"Unapologetic Theology: A Christian Voice in a Pluralistic Conversation" is the title of a book by my beloved theology professor and friend, the late William C. Placher. It is also now the title of this blog, a place where I hope to add a Christian voice -- God knows, not "the" Christian voice, but "a" Christian voice and not just any old voice, but a distinctly Christian voice -- to the pluralistic conversation going on about just about everything.
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If you live in or near Leesburg, you've probably noticed posters of downtown merchants.
The posters are giant blown-up photos of the shop's business owner. In most
of the photos, the business owner is hamming it up for the camera, posing, in a
lighthearted way, with some prop appropriate to his or her business.
posters themselves, and the whole campaign for that matter, strike me as a fun,
truly creative way to promote downtown businesses.
enough, they got me thinking about Christmas. Not in the way the ad campaign
intended (shop downtown this holiday season), but in a deeper sense.
posters got me thinking about the true meaning of Christmas.
why: the effectiveness of this campaign is that they personalize the
downtown businesses participating in the campaign.
drive by Mom's Apple Pie five times a day and not really take notice, but all
of a sudden there's Avis Renshaw, smiling at you with her giant rolling pin.
Mike of Leesburg Vintner, foot up on a case of vino. And there's Stanley of
Caulkins Jewelers, holding an oversized gem.
somewhere in the back of your mind, these buildings...these shops...these
places become personal.
genius of this campaign is that it plays to the strength of downtown
businesses. Its message seems to be, "Look, these aren't the impersonal,
literally detached big-box-stores of the strip malls. Downtown shops are personal:
just as they literally share walls, they are connected, one to another, and to
aren't just stores, the posters want to remind us, but Avis.
I'm reading my Bible correctly, the story from Genesis right through Revelation
is the story of another campaign: God's campaign.
campaign to reveal his goodness and love for humanity.
And what was
that first Christmas all about, if not God's attempt to literally personalize
climactic words of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" put it, the true meaning
of Christmas was the "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."
effectiveness of God's campaign that first Christmas, you might say, was to
isn't all about God's omnipotence, omnipresence, power.
did God enter into that campaign? Because God can seem so remote...so
detached...so large and impersonal. But -- because God is a tender lover --
that remoteness, detachment, and distance breaks God's heart.
first Christmas -- God's incarnation -- was God saying, "Here. This is
what I look like. This is me. You want to know me, what my priorities are, what
I care about? Watch. Look. Listen."
words, that first Christmas - God's incarnation -- was God saying, "I
care; I am connected. I do not want a remote relationship. This is personal,
so I might have a personal relationship. With you."
campaign be an effective one, for you -- in you -- this Christmas.
A sermon preached June 19, 2016
The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector
The Falls Church Episcopal, Falls Church, Virginia
(“Dear Lord: Carry your word into the most protected parts of our hearts.”)
Today I don’t have a traditional sermon. I certainly don’t have a sermon about Father’s Day, but now that I’ve mentioned it, happy Father’s Day. Today, instead of a traditional sermon, I feel led to share some things that have been on my heart this past week.
I’ve been your Rector here since August of 2012. Those of you who have been here a long time know that my preaching style is almost always “expository,” a fancy word that simply means you take a passage of scripture, and having studied it during the week, you show – or expose – its meaning and relevance as best you can, and then you sit down, trusting Holy Spirit will be hard at work simultaneously translating for each of you what you need to hear on any given Sunday.
One of the implications of this style of preaching is I tend not to preach “to…
A sermon preached January 29, 2017 The Rev. John Ohmer, Rector The Falls Church Episcopal
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the p…