Episcopal Church
of the Resurrection
1433 NW R.D. Mize Road
Blue Springs, Missouri  64015
(816) 228-4220

Weekly E-mail

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve Services
4:30 PM and 10:00 PM TODAY.
In-person and on-line!
Christmas Eve

Resurrection will host in-person services at 4:30 pm and 10:00 pm today, Christmas Eve, December 24.   Both services will also be broadcast on FaceBook and YouTube. 

No services on Christmas Day.
In order to provide adequate social distancing, we ask those planning to come to either of the Christmas Eve services to RSVP how many in your family will be attending.   

From Father David Lynch+
Fr. David Lynch_
Dear Friends in Christ,

As we enter this most Holy Christmas please hear my prayers for peace and joy. Debbie and I like you have been stumbling through these strange and frustrating days of the COVID pestilence. Many have family and friends who have and are suffering from it, and some of us mourn the loss of family who have fallen victim to it. Our prayers will constantly ascend for those who suffer and for life saving treatments and hopefully a cure.  But now, putting all this, and the many other distractions aside, it is time to focus on God's gift to the world through Jesus. As we celebrate his Incarnation and life, we also await his coming again in majesty. Let us remember the happiness of Christmas' past, the times that have brought us joy and the good feelings when we have been with family and experienced the fellowship of friends. And as we can reflect on those times, we must also give thanks for all the goodness since those experiences. We are all suffering from the impacts of an unsettled society with social and political unrest. Because we are a "Resurrection" people, we are people of faith that teaches us to put our hearts and minds into the promises of Christ. How we choose to feel about this Christmas with all the limitations can be the difference of living into happiness or sadness. So, it is my prayer for all of us right now, and in the days and weeks to come, to take messages from our Advent Collects; to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light; to heed the warnings from the prophets and forsake our sins; to be stirred up by God's power to come among us; to beseech God to purify our consciences; and to welcome Christ's daily visitation, finding in us a mansion prepared for him. God bless us all for this Christmas and the coming New Year, with hopes and perseverance to welcome all the goodness ready to be experienced.   Fr. David+
Christmas message
From our Presiding Bishop +Michael Curry.
_ Bishop Curry
Joy to the world! The Lord is come. In your hearts, in your homes, in your lives, prepare him room.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.

Perhaps like me, you've sung this hymn for years - in church, at home with your family, gathered with friends and neighbors. Perhaps you've sung it to yourself - in your car, on a walk, or quietly in the dark of night.

Joy to the world!

While we may not feel joyful this year - as the pandemic of disease continues to bring sickness and death, when fear and mistrust - a darkness - threatens to overcome the light - we, as followers of Jesus Christ must bear joy to this aching world. We must shine light into the darkness. Joy to the world!

Like much in our lives, proclaiming joy is difficult work - also good and essential work - especially now. Though we mourn that which is lost in our lives, our families, and our communities. Joy to the world!

While we strive to pull up the twisted and thorny vines of hatred and bigotry and anger. Joy to the world!

Through streaming tears and gritted teeth - Joy to the world! - because God is breaking into our lives and into this world anew.

While this is a strange year, the ministry He gives us remains the same. We will prepare him room in our hearts by taking on the ministry Jesus demands of us: feed those who are hungry; welcome the stranger; clothe those who are naked; heal those who are sick; visit the prisoner. Love God. Love your neighbor. Sing joy into this old world. Prepare him room.

St. Luke writes of the first Christmas, "[Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." There, in the simplest bed, in the cool of the night, in a trough, in bands of cloth, lies the One for whom no room was made. And yet strangely, there lies the One whom not even the universe can contain.

Joy to the world! The Lord is come. In your hearts, in your homes, in your lives, prepare him room.

God love you; God bless you; and may God hold us all in those almighty hands of love.

Shared with with permission by the Office of the Right Reverend Michael B. Curry, The Episcopal Church, in its entirety. The Most Rev. Michael Curry is the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and the author of the book "Love Is the Way: Holding On to Hope in Troubling Times".
Monday Matters - RenewalWorks
Renewal Works
Monday Matters Column dated December 21, 2020

If I say, "I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name," then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.  -Jeremiah 20:9
So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in God's sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge;  for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard."  -Acts 4:18-20
If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!  For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.  -St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (9:16-18)
What can I give Him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. Yet, what can I give Him? Give my heart.  -Final stanza of  "In the bleak midwinter"

Getting to yes

So did Mary have a choice? Could she have said "Thanks, but no thanks"?
We debated that question at a bible study last week, in reflection on the story of the annunciation. It brought to mind a fine sermon I heard years ago. The preacher (named Mary of all things. Did she know?) posited that the angel Gabriel may have knocked on a few other Nazareth doors before finally finding someone who would say yes. Let's be clear. The scriptures don't indicate whether that's true. But it raised for me a question about how we respond to God's call. We tout free will, freedom of choice, our own agency. But we could ask: do we have a choice?
Mary's encounter with Gabriel is only one in a long series of holy callings described in scripture. Often the response indicates that the person hearing the call believes God has the wrong number. Moses heard the call via the burning bush, and asked: "Who am I to take on the Pharaoh? I'm not as good a public speaker as my brother by the way. Try him." Jonah heard the call to go east and headed west as soon as he could. A rich young ruler wanted to follow Jesus. Jesus said: "Great. Give away your possessions and come on." The young man went away sad. Isaiah heard the call and declared himself a person of unclean lips. Peter heard Jesus' call and said to Jesus in response "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man." Jeremiah heard the call and said "I'm too young." Zechariah, father of John the Baptist, heard the call and said "I'm too old."
Mary, in contrast, after understandably admitting some puzzlement (Gabriel, run that by me again.), soon said, "Here am I" believing that with God all things are possible.
Did Mary have a choice? I'm not sure. Sometimes scripture indicates that the people who are called by God see no other pathway. I put a few examples of that holy compulsion in the column on the left. The first disciples, St. Paul and his companions, the martyrs of the early church answer the call even though it got them in a mess of trouble. Life could have been, would have been so much easier. It's been true ever since. Martin Luther said "Here I stand. I can do no other." Abraham Lincoln said he was driven to his knees in prayer because he had nowhere else to go. John Lewis, a modern day witness, crossed the bridge and got in good trouble.
As we move from Advent to the Christmas season, I'm wondering how you have responded to God's call in your life. It may be a nudge to do something small, like reaching out to someone in the grips of loneliness amidst covid-tide. It may be a major shift in your life's commitments as a new year starts.

Questions of call can be found all over the Christmas story. Was it a choice? Was there no other way? Mary could have simply said "I don't think so." Joseph could have cancelled wedding plans. Shepherds could have attributed the angels' appearance to too little sleep or too much wine. Magi could have noticed an unusual star and said, "How interesting" and kept on with royal duties. Instead, for each of these characters the response was yes, perhaps a road less taken that has made all the difference.
As we come to the celebration of Christ's birth, we note that God's grace has appeared, a great gift. This Christmas, how will you say yes to that gift? How will you find room for it in your "no vacancy" life? How will you give thanks for it, with your lips and with your life? Is it simply unthinkable to say anything but "yes"? Perhaps answering such questions can provide insight into the reason for the season. That is my prayer this morning for you and for me.
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