1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 Psalm 148
Colossians 3:12-17 Luke 2:41-52
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We are in the Christmas Season, a time of Promise, for us all. We have the Nativity scene here to remind us of the great event of God coming down to be born among us in humility, leading us to Redemption, Salvation, and return to Paradise. But when all the figures, animals, the stable, the tree, the lights and the tinsel, go back in their boxes, what will we have left to remind us of the ecstasy of Christmas Day ? Well I have a suggestion. A poem written by Chuck Serson a Cowley Father and called ‘Bethlehem, House of Bread’. It may help us remember this great event all year, especially when we receive Communion. It’s very simple.
A baby in a box of straw But now He comes to us instead
Was all of God the shepherds saw Within a little house of bread
But they had heard the angels sing And as the shepherds worshipped, we
And so they worshipped Him as King. Adore Him in this mystery.
We need to remember that and continue to be awestruck by what happened at Christmas. It is a Call that we cannot refuse, to receive Holy Communion in the wafer, the ‘little house of bread’ and receive the Saviour into our hearts.
Our readings today call us to worship. Hannah and Elkanah are committed to their religious faith. Yearly they go to the Tabernacle in Shiloh, and do what is expected of them, they bring gifts, sacrifice, worship and receive a blessing. They are honoured to do it. And then they continue their devotions at home during the rest of the year.
Mary and Joseph are committed to their religion too, and they make sure that their Son Jesus hears the Word of God, is taught the story and attends worship services at the Temple, yearly, and that He share in the worship at the synagogue in Nazareth, the rest of the year.
At the age of twelve, by Jewish custom, Jesus attained manhood, and I guess He felt it was time for Him to make a statement of independence and do His own thing. Although Judaism went directly from childhood to adulthood, all the blessings of having a teenager at home fell on Mary and Joseph just the same; and today we hear of one occasion. Like most children Jesus had ideas about what He would do, and what He would become, so He thought he’d better get on with it, no matter the anxiety He would cause His mum and dad ! Jesus took the years, twenty or so, between His Bar Mitzvah and His Baptism to get a full understanding of Judaism. It was also a time when He saw Judaism’s shortfalls and misunderstandings of what God really desired for, and of us. What He learnt then, was to be reformulated into His own Christian message, the message we read about today in the New Testament but which was grounded in the Old. Thanks be to God. / Something that links Hannah, Elkanah, Mary and Joseph is their desire to show appreciation to God by following God’s Word and worshipping God. The Psalmist gives us a great guide as to how to worship, he says Praise God. Not only us in all our conditions and stations of life, but the fullness of all Creation too, from the spiritual world, to us, to the animal kingdom, to the inanimate. God surely deserves all our praises for creating us. Aren’t you glad that you exist in this wonderfully created World ?
Now, I guess it would be impossible to stop everything and do nothing but worship God, and it would actually be against God’s Word because God tells us to be fruitful, to have dominion over, and to care for Creation and each other. And this is where Paul comes in, he says do the things we are asked. We could do them in a blustering way, my way or the highway kind of living, but that’s not the thing at all. When we follow God’s commands we are to do them God’s way. We are to live with “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience with others” Paul says. Bluster only creates friction and is incompatible with God’s will. As Paul says “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.” And then “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”. And as you do that worship in your own heart.
Then comes the really important stuff “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”. That is probably the hardest thing you will do because it requires that you subject your will to what you know to be the Will of God. It’s the hardest thing because self-interest has to take a back seat to God, and for us self-interest and the will to survive are the most dominant motivations we have. The people who have made the most difference in this world though are not the blusterers, because their influence will fade and end. The people who have made the most difference are those who followed the Word of God, who set an example for us to follow and have improved life for us all in all its dimensions. The preeminent Difference Maker being Jesus Himself, then come all the saints who have trod in His footsteps. Jesus says to us “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37) for to do likewise is the path to Redemption, Salvation and Paradise. It will give you peace of mind and peace with others. That’s why Jesus came to be with us at Christmas. When you have put the decorations away remember we still receive Christ in that ‘little house of bread’. Therefore friends every day is Christmas ! Amen and Alleluia !