© 2012. Black & White Chi Rho Ministries 

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Sermons

Star Light

1/5/2020

The truth is in us

12/24/2019

TFTC

1/6/2012

Matthew 2:1-12

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet:

6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star appeared; 8 and he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 When they had heard the king they went their way; and lo, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; 11 and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

Star Light

Sermon given on 5 January 2020 by The Rev. Jon Roberts

Christmas II & The Epiphany

Calvary Episcopal Church, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

The three wise men entering Bethlehem by Welsh artist Rhys Jenkins, early 20th C.

Star light, star bright,

The first star I see tonight;

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.[1]

 

That’s Richard Girling’s rhyme, but if you prefer Walt Disney’s version, you simply add,…

“I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

We'll make a wish, and do as dreamers do,

And all our wishes

Will come true.”

 

All of us have wished upon a star hoping that the answers to all of our questions will come true; but often what we don’t see is that which is right in front of us.

 

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a lovely bottle of wine, they lay down for the night, and go to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." Watson replied, "I see millions of stars." "What does that tell you?" Watson pondered for a minute.

"Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets."
"Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo."
"Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three."
"Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant."
"Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow."
"What does it tell you, Holmes?" Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke:

"Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent!"

Today is a remarkable and amazing day because it is a time where light reveals glory, up close and from afar. We are like three kings who journey afar, over “field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star.”[2] Today is January fifth, which means, technically, theologically, liturgically we are on the twelfth day of Christmas. The manger and baby Jesus are still in sight and all of the halls remain decked with Christmas trees, ornaments and candles. It is also a wonderful sight to see the three wise men have finally made it to the manger, a tradition of slow and steady movement of these statues from one side of the church to the other. We rejoice in knowing they found him. They found Jesus and they come bearing gifts. A little late, but at least they made it.

These men have been glorified by the western church for years and they mark the Epiphany of God to illustrate one of the first miracles. Some say the miracle is that they actually located Jesus in the manger by following a start that was light years away. How could that be accurate? A funny comment heard was that if men, such as these, would have simply stopped and asked for directions, they would have arrived much faster. Christmas turns to Epiphany, the season of observing Jesus’ miracles. Even as a baby, he had the power to lead people to him.

There is an even greater miracle going on here. None of these three men were actual kings and their wisdom is decided by their trade. In all probability the “magi” were more closely related to a modern day David Copperfield, a magician who uses slight of hand and mirrors to cloak the truth. The use of gold, frankincense and myrrh, were used as part of their performance. It adds more to the story, does it not? When King Herod calls three “wise men” into his chamber, he was looking for those who were smarter than the rest, could move quickly and keep secrets.[3] Oh how God can choose the right people to carry out His will. This alone is not the greatest miracle here. Most importantly is that they were not Jewish, yet the star of David is arguably in front of them. This kerygmatic emblem of antiquity is connecting prophecy of old with the new covenant of God with His creation through the person of Jesus who is Messiah; and later through the emblem of the Cross.

The star of David, seen as two triagles inverted upon one another, expressing six points is not mentioned in the Bible, but the prophecy of the Messiah coming from the direction of David, is. References of this king’s battle armor bearing the star can be found as well as archeological evidence of the symbol in his son’s, King Solomon’s temple. The star predates David and goes back into antiquity as a studied and hallowed symbol, pointing the way, providing hope. The star for the people of Judah did not actually become widely associated with their nation until the 19th century and not long afterward when millions were given a patch with the star to wear on their breast during the Holocaust. For the people of Israel, they followed a star for hope of deliverance and salvation.

The miracle of the Epiphany occurred when God called the Gentiles and the Jews to come together. Like two triangles, they are held tightly together, superimposed to complement one another. By law and faith, God has shown the way, His light and glory manifested in the following of a star. For all ages past, present and future our eyes and attention are called to look up and to see God. Knowing we had great difficulty with this, God gave us His son, in a manger, so that we may gaze down and see him as well. From afar, God reveals light and glory through the star. Close by, God reveals the same, through Jesus, that sacred name.

Perhaps you do not see what is right in front of you. Everything must add up for your wishes to come true. You take into account all things through astronomical, even astrological ways; theological and even meterological ones as well. Are your questions being answered? Are you on a quest to determine how the mystery is revealed? Come to church because in this place we follow what is right in front of us. Jesus meets us close and takes us far. We are like the wise men on a journey to find God. What better place to start than in this church. It is through the Church that the miracle continues and as St. Paul once said, it is where, “we bring to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.” and it is where, “the wisdom of Christ in its rich variety might now be known.”[4] This becomes the place where we slowly make our way back to what has always been right in front of us. The simplicity of a baby in a manger joined with the light and glory of God’s work in the galaxy above. What a wonderous occurrence.

You may be asking, if I come to Church how can I be wise and know where to go from here? How do I offer myself in prayer. Maybe, later on, before bed your prayer can go like this…

Star light, star bright,

The first star I see tonight;

I wish I may, I wish I might,

Have the wish I wish tonight.

I will make a wish as dreamers do,

And pray dear Jesus,

To be with you.[5]

 

[1] R. Gerlings, Hey, Diddle, Diddle and Other Best-Loved Rhymes (Windmill Books, 2009), p. 32.

[2] John Henry Hopkins, Jr. We Three Kings, 1857.

[3] Matthew 2:1-12

[4] Ephesians 3:1-12

[5] The Rev. Jon Roberts

The truth is in us

Sermon given on 24 December 2019 by The Rev. Jon Roberts

Christmas Eve - The Children's  Pageant

Calvary Episcopal Church, Indian Rocks Beach, Florida

 

The Wise Men visit King Herod Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, c. 435AD

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.[1]

We have almost crossed over from the Advent of preparation into Christmas of birth. From the setting of the sun on our sin, the light of a silent night offers forgiveness. Forgiveness to those who confess it. But, oh how sin can still get in the way.

One evening, a husband and wife were preparing for dinner, when he noticed a book on the kitchen table. It was titled, “What 20 million American Women want.” He took it and sat down, thumbing through the pages. His wife was a little annoyed. “Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” He calmly replied, “I just wanted to see if they spelled my name right.”

On this night of our Savior’s birth we follow the story of Jesus from the text of St. Matthew and in it, there is obvious deception that takes place.[2] Out of the book, we must learn from this, as God is calling us around the manger, not to see our name, but his. King Herod called three wise men around, to find where the star was pointing so that he may go and make sure his name was the name above all else. He let his sin deceive, and the truth was not in him.

King Herod is portrayed in a beautiful mosaic on the wall of St. Maria Maggiore in Rome where you can tell from their posture, the wise men were doubtful of Herod’s agenda. The artist emphasizes the royal deception by giving a light blue Aureole (nimbus/halo equivalent) above his head; a sign of his claim to be a demi-god himself. Just to make it abundantly clear, in capital letters, properly spell his name, “HERODES.”

Are we the wise men, truly seeking the truth of the Messiah or are we the Herod, who seeks only themselves? That is the true gift we bring. We bring our repentance and confess our sins to the one who is pure, faithful and just; who will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is who we find in the manger. It is God; God with us; God for us, but we must surrender and no longer live by deception. If we do, we will never find the wisdom of the star that leads us, which is the Holy Spirit. We will never find the manger that bears new life in us, which is the Savior, Jesus Christ. We will never find the truth of God’s love for the world, if we do not behold the decision of a husband to let go his ego for the good of his wife, or the ego of a king to let go his ego for the good of a nation. It is what more than 20 million and counting should want every year, especially now when Jesus is born. He is born into our deception, and he was sent to set us free and present the truth, so that it may live within us.

On this eve of the birth of the Son of God, will you be wise, will you confess and present the gift of your ‘self’; it is as valuable as gold, frankincense and myrrh. When we truly see this child, born in a manger as the means for us to find new birth in us, then the truth is in us.

 

[1] 1 John 1:8

[2] Matthew 2:1-12

TFTC

Sermon given on 6 January 2012 by The Rev. Jon Roberts

Grace Episcopal Church, Monroe, LA

 

The Nativity of Our Lord by Dona Gelsinger c.2010

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor; He shall preserve the lives of the needy. The compassion and preservation of life are the coordinates of God's will.

All across the world a new game has spread. It's called "Geocaching."[1] Anyone with a cell phone that has a Global Positioning System or "GPS", can play along. It began May 3rd, in the year 2000 as President Clinton gave official approval to "hit the blue button in the sky" unlocking the Selective Availability satellite system employed by the US Dept. of Defense. Prior to, his presidential predecessor, insured that the US owned the sky, so to speak. There were already eighteen satellites at the time orbiting the Earth and at the stroke of twelve, global positioning coordinates were immediately available. Anyone with a GPS could now find things, help others, and explore areas with more accuracy.

Over ten years have passed. There are now more than twenty-five satellites. We can now sit at our computer, or carry a hand held smart phone to zero in on specific coordinates. We can even get a satellite image of our neighbor's back yard, if we want. Geocaching uses such technology and there are avid enthusiasts out there. It began when Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, decided to take a black bucket, put various prizes inside, such as videos, books, etc., and hid it in the woods near his hometown of Beavercreek, Oregon. With the coordinates released, people went to find. Lo and behold, dozens of people emailed him back that they discovered it, using their GPS devices.

The fun and excitement spread. Soon, people in just about every country posted the coordinates of their hidden prizes for others to find. The prize was finding something hidden. Hence the name "cache." What a treasure it was to lock in and discover something new. When you find the treasure, you may take something out, but always the rule is to leave something of greater. When you find the treasure, you write back to the one who did the hiding, leaving a message about its difficulty and the surprise of its contents.

Always, you sign off, "TFTC" which stands for "Thanks For The Cache." Imagine taking out your device presently and typing in the coordinates to a place not far away from that first sighting in Beavercreek. It takes you to a small town, called "Needy." Needy, Oregon, a place named after the poverty stricken community which had been caught in a war between pioneers and Indians. A war that took its toll. The grief and struggle of famine and massacre in those parts, in the middle of the nineteen century, hardly registers        into the successful prodigy of American history. No one won. Everyone lost. Something was taken out but nothing put back in.

Times have remained tough to present day. Zoom in. Look down and meet Rita Coleman. She is a single mother with a seven-year old. She was homeless for three years while trying to find work. Without the aid of a state relief, giving her $14 a day in which to live, she doesn't know how she would have survived. People like her are all around us. God has sent the coordinates. The words, "Let not the needy, O Lord, be forgotten; Nor the hope of the poor be taken away" echo in our daily office and they rise up before us on the Epiphany where we follow the star in the East.[2] Christ is revealed in the world, not hidden. Christ searches out the poor and the needy. He finds great joy in doing so, and perhaps we should share in his divine will. Let us pray that we find those less fortunate. Let us support charities and raise funds to provide means. We are the light to enlighten the gentiles and we are to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to people who live in the dark and are isolated from hope.

Here is the Epiphany this eve: Let us have pity on the lowly and poor; Let us preserve the lives of the needy. The compassion and preservation of life should be our earthly pursuits because they are the coordinates of God's will. Once you find someone in need put something of greater value back into them. Put within them the good name of Jesus. Tell them that He will guide and direct. He will keep and preserve. Say a prayer back to God, letting Him know what you found. Write the following on your message when you find such treasure: "TFTC", Thanks for the Cache.

"TFTC", Thanks for the Christ.         

 

[1] http://www.geocaching.com/about/history.aspx

[2] Matthew 2:1-12