This is the first Sunday of Christmas and my last Sunday of being your Vicar. It is an opportunity for a Transition in the life of the parish as well as myself as I leave your presence after 10 years of happy, productive, mutual ministry. For me, going to retirement after 50 years of active ministry having served in a diversity of places and situations is a powerful moment in my life. Looking for a new pastor in the life of a parish after 10 years is an equally powerful ‘moment of change’. Both of these elements of transition form a major crossroads in all our lives. The constant that travels with us all is that God loves us, and we are not alone, and we are called to move forward. We can never be like Lot’s wife and look backwards for that will cause us, like her “to turn to stone” and not be open to all the new possibilities that lie around us at this transitional moment.
We are in some way like the transition between the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament never mentions that the Messiah would come from Nazareth and yet we know that Jesus came from Nazareth. There are always surprises that we are not aware of as we go forward on our journeys of life. The early Christians celebrated their new understanding of relationship with God as a fresh start even though they were rooted in Judaism. They built upon their Jewish faith traditions which we see today in that the Eucharist has its roots in the Passover and the liturgical practice of reading the scripture Sunday by Sunday following a liturgical calendar was established by the Jews and it still continues today in synagogue worship. Early Christian understanding grew as they became established. They understood themselves to be the new Semites who celebrated the arrival of the Messiah, the messenger of God Incarnate on the earth which is why we celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas. It is an historic tragedy that Christians have not understood this over the years and have adopted stances of antisemitism and racism.
We as progressive Christians have joined together science with faith and understand that God is the Big Bang, that the Holy Spirit is the creating force of Evolution for the whole of the universe and all life on the planet earth and that Jesus is the Incarnate sign of God in us and that we are in God. This Real Presence in us calls us to love mindfully the planet understanding that at this transitional time is where we build in new directions upon this foundation. As our faith, like the infant Jesus grows and matures in us, may we all grow, flourish and develop with God’s presence alive in us as we transition and journey from this moment. May God Bless us all!