Date: December 29, 2019
Bible Text: | Rev. David A. Douthett
Merry Christmas! The season of Christmas lasts for twelve days (like the song says), beginning with Christmas Day and ending on Epiphany, January 6. So we will continue our celebration of Jesus' birth for two Sundays. The texts for this week, though, are not as bright and cheery as we might want. Hebrews 2 is the beginning of an argument that runs through the whole book that Jesus is superior to all the prophets, angels, and saints who had come before, but here the author makes sure we know that Jesus was also fully human and identified with us as his siblings. The Matthew passage gets quite dismal quite quickly. It is the story of what happened after the wise men left for home, and Herod realized they weren't coming back to tell him where the child king was. This is a terrible story, but there is much for us to learn from it, as we cling to the good news that the light of Christ has come into the world and the gloom cannot overcome it.
Notes From the Preacher
Much of today's sermon was written or assembled by Rev. Molly Douthett, a close personal associate of mine. You can probably tell the parts that are specifically mine.
Quotes in the sermon come from:
- Scott Hoezee at the Center for Excellence in Preaching
- Jill Duffield at Presbyterian Outlook
- Anne Lamott from Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
One thing I thought about saying but didn't:
At one point in my preparations I had a very powerful sequence come into my head. In reference to Herod's slaughter of the innocent children, it was a list of many ways that the innocent have been and are still being slaughtered throughout history and around the globe. Some of these were at American hands, like enslaved children being sold out from under their parents, or Native American children removed from their homes to be "civilized." It was a sobering list and would have had a definite impact, I'm sure. However, since this was supposed to be a meditation and not a full sermon (oh well), and we would be going into singing Christmas carols right after, I felt like I needed to tone it down. So I only made reference to the many and various ways that Herod has continued to kill babies through the centuries.
The line that I meant to include with it and really regret leaving out was "The fact that we here are generally unaware of these slaughters and are not directly affect by them tells us something about where we are in the power structures of society, as compared to Jesus, who knew all too well." I trust in these preaching moments that the Holy Spirit is directing what I say and what I don't say, so it may be that I needed not to say this line, but I really feel like it needs to be said somewhere. So here you go.
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