|Easter 4, Year B||April 26, 2015||Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B||I John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18|
|Easter 2, Year B||April 12, 2015||Second Sunday of Easter, Year B||Acts 4:32-25, Ps 133, John 20:19-31|
|Easter Sunday||April 5, 2015||Easter, Year B||Mark 16:1-8|
|Easter Sunrise service||April 5, 2015||Easter Sunday, Year B||John 20:19-22|
|Good Friday, Year B||April 3, 2015||Good Friday, Year B||John 18:1-19:42|
|Annunciation||March 25, 2015||The Annunciation||Luke 1:26-38|
|Lent 5, Year B||March 22, 2015||Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year B||John 12:20-33|
|Lent 4, Year B||March 15, 2015||Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year B||Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21|
|Lent 3, Year B||March 8, 2015||Third Sunday in Lent, Year B 2015||Exodus 20:1-17|
|Lent 2, Year B||March 1, 2015||Second Sunday in Lent, Year B, 2015||Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16, Mark 8:31-38|
|Lent 1, Year B||February 22, 2015||Lent 1, Year B||Mark 1:9-15|
|Ash Wednesday, Year B||February 18, 2015||Ash Wednesday, Year B||Matthew 6:1-6,16-21|
|The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||February 15, 2015||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||2 Kings 2:1-12, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, Mark 9:2-9|
|The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, Year B||February 1, 2015||Luke 2:22-40||Luke 2:22-40|
|The Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||January 25, 2015||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:14-20|
Second Sunday after Christmas, Year B
Sermon Date:January 4, 2015
Scripture: Luke 2:41-52
Liturgy Calendar: Second Sunday of Christmas, Year B
"Jesus in the Temple", James B. Janknegt, 2009
Once more, the Christmas season has come with its light and joy into the dark dreary days of winter, and now as the earth spins through space, and the days pass, we approach the end of this season.
During this season of Christmas we have heard the angel cry out, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
We have run with the shepherds to Bethlehem to see this thing which has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us–a baby lying in a manger, a vulnerable infant who is our Lord.
We have watched wise strangers from distant lands follow a star, we have heard them speak to King Herod, and have followed them to Bethlehem where they’ve offered their gifts and knelt with reverence before the Holy Child.
And along with the shepherds, hopefully, we have told anyone who would hear it the good news, and like Mary, hopefully, we have pondered all these things in our hearts.
And now, at least some of us are taking down the Christmas decorations, finishing up thank you notes, answering the last few Christmas cards, and sweeping up piles of needles from the shedding Christmas tree.
Our temptation, as we enter into the New Year, is to let Christmas fade yet again into a distant memory, and to pack Christmas away with plans to pull it out again next year, but not to think of it in the meantime.
Today’s lectionary offers the reading we have just heard from Luke as an option for today’s worship—the story of the twelve year old Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem, spending time in the temple, sitting among the teachers, who are amazed at his understanding and his answers to their questions. When his frantic parents finally find him and ask him why on earth he has done such a thing and made them so anxious, he answers them with questions of his own.
“Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my father’s house?”
This reading seems abrupt as a reading for the second Sunday after Christmas. Instead of the songs of angels, we hear the scolding of parents. Instead of getting to linger in Bethlehem at the manger, we find ourselves in the heart of Jerusalem, in the temple itself.
And Jesus is no longer a helpless infant, but a brilliant boy who can hold his own with the teachers in the temple.
Fred Craddock points out in his commentary on Luke that up until now in the gospel we have seen a whole cast of characters who understand that Jesus is the Savior who has come into the world.
Right before today’s story, Mary and Joseph present the infant Jesus in the temple and Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and realizes that he is holding the Messiah. Anna, an old prophet, also recognizes Jesus.
After the presentation, Mary and Joseph take Jesus home and Luke tells us that he grows and becomes strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God is upon him.
And then we get to today’s passage, recorded only by Luke, and appointed as the Gospel only on this one Sunday of the church year.
Fred Craddock, in his commentary on Luke, says that at this point in Jesus’ life, he has “vague stirrings of his own identity, if not vocation. The circle of his awareness and the sense of a larger duty begin to widen and deepen beyond his home in Nazareth.”
So these vague stirrings on the part of Jesus make this reading an apt one for this Sunday after all, as a reminder to us to continue to enter into the story of Christmas, even when this season is past, so that we can widen our own circles of awareness and seek out our sense of larger duty. This story about Jesus in the temple reminds us to continue searching our souls as we seek our true identities, based on who we know Jesus to be, the Son of God.
St Leo the Great said that “the Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men might become the sons of God.”
The promise of Christmas is that, as a result of seeing who Jesus is, we will remember all over again that God longs for us to live as if we are truly God’s children, so that we can grow into who God wants us to become—and no matter how old we get, God has always got a new thing for us to grow into and to do for God’s glory.
The promise of Christmas is that the angel crying out “Fear not!” stirs up a desire somewhere deep inside each one of us to be free from the things in our lives that keep us from truly loving God and our neighbors.
The promise of Christmas is that the same glory of God that shone around the shepherds will take away our blind spots and help us see clearly what we need to change about ourselves so that we can serve God and one another more fully.
The promise of Christmas is that going with the shepherds to see the baby lying in the manger reminds us of the importance of being vulnerable and trusting in God’s care for each one of us, instead of trusting only in ourselves.
The promise of Christmas is that we can live as people of hope rather than as people of resignation—that we can truly long for and believe that peace on this earth is possible and that God wants us to work for it.
The promise of Christmas is that even as we live here on earth, we know that we are standing at the threshold of the house of God, and that the joy of eternal life begins not in some future, light years away, but here and now.
So as the earth spins through space, and the days pass, and we approach the end of this Christmas season, Lord, help us to hold onto our longings. Make us strong, fill us with wisdom and let Your favor rest upon us, so that we can become who You would have us be, people of joy in the midst of the sorrows of this life. Help us to become a holy flame in the darkness that You can use to set the whole world on fire with Your love.