Preaching on Stewardship- December 31, 2017

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Every Monday I share a few tidbits, nuggets, or ideas for incorporating some stewardship themes in your preaching. This week’s stewardship nuggets based on the appointed readings by the Revised Common Lectionary and Narrative Lectionary are as follows:

Sunday December 31, 2017: Revised Common Lectionary- First Sunday of Christmas (Year B)
First Lesson: Isaiah 61:10-62:3
Psalm 148
Second Lesson: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel of Luke 2:22-40

Merry Christmas! On this First Sunday of Christmas, it should be pretty straight forward to connect the joy of the Twelve Days with the joy, rejoicing, and gratitude found in this week’s readings. At the heart of the readings seems to be the premise that we are all God’s children, and as this, heirs of the promise (Galatians 4:7). Our natural response to this is to rejoice and give thanks.

Our identity as Children of God and the promises related to that are made clear this week in the passage from Galatians: “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son inout our hearts… you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God.” (Galatians 4:4-7, NRSV)

20171203_090133
The joy of the season as displayed in the form of a tall and beautiful Christmas tree in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Tekamah, Nebraska.

This is something to be grateful for and rejoice in, as are all the other promises of God. We do so with the prophet and the psalmist. From Isaiah we read that, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:10, NRSV). This echoes the psalm of praise that begins simply, “Praise the Lord”! (Psalm 148:1, NRSV). We also lift our praise and rejoice with Simeon and Anna, who both give thanks and praise as Jesus Is Presented in the Temple in this week’s gospel story (Luke 2:22-40).

As we journey through the Twelve Days, may we all rejoice and give thanks for what God has done, and continues and promises to do for us. Wherever you may be led to preach or prepare this week, may the joy, peace, and hope of the season be with you.

Sunday December 31, 2017: Narrative Lectionary- First Sunday of Christmas
Narrative Theme for the Day: A Voice in the Wilderness (Year 4, Week 17)
Focus Passages: John 1:19-34
Psalm 32:1-2

Merry Christmas! As we journey through the Twelve Days, today we turn our attention to John and the baptism of Jesus. John gives voice and testimony about God in Christ, calling us to pay attention and to turn toward God. John claims as much, saying, “And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34, NRSV).

We hear the familiar words often central during Advent, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said” (John 1:23, NRSV). We also hear the familiar words, or those similar at least, to words that preface communion, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NRSV).

In thinking about this story, the promises within it, and in connecting it with this Christmas season, I wonder, how do we hear God’s voice today? Where, or to what, might it be calling us?

Perhaps either one of these questions might be helpful ones to ponder in continuing to celebrate in this Christmas season. They may also be good starting or reflecting places for thinking about ministry and stewardship going into the new year.

Wherever you may be led to preach or prepare this week, may the joy, peace, and hope of the season be with you.

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