First Sunday after Christmas (December 26, 2010)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Is. 63:7-9; Ps. 148; Heb. 2:10-18; Matt. 2:13-23
We awoke on Christmas morning to a dusting of snow in Harrisonburg – a “white-lite Christmas!”
Cindy’s mother, Phyllis Lehman, from Kidron, Ohio, has been with us this week. Together with Daryl’s mother, we have played many games of Scrabble and enjoyed food and laughter around the table with our family. We plan to drive to Ohio this week; then visit our daughter Jessica in Denver.
In his book, Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest, Wayne Muller writes: “Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something – anything – is better than doing nothing.” Muller goes on to say that because we do not rest, “We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor.” We thank God for holiday seasons that offer a form of Sabbath – an opportunity to step back, to reflect and look at what is truly important.
The Common Lectionary Readings for this first Sunday after Christmas are about God’s identification with us.
Speaking about the upcoming exile of the unfaithful inhabitants of Judah, God says, “Surely they are my people” (Is. 63:8). Isaiah adds, “In all their distress (God) too was distressed.” (v.9)
The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is not ashamed to call us his family (Heb. 2:11). In a remarkable statement of God’s identification with humans, the writer adds, “Because he (Jesus) himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (v. 18)
In the Gospel reading the baby Jesus — in order to escape the death threats of King Herod — is shuttled from place to place (Matt. 2:13-23). Like billions of humans across the ages, God’s Son is vulnerable to the selfish insecurities and whims of powerful rulers.
The remarkable lesson of Christmas is this: Even in – perhaps especially in – our failure, our suffering, our temptation and our vulnerability, the God who created and commands the praises of the heavens and the earth (Ps. 148) chooses to identify with us!