Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Grenz Ricoeur Shelf

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Prayer and Scriptures for the First Sunday after Christmas Day (2014)

Adoration of the Magi
Prayer for the Week:
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.
Readings from the Revised Common Lectionary:
First reading: Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm: Psalm 148
Second reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
 Additional Gospel Reading: Matt 2:1-12
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” 
When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: 
          You, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
                    by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah,
                              because from you will come one who governs,
                              who will shepherd my people Israel.” 
Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route.
The Nativity of Our Lord
Lectionary Reflections for the Season of Christmas:

Ekklesia Project: Looking for the Redemption of Jerusalem.

The Brazos Blog: David Lyle Jeffrey on Luke 2:22-40.

The Brazos Blog: Stanley Hauerwas on Matthew 2:1-12.

...like the wise men, it turns out that God has given us gifts of bread and wine to be offered so that the world may know that there is an alternative to Herod. 
The wise men are warned in a dream not to return to Herod but to return to their own country by another road. It is quite significant that the wise men return to their own country. It seems that God did not mean for them to stay in Israel, which, given the joy they experienced, must have been a temptation. 
Rather, they are charged to return home, becoming an outpost, a witness, to the joy they have experienced. The journey they undertake becomes for us part of the story that brings joy. 
That journey might well be called “another road” that we too must take. The kingdom is a journey, another road, whereby followers of Jesus may well find that they are strangers even when they are “at home.”
Kyle Roberts: The Excessive Miracle of the Virgin Birth (and Should We Believe it?).

N.T. Wright: The Virgin Birth and the Constraints of History.

That Mary is the Mother of God means we do not begin with speculative accounts about God's existence or nature. Our God is to be found in Mary's womb. Because our God is to be found in Mary's body we believe that same God desires to be taken in by us in this miraculous gift of the holy Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ. By partaking of this gift, a gift that if pondered leads us to ask with Mary, "How can this be?" But the gift makes the question possible, because through this gift we become participants in a time that is filled with God's providential care of us. We are Christians. We live in Mary's time. 
Such a time is anything but empty. Rather, it is a time storied by people whose lives witness to the Lord of time, the Lord who encompasses all life and death. I suggested above that there was a politics often associated with the question, "Do you believe in the virgin birth?" There is also a politics that is entailed by our affirmation that Mary is the Mother of God. The politics of Mary is a politics of joy characteristic of a people who have no reason to be desperate. They have no reason to be desperate because they have faith in the Lord of time.
As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this season, may we celebrate others, especially those who like Jesus endure isolation. In view of the neglected God incarnate who does not neglect others, may we not warehouse them or allow them to give birth to increased loneliness outside the inn. May we join Jesus by reaching out to them with a warm smile, a phone call, a card, a visit, a meal, an embrace: “God with us, Immanuel.” God with us with them, Immanuel.
First Things: How N.T. Wright Stole Christmas by Peter J. Leithart.

Jesus Creed: Christmas as Propaganda.
The Christmas story was a reminder to the Early Christians of where their true allegiance was. They were citizens of a kingdom without borders, and were under a ruler without lands. Their banner was love, their mission was sacrifice, their constitution was proclamation. Let Christmas remind you to build the kingdom of God, and let it free you from our contemporary monarchies of xenophobia, materialism, covetousness, and waste.

*'Prayers for the Week' are collects from the Book of Common Prayer that can also be followed here and here.

*Weekly readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary,

*The additional Gospel reading is from the current sermon series at St. Paul's and St. George's Scottish Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

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