Date: January 5, 2020

Bible Text: Jeremiah 31:7-14, Ephesians 1:3-14 |

What? What do you mean it's still Christmas? Yep, for a few more days it's Christmastide, until January 6. Personally, I'm really enjoying the ongoing comfort of Christ's appearing in these darkest days of winter. Any way, Christ also appears in our worship, which is what we're here to talk about. This Sunday's gospel lesson is one we've read and read and read lately, so we're going elsewhere. We'll look at the Old Testament and New Testament lessons. Both of these use very expressive and expansive language to describe God's acts of salvation and the degree to which God enjoys performing acts of salvation! Ain't that good news? Sometimes we talk like saving us was a tremendous burden for God, and it was, but these passages assure us that it was well worth it to God. That is also very comforting in these days when compassion and joy seem rare and unconnected. We'll look at God's good pleasure a little more this week, and we'll celebrate with holy communion, which seems very fitting.

Notes from the Preacher

This sermon ended up shaping a countercultural expression of the meaning of Christmas. It starts with the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," to show that December 25 is the beginning and not the end of Christmas. This got reinforced with thinking about decorations still being up and gifts still being enjoyed and even still being given and received. The focus then rolled to the difference between celebrating the birth of a baby and celebrating the salvation of humankind that the baby came to bring about. Here we compared the situation of the people of Israel/Judah who were brought back by God from exile (the natural consequence of their focus on power, wealth, and convenience instead of holiness, righteousness, mercy, and justice) with our own, and message from Ephesians 1, that it gives God great pleasure to save us from our sin. Again, we offered a broader understanding of salvation from sin that includes the sin of the whole community and nation and not just my personal misbehavior. As promised, God's gift of holy communion was lifted up as a way for us to experience the joy God takes in our salvation, even at great cost. This hopefully will grow in us a sense of gratitude such that we will also participate in the transformation of individual and culture that has its roots in the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ. That's it in a nutshell, if I recall correctly.

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