Sunday, December 30, 2018
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Six days ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus, our Savior. On this sixth day of Christmas, have we, like Mary at the birth of Jesus, continued to treasure the angels’ words of God’s glory in our hearts? The manger is empty. Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us – and we take him home with us wherever we go. Our gospel reading from Luke today does not follow the logical pattern. We expect after reading the story of Jesus’ birth, to read about the three wise men or magi that journeyed from far away to see the new born king. But that reading will take place next week from the gospel of Matthew when we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany. This week, Luke quickly moves from Jesus’ birth, to his growing and maturing in strength and wisdom. We jump ahead to when Jesus is twelve years old, and he and his family are once again traveling. Only this time they are not traveling from their home in Nazareth to Bethlehem, but they are on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of the Passover. And while they are on their journey Mary and Joseph cannot find Jesus. For a time he is lost to them. They are filled with fear and anxiety as anyone would be if they lost their child for even a moment. But on finding Jesus in the temple teaching they are relieved, yet at the same time not fully understanding what all of his words meant. The original Greek translation is unclear as Jesus said it was necessary for him to be about his father’s things vs. his house. What is certain is that he was supposed to be where God was calling him to be, and do what God was calling him to do. Once again, Mary “treasured all these things in her heart.”
Mary did that a lot. From the time the angel Gabriel announced she would bear a son who would be the Savior, hearing the angels’ glorious news at the birth of Jesus, and hearing Jesus’ own words not just when he was in the temple at age 12, but throughout his life. Jesus was on a mission from God, a journey that began at his birth, continued throughout his life, and death, and resurrection. The work that God called Jesus to do was one amazing journey, that continues through us today.
We are all called by God to carry out specific things. Each one of us is unique, and God speaks through our unique voices, and works through our individual gifts. It is a journey that begins at our baptism and continues throughout our lives. Today, Mason Christopher Kenyon begins his journey of faith as he joins this journey of the Christian faith in the waters of Holy Baptism. He too, will do things and say things that will surprise his parents, but his Godparents, this community of faith, and Almighty God will be with him every step of the way. Through the waters of baptism, he has the assurance that he is forever joined with Christ who came as one of us at Christmas, but through his life, death, and resurrection remains with us always. This is a most wonderful gift to be treasured and pondered always in our hearts.
Today, Betty Suarez, Megan, Simon, and Virginia Applewhite will affirm their baptisms as they officially join our congregation. They have pondered the gifts they received at baptism, and throughout their journey of faith so far, and publicly join their voices with ours as they continue that journey of faith. Every time we affirm our baptism, every time we ponder the words of the angels, and the words of Jesus, we grow in wisdom. Every time we listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and do God’s will we grow in wisdom. Every time we take time to show compassion, and mercy, kindness and love, we grow in wisdom. And this holy wisdom guides us on our faith journey.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians read this morning is a reminder not just to the church in Corinth long ago when he wrote that letter, but to us today. He tells us “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility meekness, and patience.” He tells us to forgive just as God has forgiven us. He reminds us that part of love is to admonish one another in all wisdom. And finally, to sing and give thanks to God in whatever we do.
On this sixth day of Christmas when the rest of our culture has already started putting away all signs of Christmas, our Christmas celebration continues. Like Mary, let us take time to ponder all these wonders of Christmas in our hearts. We can contemplate on the words of Jesus who asked Mary and Joseph and asks us today, “Why are you searching for me?” He is Emmanuel, God with us. We don’t have to search for him. He is with us. In the waters of baptism, in the real presence of Holy Communion, in the love we share, and the peace he brings. Ponder these things in your heart, and give thanks. Amen.