Keyword Search

  • Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company
    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

    Buy Direct from CSS Publishing Company

Christmas 2 (C)

Jeremiah 31:7-14

This thoroughly optimistic text is a reminder to us that the concept “salvation” in much of the Older Testament is primarily corporate and this-worldly and in most of the Newer Testament is primarily individualistic and is often other-worldly. By accepting both the Older and the Newer Testaments as its biblical canon, the early Church assured itself of well-balanced and well-rounded salvation concepts. Our teaching and our proclamation should reflect this balance, not overemphasizing the individualistic and other-worldly. When the corporate and this-worldly aspects of salvation are underemphasized and neglected, as they have been for so many centuries in most of the Church and still are in significant segments of it, oppression inevitably results and social justice is neither valued nor considered to be important for the Church. Instead, the Church offers only “pie in the sky by and by” and persons and groups of people who understand the necessity for social justice look with contempt upon the Church or at least consider it to be irrelevant.

Corporate and this-worldly and individualistic and other-worldly salvation is a gift from God for us. Life is itself a gift from God. Although we are individuals, we are members of the Church, the corporate body of Christ.

Sirach 24:1-12

This extensive personification and praise of Wisdom introduces the second half of the document known and used in major portions of the Christian Church as “The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach,” “Ecclesiasticus” (the Church’s book), or simply as “Sirach.” After emanating from the “mouth of the Most High,” Wisdom is said in this text to have permeated the world before being commanded by the Creator to dwell in Israel.

Psalm 147:12-20

As in so many of the songs in the Psalter, praise of the Lord (Adonai) is the dominant theme here. It is possible that there are three extended “verses” (vv. 1-6, 7-11, 12-20) in this psalm as we have it today, much as we may have hymns with three verses in our hymnals. The third verse selected here (vv. 12-20) was probably at one time separate from verses 1-6 and 7-11, as it is the Septuagint (Greek) and in the Vulgate (Latin) major translations of the Hebrew Bible. The emphasis in verses 12-20 on the Lord sending out the Word of the Lord (v. 18), declaring the Word of the Lord to Jacob (v. 19), and the statement that the Word of the Lord runs swiftly (v. 15) explains the reason for the selection of this portion to be placed between the personification of Wisdom in Sirach 24:1-12 and the personification of the Word of the Lord in Jesus perceived as the Christ in John 1:1-18, the pre-existent Logos (Word) who became flesh and “camped” among us, full of grace and truth.

Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21

In this other major wisdom document within the so-called Older Testament Apocrypha that is sacred Scripture for most Christians, Wisdom is personified and acclaimed throughout the first ten chapters of the Wisdom of Solomon. In this segment, as in the portion from Sirach 24:1-12, Wisdom is said to have provided guidance for and become a blessing for Israel. It is written that Wisdom entered into Moses and led the former slaves through the Red Sea to freedom. We can believe that just as God via Wisdom provided salvation for Israel, God via the Word (the Logos) Jesus the Christ, provided salvation for the members of the Johannine community and offers salvation to the world.

Ephesians 1:3-14

The key words that connect this text selected from the “blessing” portion of this epistle to the Johannine Prologue (vv. 1:1-18) are Grace in verse 6 and the Word of Truth in verse 13. It should be noted that in Greek the entire “blessing” section of this epistle (vv. 3-14) is one extended sentence. When we translate this sentence into the English language for readers of modern English, we have to divide it into at least six sentences. Greek readers from the period of classical Greek and from what is for us the “biblical” period enjoyed well-constructed, “edifice” sentences; most modern readers of English want their sentences in simple, small bites.

John 1:(1-9) 10-18

Since the references to the witness of John the Baptist interrupt the flow of thought of this Prologue in the Fourth Gospel, even though they link the Prologue to the materials in the Gospel proper that begin with 1:19, on this particular occasion on the Second Sunday after Christmas Day when the Word, the Logos is emphasized, it would be appropriate to focus our attention on the portions of the Prologue (vv. 1-5, 9-14, 16-18) apart from the references to John the Baptist that we see in 1:6-8 and 15. The main and perhaps original portions of the Prologue (vv. 1-5, 9-14, 16-18) express one of the highest Christologies that were included within the Newer Testament canon.

Here in Jesus, the pre-existent Logos, divine grace is said to be so abundant that it is literally “grace piled on top of grace.” Here the only begotten God the Son, who is in the close presence of God the Father, has “exegeted” (from the final verb in v. 18) God, has brought God out so that those who follow him will be able to see the meaning of God, God whom no human has ever seen at any time.

Particularly if we have used John 1:1-14 as the Gospel text on Christmas Day, we should put our emphasis on 1:16-18 on this present occasion. A biblically based message from this text on the Second Sunday after Christmas Day will demonstrate from Jesus as Jesus is revealed to us in the Newer Testament and from our experiences within the Church as it should be as the “Body of Christ” what it means to us to receive God’s “grace piled on top of God’s grace.” Our message will also show how the Jesus of history in his life brought out for others to see the meaning of God whom no human being has ever seen at any time. It will be God who graciously forgives and Jesus who goes to the cross for us whom we, therefore, will proclaim and will depict with our lives. This will mean offering ourselves for others. It will mean giving up our life by trusting and believing in God who is the one who gives “grace piled on top of grace.” Our words will be effective if our lives demonstrate these things.

Leave a Reply

  • Get Your FREE 30-day Trial Subscription to SermonSuite NOW!
    Chris Keating
    The Double-Dog Dare Days of August
    August’s lazy, hazy dog days quickly became a deadly double-dog dare contest between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Both nations have been at odds with each other for nearly 70 years. During his working golf vacation in New Jersey last week, President Trump responded to North Korea’s rhetorical sword-rattling by launching a verbal preemptive strike of his own.
         Call it the Bedminster bombast, or the putt that rocked Pyongyang. But the duel between the two countries is more than fodder for late-night comedians. It’s a deadly standoff with history-changing repercussions.
         There is no vacation from matters of national security, or the orations of war. Indeed, much of the war of words between Washington and North Korea seems to confirm Jesus’ counsel in Matthew: “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” The contrasts between these barbed exchanges and the biblical understanding of peacemaking offers an intriguing opportunity to hear Jesus’ words in a world filled with double-dog (and even triple-dog) dares....more
    Feeding The 5,000
    The assigned Gospel text for this week skips over a couple of sections in Matthew's story. Matthew 14:34-36 cites Jesus' journey to Gennesaret. The crowds of people recognized him immediately and all of the sick came to him for healing. Just a touch of Jesus' garment brought healing to many. The crowd in Gennesaret recognized Jesus. They came to him in their need....more
    Wayne Brouwer
    Religious balkanization
    One dimension of religious life we have in common across faith traditions and denominational lines is the incessant divisiveness that split our seemingly monolithic communities into dozens of similar yet tenaciously varied subgroups. A Jewish professor of psychology said of his tradition, "If there are ten Jewish males in a city we create a synagogue. If there are eleven Jewish males we start thinking about creating a competing synagogue."...more
    C. David McKirachan
    Jesus Is Coming, Look Busy
    Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
    I had a parishioner who would walk out of the sanctuary if he saw a djembe (African drum) out in front to be used in worship.  I asked him about it, in a wonderfully pastoral manner, and he told me that things like that didn’t belong in worship.  I said that it was in the bible to praise God with pipes and drums (I think it is).  He told me he didn’t care what the Bible said, he knew where that thing came from and he wouldn’t have it.  I asked him why things from Africa would bother him.  He told me that he knew I was liberal but that didn’t mean he had to be.  I agreed with him but cautioned him that racism was probably one of the worst examples of evil in our world and I thought he should consider what Christ would think of that.  He asked me who paid my salary, Christ or good Americans....more
    Janice Scott
    No Strings Attached
    In today's gospel reading, Jesus seemed reluctant to heal the Canaanite woman's daughter. He told her that he wasn't sent to help foreigners, but only his own people, the Chosen Race. The words sound unnecessarily harsh, but perhaps this is an interpretation unique to Matthew, for this story only appears in Matthew's gospel, which was written for Jews....more
    Arley K. Fadness
    Great Faith
    Object: Hula Hoop or circle made out of ribbon, twine or rope
    What an amazing morning to come to church today. I am so glad to see you and talk to you about a wonderful story from the bible. Let me begin by showing you this circle. Now let's get into this circle. (Physically, all move into the circle) It's fun for us all to be together in this circle. We don't want anyone to be left out. To be left out is to be sad. To be kept out is even more sad and painful....more

Authors of
Lectionary Scripture Notes
Norman A. Beck is the Poehlmann Professor of Theology and Classical Languages and the Chairman of the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Classical Languages at Texas Lutheran University
Dr. Norman A. Beck
Mark Ellingsen is professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia
Dr. Mark Ellingsen