Monday, December 22, 2014

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year B

Readings for First Sunday after Christmas Day, 12/28/14:
Isaiah 61:10-62:3, Psalm 148, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:22-40

Isaiah 61:10-62:3:

  • "my whole being shall exult in my God." How do you exalt God with your whole being? We think of ourselves so much as in our heads, so much about our souls, relegating our bodies to just be flesh-things that contain us on earth. But Isaiah sees a whole-body worshipping of God. Do you put your whole self into worship?
  • I don't usually feel inspired by bride-to-be imagery in the Bible, but I get what it means to convey. Have you ever been part of a wedding and the preparations of the wedding party? All decked out, in the best finery, with so much desire to please the other spouse-to-be. That's how we, God's people, are meant to feel about being ready to meet God.

  • 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?

  • Galatians 4:4-7:
  • Adoption language. I have trouble with this language of Paul's. I don't know what to think. Are we only God's adopted children because of Jesus Christ, or are we God's children already because we are created in God's image? I can see good theological arguments either way. If we're God's adopted children, then that means like parents adopt children today, God choosesto be our parent. I like that image. But I don't like an implication that we're only God's children because of Christ. Aren't all people God's children?
  • What does it mean to be a child of God? Think about the place of children in the Bible - in Jesus' teaching. How are you entering God's kingdom in a childlike way?

  • Luke 2:22-40:
  • Simeon in particular has been waiting for sometime to see the Messiah, even though he had no idea when this would happen. What have you been waiting your whole life to see? What's worth such wait?
  • I feel sorry for poor Mary, hearing Simeon's confusing and upsetting words about her son. Do you think she thought he was a crazy man, or do you think she already had a feeling about what he said?
  • When you look at a child, can you envision in them all that they might be? God looks at us that way, I think, even when we are no longer young in years, always seeing all that we might be.
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