I pray you had a blessed Christmas Day with family and friends yesterday. Today is the 2nd Day of Christmas, so everyone one sing, "On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves . . . ".
On a serious note, the 12 Days of Christmas run from December 25 to January 5. January 6 is Epiphany. In some churches, Epiphany is celebrated on the Sunday before January 6. In some churches, it is celebrated on the first Sunday after Epiphany. However, the Sunday before Epiphany is either the first or second Sunday of Christmas and the Sunday after Epiphany is The Baptism of Christ Sunday.
So, that puts me in a bit of a bind as I choose what scripture and hymns we will be doing this coming Sunday. Is it the First Sunday of Christmas, Epiphany Sunday, or, just to add a twist, New Year's Eve, which has its own set of scriptures? Do we read about Jesus being named and dedicated (Luke 2), about the visit of the magi (Matthew 2), or about the judgement of the nations (Matthew 25)?
The various lessons for the various Sunday celebrations are:
First Sunday of Christmas
Isaiah 61:10-62:3 - The Lord brings salvation and will cause righteousness and praise to spring up. All will see what God will do.
Psalm 148 - All humanity, all creatures, and all creation are called on to praise God whose glory is above all.
Galatians 4:4-7 - At the right time God sent Jesus, born of woman, for salvation of all.
Luke 2:22-40 - This really should start in verse 21. Jesus is named, then dedicated at the Temple. Simeon says that Mary will experience “a sword piercing her soul” because of Jesus. Old Anna sees Jesus at the Temple and praises God. Do you see Jesus and praise God?
New Year's Eve
Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 - For everything there is a season. (Turn, turn, turn . . .)
Psalm 8 - Looking at the stars, what are humans that God cares for us?
Revelation 21:1-6a - John the Seer witnesses a New Jerusalem come to earth.
Matthew 25:31-46 - The Nations will be gathered before Jesus and sorted sheep from goats. Criteria? How well we care for our sisters and brothers.
Isaiah 60:1-6 - The glory of the Lord has come and the nations will come bringing gifts of frankincense and gold.
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14 - A prayer to God to bless the king who will reign with justice and the nations will bring gifts.
Ephesians 3:1-12 - The mystery revealed to Paul is also for the Gentiles which is why Paul preaches and suffers in other nations.
Matthew 2:1-12 - The magi, number unknown, visit the child of Joseph and Mary bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The king is disturbed by the news.
Have a great last week of 2017 and may 2018 be better. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Peace in Christ,
Pastor Gary Taylor