Join Now: 1-800-777-7731

kirshalom.gif united-on.gif

Sermon & Lectionary Resources           Year A   Year B   Year C   Occasional   Seasonal


Join our FREE Illustrations Newsletter: Privacy Policy
Click  Here  to  See  this  Week's  Sermon
Sermon and Liturgy for The First Sunday After Christmas - Year C
Luke 2:15-40
"Not A Bad Way to Begin"


READING:  Luke 2:15-40
SERMON :  "Not A Bad Way to Begin"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
c-ch01su.y-c 911000

   The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
   for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
   found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
   SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
               
   The following is not a lectionary driven service.  Each year between
   Christmas and Epiphany I play a bit with the texts and try to get
   something fresh that fits with the theme and feelings of both
   Christmas and New Year's. 
              
   Sources:   Elements of the Benediction, Prayer of Invocation,
   Dedication and the Prayers of the People  from John Maynard
   (maynard@sympac.com.au) "Prayers and Litanies For Christmas 1C"

   
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                            (* = please stand)


Lighting of All Candles


* WORDS OF WELCOME AND CALL TO WORSHIP
L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  In many and various ways God spoke of old to our ancestors through the
   prophets.
P  But in these last days God has spoken to us by a Son,
   whom he appointed to be the heir of all things,
   through whom he also created the world.
L  Rejoice in the Lord, Oh you righteous, 
   and give thanks to his holy name;
   for to us has come a Saviour, Christ the new born King.


* PRAYER OF INVOCATION    
Let us Pray...... Almighty God, wonderful creator, you have made yourself
known in your Son, Jesus.  In his birth you have restored the dignity of
human nature.  In his death and resurrection you have revealed to us the
fullness of your grace and mercy.  In your love, and by the power of the
Holy Spirit, let us share in his divine life - even as he partook of our
humanity.  As we hear and reflect on Your word this day, help us to respond
with believing hearts and to put our faith into practice.  We ask in his
name.  Amen


* CAROL: Joy To The World                                           - VU 59


CHILDREN'S TIME:  "Christmas Gifts"
Object:   Show and Tell Christmas Gift
Theme:    God's gift at Christmas
Source:   Self

Good Morning.... "What did you get this Christmas..... (sharing with many)
I got this.....    What kinds of gifts did you give???

There are a great variety of gifts - some large, some small, some very
expensive, some not as expensive, but all given with  love and care.  That
is the best gift of all at Christmas time.  The gifts that come to us from
those who love us - and those we give because we love the people.   The
best Christmas gift of all however, is the very first Christmas gift that
was given   do you know what that was?   Was it gold, frankincense,  or
myrrh?  No.  It was Jesus.

God gave us his son through Mary - so that we might know how much he loves
us.   His love came wrapped in the flesh of a baby - and poured itself out
upon us in that baby's life, and his death on the cross, and his
resurrection.

It is as the angels sang in the sky above the shepherds on the first
Christmas Eve - God gives us good news of great joy on Christmas day - for
unto us was is a Saviour in the City of David.  Praise be to God. 

Let us sing of that good news now.

                            
* FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL: "Go Tell It On The Mountain"             - VU 43


* PRAYER AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
   We thank you most loving God - for giving to us your son - Christ
   Jesus our Lord - our brother and our friend. - Help us we pray  - to
   share him with others - and to give to others - as you have given to
   us - every day of the new year.  -  We ask it in his name.   Amen.

   Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom
   come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this
   day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive
   those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but
   deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the
   glory, for ever and ever.  Amen


ANNOUNCEMENTS AND SHARING JOYS AND CONCERNS
Today is the First Sunday after Christmas - and the Sunday before New Years
Day.  Today we will hear a portion of the "Christmas Story" that we do not 
hear as often as the rest.  Beginning from the worship of the Shepherds and 
the naming of the child, we will hear what happened when, in accordance with 
the law of God, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple.  Our homily 
or sermon will reflect on this and upon our entry into the New Year.

- Sharing Joys and Concerns
- Birthdays  


CHOIR ANTHEM


A READING FROM LUKE 2:15-21
   When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds
   said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that
   has happened, which the Lord has told us about."  So they hurried
   off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the
   manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning
   what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were
   amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up
   all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

   The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the
   things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been
   told.  

   On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named
   Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been
   conceived.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL                                       - Your Choice


A READING FROM LUKE 2:22-32 
   When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses
   had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present
   him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every
   firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a
   sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a
   pair of doves or two young pigeons." 

   Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous
   and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the
   Holy Spirit was upon him.  It had been revealed to him by the Holy
   Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 
   Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.  When the
   parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of
   the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God,
   saying: "Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your
   servant in peace.  For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you
   have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to
   the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." 

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL:                                      - Your Choice


A READING FROM LUKE 2:33-38
   (NIV)  The child's father and mother marvelled at what was said
   about him.  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother:
   "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in
   Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the
   thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  And a sword will pierce
   your own soul too." 

   There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the
   tribe of Asher.  She was very old; she had lived with her husband
   seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was
   eighty-four.  She never left the temple but worshipped night and
   day, fasting and praying.  Coming up to them at that very moment,
   she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were
   looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.


FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL:                                      - Your Choice


A READING FROM LUKE 2:39-40
   (NIV)  When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law
   of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth.
   And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and
   the grace of God was upon him.

L  This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P  Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
            

SERMON:  "Not A Bad Way to Begin"

   O Lord,  we pray, speak in this place, in the calming of our minds
   and the longing of our hearts, by the words of my lips and in the
   thoughts we form.  Speak, O Lord, for your servants listen.  Amen.

This morning we heard a portion of the "Christmas Story" that we do not
hear as often as the rest.  Beginning from the worship of the Shepherds and
the naming of the child, we heard what happened when, in accordance with
the law of God, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple.

   The scriptures tell us that on the eighth day, when it was time to
   circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him
   before he had been conceived.

Then we are told that 

   When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses
   had been completed, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to
   present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord,
   "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to
   offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the
   Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." 

And we are told that when this latter occurs, two persons in the temple,
Simeon - an old man who had been told that he would not die until he saw
the consolation of Israel appear,
and Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, a prophetess, who was 84 years old,
blessed God and the child 
   - and spoke over him - to Mary and Joseph - and to the temple crowd - 
the word of God concerning what had occurred and was occurring and would
occur through the life of the babe called, as the angel had commanded,
Jesus - Emmanuel..

I don't want to go into the meaning of those prophecies this morning,
other than to note that both Simeon and Anna were blessed with visions,
that they were touched by God,
and that they spoke of what God put upon their lips and their hearts.

Some of their words were sweet to the taste, but sour in the stomach
    speaking as they did of a time of suffering,
And others were of pure joy and elation - for despite the suffering - 
    and indeed - perhaps only through the suffering -
the Messiah would take his throne and the people Israel and the 
    nations beyond would be blessed beyond measure.

Rather I want you to think today with me of the obedience and humility of
    both Mary and Joseph,
and of how they resolutely began their life with Jesus and his life with
    them - and with us 
with worship and prayer - with obedience and thanksgiving, with sacrifice
and joy.

Which is not a bad way to begin a life -
nor to continue it.
To begin a life - or a new year.

In the first 40 days of the life of Jesus among us Mary and Joseph did four
things with and for Jesus,
four things that bound them, with him, closer to God, closer to the people
of God,  and closer to one another.

The first thing is that they named Jesus in the manner God had commanded
through the Angel Gabriel.  They gave him the name "Saviour" for through
him God would redeem his people.  They believed in what they had been told 
in their dreams and visions - and obeyed the giver.

This bound them closer to God - closer to Jesus - and closer to one another.

Sharing a vision draws us into a special intimacy
and living by that vision - creates a special community.

As you go into the new year - consider how you name one another.
Do you call others what God asks you to call them?
Do you name as your brother or sister the person next to you?
Do you see in their face the face of Christ?

The first thing Mary and Joseph did at the beginning of the life of Jesus
was to name him as God asked them to name him.

The naming ceremony was done on the eighth day - the day when the male
children of those born to Abraham and Sarah were, in accordance with
Covenant God made to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, circumcised - and thereby
became identified as the children of Israel and heirs to the promises made
to him - the promise of a people, a land, and a God who cares - a God who
would deliver and vindicate his people.

That is the second thing Joseph and Mary did - they made Jesus a part of
the family of God.  They said to God - look he is a child of promise - this
baby is meant with all who call on your name - to inherit your kingdom.  
He is your servant - he is one of us - the ones you gave yourself to after
the time of Noah - the ones you said to Abraham and to Moses would be a
nation of priests and kings to serve you and bring everlasting glory to
your name amongst all the nations.

Do we make those God has given us a part of the household of God?

Do we extend to them the privileges and responsibilities that we have
received from the Lord?

I do not speak of mere circumcision or baptism here - I speak of the living 
faith that claims the power of God's love upon the lives of those in our care,
upon the lives of those for whom we are called to care by the Spirit of the
Lord and the words of the prophets.

The second thing Mary and Joseph did with Jesus 
was make him a part of the family of God, 
and this bound them closer to God - and closer to God's people 
- and closer to one another.

Not a bad way to begin a life - or a new year.
Not a bad way to live.

The third thing that Mary and Joseph did was, when the time of purification
was over was present Jesus, as their first born, to God at the temple.

This is a very special thing to do - a thing that is related to all the
commands regarding things that are first.  Each of them - from the first
fruits of our gardens to the first born of our loins and wombs - belong to
God.  And God asks that we present them to him where he abides.  And name
them his. 

By this act Mary and Joseph recognized that their child was not their
child.  Rather he was God's child - and that the purposes of his life
should be, would be, determined by God, and that as parents entrusted with
God's child, they should seek the wisdom and counsel of God each day,
so that they might raise him as God asks.

The first child is a Hannah child - and if truth be known - every child
after.  But the first is special because it is first.  And what is first
goes to what is First.  Our best, our finest, our hopes and our dreams -
belong to God - God who is first in our lives.

So yes - Joseph - this child is destined to cause the falling and rising of
many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the
thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.  

And yes - Mary - A sword will pierce your own soul too.

And that is the way of it - for this child is God's and God will accomplish
his work in him and his love will redeem his people.

This is the third thing Mary and Joseph did as they began their life with
Jesus - they gave him to God and recognized that God would raise him in
God's own way and in that recognition - they bound themselves to loving
Jesus in accordance with the counsel of God, in accordance to the law and
to vision that God gave Moses and gave them.

Not a bad way to begin a life - not a bad way to begin a year.

We too have people - and plans - that belong to God - and need to be given
to God.  

Time will bring sorrows that pierce our hearts - but it will bring too the
consolation we all seek, consolation for us - and for all the people of
God.

The fourth thing Mary and Joseph did - they did on the day of Presentation.
Mary made sacrifice - the sacrifice of the poor among Israel - 
she sacrificed two doves or pigeons for her purification.

And so Mary and Joseph show themselves as seekers of holiness, and as ones
who possess it - for what they do is set apart - dedicated - to God.

Not a bad way to begin a life - not a bad way to begin a new year.

Mary and Joseph did not simply begin it as they might have - with an
anticipation of great and wonderful things to occur - some with the pain
that pierces the soul;
nor did they begin simply with an awareness of their own poverty and
inability
- the kind of poverty that is represented in offering in sacrifice two
pigeons instead of a two year old lamb 
- and the inability that every new parent - and indeed most every person -
feels deep in their hearts when faced an unknowable future and holding in
one's heart the desire to love perfectly.

They began with these most surely,
but they began in those things with God,
and in humble obedience to all that God has promised,
all that God has commanded.

They began with God,
they named their child as the Angel told them
they made the one in their care a part of the people of the God 
   - joint heirs with them of the promises,
they gave him into God's care - recognizing that he was God's, 
   - not simply theirs
and they sought holiness - to live in it and by it 
   - they set themselves, as they set Jesus, apart for God.

And us as we enter the new year?  Us as we raise up a family?  Or take
under our care -  under our love - those God asks us to care for and love?
Will we name folk as God wants us to name them?

Will we make them - will we treat them - members of God's family - members
of our family?  Will we let them be God's and heed God's counsel as he
tells us how to be his stand-ins?  Will we seek holiness?  Will we allow 
the lamb of God  - sacrificed for us upon the cross - to proclaim that we
are clean?

There is a time for everything.
This is a time to begin with what should always come first.

Let us make our confession to God
And ask God to lead us into the future.


PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
L  We pause O God to look over the past year - a year in which you were
   with us - but we were not always with you.
P  Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you
   in thought, word and deed,
   by what we have done, 
   and by what we have left undone.  
   We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
   we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.  
   We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
   ......... (silent prayer of confession) .........
L  Forgive us Lord
   and lead us into the new year in holiness and righteousness.
P  We ask this that we might be a people pleasing unto you, 
   a people who allow your light to shine in the darkness 
   and who bring praise and glory unto your name.  Amen


ASSURANCE OF GOD'S GRACE AND FORGIVENESS:
L  Rejoice and be glad!  You are forgiven.  For everyone who asks,
   receives; and those who seek, find, for the one who was born in
   Bethlehem and who was crucified in Jerusalem lives and intercedes for
   us before God.
P  Thanks be to God.


* PASSING THE PEACE:  As a sign of our reconciliation to God and to one
   other, we greet one another with a sign of peace.

              
* FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL: "Amazing Grace"                         - VU 266


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
You are with us, O God, to knit us together in mutual love and caring.  You
pour out abundant gifts that enrich our existence and challenge us to give
our best.  Let the words of our mouths proclaim the dawn of redemption that
Christ inaugurates.  Let the actions that arise from our hearts and minds
spread abroad the good news of his reconciling love.   Plant in every
heart, we pray, the love of Him who is the Saviour of the world, our Lord
Jesus Christ; and with that love burning, make this world of ours a world
of Hope and Promise - for all peoples, and for all times...  Lord, hear our
prayer....

Lord hear our prayers for those people and those situations you have placed
upon our hearts this day.  And bring to our hearts and minds - and to our
lips - those for whom you wish us to intercede....  We pray now  O Lord for
BIDDING PRAYER.........

All these things we ask and pray to you about in the name of Christ Jesus -
he who was born under the light of a star, and who gives to us the light we
need to walk into each day as your holy and beloved people.  Amen.


* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:   The Offering Is Received and as it is
presented all stand for The Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings
Flow - VU #541) and the Prayer of Dedication

   Gracious God, help us, with Mary's Son, to offer ourselves, our
   souls and bodies, in the temple of your service and world.  Receive
   and bless what we offer here.. Take us and use us as you would see
   fit so that we might bring praise and glory unto your name both now
   and in the year to come.  We ask it in the name of the one who lives
   and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, both now and
   forevermore.  Amen.


* FAVOURITE HYMN OR CAROL:   "I Am The Light of The World"          - VU 87


* COMMISSIONING (unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we now go forth
   into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people of God, the body of
   Christ.


* BENEDICTION & THREEFOLD AMEN
Go in peace, love and care for one another in the name of Christ, 
- and may the blessing of God who established heaven and earth
fill your hearts and pour forth from you upon all people,
- the blessing of the Lord who is born anew each Christmas time 
call you towards a new tomorrow;
- and the blessing of the Spirit who refreshes and renews all creation 
guide and lead you as you enter the new year
Amen


SUNG BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                                  - VU 964


copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2003
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.



Further information on this ministry and the history of "Sermons & Sermon - Lectionary Resources" can be found at our Site FAQ.  This site is now associated with christianglobe.com

Spirit Networks
1045 King Crescent
Golden, British Columbia
V0A 1H2

SCRIPTURAL INDEX

sslr-sm