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Third Sunday in Advent (cycle b)

Texts & Discussion:

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Psalm 126 or
Luke 1:47-55
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28


Call to Worship

L: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
P: For the Lord, our God is coming to us!
L: Tell the poor, gather the lowly.
P: For the Lord, our God is coming to us!
L: The trees of the fields and all nature are awaiting eagerly the redemption of the earth.
P: For the Lord, our God is coming to us!  
L: Let us praise the God of our salvation. Let us hail God's Anointed One with shouts of joy.  Let us worship God!




Children's Sermons:


Sermon Excerpt:

To Those Who Don't Get It, from God with Love
based on John 1:6-8, 19-28
DG Bradley

Christmas is a great time for movies, at least those who create movies believe that Christmas is a great time for movies. The custom is that Christmas and the time before Christmas is when a flurry of new screen presentations debuts. From this creative presentation of popular artistic interpretation of what is appropriate for viewing during the Christmas season comes a developing tradition of movies to be seen for Christmas in succeeding years. Miracle on 34th Street is a tradition in many homes, as is It's a Wonderful Life, as is A Christmas Story.

A few years ago, one of Hollywood's yearly Christmas gifts was a bit different. This project, as the movie industry calls its products, was a stop action animated feature that combined aspects of our culture that we do not usually consider compatible or easy to place in the same sentence. The move is called The Nightmare before Christmas, and it does have a following that proclaims this to be a classic, of some sort. I said that there is a following that declares this movie to be a classic, but there is confusion as to how to categorize this film. Is a Christmas movie? It is and it isn't. Where does it fit?

I have to admit that I first saw this movie with some trepidation because I was not sure about a plot in which Halloween takes over Christmas would have much value. I did hear that it was fairly good, and it did have a message. I saw it and it does.

The story is interesting. In the land of Halloween where all the figures of Halloween live, the acknowledged great figure is Jack Skeleton who is bored with the sameness of Halloween. Jack accidentally falls into the land of Christmas where he is bedazzled and inspired by what he sees and experiences there.

When Jack Skeleton returns to the land of Halloween, he tries to explain what he has seen and felt. The problem is that he has had just a glimpse of the giving and joy and hope of Christmas which he is trying to explain to a people knowing only darkness and terror. Is it any wonder that the people of Halloween don't quite understand, that they don't get it, any more than Jack Skeleton does? Is it any wonder that the attempt of the people of Halloween to duplicate the gifts of Christmas is to produce horrors and monsters, that the best they can offer is macabre and dark?

The Nightmare before Christmas is not considered a religious movie, but it is true that all literature is a reflection of the author's religious and spiritual depth, even if negative, even if incidental, even if accidental. The Nightmare before Christmas is about the issues of darkness and light, good and evil, hope and joy.  . . . . DPS Subscribers: click here to access this sermon and all resources

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