have a sidekick or a buddy. John looked to Jesus, and Linus looks to Charlie Brown.

Last year, someone took notice of something unique and powerful in 51-year-old cartoon, A Charlie Brown Christmas. I have been watching it my whole life, and had never noticed this until it came to light last year. I noticed it a few days ago, making the rounds on Facebook again this year.

Charlie Brown is one of those people who got the memo that he should be happy, but just cannot find a way there. He tries and tries and tries, to no avail. After the Christmas play he is directing is about to flop he asks he best friend, Linus, what Christmas is all about.

Now picture Linus in your head. What does he always have? It is always with him. His security blanket. It is ubiquitous. When we see Linus, we see the blanket. It is always with him. Charlie Brown’s insecurities are internal. Linus’s are external in the form of his blanket.

When Charlie Brown asks the true meaning of Christmas, Linus walks to center stage and quotes from Luke 2 (vv. 8-14).

He says, “Lights please.” And the spotlight goes on him.

Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not:"
And this is what I never noticed before last year. And I have checked. It is true and it happens right here. When he speaks for the angels, the very messengers of God, Linus drops all his insecurities. His security blanket drops to the floor and we know because his close up shows both his hands. “Fear not…”

When he is reminded of what God promised and how it was coming true, all his fears parted.

Linus Van Pelt: "for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

And then he, like so many of us, picks up his blanket and begins sucking his thumb all over again. But in that moment, he was comforted. And he was a comfort.

Jesus did not judge John for his question, and in fact said he was one of the greatest humans ever born. High praise from the Son of God.

The people on the frozen Skyride in the winter wind.
Linus with his blanket.
John awaiting news.
We all have moments of doubt. We all have moments when we need to be reminded to Fear Not. And that is one of the reasons why we have a time every year to remember, to remember and celebrate. Jesus was born. Jesus died. Jesus rose again. We have been saved. We have no need of fear or sorrow. It is good to be reminded. It is good to let go of our insecurities and trust in the promises of Scripture. Just like Linus. Just like John. Just like me. And maybe just like you. In our weakness, he is strong.

It is a good thing that not even fools can get lost on the Lord’s Highway, and we we doubt that we can, God’s word gets to us. Let there be Joy! Thanks be to God! Amen.

Title comes from Isaiah 35:
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

Collect: Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

Canticle 15 Page 91, BCP The Song of Mary Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Matthew 11:2-11
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’

“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”