Second Sunday after Christmas, January 3, 2016

Title:Second Sunday after Christmas, January 3, 2016

  January 3, 2016  (full size gallery)

We are in the second week of Christmas the shortest "season" of the church year. Next week we move into Epiphany.  It was a sun drenched Sunday that started cold and warmed up. Coming into Port Royal the sun shone off the winter wheat that was growing.

We had 50 in the service today with extended members of families attending. We also had a larger number of children in Christian education.  Prior to the service at 10am "Weaving God’s Promises" had 11 adults and children to consider Epiphany and words connected with it.  In particular since Epiphany is a festival we learned about others in the church year.  The Epiphany service is this Wednesday at 7pm.

During the announcements we celebrated birthdays for Susan and Betty. Catherine revealed a new weekly publication in the bulletin on learning to read music. Here’s the link. The link to all parts will be on the frontpage, left sidebar.

It was first Sunday and we had 1st Sunday Social, a renamed Coffee Hour. The meal was brunch was various egg cheese and meat casseroles, fruit, bacon with wonderful desserts – coffee cake, blueberry puff, a cranberry pumpkin, pastries. Thanks to Eunice, Cindy, Cheryl and Betty.

Today’s readings assure us of God’s providential care. In Jeremiah, the lord looks forward to a day of reunion and restoration, of celebration and gladness. Paul proclaims that, from the creation of the world, God has worked to bring us into the fullness of Christ. In today’s gospel from Matthew, God leads the Holy Family out of danger and eventually back home again.

When life sweeps us along, and we fumble our way, filled with uncertainty, it is Jeremiah’s confidence that reassures. Those who once left their homeland (like Mary, Joseph and Jesus) return in joy. No longer scattered abroad, they enter a watered garden, the protective circle of God’s providence. Presumably, the holy family enjoyed a time of relative security too, during which the child matured in a peaceful environment.

The sermon placed the emphasis on the role of Joseph from Matthew’s flight into Egypt from the Matthew reading.

Sermon’s key points:

1. " Joseph must have had a great faith and strength of character. In the face of possible ridicule and distain, he chose to become engaged to an already pregnant woman ..and he chose to take Mary and the newborn Jesus and to flee to Egypt, a country that no one would choose as a place of refuge, the country in which the Israelites had been held captive for centuries before God heard their cries and with the help of God’s strong arm and the leadership of Moses, they were brought out of Egypt into the Promised Land.

2. " The scripture goes on to tell us that when Herod died, Matthew did indeed hear from the angel once again, who told him that now he could go back to the land of Israel for those who were seeking the child’s life were dead.

3. " What does the little we know about Joseph have to say to us today? Our lives are unsettled in subtle, and for some of us not so subtle ways. And so Joseph can serve a steady companion and teacher for us as we enter into the mystery of this new year. Joseph can teach us to be good listeners to God.

4. " Joseph also teaches us to be good followers and to do what God will call us to do. When he listened to God, Joseph heard that he must offer gracious hospitality and a home to Mary, who already being pregnant, would bring ridicule on Joseph if he took her in anyway. But he did. He chose hospitality for Mary over the disapproval of his neighbors.

5. " So not only was Joseph willing to listen to God and to follow God, but Joseph also trusted and depended on God to get him back to safety. Joseph’s example reminds us to trust in and to depend on God, especially in the uncertain and unsettled times in our lives.

6. " Joseph teaches us in this new year that our home is where God takes us, and that we can make a home wherever that is, knowing that we can depend on God to protect us and to be present with us there.In today’s scripture from Jeremiah, God gathers the remnant of Israel home—home from the land of the north, the farthest parts of the earth, God will bring the people home, in this case, to Zion. This dwelling place with God that the psalmist holds dear is a place so safe that the swallow can make a nest there.

7. "God’s dwelling for us is a place of joy and safety in our hearts that we can take with us wherever we go when follow God on the pilgrims’ way. But most importantly, with Joseph as our guide, we will make our homes wherever God brings us, a place of joy and praise and safety and strength, until God calls on us to move again, and sets our hearts on the pilgrims’ way once more.  "

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