Archives for December 2015

Manifesting God’s Love, Epiphany 1(C) – 2016

[RCL] Isaiah 43:1-7; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-22; Psalm 29

As long as most of us have been able to remember, modern day so-called prophets have been crying that Jesus is coming sometime soon in our lifetime. For that matter, any quick glance at Church history reveals that generations of folks have been anticipating the Second Coming. Even St. Paul thought that Jesus was going to return during his generation. But here we are 2,000 years later still awaiting the coming of our Lord. The Church continues to be filled with expectation, not unlike those who listened to John the Baptist, wondering if the coming of the Messiah is nigh. It seems humanity has a deep-seated longing for someone to come and deliver us from all that is wrong with the world. The world’s three great monotheistic faith traditions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all eagerly await the coming of the One who will rectify the world’s wrongs, set the record straight, and establish a reign of righteousness.

It’s easy to see why the people gathered around John mistook him for being the long-awaited Messiah. He was a mighty preacher, boldly proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God, and warning people to repent of their sins in preparation for the coming of the Christ. John, like Jesus, challenged the status quo of his day. He called the leaders vipers when they came seeking baptism from this man in the wilderness. John didn’t pull any punches, and in the end, it proved to be his undoing. Nevertheless, Jesus proclaimed that John was the greatest among all prophets. John baptized with water, but he prepared the way for the one who would baptize with fire.

On this day, the first Sunday after the Epiphany, we are still waiting for the Messiah to return. Many are busy trying in vain to interpret the signs of the times in order to determine when the Christ will return as promised. The world has become a very scary place for many of us. Terrorist attacks are happening around the globe, wars and rumors of war fill the airwaves and electronic media, natural disasters seem to be on the rise with ever increasing ferocity, and governments struggle to find solutions to what ails their countries. Each generation sees their time as being worse the any other time in history with fear and foreboding. People are divided over what is the best approach to solving all that is wrong in our world. Even in the Church, Christ’s followers cannot find consensus. Division is rampant and faith seems to be replaced with fear.

In light of all that burdens our souls in today’s world we are called to remember that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Paraclete comes not to only provide us with comfort, but to empower us to carry out the work of the Lord in a world that is desperate for answers for what ails it. God is separating the wheat and the chaff. Despite all the disorder in the world, God is still firmly in control of the situation. Nothing is happening that God is not aware of. God’s Beloved Son has already won the victory for us, we only have to learn to walk in that victory as we face all the challenges that lay ahead.

It helps to keep in mind that the world has always faced great adversity. When the Mongols invaded the Roman Empire the Church was convinced that was the end. When the Norsemen invaded Europe, wreaking havoc wherever they landed, the Church was certain that was the end. And when the Ottoman Empire was at the gates of Vienna, once again the Church was prepared for the end to come. No generation has lived that hasn’t witnessed great social upheaval, indescribable suffering, or cataclysmic disasters. But the world continues to spin, history rolls on, and the Church must learn to rise to the occasion and proclaim that God’s love knows no boundaries. The end may be near, but we are called to be overcomers in Christ, not merely survivors who are barely hanging on until the Lord returns.

Today’s Gospel states that Jesus will separate the wheat from the chaff, but how do we know the difference? What separates the wheat from the chaff? Fear. When we allow fear to rule our decision-making process we give into irrational thinking and actions. Fear tells us to shut the alien out, to deny mercy to those seeking asylum, and to hoard our resources out of fear that there won’t be enough. Fear compels us to distrust our neighbors, and arm ourselves before we leave the relative safety of our homes as if we are going out for battle and not just a simple trip to the store or movie theater. Fear, if given into, can become our prison master that prevents us from living our lives to the fullest as intended by God.

Those who have been empowered by the Holy Spirit have nothing to fear. As Scripture reminds us, “If Christ be for us, who can be against us?” Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear tells us that God isn’t big enough to handle our problems. Faith, on the other hand, says that God is bigger than all our problems combined. Jesus, the one God calls his beloved, conquered fear on the cross and He is coming back. But until that day comes, we are called to occupy the land (spiritually speaking). Perfect love casts out all fear, and love is perfected a little more in us each time we face a fearful situation and declare God’s victory over the situation.

The love that gives us power over fear is rooted in God’s beloved – Jesus. Just as God is well pleased with the Son, so too is God pleased with all his children who put their trust in His grace. This is the central message of baptism; the old being has been buried with Christ in baptism and the new creation has been resurrected. This is a spiritual truth that must be worked out during our lifetime; nevertheless, we can be assured that God’s love for us is eternal and trustworthy. No trial or tribulation we may face can separate us from the love of God.

Christ has come into the world to set us free from fear and spiritual oppression. He will come again as he promised. Until that day comes, let us continue to manifest God’s love for all His creation as we continue to love and serve Christ in all people. Amen.

Download the sermon for Epiphany 1C.

Written by The Rev. Deacon Timothy G. Warren

The Rev. Deacon Timothy G. Warren is a 26-year retired Air Force veteran with more than 15 years’ experience as an educator in the private and public sector. Deacon Warren is the founder of Trinity Victorville Outreach, an emergent ministry in the High Desert Region, Calif., and founder/president of Lifeskills Development, a newly formed nonprofit dedicated to providing assistance to at-risk young adults.

Bulletin Insert: Fourth Sunday After Epiphany

#RefugeesWelcome: The Power of Determination

January 31, 2016

Wahab and his family

“When you’re feeling in danger it’s like you find that your house is burning, do you mind if you leave your house from a window or door?”

Wahab is a refugee from Iraq who was welcomed to the United States by Bridge Refugee Services, an Episcopal Migration Ministries partner organization in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Married for 20 years, Wahab had a family, a peaceful home and a successful career. But the war in Iraq took away his safety and security and eventually forced his family to flee for their lives.

Wahab, his wife, and 3 children applied for resettlement and were accepted by the United States. They were some of the lucky few. Less than ½ of 1 percent of refugees are admitted to the U.S. through the refugee resettlement program.

Wahab and his family arrived in Chattanooga, Tennessee – a city they had never heard of in a country they had never visited. Wahab landed with two goals: get a job and have a house. With the help of Bridge Refugee Services and a team of staff and volunteers, within 6 months, Wahab found a job, enrolled his children in school and started a new life.

Now, his family is dreaming of even bigger goals. His daughter is studying to become a civil engineer and his older son is getting his GED and wants to go to university. His youngest son, who arrived without a word of English, is now thriving in school.

It’s this kind of resilience and hope that inspires everyone involved in refugee resettlement ministry.

“It’s great to watch people from another country pool their resources to get a home and a job to get where they want to be,” says Marina Peshterianu, assistant director of Bridge Refugee Services. “It’s great to remind people that the American dream is still alive.”

“I’ve been lucky, the American doors were open. So I came through the American door,” Wahab concludes. “It’s a happy life for me now.”


emm water markEpiscopal Migration Ministries is the resettlement service of The Episcopal Church. Each year, Episcopal Migration Ministries, in partnership with 30 local organizations, staff and volunteers, resettles 5,000 refugees from countries across the globe.

You can be involved in this life-saving ministry. Visit for more information.

Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 1/31/16
half page, double-sided 1/31/16

black and white, full page, one- sided, 1/31/16
black and white, half page, double-sided 1/31/16

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bulletin Insert: Third Sunday After Epiphany

#RefugeesWelcome: Resilience, Hope and Soccer

January 24, 2016

Sowdo watching soccer

Growing up in Somalia, Sowdo loved nothing more than soccer. She listened to games on the radio and dreamed of being a sports journalist, covering games, talking to players, being immersed in a sport that, for her, was more than just a game.

“I love the way the ball moves, how they communicate without talking to each other. I wish everybody could do the same.”

Despite all the odds, Sowdo’s dream came true. She was on the radio. In fact, she was the only woman on sports radio in Somalia.

But her dream came with a price.

“In Somalia people don’t want women to be journalists,” says Sowdo. “People think we should just sit home, get married, and have a bunch of kids. Not me. I love soccer too much for that.”

A country deeply entrenched in civil war and extremism, Sowdo’s life was threatened. She lived in fear thinking every day was her last.

Then, when two of her colleagues were killed by a car bomb, she knew the threats were real and she had to leave to save her life.

Sowdo received refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and applied for resettlement. She was accepted by the United States and finally, was on a plane to a city she never dreamed of visiting.

“When I saw Columbus, Ohio from the airplane I thought, this place is going to be my home,” reflected Sowdo.

She was greeted at the airport by staff and volunteers from Columbus Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), a local resettlement partner of Episcopal Migration Ministries. These were her first friends and her first guides through the sometimes overwhelming process of starting over in a new country. They helped her meet new people, find a job and reclaim her sense of security and empowerment.

Reflecting on her experiences, Sowdo says, “Bad things happen but you stay strong, you pass the ball. You just keep going until you get home.”

Welcome home, Sowdo.

emm water markEpiscopal Migration Ministries is the resettlement service of The Episcopal Church. Each year, Episcopal Migration Ministries, in partnership with 30 local organizations, staff and volunteers, resettles 5,000 refugees from countries across the globe.

You can be involved in this life-saving ministry. Visit for more information.

Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 1/24/16
half page, double-sided 1/24/16

black and white, full page, one- sided, 1/24/16
black and white, half page, double-sided 1/24/16

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bulletin Insert: Second Sunday After the Epiphany

Martin Luther King Day Weekend

January 17, 2016

Martin Luther King, Jr., at a freedom rally, Washington Temple Church, 1962, World Telegram & Sun photo by O. Fernandez

Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest American civil rights leaders, was born on January 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Since 1986, the United States has celebrated King’s birthday as a national holiday on the third Monday of January. The Episcopal Church also commemorates the day of his death on the liturgical calendar each year.

Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2010) explains that “King lived in constant danger: his home was dynamited, he was almost fatally stabbed, and he was harassed by death threats. He was even jailed 30 times; but through it all he was sustained by his deep faith. In 1957, he received, late at night, a vicious telephone threat. Alone in his kitchen he wept and prayed. He relates that he heard the Lord speaking to him and saying, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice,’ and promising never to leave him alone – ‘No, never alone.’ King refers to his vision as his ‘Mountain-top Experience.’”

On April 3, 1968, the day before he was murdered, King delivered a speech in Memphis, Tennessee, popularly referred to as “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” The following are excerpts from that speech:

“We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. But whenever the slaves get together, something happens in Pharaoh’s court, and he cannot hold the slaves in slavery. When the slaves get together, that’s the beginning of getting out of slavery. Now let us maintain unity. …

“We’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be – and force everybody to see that there are thirteen hundred of God’s children here suffering, sometimes going hungry, going through dark and dreary nights wondering how this thing is going to come out. That’s the issue. And we’ve got to say to the nation: We know how it’s coming out. For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory. …

“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life; longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”


Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 1/17/16
half page, double-sided 1/17/16

black and white, full page, one- sided, 1/17/16
black and white, half page, double-sided 1/17/16

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bulletin Insert: First Sunday After the Epiphany

#RefugeesWelcome: The Importance of Belonging

January 10, 2016

Sergio and his family

What does it feel like when you don’t belong in your own country? In your own life?

Living in Yugoslavia, Sergio found himself in 1991 at the epicenter of a war that was certain to claim his life, as well as the life of his mother. They fled, leaving everything behind, receiving refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and moving from refugee camp to refugee camp searching for safety.

Reflecting on this time of his life, Sergio says, “I felt that I don’t belong anywhere, but I also literally didn’t belong…anywhere.”

After 4 years and countless background screenings, interviews and health checks Sergio and his mother were notified that they were bound for the United States through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

Landing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, they were greeted by staff and volunteers of Bridge Refugee Services, an Episcopal Migration Ministries local resettlement partner, who not only welcomed them to the city but helped Sergio restart his career as a videographer.

“You just open the door and I will do the rest,” said Sergio to his Bridge Refugee Services case worker.

As it turns out the local PBS affiliate needed videographer. Fast forward to a few years later and Sergio is on the stage accepting an Emmy for his work on a documentary.

“After all that, to be on that stage, I felt like I won a million dollars and five Oscars.”

In 2008, exactly 5 years after coming to U.S., Sergio and his mom became U.S. citizens. With his career well underway, Sergio got married and had a son.

Receiving his son’s birth certificate in the mail was the moment when Sergio realized that through his journey, he found a place where he belongs and where his son will never be forced to wonder about home.

“It kinda makes me at ease, I know he belongs from the start.”

emm water markEpiscopal Migration Ministries is the resettlement service of The Episcopal Church. Each year, Episcopal Migration Ministries, in partnership with 30 local organizations, staff and volunteers, resettles 5,000 refugees from countries across the globe.

You can be involved in this life-saving ministry. Visit for more information.


Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 1/10/16
half page, double-sided 1/10/16

black and white, full page, one- sided, 1/10/16
black and white, half page, double-sided 1/10/16

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bulletin Insert: Second Sunday After Christmas

Journey with Episcopal Migration Ministries

January 3, 2016

This Sunday, the Episcopal Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany, which begins the six-week season of Epiphany. Epiphany recognizes the manifestation of the divine in Jesus and recalls the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt to escape the tyranny of King Herod, who ordered the Massacre of the Innocents in Bethlehem.

Forced to flee, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus became what we now call refugees.

The Holy Family’s experience is mirrored today in the plight of more than 60 million displaced persons worldwide, including at least 19 million refugees. Many are in camps or cities in places such as Rwanda, Kenya and Jordan, hoping that someday it will be safe enough to return to their communities. Some, however, find that they must journey to a new country to begin again. For 70,000 refugees in 2015, that journey brought them to the United States.

The journey of a refugee is never easy. Someday these journeys may no longer be necessary; someday persecution and violence may cease to drive displacement and rob refugees of their communities and nations.

Until that day, please join Episcopal Migration Ministries in working toward safer, brighter futures for refugees.

For more than 75 years, the Episcopal Church has welcomed and supported refugees in the United States. Working in partnership with Episcopal faith communities as well as with local governments, non-government organizations (NGOs) and a network of 30 affiliate offices, Episcopal Migration Ministries provides safe passage, vital services, hospitality, and friendship for thousands of refugee families resettling in the U.S. every year.

Over the next three weeks, Episcopal Migration Ministries is providing bulletin inserts and Lesson Plans That Work that will help you learn more about the plight of the refugee and how you can join this life-saving and life-giving ministry.

To learn more about supporting refugee resettlement on a local level, contact Allison Duvall, Episcopal Migration Ministries program manager for Church Relations and Engagement, or visit

O God, we ask your living protection of all refugees yearning for freedom and hope in a new land. May we ever remember that the Holy Family, too, were refugees as they fled persecution. Bless, guide and lead us in faith to open doors and to open our hearts through this ministry of hospitality. Give us strength, vision and compassion as we work together to welcome those in need. We ask this in the name of Christ. Amen.

Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 1/3/16
half page, double-sided 1/3/16

black and white, full page, one- sided, 1/3/16
black and white, half page, double-sided 1/3/16

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bible Study, Christmas 2(C), January 3, 2016

[RCL]  Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84 or 84:1-8; Ephesians 1:3-6,15-19a; Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

Jeremiah 31:7-14

In Jeremiah we hear of Israel’s people crying out to the Lord for help. God hears them and they are gathered up and returned from exile. How the people praise the Lord! Israel embarks on a journey out of captivity. Although the way is long, it is level and along streams. There are not only healthy people on this journey. All people come along including those who are weak, unable to see or walk. There are also pregnant mothers; their impending births symbolize a new start. This journey is a new start with abundance for all. People will celebrate with praise and dance! Their sorrow will be replaced with happiness!

  • Where in your life do you feel you have been exiled?
  • How has God delivered you from exile?
  • Where is your promised land?
  • What will your promised look like?
Psalm 84 or 84:1-8

This Psalm tells us of God’s loving power. It illustrates how we desire God’s love. God provides shelter in the temple. A place to sing praises but also a place of refuge for everyone; even the birds are safe there. We can find happiness with the security that God gives us and those who trust in God are blessed. Besides shelter we need water to sustain us. The pools of water at the temple are necessary for life and with the pools and God we shall not thirst. God provides for us. We praise God and call out in our fervent prayers for God is the Almighty.

  • How do you experience God’s love in your life?
  • How do you express the happiness you find in God’s presence?
Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-19a

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we hear of God’s strength, grace, and immeasurable power. God brings blessings for a future filled with glory and power. We are chosen to be God’s children. God finds us to be holy and without blame. Our sins are forgiven and God fully accepts us. We have not only gained an inheritance, we are also sealed by the Holy Spirit. God knows us well and we pray that we may be enlightened. We seek wisdom and revelation in order to know God better. We as humble people strive to know God better. We believe.

  • How might you know God more fully?
  • How has your life been blessed?
Matthew 2:13-15, 19

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and he obeyed. The angel told him of the dangers to his family. Joseph loved his family and he did everything to protect them. He and his family fled into Egypt for temporary refuge. The death of King Herod meant some safety so they moved on to Israel. The family was heading to Judea but found out King Herod’s son was there. This was another threat. So instead, they went to the district of Galilee and settled in the town of Nazareth. This town was of ill repute but despite this, Jesus became known a Nazarene.

  • How do you listen to God?
  • How has God guided you?

Download the Christmas 2C Bible Study.

Written by Malcolm Keleawe Hee.

Malcolm Keleawe Hee is a Native Hawaiian Episcopalian who was recently ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in the Diocese of Hawaii. He has been an educator for 28 years and will transition into priesthood soon.

Bible Study, Christmas 1(C), December 27, 2015

[RCL] Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18; Psalm 147 or 147:13-21

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

In mid-winter, the longest nights of the year, we hear this passage from Isaiah, full of imagery of shining royal splendor and beauty and of the springing forth of plants from the ground. In the midst of cold, dark nights, these images shine even more brightly. We are told that God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up in us, just like the garden causes what is planted in it to spring up. The gardener knows intimately that despite all their work, it is not they who cause the plants to grow and spring forth. We too, are not called to sit idly by and wait for righteousness to spring up in us. We are called to cultivate it, and trust that God will do the rest.

  • What might it look like to plant the seeds of righteousness and praise in our hearts?
  • How will we know when God has caused righteousness and praise to spring up in us?
Psalm 147 or 147:13-21

This psalm expresses thanksgiving and awe at the glory of God, who not only shapes all things in the natural world, but also cares for us. The psalm closes by extoling God for the special relationship God has with the people of Israel by the revelation of God’s judgments. As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection is the revelation of God.

  • As you read all of Psalm 147, what other language and imagery reminds you of the revelation of God in Christ, of the incarnation?
  • What does the psalmist call us to do in response?
  • Why is our response important?
Galatians 3:23-25;4:4-7

Have you ever felt unable to live up to the rules or expectations that govern your life? Constant self-judgment, or the judgment of others, leaves us feeling lacking no matter how hard we work to prove ourselves. Into this quid-pro-quo and pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps world, the light of Christ breaks forth, entering our hearts, and inviting us to cry out “Abba, Father!” For we are no longer slaves to production and success, but we are adopted and beloved children of God.

  • What does this amazing gift of adoption by God feel like?
  • How is Christ calling us to respond to this gift?
John 1:1-18

Into the midst of our broken and hurting world the light of Christ bursts forth. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the news of terror attacks, of the refugee crisis, of violence and conflict. It can seem like the darkness is all around us, and yet, into that darkness, into that pain and uncertainty, the light of Christ shines, and the darkness did not overcome it. The darkness is still there, the pain and suffering, but with the light of Christ shining in us the darkness no longer has the power to overcome us. The incarnate one, who became one of us, walks with us through these times of pain, and calls us to follow him, not driven by fear into places of comfort and safety, but to lay down our fear, and to go out into the world to love and serve.

  • What difference does the light of Christ make in your life?
  • What might following Jesus look like, in light of a current event that has been troubling you?

Download the Christmas 1C Bible Study.

Written by Robin Denny

Robin is a student at Virginia Theological Seminary (M.Div 2017), from the diocese of El Camino Real. She is an agriculturalist, and has served as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in Liberia and South Sudan. Before attending seminary she served as a lay church-planter and youth leader.


Bulletin Insert: First Sunday After Christmas

Young Adult Service Corps

December 27, 2015

Young adults (21-30 years old) have an opportunity to transform their own lives while engaging mission and ministry in the Anglican Communion by joining the Young Adult Service Corps.
Applications are now available for 2016-2017 placements in the Young Adult Service Corps, commonly known as YASC.

Sharing the benefits of the YASC program, Will Bryant, a former YASC missionary, wrote “I have developed an identity as an Episcopalian that goes beyond just finding time to sit in the pews once a week. YASC goes beyond the attractive gimmicks of contemporary music and scheduling post-work drinks and instead allows young adults to explore their faith at length in various places around the world with supportive mentors and communities. The program inspires young Episcopalians not just to be bystanders in their congregations and the church but to actually be the arm of the Church itself.”

Currently YASC missionaries are serving throughout the Anglican Communion and in several international dioceses of The Episcopal Church. They are working in administration, agriculture, chaplaincies, development, education, parish-based and refugee ministries. They are serving in Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, England, France, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The application with additional information and instructions is available here: The application deadline is Friday, January 8, 2016.

New opportunities for service are available each year. Among the possible placements for 2016-17 are Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, England, France, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Tanzania and Zambia.

YASC watermarkFor more information contact Elizabeth Boe, Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society Global Networking Officer, at or Grace Flint, Young Adult Service Corps, Networking at

Check here for YASC features, articles and videos from Episcopal News Service:

Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 12/27/15
half page, double-sided 12/27/15

black and white, full page, one- sided, 12/27/15
black and white, half page, double-sided 12/27/15

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.

Bulletin Insert: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Christmas Traditions and Pageantry

December 20, 2015

Photo: Bronwyn Clark Skov Stained Glass at All Saints Church, Pasadena

“Everyone should witness the story of our Savior’s birth through the eyes of a child at least once a year.”

These words were a rector’s invitation to his parish to show up for the Christmas pageant at church. Whether your congregation holds a pageant to commemorate the Holy Birth in Advent, Christmas or Epiphany, these words illustrate the importance of this commemoration happening in the context of many generations. And if your congregation doesn’t hold a children’s pageant during the season, the internet holds many options for viewing that range in staging simple home video style pageantry, to very professional and polished, yet humorous and poignant portrayals.

“Allow the children to come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t forbid them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these children.” –Matthew 19:14 CEB

During Advent, Christmastide, and Epiphany our Christian tradition holds many elaborate rituals which may bring people in our doors who rarely attend or may be experiencing our worship for the first time. Some of our rituals even include more congregational involvement than the traditional liturgical party, like Hanging of the Greens, Lighting of the Advent Candles, singing the Lessons and Carols, ringing bells when the birth of Jesus is proclaimed. Be sure to help newcomers understand why we do what we do.

The Angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you – wonderful joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10-11 CEB

The season is ripe with opportunity for radical hospitality to welcome the stranger and all the neighbors. Think of all of those flights of angels, appearing and telling anyone who would listen. They were the first evangelists. They started the Jesus movement by spreading the word of this miraculous birth. And now, over two thousand years later, Christmas, intertwined with the Epiphany story of the royal gifts offered to the infant Jesus, has become the most commonly observed holiday the world over. Some lament the over-commercialization and materialistic secular activity and want to condemn folks who miss that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” But think about the joy and the wonder and the generosity that Jesus and his disciples have inspired over the millennia!

Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas: star and angels gave the sign.
– Christmas Hymn 84, The Hymnal 1982

This is the season of invitation and sharing. This is the season of inviting the neighbors, all the neighbors, to share in the abundance with which we are blessed. This is the season of welcoming the refugee, comforting the prisoner, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and encouraging the children. This is the season to remember the words of our faithful Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry; “If it isn’t about love, it isn’t about God!”


Download bulletin insert as PDF:

full page, one-sided 12/20/15
half page, double-sided 12/20/15

black and white, full page, one- sided, 12/20/15
black and white, half page, double-sided 12/20/15

Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.