Revised Common Lectionary Reflection, Second Sunday after Christmas Day, Year B
January 3, 2021
Lessons: Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20; Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1: (1-8), 10:18
Theme: God’s faithful and generous people love to tell the story of Jesus and his amazing grace and love.
Key Scripture: No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. – John 1:18
Do you remember the first person who introduced you to Jesus? Perhaps it was a parent or grandparent, or maybe a pastor or Sunday school teacher, or maybe a choir director or youth group leader. This week’s gospel is all about pointing people to Jesus and to the amazing story of God’s love for us. We all need to remember with gratitude the giants in faith who inspired and equipped up for our discipleship. If they’re still around, share their story and contact them to say thank you for their role in your life, for introducing you to Jesus and his radical mercy, grace, and love.
Now it’s pretty easy to cast Jesus in a manageable mold that makes our faith life palatable and doesn’t ask too much of us. We get a personal savior (with less intrusion than Alexa) and copilot who doesn’t interfere with most parts of our life. A dose of religion on Sunday will do ‘ya. Frankly, that image of Jesus won’t even hold up to pablum; it’s weaker than a day-old kitten. It’s certainly not worthy of the story to which we point. Perhaps our own pointing and telling needs a little freshening, an extra dose of wonder and awe that will shine through as point others to the story. Maybe we need to revisit our own story of learning about Jesus and the person(s) who were instrumental in helping us form our own faith.
Yes, we need to reclaim the bold colors, textures, and brush strokes of this week’s gospel, a canvas of words and images that stretches back before time began and will continue throughout eternity. This is a story of epic proportions that blows Hollywood special effects right out of the water. We’re talking about Jesus—God come to earth in human form that we could recognize and not fear, yet also present as/with God before creation. The evangelist John calls Jesus the “Word” and says that all things came into being through him. Yes, God, in all the divine expressions, participated in creation and continues to do so to this day.
Note the tightly woven the plot line in these first eighteen verses of the gospel, tightly woven yet fantastically expansive. Like John the Baptist, our job is not to justify or explain but rather to testify. We tell how this amazing story impacts our lives, how the Christ draws us in to participate in making the world aright. The story both is and isn’t about us. We, each beloved one of us, is inextricably woven into the grand narrative’s fabric, but this is all about God’s action toward humankind. This is the amazing news we share. Not everyone will hear it or open their hearts and minds to this radical and amazing grace. It’s not our job to force the issue. We just point and tell about the gift of Christmas that keeps on loving in a world where real, lasting love is sorely needed.
If you are able, let there plenty of music this week. You may be able to offer a digital version of a Lessons and Carols service. If not, keep as much emphasis as you can on the songs and hymns of the Christmas season. Perhaps talk about their history and how they serve to point the way to Jesus.
You might consider the sheer cosmic magnitude of the first five verses of this week’s gospel. Humans rarely come close to touching the divine; it is Jesus who reveals God the Holy Parent’s heart to us. In 1941, a young American pilot in the Canadian Royal Air Force, John Gillespie McGee, penned the poem “High Flight.” Some of us are old enough to remember the poem from the nightly broadcast sign off of television stations. The poem began on a flight at 30,000 feet and was finished soon after McGee landed. In it the pilot/poet captures some of the grand scope of God’s good creation that only a few folks are privileged to see. Here’s a video of John Denver singing a song based on the poem.
Consider watching the Emu Music video for “Creation Awaits” and discussing the lyrics in light of this week’s lessons from Ephesians 1:3-14 and John 1:1-18. How do you understand these passages? What role does creation have? What role do you have in pointing to Christ? What are some ways you can do that, ways that are authentically you?
This week’s focus verse is John 1:7: – He [John] came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
Do you know what it means to testify? In a court of law it means to give evidence as a witness to a crime or wrongdoing. But it also means to “serve as evidence or proof of something’s existing or being the case.” If John’s life purpose was to testify to Jesus, which definition makes sense? (You may have to give the definitions a few times; affirm all answers in some way.) Yes, John was pointing to Jesus, showing that he exists and the prophecy people have heard is true and fulfilled in him. We are to continue pointing to Jesus today. How might we point to Jesus and share the good news? Yes, we can tell how Jesus has helped us and stays with us. We don’t have to have fancy words or a polished story. We just point and tell.
Where could you point to Jesus in this church building? Where could you point to Jesus outside this building? Anywhere you find people doing good for one another and this world, anywhere you find love expressed or mercy, you will find Jesus. Anywhere you experience the radical love of Jesus, you can rest assured that the Christ is near to you. Keep pointing. Keep loving. Keep sharing. And, keep praying. In fact, let’s pray together now.
Finish with a simple echo prayer and blessing.
Dear God (Dear God),
Thank you (Thank you) for loving us (for loving us). Thank you for sending Jesus into our world (Thank you for sending Jesus into our world). Help us to point to Jesus (Help us to point to Jesus), and share the good news of his love (and to share the good news of his love).
Keep us from fear (Keep us from fear). Keep us hopeful (Keep us hopeful). Make us helpful (Make us helpful). Give us peace (Give us peace). Amen (Amen).
Stewardship Bulletin Insert
Sometimes we don’t see immediate effects from our stewardship efforts. But just as John continued to point to Jesus and tell about him, we continue to practice good stewardship of time, talent, and resources because that points to Jesus, too.
Stewardship at Home
Consider watching the classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Ponder where you saw Jesus at work in the world of that film. What might change if that film was remade this year? Consider what’s really important and what makes life wonderful. How might you point to Jesus and share the good news of how Jesus continues to work in your life? Might you share the faith story of the first person to share Jesus with you?
2016 Reflection: https://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2015/12/blessed-be/
2014 Reflection: https://www.stewardshipoflife.org/2014/12/hidden-in-plain-sight/
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