St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1788


The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us

Sermons for the Season of Christmas

Christmas Eve/Day 2019     John Marsh

Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 1:1-20

As I began last night, I will begin today…

As I have approximately ten months until I retire, this is the last Christmas homily I will share with you as priest of this parish. So perhaps you will indulge an old man or, as I prefer, one of late middle age, indulge me by your willingness to do a piece of work despite this being a time of holiday…

We need to listen very carefully this morning and, as we leave, I pray we think long and hard about what is transpiring within our hearing, within our hearts and within our world because creation depends on it, as do we…

Continuing on…

Approaching today’s Christmas narratives from a perspective similar to last night yet with a slightly different tone…

The birth of Jesus – in fact, all births, inclusive of our own – is an inviting, a calling for us to flourish within the web of life…

We all appear in the world by birth; birth points both to our uniqueness and our interrelationships.

While all are unique, no one exists without beginning in relationship, no one exists apart from the web of life or, without the nurturing of community and yes, it should perhaps be said, that this nurturing may prove to be more of a neutering…

We may arrive as strangers, but we are welcomed by a web of human relationships – past and present; we may arrive as strangers, but we are welcomed by personal and communal cultures shaped by the innumerable decisions and deeds of others…

We enter an ongoing story, a narrative shaped by us, by those around us and by those who came before us...

Birth, Jesus’, and our own, celebrates our interconnectivity within the web of life; within this interconnectivity a lure calls – perhaps -  a calling to love the world, to dedicate oneself to those living there; within our lives, we have opportunity to flourish, to sustain life.

The implications are clear – to hold up the metaphors of birth and flourishing points to capacities for inner strength, abilities to draw upon inner resources and interconnections with one another within the web of life.

Birth, as expressed through the metaphor of flourishing, opens us to divinity in our midst, stirring within the world, god incarnated within us, between us; this is, perhaps, an impossible possibility where humanity and divinity meet...

With the metaphor of flourishing, god is not ‘outside’, external to the world but is rather within the world, within the realm of human love and action.

Seen through the metaphor of flourishing, Jesus is not from ‘outside’, entering to save the world but, is one born to grow, to manifest what it may mean to live fully and naturally the creative justice of god.

Jesus models what it may mean to be passionate for justice; what it may mean to be full of humour, wisdom and insight; what it may mean to live the integrity of compassion to its fullest extent.  

The metaphor of flourishing calls us to embrace the way of becoming men and women of god within the web of life.

Flourishing is never static; it is not once for all. Flourishing implicitly points to its opposite, carrying within, a temporal quality, that that which may flourish, may not, that everything will naturally come to an ending, the bloom fades…

Consequently, the metaphor of flourishing carries an urgency, to live fully before the beginning of endings.

To flourish is to grow.

To flourish is to be embodied; it is to be attentive to those who are not flourishing. One who is flourishing is unable to ignore the physical, psychic and material needs of people. To flourish is to root out causes of sickness, starvation and unemployment; it is to be dedicated to communal and cultural health and wellbeing.

Flourishing is a metaphor of love of the world and care for all within it.

And so, we celebrate this day, the birth of one who invites us to embody our calling as did he…

In the words of the poet:

…we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent. God waited.

She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.

Aren't there annunciations
of one sort or another in most lives?

…More often those moments
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.

God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.¹

And so, I bring good news, for unto us a child is born and that child, perhaps, is us…

If we choose it and live it.

¹ Denise Levertov, Annunciation’