Reading Ramblings – December 30, 2012

Reading
Ramblings

Date: December 30, 2012,
First Sunday after Christmas

Texts:
Exodus 13:1-3a, 11-15; Psalm 111; Colossians 3:12-17; Luke 2:22-40

Contextual
Notes:
We now enter the season of Christmas. While
we make a distinction between the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany,
they were originally one longer single season. Their division marks
two different focii – in Christmas we focus on the incarnation of
God – the Son of God made man; fully human. In Epiphany we shift
focus to the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth. Christmas pushes us to
consider that the baby in the manger really is a baby, and yet really
is the Son of God. Our readings highlight the humanity of the
Messiah during the season of Christmas.

Exodus 13:1-3a, 11-15 –
At first this seems like a strange choice for today. However it
links the saving work of God through the baby Jesus with the saving
work of God in bringing his people out of slavery. The single
greatest event of the New Testament is linked firmly with the single
greatest event of the Old Testament. As such, verse 14 is key.

Everything that we have belongs to the
Lord. But the firstborn was special in the covenant community of the
Israelites. As a remembrance of the deliverance of God in saving his
people from the angel of death in the Exodus from Egypt, their firstborns will always be
redeemed specially. This act places each succeeding generation of
Israelites in the sandals of the slaves freed from Egypt.

Psalm 111: A hymn of
praise. Why should we give thanks to the Lord? How are his works
great and splendorous? Verse 5 – He provides food for his hungry
faithful. Verse 6 – He has demonstrated his power. Verse 7 – He
has given his people the law by which they now know how to live
faithfully. Verse 9 – He has sent redemption to his people and
entered into a covenant with them. The hearers of this Psalm would
have thought of the Lord’s rescue of his people from slavery in
Egypt. But we can read verse 9 in terms of the new covenant in the
body and blood of Jesus Christ. This reading links what we
experience in part and await in full with the first coming of our
Savior.

Colossians 3:12-17 –
How do we respond to the good news of our Savior’s incarnation?
What difference should the Nativity of our Lord make in our lives?
It should dictate the way we live. If the Son of God – the second
person of the Trinity – was willing to come among us as a baby in a
manger, how much more should we be able to bear up under even trying
circumstances? How much more so should we be able to deal in love
with people in our community of faith and family? Jesus is not just
the reason for the season, He is the reason for everything that the
Christian does.

Luke 2:22-40 –
What
child is this, the song leads us to question. But Scripture is very
clear. Luke is working on providing an orderly account of Jesus
based on interviews with eye-witnesses. His intent is that his
reader might “have certainty concerning the things you have been
taught.” How does Luke do this? He piles up the attestations of
the divinity of Jesus Christ. An angel appears to Mary. Mary and
Elizabeth share a special moment of awe in last week’s reading. And
now Simeon and Anna both are led by the Holy Spirit to make prophetic
utterances and offer praise to God because of the birth of Jesus of
Nazareth. Luke’s readers may not be Jewish, but Luke makes it clear
that even devout Jews acknowledge the special nature of the Christ
child.  

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