First Sunday After Christmas
YEAR B: December 31, 2017
First Reading: Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3
Star Wars: The Original Trilogy Stories by Disney Book Group
(Written for ages 5&Up)
Comment: The bite-sized, child-friendly snippets of the original Star Wars Trilogy stories are well suited to share a message of reconciliation and hope to both fans of the stories and those unfamiliar with the trilogy, alike. A shorter story in the book, “The Rescue of Princess Leia,” tells of the work the rebels must endure to save Princess Leia from the Empire and restore her to her position of power in the galaxy. While the tale is not entirely positive, the resounding message is one of hope as the Princess, who represents peace and hope and harmony to the people, is restored to power. Isaiah’s message is one of vindication of Jerusalem for their behavior, and also steadfast love, reconciliation, and hope. God makes it clear that God desires to be in relationship with God’s people through which Israel and we have the promise of persistent love. Andrew Nagy-Benson, in Feasting on the Word, encourages us to read into this passage a gratitude that causes us to “repeat the sounding joy” (v. 10) of God’s promises, God’s love, and the hope we receive from reconciliation with our Lord.
Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Catching Kisses by Amy Gibson
(Written for ages 3-6)
Comment: Verses 4 and 5 tell us that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.” In this letter to the Galatians, we are reminded of the birth narrative, and also our adoption into the family of Christ, the household of God, the heirs of our Lord. This is not the first time we have or we will see this assurance in a Pauline letter, for Paul is very good about reminding us that life in Christ Jesus means a life of freedom and a future filled with promise from God. Amy Gibson has written into Catching Kisses a promise that resounds quite well with these words from Galatians: “…once a kiss is given, anytime, anywhere, it can never be taken away. It’s yours.” Small children understand a tangible gift, and being told that it can never be revoked or removed from their possession is a strong promise. This book is a great one to help them make connections between a tangible kiss (perhaps one given by a loved one back in the pew after the children’s message) and the intangible gift of being adopted as children of God.
Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40
Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Piggie has a surprise for Gerald and Gerald becomes very excited. During the story, Piggie learns that Gerald is just too impatient about waiting for the surprise she is going to be giving him. After all of the waiting, however, Piggie’s surprise turns out to be worth the anxious wait for Gerald. The Gospel message presents us with another story about waiting, albeit seemingly more patient waiting. Simeon waited for decades to meet the Messiah, the Christ child. Anna, a temple widow also waited numerous years to meet Jesus. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus for his temple presentation, both Simeon and Anna began praising God for the fulfillment of the promise that Simeon (and Anna) would not see death before they say the Lord’s Messiah. They waited many long years, but once the promise was revealed, the presentation of Jesus and their interaction with him and his parents was well worth the wait. Simeon declared, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Similarly, when the surprise was revealed to Gerald, he felt peace. For all, Piggie and Gerald, Simeon and Anna, the wait was over and the surprise was well worth the wait.
Thanks to Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Katie Barrett Todd for writing the Revised Common Lectionary Links for the next several weeks.