Prepare the Way: Acknowledgments

Prepare the Way!

I cannot put these devotional books together by myself, so I would like to acknowledge the following people:

  • The cover photo was taken by Shalev Cohen and shared on Unsplash.Com. It depicts Eleutheropolis, Israel.
  • My intrepid team of writers (who had all of their pieces to me within 48 hours of the deadline) is composed of the Rev. Keith Axberg, Michael Boss, Lara Cole, Cathey Frederick, the Rev. Paul Moore, David Sloat, Ashley Sweeney, Mary Ann Taylor, the Rev. Vicki Wesen, and Tom Worrell.
  • The Rev. Paul Moore gives me the grace of letting me do pretty much whatever I want with these projects, and I appreciate his trust in my ability to pull this off.
  • Christmas blessings to you all!
    -Jen McCabe

    Prepare the Way: December 25, 2020

    Prepare the Way!

    “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
    -Isaiah 9:6

    What do we call this child? Every couple who welcomes a new member of the family faces this choice, and much thought is put into it. We normally look for family names, names that “fit together,” “flow off the tongue,” or just something we like. In prophetic contexts, names always mean something. This is a classic case. The prophet’s ecstatic writing seems to erupt with symbolic titles.

    “Wonderful Counselor” speaks of wisdom, the divine wisdom of love that lays the first layers of existence in the void.

    “Mighty God” speaks of the power to hold all things in the divine heart, maintaining us in being, answering the question of why we exist at all.

    “Eternal Father” speaks of wise guidance and nurturing, that great ideal that far outstrips our own fathers, whoever they were with all their flaws, carrying us and all things toward the divine heart.

    “Prince of Peace” speaks of presence in the troubled world, fierce in the face of injustice, and formidable in our expansiveness.

    So often we feel so distant, and injustice seems to be so insurmountable. Our nation is divided. Our leaders feed off those divisions to remain in power. The system seems incapable of rising above itself to bring us all together again.

    As Christians, we see the fulfillment of this passage on this day in our sacred history. The Christ Child embodies these truths. He will go on to die by the systems of this world to live again in a “kingdom that is not of this world,” yet in it. Those of us who follow him share in that divine/human existence. We are called to the wisdom that sees the universe as one; able to hold the world as sacred, actively working to shepherd all things toward the divine heart, and fiercely and formidably loving as we have been loved.

    At Christmas, we give these names to Christ, and we take them as our own as we seek to live in him.

    Teach us so to hear your name for us, that in naming one another in love, we might find that we are being caught up in your divine, redeeming, transforming love, and then show us, we pray, that the whole creation bears your name with and through us, through the One who is Emmanuel. Amen.
    -The Rev. Paul Moore

    Prepare the Way: December 24, 2020

    Prepare the Way!

    “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
    -Isaiah 35:10

    I cannot see the word “ransom” without thinking of the O. Henry short story: Ransom of Red Chief. The child is so mischievous that the kidnappers eventually pay the parents to take him back. Without getting too all-fired theologically twisted over it, the idea of God paying God a Ransom for our salvation, and ultimately being the ransom for us (Jesus, God’s Son) almost seems the original version of the O. Henry story. Just what sort of rascals are we that God would pay to get us back safe and sound? God loves turning the tables on God’s enemies!

    I receive a perverse sort of pleasure thinking of the devil standing before God, pleading the devil’s case: “Take them back. All of them! I don’t want them. They’re too much trouble. They’re yours. And while you’re at it, take everything else I’ve got, too. I’m glad to be rid of the lot of them!!!”

    Like Red Chief, we are oblivious to the drama that unfolds, and yet the time comes we return home, singing our songs while the sorrow and sighs flee away into the night – along with the devil. Praise God!

    O Lord, you want us back, we know not why / But that you do, we can’t but cry / For you delight to hold us tight / you, our Lord, our
    Advent light! Amen.

    -The Rev. Keith Axberg

    Christmas Eve at St. Paul’s

    We will be having a bilingual Christmas Eve service with La Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección on Thursday, December 24, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. PST.

    The worship details will magically appear here and on our Facebook page at 5:00 p.m., an hour before worship begins.

    We aren’t doing our normal carol sing before church tonight, so here’s a playlist of all the Christmas hymns in The Hymnal 1982.