I sincerely hope you have have a safe, healthy, and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sermon for 2nd Christmas 01/03/2021

Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 84:1-8; Ephesians 1:2-6, 15-19; Luke 2:41-52

In our lesson from Jeremiah, it is important to understand, that the church in this time is a Covenant People and He does not limit who can be part of His people. God had sought to create a people Israel. Rebellion brought division and then exile. And yet, He still promised to reunite them as His people. He never wanted any group excluded, so He continued to work to incorporate all groups and classes of people in His church.

After the stern prohibitions of chapters 7:16, 11:14, and 14:11, God called for this great prayer, “Sing with the joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, O Lord, save your people, the remnant of Israel.” Israel was to rejoice loudly with the expectation of the salvation of a remnant. The prayer of praise sometimes needs to be raised for what we expect God to do in the future, as we know we know what He has done for us in the past. By creation, God is Father of all peoples, but he has a special deep, fatherly interest in His people, for they are His “first born” whom He created in the Exodus and whom He promised to deliver even from the punishment He imposed. Beloved, participation in God’s saving acts is to be done with both joy and prayers of gratitude.

In our psalm today, that this prayer expresses an intense “yearning” for the presence of God. No other joy can be compared with the joy of His presence. You seem prayer expressed fellowship with God and provides that fellowship even when we are far removed fro the house of worship. It has been said that when we seriously yearn for His presence, He comes with a warm heart and a willingness to be with us. Do you yearn for God’s presence in your life? Have you asked Him for this?

In Ephesians, we see Paul greetings in Christ Jesus to the church in Ephesus, that God’s plan using Christ to establish God’s people was not the final plan, it was the only plan. From before the foundation of the world, God chose, in Christ for holy and blameless living. In Christ, He has richly lavished the blessings of redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, and understanding upon His people, and His will has always been to provide proper salvation and create His people through Christ’s blood. This plan was revealed through Christ’s ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ. Those in Christ are saints. All who hear ad believe the gospel are included in Christ’s people. The Holy Spirit in us marks us as being in Christ. Furthermore, intercession reaches its highest authority and power when it is for spiritual purposes. Paul prayed the Ephesians would know God better and experience His strength.

In our Gospel from Luke today, we are told that, “Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast according to the custom. This custom was not merely for attendance, as this was a “worship experience,” only this became more of an experience for Jesus’ parents than to Jesus Himself. In my days growing up it was never, never, never, never okay to talk back to one’s parents. In this case, Mary knew first and Joseph later, that this boy was not an ordinary 12 year old boy. He was becoming what He came to do and it was both a preparation time for Him and for His parents.

We all know May and Joseph left to travel back home, but this time, Jesus stayed at the temple. Three days they searched, only to arrive back at the Temple only to find him inside the Tempe courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Even more amazing to everyone was his understanding and questions.

Mary and Joseph acted like parents and said, “Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Jesus said, “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he was saying to them.

This scene was a typical educational method in the ancient world, asking and answering. It played an important role in the religious instruction of first century Jewish boys. In the scene, Jesus was not “grilling” His teachers, but was asking for information. Question asking should not be the exclusive prerogative of teachers; it is important for learners to raise questions, too! It is just as important for our teachers today, to listen to what the learners are asking in their questions, as it is for them to listen to the teachers questions; freedom to be in an environments of learning, not simply listening to one and taking notes, and not have the opportunity of questioning for understanding. A lesson for us all.

In all of our Scriptures for today, you see a solid thread that brings this all together into one theme. It is relationships. It begins with our God, then our family, and then beyond these into the community we live in and those we love, work, or come into contact with. Amen

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