YEAR B: December 28, 2014
First Reading: Isaiah 61:10-62:3
The Jacket I Wear In the Snow by Shirley Neitzel
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Isaiah rejoices in the Lord because God “has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness”. These new clothes are a symbol of a new start for God’s people, just like when spring comes around and shoots appear in the earth, or like when a new morning dawns. Salvation and righteousness cover God’s people just like new clothes for a new time. In The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, one boy carefully puts on the various items of clothing needed to go play in the snow. He is so excited about going outside, and everything he’ll do in the freshly fallen snow, but first he has to be dressed for it: jacket, scarf, hat, and so on. Isaiah and God’s people are excited for the new dawn of vindication and glory, and God has dressed them for it: in garments of salvation and robes of righteousness.
Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant
(Written for ages 5 and up)
Comment: In Silver Packages, Frankie waits every year for the Christmas train, where a man who had once been rescued by their Appalachian community repays their kindness with silver-wrapped packages for all the children. Frankie receives wonderful gifts in these packages–things he needs like sweaters, mittens, and socks. But he secretly wishes for a doctor’s kit because it is his dream to grow up and become a doctor. Although Frankie never receives a doctor’s kit in those packages, he does grow up to become a doctor and returns to his Appalachian town to provide medical care for them. He realizes that being born in this place and receiving the needed gifts on the Christmas train, enabled him to grow up and fulfill his dream and come back to this place to help others. In the same way, this passage from Galatians tells us that Jesus was born of a woman, fully human, into our world, lived and grew as a human among us, yet redeemed our humanity, and enabled us to be children of God. The setting Frankie came from enabled him to change that community for the better, and by being born into humanity, Jesus was able to change humanity for the better.
Third Reading: Luke 2:22-40
I Loved You Before You Were Born by Anne Bowen
(Written for ages 4-8)
Comment: Simeon and Anna are both waiting. Simeon is awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the revelation of the Lord’s Messiah. Anna has been prophesying and worshiping for years about what the Lord will do one day. Both of their expectations are realized in the form of a tiny baby carried into the temple. When Simeon sees Jesus, he knows he has seen the Lord’s salvation, and can depart in peace. When Anna sees the child, she begins to tell everyone about him, and how he is the redemption of Israel. They both anticipated, and yet did not know exactly what was to come. In I Loved You Before You Were Born, a grandmother thinks and wonders about her new grandchild-to-be. She, and the baby’s parents, wonder what the child will look like and do, what they will celebrate together. The grandmother in the story, as well as Simeon and Anna, are all waiting on something wonderful and that expectation is met in the amazing form of a baby.
The Lectionary Links this week are written by Sara Anne Berger, pastor of the Whitmire Presbyterian Church, Whitmire, SC.