Redeemer Lutheran Church Ministries

January 2, 2011
Text: Luke 2:40-52

In today’s Gospel lesson from Luke chapter two, we hear a story from the childhood of Jesus. The Bible tells us very little about the life of Jesus prior to the beginning of His ministry at age thirty. Curiosity has led many people to concoct various tales and legends about His early years, but the Scripture only give us a few glimpses and today is one of them, when Jesus was twelve years old.

It was customary for pious Jewish families to celebrate Passover in the city of Jerusalem and to offer animal sacrifices at the Temple. Jesus and Mary and Joseph lived up in the town of Nazareth, about 65 miles north of Jerusalem as the crow flies. The average person walks about 3 miles an hour, so that would be 30 to 40 miles a day. You could walk from Jerusalem to Nazareth in 2 or 3 days, depending on the terrain and how many times you stopped along the way.

The Scripture says that Mary and Joseph travelled for about a day before they noticed that Jesus was not among their company. And immediately they became alarmed and hurried back to Jerusalem. They retraced their steps wondering where he might be. It would be terrifying for any parent to lose a child like this, but especially if your child is the foretold Messiah and you and your spouse had be specially selected by God to protect him and raise him to become the Savior of the world.

“After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.”

The Circumcision and Naming of Jesus, observed
Text: Luke 2:21

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

A couple of years ago, Dr. Gene Edward Veith wrote a commentary for WORLD Magazine on contemporary trends in naming children. And he offers some interesting insights.

Back in the olden days, people used to give their children names that meant something. Moses’ name means “draw up” and he was called that because he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter in the Nile River and she drew him up out of it. The biblical name Isaac means laughter and he was named that because his mother laughed when she heard she would have a baby.

Some cultures give names to their children that express some feature or characteristic they hope to see in their child. The American Puritans, for instance, started the practice of naming their children after biblical virtues such as Faith or Hope or Charity. The hippie generation chose dreamy nature names such as River or Autumn.

Title: Christ Illumines Everything
Text: John 1:1-14

Merry Christmas! Or to be politically correct, perhaps we should say, “Happy Chisma-Hannu-Kwanza-kuh.” Do you realize you now have only 365 shopping days till Christmas 2011?

The Scripture for our consideration this morning is from the Gospel lesson:

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it (John 1:4, 5)

I read a story that one man told. He said: About thirty-five ago a house near the entrance of our subdivision kept their Christmas lights burning long into January, even though the Christmas season was long past. Even through the first of February those outside lights were burning every night. About the middle of February, I became a little bit critical and said, "You know, if I were too lazy to take my Christmas lights down, I think I'd at least turn them off at night." But about the middle of March, a sign outside of their house explained why they'd left the lights on. It said simply, "Welcome home, Jimmy." We learned that family had a son in Vietnam, and they had unashamedly left their Christmas lights on in anticipation of his return.

Can’t you just imagine the joy that young man felt returning home from combat, having survived so much violence and danger, to see the place where he grew up, covered in holiday lights, full of happy memories?

Title: The First Christian Martyr
December 26, 2010
Text: Acts 7, Matthew 23:34-39

Good King Wenceslaus looked out on the Feast of Stephen / When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even.

Today is the Feast of Stephen. It’s one of the oldest and most widely recognized saint days in the Christian calendar. According to some sources, today’s commemoration is even older than Christmas. And at the end of today’s service, we will sing that famous old Christmas carol about good King Wenceslaus.

The story of the carol is that King Wenceslaus saw a poor beggar out in the snow on the day after Christmas, gathering twigs and stick for his fire to keep warm. And the King had compassion on the poor man and called his young servant to his side to bring him meat and wine that the King wanted to take to the beggar. The young servant is a little boy. And so as the King and his servant are walking through the snow (deep and crisp and even) out to the beggar, the little boy gets weary and is struggling to wade through the deep snow.

It’s then that the King tells the boy to walk in his footprints in the snow. And according to the story, every spot the King stepped miraculously emitted heat to melt the snow.

Good King Wenceslaus is a sweet old English legend about the Duke of Bohemia, not actually a king, from the tenth century who was well-known for his tremendous compassion for the poor and many acts of generosity. In that way, he’s kind of like the historical St. Nicholas. You can read all about this historical Christian saints on Wikipedia later, if you like. I encourage you to do so.

Title: Christmas is About Something More
Text: Luke 2

One of my favorite childhood memories of Christmas is How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. I read the book, but it’s the television cartoon version from 1966 of it that sticks in my memory.

The story begins with: “Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot, But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Who-ville Did NOT!"

It’s one of Dr. Seuss’s most famous and amusing books. The Grinch is the ultimate wet blanket. A wet blanket is a chronically negative person who tends to ruin other peoples’ good times, either intentionally or unintentionally. The Grinch is one of those people who is not happy unless everyone around him is miserable. He is able to find the dark cloud in front of every silver lining.

So in his war on Christmas, the Grinch sneaks into Whoville late at night, and steals all their presents and decorations and treats. He takes everything to his hideaway and just as he is about to destroy it all, he hears the townspeople of Whoville singing in the valley.

The narrator, Boris Karloff, explains: "the sound wasn't sad, but merry…very.” Clearly, the gifts and trimmings are superfluous to their celebration.

Hearing them sing, the Grinch wonders: "How could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!"

Finally, the Grinch speaks: "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

Dr. Seuss leaves it up to your imagination to decide what that “little bit more” might be.

Redeemer Mission

Proclaiming to our community in word and deed the empowering love of God as demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Redeemer Lutheran Church

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