1st Sunday After Christmas – Yr C (12/30/12)

20 Dec

Isaiah 61:10-62:3

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

John 1:1-18

 

Psalm 147 or 147:13-21

Great is our LORD and mighty in power;
there is no limit to his wisdom
.

Opening Question

  • Are you living a meaningful life?
  • Would others who are most important to you agree?

Appointed Passages[1]

Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3

10  I   will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth   its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause   righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

1   For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.

2   The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.

3   You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand   of your God.

  • How do you become “clothed with the garments of salvation” (v. 10)?  Is it the result of an externally imposed force, or an internal personal decision, or perhaps both?
  • What are the implications of having a “new name” (v.2) and why would you want to have one?

Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7

23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 4But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. 6And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ 7So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.

  • How do personal limits that are set by law differ from personal limits that are set by our faith?
  • What do you think is the key distinction in this passage between being a slave and a child/heir?

John 1:1-18

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15(John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

  • How is light a good visual image to describe life?  If light describes life, what do shadows represent?  Can (should) we avoid them?
  • Does faith bring power?  If so, how would you describe what the power acquired by faith enables you to do?
  • If the Word becomes flesh through us, as believers, what does it empower us to do?

Comment

“What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”  These sentences in the opening paragraph of today’s Gospel trigger a visceral sense of the eternal triumph of faith and hope over doubt and despair.

At the core of our celebration of Christmas is the refreshing belief in the availability of a new era.  A path that brings the exhilaration of empowerment by personal choice.  We are no longer slaves to a life of service without options, but enlightened to the benefits of embracing our spiritual freedom.

It is indeed refreshing to think about the life and works of Jesus.  He lived a demonstrative human relationship with God that provides examples (and lessons) to guide our choices in life.  As you would expect however, with authority comes responsibility.

Faith does bring great power.  As we pursue the riches of our faith, we embrace our relationship with God by acknowledging we have a significant responsibility to maintain it.  This responsibility is realized by living the decisions we make daily – particularly those that shape our relationships with other people and our community.  Our character is revealed in assessing our relationships with others and our various communities.

Are you a contributor or a freeloader?  Do you support God’s guidance for people of the light, or wait in the shadows for the tap on the shoulder to get moving?

My prayer for all of us is that we join with Jesus by allowing the word to become flesh through our actions.  Our relationship with God is enhanced when we live a life of alignment that includes His presence.
 

Quote for Today:

 

George Gray[2]

I have studied many times

The marble which was chiseled for me –

A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.

In truth it pictures not my destination

But my life.

For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;

Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;

Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.

Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.

And now I know that we must lift the sail

And catch the winds of destiny

Wherever they drive the boat.

To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,

But life without meaning is the torture

Of restlessness and vague desire—

It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.


[1] New Revised Standard Version of biblical passages

[2] From “Spoon River Anthology”, Edgar Lee Masters

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