On Sunday we will celebrate our Christmas liturgy at 10:00am in the Fellowship Hall of New Covenant Presbyterian Church and the readings are printed below. The theme for our liturgy is Peace through Justice and during the liturgy we will be singing familiar carols with added verses on a justice theme. Light refreshments follow liturgy and we remind you to please consider bringing a donation for Family Promise. Also, please bring a stole or scarf to wear during liturgy.
This liturgical year (C) focuses primarily on the Gospel attributed to Luke, who was thought to be one of St. Paul’s co-workers and also the author of the Acts of the Apostles. In his writing, Luke appears to be a master of detail and what appears at first to be a simple story, on further inspection, has hidden depth and complexity. Luke’s interpretation of the life of Jesus was probably written around 85-90 CE, after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and expanded on Mark’s story incorporating many of the sayings of Jesus attributed to a source called “Q”.
As we listen to the readings, we will be asking ourselves, What did and do these stories mean? The stories about Jesus concern the conflict between an imperial theology (Caesar) and a theology grounded in the God of Israel. On Sunday, we listen to the parable of Jesus’ birth as told by Luke and we contemplate the hidden depth and complexity beneath what seems like a simple and sentimental story. Remember, parables are meant to be interactive and challenging.
To help prepare for our shared homily, we invite you to listen to an interview of John Dominic Crossan, one of the authors of The First Christmas, as he provides some background on the infancy narratives told by Luke and Matthew.
John Dominic Crossan’s The Birth of Jesus
We look forward to being with you on Sunday,
A Reading from the Prophet Isaiah 9:2-7a
In darkness, a light was born.
From deep darkness, a crest of dawn shines.
You enlarged life, and Your people were born.
Even though they knew pain and suffering,
You increased their joy.
They rejoice before You as with joy at the harvest,
as children exult at play, and delight in sharing gifts.
For You have shattered the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warriors boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For unto us a baby is born.
For unto us a child is given
on whose shoulders our future rests.
The child will be called: Wonderful Counselor,
Strength of God, Everlasting One, Voice of Peace.
And of the peace the Child brings,
there will be no end.
These are the inspired words of the Prophet Isaiah.
A Reading from the Good News attributed to Luke 2:1-20
In those days, a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first census and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David and Bathsheba. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was pledged to be married and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. She gave birth to her firstborn and wrapped the babe in bands of cloth. She laid the newborn in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region, there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Then an angel, a messenger of God, stood before them. The glory of God shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. For I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people:
Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Messiah, the Anointed One. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, there was with the messenger a multitude of the heavenly beings, praising God and singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to all God’s people!”
When the angels had left them, retreating into cosmic splendor, the shepherds said to one another, ““Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which God has made known to us.” They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
Mary treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned to their pastures, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, which was just as they had been told.
These are the inspired words of Luke, Disciple of Jesus.