Christmas Joy

Merry Christmas! This is why we celebrate.

Fra Angelico, The Annunciation; tempera on wood; between 1433 and 1434.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Sadao Watanabe, Nativity; Hand-colored stencil print on crumpled paper.

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:1-7)

Christmas Eve 2020 at Eastbrook

Join us for worship services on Christmas Eve at Eastbrook Church for a celebration of Jesus, the Light of the world!

Join us in person (RSVP required here) or online for Christmas Eve 2020! If you plan to worship at home, please sign up for a Christmas Eve at Home kit here. Pick up your kit December 18-23 at Eastbrook Church.

**Note that we will have 6 identical services on two different days:
Wednesday, December 23 at 6 and 7:30 pm and
Thursday, December 24 at 1, 2:30, 4 & 5:30 pm.

Mary

This past weekend we continued our series “Family Tree” at Eastbrook Church. This is the fourth week in the first part of our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew. During Advent, we will focus on the genealogy of Jesus found in Matthew, chapters 1 and 2. It was a joy to co-preach this message about Mary with my wife, Kelly. The message is largely drawn from Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.

You can view the message video and outline below. You can follow along with the entire series here and the devotional that accompanies the series here. You could always join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“’The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).”  (Matthew 1:23)

The Obedience of Mary

  • Her place in the genealogy
  • Contrast with Eve

The Role of the Holy Spirit

  • God is fully holy and Mary is honored
  • Parallel with Genesis
  • Dignity of the body in the incarnation

Mary the Virgin Mother

  • This is something new and different through God’s power and initiative alone
  • Fulfillment of Isaiah 7:9-11
  • Significance of Immanuel

Mary the Highly Favored One

  • Although she has no position, she is the “favored one”
  • She responds with bold faith, surrender, and humble obedience

Dig Deeper

This week dig deeper into the life of Mary in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Mary’s words in Luke 1:38 and/or 1:46-55
  • Consider reading about Mary in all of the New Testament accounts of her:
    • Matthew 1:16, 18-25; 2:9-12, 13-23; 12:46-50; 13:55
    • Mark 3:31-35; 6:1-3
    • Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-52; 8:19-21; 11:27-28
    • John 2:1-12; 6:41-42; 19:25-27
    • Acts 1:12-14
  • If you want to dig deeper into the life of Mary, consider reading St. John Chrysostom’s Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, accessible online here
  • Consider watching the Bible Project’s video on the first two chapters of Luke here

Sprouting Glory: A Christmas reflection

hybiscus in ash.jpg

Dusty, the longing rises from the ground,
a small leafy sprout breaking from the stump.
Where the green is, eyes look in wonder,
as hope grows from sprout to sapling.
The earth, scorched with anger and loss,
ignores at first, but cannot fail to notice,
amidst the ashen landscape, as first leaves
and buds begin to raise their forms to light.
While all around seems decayed with death,
here – only here – life begins again.
Like a phoenix, hope surges in flames,
as Holy Spirit quivers amongst every leaf and branch.
Now, now is the moment, the time of arrival,
and all the angels cry out, “Glory!”

A Prayer for Christmas Day

Christ candle.jpg

Almighty God,
who hast given us thy only-begotten Son
to take our nature upon him,
and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin;
Grant that we being regenerate,
and made thy children by adoption and grace,
may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit;
through the same our Lord Jesus Christ,
who liveth and reigneth with thee
and the same Spirit ever,
one God, world without end. Amen.

Source: The Book of Common Prayer (1928)