Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Learn! is our worship theme for the first Sunday of Christmas, December 30, 2012. Our focus scripture is Luke 2:41-52.

The only glimpse of Jesus that we get between the time of his birth and the beginning of his ministry is in this short paragraph of Luke’s. Although Mary has been told of Jesus’ identity as God’s Son and has pondered the shepherds’ story of the message of the angels, it does not occur to her and Joseph that Jesus would be in the temple when they return to Jerusalem to search for him. To Jesus at 12 years old -- the age of separating from his parents and becoming a man – it seems like the obvious place for him to be. Luke tells us that he is talking with the elders – experts in the law – and that he is asking them questions, and that they are amazed at answers that he gives to them.

We could focus on the family dynamics of this story. Of how it is that Jesus’ parents could lose track of him. Of the shame and additional danger it puts them in to leave the larger group returning to Nazareth and to go and search for him. Of Jesus’ independence and then return to his family as an obedient son. But instead, we will focus on where Jesus puts his attention. He wants to learn. He wants to ask questions and discuss God’s Word with the most learned scholars in the community. He is taking his faith seriously.

Sometimes we give Jesus supernatural abilities without even thinking about it. We imagine that it took no effort on his part to know what God intended for him to do, because being God’s Son, he would naturally know. Personally, I don’t think it worked like that. I think the quality of Jesus’ relationship with God – his “sonship” – is the same as ours. We have no magical pipeline to God, and I suspect he didn’t either. What we find him doing as he moves into adulthood is what we all must do: listen hard for God’s calling amidst all the bewildering messages that we receive from relatives and from our surrounding culture. And then, having heard at least a piece of what God is calling us to do, to act on it. Jesus worked at this more successfully that any human being before or since. The quality of his teachings and parables, and the insight and courage he has to lay down his life in just the right way at just the right time portray his specialness. But he is doing in this passage what we all need to do: learn!

In this season of Christmas joy, here is a Call to worship based on Psalm 148. Please use or adapt anything in this post that is helpful to you.

Call to Worship    From Psalm 148

L: Hallelujah! Praise God!
P: Shout God’s praise from the mountaintops! Let the angels sing God’s praise!
L: Praise God, you lights of heaven: sun and moon and stars!
P: Praise God, you rolling thunder clouds!
L: For God is your creator: God commanded, and it was so!
P: Praise God from ocean’s depths you sea monsters and swimming things!
L: Praise God from the air you lightning bolts; you hail and frost and snow!
P: Praise God from the earth, you mountains and hills, you orchards and forests!
L: Praise God all animals, you wild beasts and herds of cattle and flying birds!
P: Praise God you human rulers, you kings and queens of the earth!
L: Praise God all people, women and men; all ages and tongues and races!
All: Let everything praise the Lord; for God’s name alone is above all things!
    Praise God! Hallelujah! Amen.

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