Although it seems as if Christmas should be over, such is not the case. There are two Sundays that follow upon Christmas this year. With these passages we have the opportunity to continue the conversation as to what Christmas means for us. The idea that the call of Christ involves building up one another may not always be at the top of our minds, but may this be an opportunity to share that very message. If you're a preacher considering what to share this coming Second Sunday of Christmas, I invite you to consider these passages and supporting matierals that David Ackerman has provided us with his Beyond the Lectionary: A Year of Alternatives to the Revised Common Lectionary. .
“Build Each Other Up”
Note: Another option for this day is to use the readings for Epiphany.
Call to Worship: Psalm 106:47-48 NRSV
One: Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Many: Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the Lord!
Gathering Prayer: As a new year dawns upon us, we thank you that we can be together. Help us to use our energies to build each other up, just as you build us up in strength.
Confession: We have strayed away from your truth, God. Instead of embracing your healing touch in our lives, we have preferred to remain broken. We have not been people of love, and we have not trusted in you. Forgive us, God. Give us a sense of direction and purpose, so that we might live anew, as you call us to do.
Assurance: God has given us grace in overflowing abundance. As a people who have been forgiven, let us strive to love as God has loved us. We pray in the name of Jesus, who has come to us and given us new hope this day.
Scriptures: Isaiah 57:14-19 – “I Will Heal Them”
1 John3:11-14a; 4:1-6 – “Love One Another”
Luke 1:1-4– “That You May Know the Truth”
Commentaries and sermon ideas may be found in Beyond the Lectionary.
· How do you think the exiled Israelites would have heard Isaiah 57? Have you ever been in a “place of exile” or somewhere far from home against your will? What was that like for you? How do you find hope in that kind of a situation?
· Today’s reading from 1 John reminds us that it’s hard to know who to trust when it comes to matters of faith. Do you use any “tests” to determine who to trust in spiritual matters?
· A person may have many gifts, but if they lack love they miss that which is at the heart of Christian life. What does love mean to you? Do we really know it when we see it?
· Today’s reading from Luke marks the beginning of what is probably the “best written” Gospel. Does it cheapen this book in your eyes to know that it was written for a benefactor? Are there other great works of art that were made at the commissioning of others?
· In this busy time of year when many changes happen, how are we holding up under the stress? Do we have the strength to build each other up, or are our nerves so frayed that we tear each other down?
Prayer of Thanksgiving: For all the beauty and wonder of this Christmas season, God, we give you thanks and praise.
Benediction: God commissions us as agents of healing in a broken world. Let us do this work in love, trusting in the promise of the One who gives us life and sends us out this day. Amen.