Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year A

Readings for First Sunday after Christmas, 12/29/13:
Isaiah 63:7-9, Psalm 148, Hebrews 2:10-18, Matthew 2:13-23

Isaiah 63:7-9:
  • Isaiah can pack a lot into a few short verses. "I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord." Will you? What are the gracious deeds of God in your own life?
  • "It was no messenger or angel but [God's] presence that saved them." Excellently said. God came as God's own self to save us. We see that in Christ's coming to earth, but even more generally speaking, we can say that God throughout the scriptures is always directly involved with the people. A hands-on God. No intermediaries will do what God can do and does do.
Psalm 148:
  • I like Psalms that are simple and clear in their focus: Praise God, everything and everyone. It is a reminder to me, to us, in our worship preparations, to remember what is our focus: Praise God, everything and everyone. Sometimes we try so hard for something fantastic that we lose focus on why we put together such wonderful music, beautiful liturgies, and carefully crafted sermons. Praise God!
  • Psalms like this that include things like: sun, moon, starts, mountains, fire, hair, hills, trees, cattle, birds, young, old, men, women, rules, snow, and wind, all in one litany remind us of our relationship with ALL creation. A little stewardship of the earth, please? If the psalm says all creation praises God, we do a good job of putting a stop to the praise when we destroy the creation...
  • This image sort of reminds me of The Lion King when all the animals come to see the new baby Simba be ‘baptized’ – all creation is joining in. What a picture!
  • Creation is commanded by the psalmist to give praise because of its existence. Do we require more of God to give God praise? Do we only feel like praising when things are going our way or when we’ve received some desired request? Or do we praise because we are, because we have being?
  • V. 11-12 say that Kings and the regular people, rulers, young men and women, old men and women, all should praise together. Is that a good picture of worship today? How do we worship together from different walks of life? Who is missing from this full picture in our own congregations?
Hebrews 2:10-18:
  • Overall, the theology of this passage is not how I would articulate my theology. But nonetheless, some good points: "perfect through suffering" Have you experienced anything like this in your own life? Suffering making you stronger? More perfect? I don't think that God creates suffering for us to make us stronger, but I certainly believe God can work through our suffering to make us stronger.
  • "Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters" I do like this part of the passage - the imagery throughout that we are siblings with Jesus Christ - his brothers, his sisters. He is like us, human like us. Yes, we view him as also divine, but without his being human, Jesus wouldn't mean much to us, or be able to reach us, and we wouldn't be able to seek to be like him, our brother.
  • "he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham." Similar to the sentiments in the Isaiah text for today - God didn't send someone else to save us, Isaiah says, and likewise, we read in Hebrews, God didn't come to save someone other than us. It's God and God's people. That's it.
Matthew 2:13-23:
  • I find Matthew's obsession with showing Christ as fulfilling Old Testament prophecy distracting. Count the times in this passage: at least three times in this one passage. I find Jesus' life and ministry compelling enough without his proof-texting. But obviously, to Matthew, it was very important to show this dotting of 'i's and crossing of 't's.
  • Complain, complain :) - Another thing I don't like about this passage is how one-sided the account is - Matthew talks all about Joseph here, and Joseph's taking "the child and his mother" - Mary is not even named! What are Mary's thoughts on all this?
  • Oh - Herod's killing of the babies. How terrible. It makes me think of the plague on the first born in Exodus, which was even more terrible since the scriptures attribute it as being carried out by God's hand.
  • What is the message for us here? This is about establishing Jesus' identity, for Matthew at least. It also tells us about God protecting the Christ-child. And Joseph's obedience to the angel's directives.
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