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Isaiah 61:10-62:3 & Luke 2:22-40
Today is the first Sunday after Christmas. The good and the hard, the fun and the fullness of the holyday are over. But the unfolding story of the birth in the past, and the future return of the Christ is still unfolding. We tend to treat Christmas as over and done with, looking forward to the summer and the eventual end of the short days and dark cold.
The first passage from Isaiah is the conclusion of the magnificently worded chapter 61. We read the first part earlier in Advent. It could be the Messiah proclaiming the beginning of God’s reign. It could be interpreted as the beginning of the Sabbath of Sabbaths. Luke reinterpreted it, telling in Luke 4:16-30 – of Jesus reading and preaching on it – concluding “this is now accomplished in your presence.” Today we hear the end of the section – promise of something new. It’s so awe-some that all of the nations –indicating those that doesn’t follow or believe in Yahweh – will be marveled by the beauty of it. It will deserve a new name, being something so radically different that old names and words won’t suffice to articulate it. Wow.
Luke 2 is the continuation of the Christmas Story. After something so amazingly unexpected – a midnight visit from the shepherds…Joseph and Mary do what they do – they observe the law with circumcision on the eighth day of life. Yet while they go about life as usual – life is anything but usual. Simeon and Anna , older (and thus wiser, more life experienced) recognize the unique occurrence, and the special child. They offer not the smiles of visiting strangers bending over a stroller, but rather prophetic and troubling words about an infant. It’s a God moment – only made possible by the moving presence of the Spirit of God.
Then Mary and Joseph return home. Luke insists upon their obedience to the Law, the “normalness” with which they raised Jesus, even as he summarizes the childhood of Jesus as one of growth, strength and divine presence.
Questions for going deeper:
1. What grabs your attention in today’s selections?
2. How do you talk about what God has done and is doing in the world?
3. How are we called to live out Christmas, or into it?