First Sunday after Christmas (December 30, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
I Sam. 2:18-20, 26; Ps. 148; Col. 3:12-17; Luke 2:41-52
This week we said goodbye to family in Harrisonburg and traveled to Denver on Christmas Day to visit our daughter Jessica. We plan to fly back to Amman, Jan. 1.
In Denver, our daughter planned a number of special outings. We visited the Becoming Van Gogh exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, saw the Blossom of Lights exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens and ate dinner with Deb Schafer (former short-term MCC volunteer in Iraq). We also enjoyed several walks around Denver’s beautiful City Park, which is directly across the street from our daughter’s apartment.
In the Middle East this week:
- Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Health Minister Marziyeh Vahid Dastjerdi, the only woman in his cabinet. Meanwhile, Iranian media announced that officials have successfully staved off new cyber attacks against Iran’s energy industry.
- Jordanian officials announced that the demand for water rose 6 percent in 2012. According to the Jordan Times, “The rise in demand for water is due to economic and agricultural factors, in addition to population growth and an ongoing influx of Syrian refugees.”
The Common Lectionary readings this week describe growing in favor with God and humanity.
In the Old Testament reading, the boy Samuel ministers alongside the priest Eli, growing “both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.” (I Sam. 2:26)
In the Gospel reading, 12-year-old Jesus travels with his parents to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. But when his parents start the journey home to Nazareth, they realize that Jesus is not with them. Eventually they find him in the temple, “sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:46). According to Luke, “All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.” (v.47). Luke concludes: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor (v.52).
In the Epistle reading, Paul describes the kind of behaviors that garner favor with God and humankind. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” Paul urges. “Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Col. 3.12-14)
As we prepare to return to Jordan to conclude our service with MCC, we feel rejuvenated by the encouragement we have received during our two-month home leave. We have enjoyed the favor of God and of others. Elwood and Lorene Schrock made their apartment available to us. Becky and Tony Brenneman loaned a car to us. Family and friends have shared delightful meals and conversations with us. We feel truly blessed as we begin 2013.