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for all the firstborn are mine; when I killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both human and animal; they shall be mine. I am the Lord.
To anyone who claims Jesus was all for throwing out the law as rubbish, point them to this text in Luke 2. Jesus was brought up in respect for the law and the intent of the law. "The tension Jesus has with the Law is never that of an outsider, but as one who has faithfully observed the divine expectations. Practices of the law that subvert God's command to love are unacceptable requirements. Those practices are what Jesus calls out. And Jesus is not anti-Temple. Rather, Luke envisions a temple open to all that seek the presence of God, distinguishing between pausing to worship and honor God from practices that oppress and dishonor others."
Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine.
The Prophet Anna's, who sat in the temple day and night, fasting and praying to the Lord, upon seeing the Baby Jesus recognize that God had acted. That God had indeed done a wonderful thing. That God was present. Upon witnessing the Lord, they both proclaimed him with joy and this beautiful hymn of praise to God became the cornerstone, of sorts, to our Liturgy.
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
Apparently the pastor forgot the passage from the gospel that say, "Let the little children come to me." The pastor apparently didn't want to ruin the experience of, and I quote from the pastor himself, "300 people because of a crying child. That’s why we have TVs in the outside, that’s why we have a nursery." Apparently what Jesus meant when he said, "Follow me" was to really just keep our mouths shut and not to disturb anyone else's faith experience.
"Two of the biggest problems with nondenominational, megachurch-style pop worship is that the pastor, who usually functions as a self-appointed pseudo-bishop, often has an inflated sense of self-importance. He and the house cover band are the stars of the show, and aim to give their congregation audience the best entertainment their dollars can buy. United Church in Gallatin, TN is an aspiring megachurch pastored by Dan Smith. Apparently as Danny Boy began his sermon this past Sunday, there was a child who made a noise, described by witnesses as little more than a peep."
I don’t know about you but that sounds a lot like asking the older members to stay away.
"They were requested to move to an alternative worship for 15 to 18 months during this transition time but they were never asked to stay away for two years."
Yet again, the words from Jesus were simply, "Follow me." Jesus did not say "Follow me if you fall within the 18-30 young adult bracket." Church is one of the few places left in the world that are intergenerational. Schools are not intergenerational. Some workplaces are but not like church. Don't get me wrong, I love young families in church. I do. I really do. But I also love 40 year olds, 50 year olds, 60, 70, 80, and the 90 year olds. I love people of all ages. The health of any congregation is not determined by the average age but by the spiritual practices. I seriously would be lost if it were not for you all who watch Thomas. He has like 15 grandparents in each of our congregations. I love visiting our shut-ins. I love going to the hospital when a little Baby has been born. I grew up going to mostly older congregations and I am here today not because I went to some hip church, but because people were faithful to the gospel and their faithfulness inspired something within me. They nurtured my faith. They allow me to make mistakes and say stupid things. They were an amazing group of people who happened to be a bit older. There is nothing wrong with having both older adults and younger adults in a congregation. Actually, it is quiet good to have a good mix because a church is a place where the sacraments are administered, the gospel is preached, and the saints (of all ages, races, and creeds) worship together.
"For 70-year-old Bill Gackstetter, who has been a member of the congregation for about 10 years, the message was that only young families were wanted. He said the note he received said that the campus would be "going dark" and its current parishioners, many of whom are older, were "no longer allowed to go there." "I just couldn't believe it," he told CNN."
As I hold my now 2 and a half year old son, I can't imagine a king killing him in order to protect this throne. Yet, I feel compelled each year to hear this part of the birth of Jesus because I know the reality for most people after Christmas is that we find ourselves in similar situations of weeping and mourning. One commentator says it best:
When the evening gently closes in
and you shut your weary eyes,
I’ll be there as I have always been,
with just one more surprise.
As a general theme, life after Christmas is not all that sweet. Following the birth there is anger and murder, weeping and wailing, moving and resettling. After our wonderful Christmas celebrations we are again confronted with the fact that the kingdom has not fully arrived. The "peace on earth" sung by the angels at Jesus' birth (in Luke), is followed by death and destruction, suffering and evil (according to Matthew's account).
How many of you hear in your heads:
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
When I read this passage, this is what immediately draws my attention because it makes me feel comfortable. I know what the prophet is saying. I picture it. I can sing it. I have heard these things talked about before. This is an easy sermon for me to whip together.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
All we need is some eye of the tiger music in the background and we be set, right. I feel like this is every Christian's dream passage. All those people who made fun of me, didn't help me, didn't support me, all the time that I got the short end of the stick, the time is coming when God will smite them all. Its like saying, "you all just wait...you think you are strong now." We all think of our selves as the poor, the meek, the weak. We like to think that God will "kill the wicked." That God will one day strike the earth and seek vengeance on our behalf. This passage makes us feel good inside. We revel in this sort of thing. Rags to riches stories. But I had no idea how to sculpt any of this. I can preach it with no problem. How do you sculpt it?
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
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