“And the Word became flesh and lived among us”—the promise of the ages, prophets foretold, blessings hoped for—all have come to pass with the birth of Jesus. If you haven’t read it in a while, re-read John 1:1-18. One can’t help but feel the hope and glory portrayed in this scripture. For many of us, our own children brought to our lives hope for a brighter future. Indeed, almost all of us see glimmers of glory in the youth around us. If we look, we may see how the world can come together in love and harmony.
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. . . And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. . . .
sermons4kids: “This week we go back to school and back to the three R’s [Reject, Receive, Reflect], but we need to remember that every day we face the three R’s of what to do with Jesus. I pray that we will make the right choices.”
Scripture: December 29, 2019—Isaiah 61:10-62:3; Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7; John 1:1-18; Psalm 147 or 147:13-21.
Collect: Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reflection: How may I live this day as a child of God who shares in the inheritance of Christ? As Christ shines into the darkness of the world around me, what does the Light of Christ allow me to see?
Practice: Take time to look into the future through the eyes of a young person near you. How can you fit into that “vision” and, if you like the “vision”, how can you help to make it come to pass.
Saint Focus: The Holy Innocents are an integral part of the Christmas story. These are the children that Herod killed in his pursuit of the “King” of the house of Israel who had just been born. These are considered martyrs not in intent. So sad that this type of thing continues to occur as children are often lost because of power struggles among leaders. Click the link below to read more of their story and see some art depictions [from the Calendar of the church year according to the Episcopal Church.]
This week, the saints under consideration were :
- 26; Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr
- 27; Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist AND Fabiola of Rome, Nurse & Benefactor, 399
- 28; The Holy Innocents
- 29; Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury & Martyr, 1170
- 30; Amelia Bloomer, Social Reformer, 1894 AND Josephine Butler, Social Reformer, 1906
- 31; Frances Joseph-Gaudet, Educator and Social Reformer, 1934, AND Samuel Ajayi Crowther, Bishop, 1891
Eye Candy: New Year’s Celebrations around the world; “Adoration of the children” by von Honthorst; word cloudEar Worm: “Now greet the swiftly changing year“, a favorite of the editor; “Auld lang syne“, with explanation of words and translation from Scottish [this song is about our connections—to our past and present acquaintances with hope for future ones. As you listen (or sing), say aloud the names, past, present.]; “O God, our help in ages past”, many voices; “The Work of Christmas” by Dan Forest
Reflection on Lighting the Christ Candle
God, our loving Father, you sent your Son,
Jesus Christ, into this world to counter
all the forces of evil: sin, suffering and death,
and to overcome evil with the force of good;
hatred with the power of love,
your great love for us in Jesus.
Help us never to curse the darkness,
but to join with you in bringing
Your light into this world,
the light that is your Son,
born of the Virgin Mary, in Bethlehem.
Help us to be instruments of your light
and love by doing one special act of kindness
or by being your special instrument
of reconciliation this New Year.
May the Christ Candle we light symbolize
our desire to bring light into a world of darkness
and hope into a world of despair.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen..
downloaded from https://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/ChristCandleofHopePrayer.htm on 12/27/18.
Movies/Videos: “The Fifth Element” (1997), really quirky film with BIG moral; “Tron Legacy” (1982), an inverse of the Father-Son Christian motif; “Jesus of Montreal“, (1989), inventive, witty, and illuminating work of art.
Joseph’s acceptance of Mary and the direction of his life is sometimes described as “radical” in that it diverts from what was the “norm” in his day. Law and cultural practice would dictate a divorce, at the minimum, or a stoning for Mary. Joseph chooses to disobey civic, cultural, and religious law and practice to follow the instructions from God’s angels. His was a “disobedient obedience.” Can you think of modern-day examples of disobedient obedience. For more ideas, check out this article. Reflect on: What cause might be worth disobedient obedience? When might following God put one at odds with following law? How does one weigh the cost? What might Joseph’s story teach us?
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From Janet Hunt, Dancing with the word website:
. . . We have a story before us now about what dads do. Only in Joseph’s case, it really is quite extraordinary. In Joseph’s case, rather, it was a matter of life and death. In the matter before him now, though he could not have fully known it then, the future of the world hung on the decision it was his to make.
Now you wonder, don’t you, why God didn’t take an easier way to come to us, for surely this path was just about as risky as it could be. For not only does God risk the danger of childbirth where anything could go wrong, but God entrusts this child to a very young woman and her fiancée, expecting that they would believe that the conception of this child was of God. God took the risk that very human Joseph would be able to get past the stone of betrayal that settled in his stomach when he first heard the news of Mary’s pregnancy and came to the very rational conclusion that she must have been unfaithful to him. God had to trust that Joseph could set aside his own pride and step into a role, into a life, which would begin in a way he had not yet dreamed. Oh, one would have expected that dream included children, but it could not have included a child in this way. It seems to me that God risked a lot, trusting that Joseph would be open to the urging of a night-time messenger, this angel who told him not to be afraid. Who assured him that he and Mary were to be part of some thing much, much larger than even the very good life they must have dreamed together. Who urged him to name the child, sealing his adoption as his own son. You would think God would have taken an easier way. But God did not. And somehow that deepens our understanding of how very much God will risk for all of us. As Joseph risked then, too.
Because as you know, Joseph did precisely what the angel told him to do. We don’t know what doubts and misgivings he later entertained along his way, for we don’t hear all that much from him after this, but we do know that Joseph did what he was called to do then. He did not leave. He did not cast Mary aside. Rather, he stood with Mary. He claimed that baby boy as his own and gave him a name. That name of Jesus which means “God saves.” And we know that he must have been an awfully good dad to this boy, that he ‘just did what a dad does’ for this one who was destined to be the source of our hope and salvation. Indeed, it seems to me we know this through the stories Jesus later told. . . .