Christmas Day (December 25, 2011)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Ps. 148; Is. 61:10-62:3; Gal. 4:4-7; Lk. 2:22-40
A joyful Christmas to all!
Cindy will be traveling to Virginia this weekend to be with family and meet our granddaughter Sydney. Let’s just say that Grandma Cindy is excited! Daryl developed pneumonia and spent the early part of the week in the hospital. Middle Eastern hospitality extends even to the generous care one receives when sick. He is resting at home and slowly getting back his strength.
It was a violent week in the region. More than 60 Iraqis were killed in a series of bombing attacks across Baghdad, as sectarian tensions seem to be on the rise. According to Syrian officials, Arab League monitors moved into Syria just as multiple car bombs killed at least 44 persons in Damascus.
The Common Lectionary readings for this Christmas day remind us that God acts to deliver — in the right time.
In the Old Testament reading, Isaiah uses an agricultural image to describe God’s timing. “For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,” Isaiah writes, “so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” (Is. 61:11)
In the Epistle reading, Paul proclaims: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son . . . so that we might receive adoption as children.” (Gal. 4:4-5)
The Gospel reading tells the beautiful story of Simeon, a righteous and devout man. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.” (Lk. 2:25-26) When Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the temple to dedicate him, Simeon immediately recognizes that God has kept his promise. Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and praises God: “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” (vv.29-32)
God’s timing is often very different than our own. From our perspective, God should act immediately to deliver, to bring about change, to restore, to make things right. But God – who knows and holds all things — acts in the fullness of time. The Lectionary readings offer historical assurances that God knows when the conditions are ripe, when the time is right. Praise be to God!