Monday, December 29, 2014

What Episcopalians Have Lost

Episcopalians (referring only to those in the Episcopal Church [USA], and not those in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina) could have heard a Christmas sermon like this:
From Mabel's Christmas Letter:

Now when I remem­ber Christ­mas I think of the trees and lights and dec­o­ra­tions and I recall all the busy shop­ping for presents. But most of all I remem­ber my friends, most of whom have died or are as fee­ble as I. And I remem­ber my fam­ily, my father and mother and sis­ters and brother, and my dear dar­ling hus­band, Hank, and of course my chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great grand chil­dren spread out over this great coun­try of ours. And I remem­ber singing car­ols at the church. Oh how I used to love that Can­dle­light ser­vice. But mostly now I think of my Lord.

I don’t know what peo­ple do who cel­e­brate Christ­mas with­out the Lord Jesus. They must feel ter­ri­bly empty when they wake up the next day with presents unwrapped, the food eaten and life back to nor­mal. No won­der the doc­tors say so many folk get depressed dur­ing the hol­i­days. I think peo­ple have for­got­ten that Love came down at Christ­mas. God’s Love! God’s Son—our Sav­ior! He did not grow up out of this ancient world of ours as if he was the best we had to offer. No, dear friends, He came down from heaven—God looked down and saw our need and so He sent His Son. That is why we call him, Immanuel, “God with us”. It is odd how you learn new things about that. Twelve years ago when my hus­band died it was my first Christ­mas in 54 years with­out my dar­ling Hank. I was all alone in my liv­ing room and I said, “Lord, I don’t think I can go on. I’m so alone.” Then the room seemed to grow unusu­ally quiet and the Lord seemed to say to me, “Mabel—you are not alone—always there will be two of us. Oth­ers may leave but I will stay.” That’s what Christ­mas means to me. God is with us—God is with me.

So go ahead. Dec­o­rate your trees and houses. I sup­pose it puts us all in a more cheer­ful mood. Give the chil­dren their gifts. Fill your stom­achs with all the deli­cious foods. But lis­ten to an old lady, if only for a moment. Sooner or later a per­son has to real­ize he is not going to live for­ever. No mat­ter how hard we try to live upstand­ing lives there is a lot we do in this life for which we need to be for­given. When we stand before God’s judg­ment every­one needs a Sav­ior....

But instead, the Christmas sermon Episcopalians heard was this one:
The altar hanging at an English Advent service was made of midnight blue, with these words across its top: “We thank you that darkness reminds us of light.” Facing all who gathered there to give thanks were images of night creatures – a large moth, an owl, a badger, and a bat – cryptic and somewhat mysterious creatures that can only be encountered in the darkness.

As light ebbs from the days and the skies of fall, many in the Northern Hemisphere associate dark with the spooks and skeletons of secular Hallowe’en celebrations. That English church has reclaimed the connection between creator, creation, and the potential holiness of all that is. It is a fitting reorientation toward the coming of One who has altered those relationships toward new possibilities for healing and redemption.

Advent leads us into darkness and decreasing light. Our bodies slow imperceptibly with shorter days and longer nights, and the merriness and frantic activity around us are often merely signs of eager hunger for light and healing and wholeness.

The Incarnation, the coming of God among us in human flesh, happened in such a quiet and out of the way place that few noticed at first. Yet the impact on human existence has been like a bolt of lightning that continues to grow and generate new life and fire in all who share that hunger.

Jesus is among us like a flitting moth – will we notice his presence in the street-sleeper? He pierces the dark like a silent, streaking owl seeking food for hungry and defenseless nestlings. He will overturn this world’s unjust foundations like badgers undermining a crooked wall. Like the bat’s sonar, his call comes to each one uniquely – have we heard his urgent “come and follow”? ...

O, foolish Episcopalians! How you have squandered your treasures!


  1. "Jesus is among us like a flitting moth"??? That's priceless!

  2. Lord, have mercy!

    His glory long ago left that temple.


    From the Diocese of Olympia, another gem.

  4. I had not seen this. A reminder why I don't look! I guess the upside is she did actually mention Jesus this time rather than global warming....

    thinking the trajectory ten years into the future....