Stephentown Federated Church




Pastor's Sermons


For those who do not know me well, I will warn you that it is time for my annual “Christmas Rant.” Our culture has gotten so far from the source and purpose of the season that it can be a very frustrating time. I am reminded of the comedian who said, “Everything’s awesome, and nobody’s happy!”

We live in an awesome country where all people can worship as they please, can celebrate as they please. So what happens? We whine about it! I have seen many posts on the Internet which moan, “I can’t say Merry Christmas; I have to say, Happy Holidays! Boo hoo!”

First of all, we can say, “Merry Christmas,” can have a Christmas tree, hang Christmas decorations, eat Christmas dinner, sing Christmas carols and give Christmas presents. Go crazy. Knock yourselves out. Saying “Happy Holidays” is NOT an attack on Christmas; it is respectful. It honors the diversity in this country.

It is exactly IN the spirit of Christmas. It is the spirit of Jesus, who included everyone. Our faith demands that we respect others as he did. It is the opportunity for all people to celebrate the coming of the Light together…. Too bad so many people don’t get that. Celebration should bring us together, not divide us.

So, let us recognize that we are NOT the center of the universe; that our country is based on diversity; that many have died for our right to worship as we choose; that others have that same right. Let’s stop whining and open our minds and hearts. Let’s not miss out on the chance to celebrate together.

In the readings today, we hear about waiting and revelation of the Christ. Also, everything in nature right now encourages us to wait, be quiet and let the darkness prepare us for the coming of the Light. Again, we are struck by how our culture completely contradicts what our souls and our faith dictate. Our faith and the earth lead us to silence and patience, darkness and simplicity.

However, our culture screams at us: “GO TO THE MALL!” Go where there are bright lights, constant noise, chaos, overt consumerism, and hurry! Hurry! Hurry!

Since our Advent theme this year is “The cycle of life,” we look at a baby in the womb. That is where we should be during Advent. Peaceful. Waiting. Safe. Trusting that in the darkness incredible growth and nurturing are taking place. Waiting for the day when we see the light; when we will see God and ourselves revealed in a new way.

This is our chance – our one chance all year – to rest IN God, to be carried in God’s womb and be nourished. (We all know that once a baby arrives, there is NO “Silent Night!” )

So here is the challenge. Let us be countercultural, as Jesus was. Let us take time each day – even 5 minutes – to light a candle, sit in silence, and listen. Let God nourish us. Let God carry us. Let God bring us to a new level of growth. Let God be revealed in and to us.