Emmanuel A baby born in humility, given the name Jesus, but carrying also so many other titles: Christ, Messiah, Son of the Most High, Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace. And perhaps most importantly: Emmanuel – God is with us. As John expressively put it: the Word became flesh and lived among us. The grace and…

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Hallelujah One of the most dramatic images of the nativity story is that of a heavenly host of angels – and not a few but a multitude – praising God in the night sky above the shepherds. The importance and magnitude of what is happening bursts forth and for a brief moment the glory of…

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Treasure Mary copes admirably with the purpose God has for her life, and she seems to be taking it all in her stride, praising God and letting nothing faze her. For a young, first-time mother so much of what took place must have been daunting and frightening and there are hints in the details of…

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Faith The appearance of the angel (see below) probably reassured Joseph a great deal, but there’s no mistaking that accepting Mary’s pregnancy is a mighty leap of faith being asked of him. We can’t know how strong an impression the angel created, how certain Joseph was able to be in the months that followed, or…

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Journey For the wise men, paying homage to the baby Jesus was the conclusion of a lengthy journey, following a sign, on a path mapped out by faith. The obstacles they faced must have been taxing, and there must have been many moments when they considered giving up the idea and returning home, perhaps most…

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Advent 20 - Shine @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Shine From the very beginning of His life, Jesus welcomed the outsiders, and so the official birth announcement is made, not via royal proclamation or from the steps of the temple, but to shepherds, living in fields. Like all before them, their first reaction to meeting an angel of the Lord is great fear. Such…

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Advent 19 - Peace @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Peace Simeon, like Anna (see yesterday), is another character whose life is altered by the presence of the baby Jesus. For Simeon, holding Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s particular promise to him, and it creates in him a sense of peace. Simeon has allowed himself to be guided by the Holy Spirit and his…

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Advent 18 - Share @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Share The prophet Anna provides a clear contrast to both the inn-keeper and King Herod. She was a widow, living in the temple where she worshipped and prayed, but she is drawn into the nativity story when she meets Jesus, and this encounter transforms her life. Once she had seen Jesus, she could speak of…

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Advent 17 - Priorities @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Priorities King Herod is typically cast as the evil villain of the nativity and the death sentence he later issues is ruthless and brutal, but his first reaction – in common with many others in the nativity story – is fear. Upon hearing the news of the birth of Jesus, Herod fears losing everything he…

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Advent 16 - Everyone @ Walton United Church, Oakville, Ontario

Everyone It is perhaps surprising to discover that the Innkeeper, a much loved character in nativity plays, does not actually appear in the bible. He is implied of course – at the very least someone had to tell Mary and Joseph that the inn was full – but he has no further part to play.…

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