For the past few weeks, the theme of our lessons has been the beginning of Jesus ministry and the calling of the first disciples.
Today’s lessons go a bit beyond that and are about God’s authority. About God’s claim on our lives. And the message is simple. We’ve already been called. But now, God speaks and we are called to respond. We’re called to respond to God’s word. To do and to act.
In our first lesson, as the Jewish people prepare to leave Babylon and head home after their exile, God’s word reminds them that there will be prophets to constantly remind them what God wants. God will speak through the prophets and the people will be accountable. And the fullness of that prophecy comes when Jesus stands at the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel today and claims authority over all things.
This is the very story of our salvation history. Genesis One tells us, creation came into being, because of God’s word. Amos and Micah tell us the faithful will struggle for the poor, the orphaned and the alone, again because of God’s word, because of God’s authority. Isaiah and Hosea tell us that we are called into servant community, bound by faithfulness, because we’re told to by God.
And in the act that forever changes us and the world, we are marked in our baptisms with the cross of the servant ministry of Jesus Christ and we are given a hope, a gift of life that is not just for today, but is beyond description. It is for all time.
And that is why these are good lessons for us today, as we gather for our Annual Meeting. It is a day to reminded about our mutual ministry. We are a changed people.
“And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
No room…at the inn. No room…in their hearts. And for many, still no room…at home for this Christ child.
The power of the Christmas story comes in its humility. Jesus, the Savior, the Messiah – is born in a stable. He’s wrapped in simple clothes, animals pushed aside so he can be laid to sleep in a manger.
Simple, humble beginnings for this King of Kings, whose birth comes in the midst of a world upended by social unrest and political turmoil.
In our Gospel reading, Luke acknowledges and then turns away from the political structures in place – in the Emperor and the Governor. The powerful government and religious leaders are outdone – and they don’t like it. They’re reduced to being servants of God’s saving purpose by the birth of Jesus….
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ
Everyone is getting ready for Christmas. If you go out today after church to do a little shopping, get ready for long lines of people queuing up to pay for all of their purchases. Wreaths, lights, presents, and food. It seems that every store is filled to bursting with people – all of them getting ready to celebrate the holidays, and most of them not looking particularly carefree and calm.
We know the stories – beeping horns and aggressive driving to find that one parking spot; running around with arms full of stuff, hoping you’re the first to hear and react to “register 2 is now open without a line.” Your nephew’s new girlfriend is now coming to Christmas dinner, too – so you have to buy more food. And should she get a present? And what was that about her being a vegan?
Welcome to Christmas in 2017.