95: Christmas 1B (Dec. 28) “The Work of Christmas”


For Sunday December 28. The first Sunday of Christmas, Year B. 

Click read more for show notes!
SHOW NOTES -  12/28/2014
Episode 95: Christmas 1B (Dec. 28) “The Work of Christmas”
For Sunday, December 28, 2014
Welcome to the Pulpit Fiction Podcast, where two local pastors discuss the lectionary readings for the week. This is episode 95 for Sunday December 28. The first Sunday of Christmas, Year B.

Today's podcast is brought to you in part by audible.com - get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/pulpitfiction. Over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player.

  • Yes Please, by Amy Poehler.  Worth getting as an audio book.  Although the print book has many pictures and fun stuff, the audiobook is read by Amy and her friends, with cameos by Kathleen Turner, Seth Meyers, and others. 

Introduction and Check-in  

  • Survey Monkey.  We would love have your feedback. Please fill out this short survey.
  • Hebrew Bible shuffle now til Lent
  • We received a response from Amy Poehler’s ‘people.’ Here’s the email: “Thanks so much for thinking of Amy for Pulpit Fiction. Unfortunately she is unavailable to participate at this time.” #AmyOnPulpitFiction  According to this report, Amy Poehler is producing a new church-based comedy.  Help us get her attention on Social Media and Twitter.  Ask her to be a guest on Pulpit Fiction.  Tweet something like this: @Smrtgrls and @eeshmu So excited about your church-based sitcom, please go on @pulpitfpodcast to talk about it #AmyOnPulpitFiction


  • “Over against the deeply entrenched human desire to limit salvation to self, family, and nation, the readings for the First Sunday After Christmas relentlessly insist that God alone draws the boundary around God’s salvation and that God includes all creation within it” (Texts for Preaching, Year B)
  • Adopted by God through Jesus
  • No longer a slave to sin, but a son or daughter of God
  • Welcomed into relationship (think prodigal son) - “Abba, Father!”

Featured Musician - Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker, “Coventry Carol” from their album Hymns of Christmas. You can follow news about Jennifer’s shows and blog at jenniferknapp.com.  You can follow her on twitter @Jennifer_Knapp, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/JenniferKnappMusic.  

Primary Scripture - Luke 2:22-40 Dedication of Jesus
Initial Thoughts

  • My first thought: “I need an associate pastor.”  Actually, it was “Glad we’re doing a Christmas hymn-sing.”
  • New family coming to the Temple. Presenting their baby. They have been through a lot. Can hardly believe it all, then they walk in, and some old guy grabs their kid. Think about a family, bringing their first child to church for baptism or Christening. Mix of awe, exhaustion, wonder. Everything is new. Everything is terrifying.

Bible Study

  • Literary Context
    • Interlude between John/Jesus stories. After the birth of the babies, action has moved away from the John/Jesus stories, and now it’s Jesus/Temple. Will then pick up again with John in the wilderness.
    • First of two stories of Jesus in the Temple.  This is at circumcision, with reaction of two elders. The other is at age 12 during Passover.
  • The Temple and The Law
    • Luke places Jesus and his family squarely in the Temple.
      • The rejection of Jesus, which is foreshadowed, is not because of his rejection of the Temple.
    • The passage begins and ends with the Law
      • v. 22 “When the time came for their ritual cleansing, in accordance with the Law from Moses, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord”
      • v. 39 “When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee.”
    • The next story tells us that Mary and Joseph go to the Temple every year. This is a deeply devout family.
  • Simeon
    • Simeon was “Righteous and devout.” He was “ Anticipating the restoration of Israel.”
    • Introduces two themes that are a part of the Luke narrative:
      • “Light to the Gentiles and glory to Israel.”
        • Salvation through this seemingly unremarkable baby is to all - Israel and Gentiles.
      • “[Jesus will] be a sign that generates opposition”
        • Coming conflict is part of the plan, not a result of unfaithfulness.
    • “Now I may go in peace,” are ominous words for an old man.  
      • “Now I’ve seen everything…”  
      • After serving at a church for about a year, and presiding over several funerals, I once had an 90+ year old man tell me “I want to die before you leave this church.” It was a strange thing to be told, but also highly complimentary.  He died the week I was told I’d be moving churches, and I was able to preside over his funeral.
      • Resignation of death is not a sad thing, it only comes with the ability to be grateful for what has come.
  • Anna
    • 84-year-old widow, who was only married 7 years. Basically lives in the Temple.
    • v. 38 “She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
      • The first evangelist was a widow woman who lived in the Temple.

Preaching Thoughts

  • The first evangelist of Jesus was a widow woman who fasted and praised God in the Temple. She was something in Jesus that could not have been apparent but through the eyes of discernment.
  • Simeon was able to declare that he was ready to die because he had seen the reconciliation of Israel and the saving of the Gentiles.
    • Both of these people did not see the present state, but were able to see in the coming of what seemed like an ordinary child, the coming of God.  How do we develop the eyes of Simeon and Anna?  
    • What does it feel like to see the beginning of something new - and imagine its completion ahead of time.
    • Can we see the church in the same light? At the start of a project - or at the start of a new year - can you see the promise that is to be?

Music - Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker, “Lo How a Rose er Blooming” from their album Hymns of Christmas. You can follow news about Jennifer’s shows and blog at jenniferknapp.com.  You can follow her on twitter @Jennifer_Knapp, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/JenniferKnappMusic.  

Subscribe! Get Pulpit Fiction Podcast delivered automatically to your iPhone, iPod, android or listening device by searching for Pulpit Fiction Podcast in iTunes or Stitcher radio, simply go to our website and hit the subscribe buttons!You can also subscribe to the Pulpit Fiction show notes which are delivered each week to your email. Sign up at pulpitfiction.us.

Secondary scripture -  Isaiah 61:10-62:3 I Won’t Keep Silent!
Initial Thoughts

  • Poignant passage considering what is happening in the US in particular (Cleveland, Ferguson, Staten Island)
  • Another classic “now, but not yet” - good for Christmas

Bible Study

  • Vineyard is vindicated - see Isaiah 5 and Psalm 80
    • Yahweh’s hopes for Israel are fulfilled
    • The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand at last and those who have walked in darkness shall walk in light
  • Return from Exile
    • The exiles have returned home not to a paradise but to a ruin
    • The rebuilding of Zion will take a long time
      • The rebuilding of relationship takes a long time
    • Hope is on the horizon- the impossible (renewed relationship with God) is now possible (they have been forgiven/redeemed)
  • Who is speaking?
    • Probably not Cyrus the Persian (cf. Isaiah 45:1 - “anointed one”)
    • Luke interprets later as coming from Jesus
      • clothes of salvation
      • robe of righteousness
      • Groom preparing for a bride
      • “Christ is preaching himself” - St. Augustine
  • Marriage between God and God’s people
    • It has not been easy or good
    • Reconciliation on the other side of separation, betrayal, judgment and pain
  • For Zion’s sake I won’t keep silent
    • Zion = us?
    • The prophetic voice is never against the oppressor or sinner, but speaks out for the oppressor as well as the oppressed
    • The truly prophetic voice seeks transformation of all people so that they might enter the kingdom of justice and peace
    • “I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” -James A. Baldwin
    • The Work of Christmas Begins… by Howard Thurmond

When the song of  the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among people,
To make music in the heart.

("The Work of Christmas" in The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations)

Preaching Thoughts

  • This is a voice of prophetic love and hope crying out out against injustice out of love for the oppressor, comforting the oppressed with hope for the future, girding “the people” for a long road of reconciliation ahead.
  • Forgiveness is a long a painful process. Even if a relationship leads to repair it does not negate the past but leads to a longer road of reconciliation.
  • Ok, Jesus is born...now what? Jesus is born - the prince of peace, yet there is no peace - wonderful counselor, yet people are more divided than ever. How do we continue to “greatly rejoice in the Lord” for God enfleshed among us while also speaking out and “not keep[ing] silent”? Theology of Hope for what is to come inspite of the seeming reality
  • The year is ending- what is the word of hope for the new year?
    • “Optimism is based on the possibilities of things as they have come to be; hope is based on the possibilities of God irrespective of how things are…. Hope is grounded in the faithfulness of God and therefore on the effectiveness of God's promise.” - Miroslav Volf quoted by Andrew Nagy- Benson in Feasting on the Word
    • In light of threats against movie-goers, massacres of children in Pakistan, systemic racism and growing wealth gap- what is the message of hope for 2015?
  • We are entering a new year and have the opportunity to be made new - to “called by a new name” - what will that name be?

Tasty Wafer of the Week!

TY listeners:

  • Commenting system finally fixed!
  • Advent Run to Bethlehem Continues. We’ve reached over 1300 miles, blowing away all goals.  Click here to submit your run

Musician:  Jennifer Knapp and Margaret Becker, “Coventry Carol” and “Lo How a Rose Err Blooming” from their album Hymns of Christmas. You can follow news about Jennifer’s shows and blog at jenniferknapp.com.  You can follow her on twitter @Jennifer_Knapp, and on Facebook at Facebook.com/JenniferKnappMusic.  

Thanks to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Summertime”) and The Steel Wheels for our transition music(“Second of May” from their album Live at Goose Creek) and Paul and Storm for our closing music, “Oh No”.