Christmas Sunday Reflections:
On this first Sunday after our joyous Christmas Celebration, we gather to reflect on where we are going in the aftermath of Christmas. We ask: shine into our hearts the light of your wisdom, O God, and pen our minds to the knowledge of your word, that in all things we may think and act according to your good will and may live in the light of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever more. Amen
The 3 readings to day are all printed in New Revised Standard Version Bible, but today I will read them as they are written in Eugene Peterson’s “The Message”
First Reading: Samuel 2.18-20.26
18-20 In the midst of all this, Samuel, a boy dressed in a priestly linen tunic, served God. Additionally, every year his mother would make him a little robe cut to his size and bring it to him when she and her husband came for the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “God give you children to replace this child you have dedicated to God.” Then they would go home.
21 God was most especially kind to Hannah. She had three more sons and two daughters! The boy Samuel stayed at the sanctuary and grew up with God.
But the boy Samuel was growing up, blessed by God and popular with the people.
This is a wonderful story from the Old Testament about a boy named Samuel. Samuel's mother was a woman named Hannah. Hannah wanted a son more than anything, so she prayed and asked God to give her a son. She promised God that if he would give her a son, she would give him back to the LORD to serve him all the days of his life.
God gave Hannah the son she asked for and she kept her promise to God. When the boy was old enough, she took him to the temple and presented him to Eli the priest. So, Samuel served in the temple under Eli.
On this First Sunday of Christmas we meet two boys. One in the OT and one in the NT. We meet the boys Samuel and Jesus. In the temple.
From the Hebrew name שְׁמוּאֵל (Shemu'el) means "God has heard". As told in the Books of Samuel in the Old Testament, Samuel was the last of the ruling judges. He led the Israelites during a period of domination by the Philistines, who were ultimately defeated in battle at Mizpah. Later Samuel famously anointed Saul to be the first king of Israel, and even later anointed his successor David.
So, the last sentence “the boy Samuel was growing up, blessed by God and popular with the people.” became true as the life and being of Samuel unfolded. He was called, and he grew in his calling. He was blessed, and he became a blessing. He was a young man, a beloved son, and he became a leader and a respected judge.
Let us reflect on this Christmas Sunday Morning:
How have we been called?
How have we been blessed?
What have we become when we grew up from boys and girls to men and women?
Who did we become?
Second Reading: Colossians 3. 12-17
12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.
15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.
Just as newly baptized Christians in the early church were clothed with white robes upon arising from the baptismal waters, so we often clothe our small baptismal children in white, as they receive the blessing of Christ. Regardless if we were dressed in white, if we are baptized as infants, youngsters of adults, we were baptized to receive the blessing of God and to grow in this baptismal blessing and calling.
The readings from Colossians is such a beautiful meaningful reading. It is read often at weddings to remind the newly wed about the ingredients in a good marriage and relationship. But we should read it daily to be reminded of the basic ingredients in any relationship. How we as Christians should clothe ourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony or as the Message said “And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Let us reflection this Christmas Sunday Morning:
How are we clothed? What do we wear our faith?
Do we remember to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience in all encounters? Do we remember to be thankful? In these days after the joyous Christmas celebration do we remember to be good Christians clothed in love even after Christmas?
Gospel Luke 2.41-52
41-45 Every year Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over, and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
46-48 The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt.
His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.”
49-50 He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about.
51-52 So he went back to Nazareth with them and lived obediently with them. His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
Time flies, doesn’t it? It was just Christmas and we just left the baby in the manger a few days ago, and now he is a pre-teen. Time flies? As the Danish Poet Benny Andersen wrote:
“We have twelve clocks in our house
Still we don’t have enough time
You go to the kitchen
Get chocolate milk for your skinny son
But when you return
He’s too old for chocolate milk
Demands beer girl’s revolution”
The growth spurt from infant Jesus on Christmas Eve to preteen Jesus of today provides a space to reflect on ways our time flies but even more how our image of Jesus also must grow. We can not stay at the manger or in Bethlehem. We need to go to Jerusalem. We need to go to the cross.
As the young boy Samuel, Jesus too felt at home in the temple, so much that he forgot all about his parents and their concerned worry. They were anxious parents, as they did not realize that Jesus was not a little boy any more – and that Jesus was feeling at home not just in his family childhood home, but in the temple, in the presence of God, and even more in the presence of people. As time flew and he grew up, he went unpredictable places, found surprisingly new paths to follow and met with people that his parents might otherwise wanted to avoid.
His mother held these things dearly, deep within herself. And Jesus matured, growing up in both body and spirit, blessed by both God and people.
This is even more a mirror on the words of Christmas eve, when Mary listened to, treasured and pondered on the words spoken in the light of the star, - and now once again she listens, treasures and ponders of the events and the words in the temple. All the while, Jesus grew in both body and spirit blessed by God and people.
Time flies. And it is already December 30 of 2018. Soon, we will leap into a new year. Soon, we ill must get accustomed to 2019.
On this Christmas Sunday Morning on the steps to a New year, let us reflect on:
Where will this new year take us and how will we use the days and months ahead?
What surprising paths will we go, and which unpredictable places will we visit or even call home?
Do we listen to God’s calling, and where might this calling lead us? AMEN.