January 1st (Christmas 1B)

More good news! Christmas is not ‘over’, we have just begun. In preparing worship for this coming Sunday we have choices: the First Sunday of Christmas (Christmas 1),  New Year’s Day, or the Naming of Jesus. I’ve focussed on the first choice, the First Sunday of Christmas.

The first reading (Isaiah 61:10-62:3) is one of joyful hope. The psalm (148) responds, urging all creation to join in pure praise of God. What better way to start a new year? In the Epistle (Galatians 4:4-7) Paul recounts the Incarnation, the ‘Son, born of a woman’, and its consequence, that ‘you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God’. Luke might get detail wrong on occasion but that doesn’t necessarily spoil a good story. Sunday’s portion from Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2:22-40) is no exception: the Holy Family come to the Temple; Simeon is guided there too, where he embraces the salvation which God has ‘prepared for all peoples…a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’; and an old woman, the prophet Anna, who praises God and ‘speak[s] about the child’ to, it seems, anyone who will listen.

This post-Nativity Christmas period provides the opportunity for us to reflect on what it is we have yearned for/anticipated in Advent and been challenged by in the ‘Christmas story’. Borg and Crossan, (The First Christmas), have been helpful to me in this regard:

Am I like Mary,
open to a yet-to-be-revealed role
in bringing about a different kind of world?
Am I like the shepherds,
who invite me to humbler, simpler living?
Am I among those who hear the story of Jesus
unsure what to make of it all?
Am I like Herod,
fearfully, wilfully, holding onto power, position and possession?
Am I like the magi,
refusing to comply with systems that dominate and destroy,
and choosing to change my way
to journey in God’s way more closely?
Am I changed by this Christmas?    More…