Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lectionary Notes for First Sunday after Christmas Day, Year C

Readings for 1st Sunday after Christmas Day, 12/30/12:
 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Psalm 148, Colossians 3:12-17, Luke 2:41-52

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26:

  • V. 26, “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature…” Compare this to the description of John the Baptist in Luke 1:80 – “The child grew and became strong in spirit…” and of Jesus in Luke 2:52 – “Jesus increased in wisdom and in years and in divine and human favor.” These statements seem to indicate a child marked by God, for some special/divine purpose.
  • V. 18-20 – Samuel’s mother, Hannah, played such an important role in her son’s life. Remember that it was her prayers during a time of barrenness that brought to her the gift of Samuel, and she promised to give Samuel as a servant to God if she was able to bear a son. Her faithfulness continues to God indirectly through service to her son. In other words, how we care for others links to how we care about God, and is ‘credited’ to us as service to God.

Psalm 148:

  • Praise, praise, praise! That’s the theme of this psalm. This psalm has beautiful imagery about creation – it is not just that humans praise God or even praise God for the gift of creation. It is creation itself that praises God for it’s own existence. “Praise [God], sun and moon; praise him all you shining stars!”
  • 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?

Colossians 3:12-17:

  • This is a popular favorite scripture passage, not only from Colossians, but from the whole Bible. It’s a picture of a community’s way of living in Christ, and it’s an ideal we probably all seek.
  • “God’s chosen ones” – from the Greek “eklektoi”, meaning literally ‘say out’ but translated as ‘chosen out’ or ‘selected.’ (Humorously, the verb form can mean “to pull out one’s gray hairs”!!!)
  • Images of clothing ourselves, with compassion, kindness, humility, etc. Compare this to imagery of clothing ourselves with the armor of Christ that we find in Ephesians 6. Also, this metaphor loses some of it’s punch if we think about today’s clothing styles. But imagine something from biblical times, long and flowing robes, draped over the body in folds, and you get a different idea of how this “clothing ourselves” can function.
  • “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” The word dwell comes from the Greek “enokeito”, which does simply mean “live in” or “dwell” as translated, but it is a word used for people living in a house, not Christ’s word. Paul is suggesting that Christ’s word come to live with you, to be as much a part of your life and your home as your children or spouses or parents are.

Luke 2:41-52:

  • This is the only canonical story we have of Jesus from the birth narratives in Luke and Matthew until Jesus begins his ministry around age 30. Why is it included? What else happened to Jesus in his childhood, his teenage years, his twenties? These are questions people wonder and dream about.
  • I think of the series “Smallville” on the WB – the account of Clark Kent/Superman’s high school years, previously unknown to us. This is what we wish we had of Jesus – a way to learn about all the things that went into shaping who he became as an adult.
  • “Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey.” It’s hard to imagine parents traveling a day without knowing for sure where their 12 year old was. This let’s us know we have a disconnect between today and Jesus’ day in terms of customs about travel, child care, community relationships, etc.
  • Probably this story is included mostly to illustrate Jesus’ already divine nature, the fact that he was already set apart even at a young age.
  • “His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Imagine being the parent of one like Jesus, and trying to let go of the usual ways that you would act toward a child in order to let something greater take place. Today’s lectionary features the acts of two mothers: Hannah and Mary. We also have to let go of things in our lives in order to let God’s greater purpose be at work in our lives. 
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