Posts from December 2015

“The Influences of Home and Church” Luke 2:41-52

During the month of December, we have had ample opportunity to think about the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Today, we have sang carols celebrating the child in the manger, and we move beyond Christmas, not only on the calendar but in actions as we look at Jesus as a twelve-year-old. Over the past few weeks of Advent, we examined when and how Jesus was born. Our New Testament Lesson this morning provides an opportunity to place the Christmas story into meaning by looking at why Jesus was born.
This is our only glimpse of Jesus from early childhood to adulthood. Next week, we will read about the Wise Men visiting Jesus when he was living in a house, meaning that Jesus was around two or three years old. We have one biblical story from that time until adulthood, and it is this experience in the Temple at age twelve.

 

“Reflections of a Shepherd” Luke 2:8-20

It started as a night like any other night. The sun set in the west; the stars were twinkling, and the moon shone brilliantly. As a shepherd, I had seen nights like this time after time. After a busy day of chasing errant sheep, making sure that the fields were safe and bountiful for our flocks, and just general shepherding duties, I finally found time to relax a bit. We were tending our flocks in some fields near Bethlehem, a small village about five miles south of Jerusalem. Bethlehem was the home of King David, the greatest king in all of Israel’s history.
The responsibility of a shepherd in the evening was different from the daylight obligations. We traveled in groups; at night, we would take turns watching the sheep, so that our partners could get some sleep too. We slept in shifts; when we were awake, we had to keep watch. We looked for predators; sheep are fairly defenseless animals and not real smart either. Wild animals would prey on unsuspecting sheep without the watchful eye of an alert shepherd. In those same fields outside Bethlehem, David had killed a lion and a bear. While awake, we also made sure that some of our sheep did not wander off. If they left the fold, they would certainly perish.

 

“God Can Even Use You” Luke 2:1-7

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. And at the time, Bethlehem had no idea how important that birth would be. The One whom Isaiah prophesied as the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace had come into the world, into the sleepy little hamlet without much fanfare. It is believed that Jesus was born in the evening, because later we read that shepherds were keeping watch over their flock at night when the angel appeared to them heralding the good news of the birth of the Messiah. Silent stars, as referenced by the popular Christmas carol, maybe some livestock, and certainly Joseph watched Mary give birth to God’s Son. The dark streets provided a contrast that being birthed in a stable or cave was the One who would later call Himself the Light of the World. The hopes and fears of all the years were met that night in Bethlehem in the birth of Jesus.

 

 

“A Preview of Coming Attractions” Isaiah 9:2-7

Doesn’t our Sanctuary look beautiful? Our Decorating Committee has worked diligently this week to heighten our senses with the colors of the season. Tonight’s Hanging of the Green Service will remind us why we use the decorations that we use.
Most, if not all, of our homes will receive some decorating within the next couple of weeks. Holiday lights, Santa Clauses, inflatables, garlands, wreaths, Christmas trees, and nativity sets will be on display to help lift our spirits for the most festive time of the year. The shorter days and the colder temperatures mark a definite change, but Christmas really is the highlight of this time of year for Christian reasons and also for many other purposes.