03 January 2016
And so we jump from the manger to the Temple when Jesus is twelve years old. We’ll be going back to his childhood next week, but in the meantime, we are faced with a Jesus who is very human – learning, debating, growing, looking rather like Samuel did when he was a boy. One of the toughest choices we will make in our faith is to really take the humanity of Jesus seriously. This is the challenge of this week in the Lectionary.
As we worship the incarnate God, may we also encounter the human Jesus this week.
Jeremiah 31:7-14: A promise of God’s restoration for God’s exiled people in which God commits to bringing God’s people back to their home, including the disabled and blind, and mothers who are expectant or in labour.
OR Sirach 24:1-12: Wisdom speaks of how she filled all of creation, but then God commanded her to make her home in Jerusalem and to take Jacob as her inheritance.
Psalm 147:12-20: An exhortation for God’s people to praise God because has blessed them and made them secure. God commands the forces of nature, but also proclaims God’s word to God’s people.
OR Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21: Wisdom delivered God’s people from their oppressors, leading them through the Red Sea. And Wisdom puts clear words into the mouths of infants, and those who can’t speak.
Ephesians 1:3-14: We have been blessed in Christ because we have been reddemed and forgiven and made to be God’s children. God has revealed God’s plan to us, to make the univers eone and whole, and has given us the Spirit as a down payment on our inheritance.
John 1:(1-9), 10-18: The pre-existing Word, who was with God and is God, became flesh and dwelt among us, revealing God’s grace and glory to us and giving us the power to become God’s children..
REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
At the heart of this week’s readings is a single, significant and challenging theme – that God has chosen people to be God’s children, to whom God reveals God’s self, and through whom God works to bring salvation to the entire universe. In Jeremiah God promises restoration for God’s exiled people, and offers a promise of grace and love even to those who would have been considered unclean or unacceptable to God in the past. In the Psalm, God’s people are called to celebrate what God has done for God’s chosen ones. In the two apocryphal readings from Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon Wisdom is seen to have chosen Israel as her home and to have protected Israel from oppression. In Ephesians the wonderful blessing of salvation is proclaimed, with a specific reference to how we have been made God’s children who have been shown God’s plan and who have received the Spirit to empower us to participate in the plan. Finally, in John’s prologue, the Word becomes flesh, reveals God to all people, but enables those who believe to become God’s children. As we explore what this means, we will find that this week we are called to find comfort in God’s choosing of us, but we are also called to recognise that God has also chosen those whom we would deem unacceptable, while calling all of us to participate together in bringing God’s grace – God’s choosing – to the entire cosmos. What can be more comforting and inspiring than to know that we live in a cosmos in which every fragment of creation proclaims that we – and the entire universe – are beloved?
CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
At this time in history the world seems completely fragmented. Religious groups claim their own chosenness, while condeming those who belive and worship differently. Political parties are more divisive and oppositional than ever, and the competition in the global economy is creating a few massive winners, but lots of losers. Yet even in the midst of our fear and divisions there is another reality that is at work in the universe – the gracious choosing of God that declares that all are one and all are beloved. When we begin to understand this truth, we cannot help but treat people of different religions, nationalities, cultures, languages, sexual orientations, and genders as God’s beloved children. We cannot ehlp but seek peace and mutual understanding between opposing ideologies. We cannot help but seek to bring humanity, compassion, and social rsponsibility into the way we do business. And, when we do this, we discover that God’s glory is revealed not just in Christ, but in each of us as we become “little incarnations” who manifest the grace and love of God toward each other.
In our neighbourhoods, communities, and even our families, it is easy to fall into competition, suspicion, and self-interest. When times are tough, it is tempting to hoard and protect our resources from those around us for fear we won’t have enough. It is tempting to become violent in our attempts to protect ourselves from those we perceive as a threat. And it is tempting to align ourselves only with interest groups of those who think, act, look, and believe as we do. But, this is exactly the kind fo behaviour that perpetuates our suffering and brokenness and that keeps the world from healing. When we can earn to trust in the belovedness of ourselves and others, and when we can begin to reach out to make connections with those who are different from us, the world begins to change for us, and God’s grace and glory is revealed. Perhaps we can explore this week who the people are to whom we are called to reach out, and with whom God seeks us to make new, healing connections, as we declare their belovedness.
RESOURCES FOR WORSHIP:
Finding God Together
All Creatures Of Our God And King
Praise My Soul, The King Of Heaven
O Come All Ye Faithful
All Are Welcome (Link to YouTube video)
All God’s People Chord Chart / Lead Sheet / Listen
God Of This City (Link to YouTube video)
Love Can Change The World (Link to YouTube video)
Everlasting God (Link to YouTube video)