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Let All Creation Praise!

By Sharron R. Blezard, December 27, 2012

First Sunday of Christmas Lectionary Reflection

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! {5} Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created. Psalm 148:1-5

Many of you may be planning a Festival of Lessons and Carols for this one Sunday of Christmas—a timely and appropriate worship plan. If that is the case, consider some of the lovely Christmas poetry of U.A. Fanthorpe, Louise Gluck, Elizabeth Bettenhousen, and others as an interlude between the lessons and a way to draw deeper into a reflection and meditation of the Christmas story. A long sermon is not necessary; let the story, the lyrics, the music, the poetry, and the silence speak plainly. Rejoice, praise, and celebrate the gift of God come to earth.

If you’re not planning Lessons and Carols, there is still an opportunity to focus on praise and celebration in the words of this week’s appointed psalm. Psalm 148 appears in the Revised Common Lectionary on the first Sunday of Christmas and on the fifth Sunday of Easter in Year C. A focus on the call of all creation to praise and give glory to God is most appropriate for this celebratory season. What would it mean to commit to a year of praise and thankful living, truly making one’s life a sacrifice of praise and a hymn of joyful service? How might our congregations and worshiping communities embrace this challenge in all that we say and do, in who we are, and in how we live out the good news of Jesus? Imagine life together as one year-long banquet of joyful celebration that stretches from the communion table to the potlucks and coffees and into the community into soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and Christian education programs. Plant a seed of joy today, tend it well, and reap a harvest of blessings.

If you prefer to focus on the epistle, the lesson from Colossians is a great opportunity to preach on “What to Wear” as opposed to the television show What Not to Wear. We learn from verse 12 what Paul recommends to discipleship “dress for success.” There’s not a designer label or name brand included. This is clothing for the heart, spirit, and mind. One might find, however, that by embracing this “what to wear” list, the consumer trend toward the latest fashions is no longer alluring. Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience were traits of servants in Hellenistic culture—not leaders. Of course, Jesus was all about turning things upside down and inside out, so it’s no surprise that that these traits show up as desired discipleship attire.

The gospel provides an opportunity to talk about Jesus’ call to be in his Father’s house and about his Father’s business. Likewise, we too, are called to be about the business of ushering in the reign of God. Our faith communities grow and deepen when we are intentional about this call to discipleship and all that it entails. God claims us in baptism, nourishes us in Word and Meal, and equips us in community to live into the divine intent for our lives. We are created not randomly but for a purpose—to reflect and bear the light of Christ into this beautiful, broken world. Like the child Samuel and the boy Jesus, we too, grow in faith and belief.

Whatever approach you choose to take this week, may God bless your worship, your teaching, and your preaching. May you find refreshment, renewal, and joy in this season. And, may you find renewed vision to lead God’s people forth in joy in 2013. Blessings on your ministry!

In Worship

Take time to be joyful today. Sing carols and hymns of praise. Make sure the mood is upbeat, celebrating the joy that is in itself an act of defiance against the powers and principalities of darkness. Jesus Christ comes into our world bringing light that darkness cannot defeat. Make good use of candles in worship. Consider a PowerPoint presentation that features images of light–sunrise, candlelight, sunlight.

With Youth

Use the gospel lesson to talk about being called by God. Jesus was clear about his purpose. It’s much more difficult for today’s middle school youth and teens to be clear about walking wet as disciples in the world. Facilitate a discussion about how one can be about God’s business through faithful and active participation in one’s worshiping community, through service to  others, through generosity, and through study and prayer. Celebrate communion together if possible and remember your baptism by having the font or a bowl of water present along with candles to celebrate the light of Christ.

With Children

Talk about putting on the garments of discipleship. Bring a suitcase or trunk with you. Choose some bright garments to represent compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Allow the children to bedeck you, or seek a volunteer to “dress for success.” Remind them that no designer label can beat these “clothes” for discipleship. Consider helping children make a mobile from which you hang brightly colored paper “clothes” labeled with the five garments listed in Colossians. These can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. You could make one together as part of the children’s time and then send kits home, or you can have each child make one with prepared materials (craft sticks, yarn, paper clothes, etc.).

Photos by iprozac, worobod, and bsabarnowl. Thanks!)

About the Author

The Rev. Sharron Riessinger Blezard is an ELCA pastor currently rostered in the Lower Susquehanna Synod. She came to ordained ministry after teaching secondary and college English, working in non-profit management and public relations, and moonlighting as a freelance writer. See more posts by .

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