First Congregational Church
January 03, 2021
Second Sunday after Christmas
Rev. Dinah Haag, preaching
God’s Word gives us a lot of things - a lot of instructions and guidance and good help. This morning, we’ll be looking at one of the big themes - that of hope.
On that one, also very different night, when some regular shepherds were minding their own business, an angel showed up and told them to not be afraid, and that the angel was bringing good news. Which would be so easy - to not be afraid - celestial beings showing up at your work place. But maybe that’s where the best Good News is - right in the midst of what seems so usual. This morning’s service is all about hope, and a few mindless pieces of information, because it would be a sad thing, to worship without joy.
As we enter into our opening hymn, let us be reminded that this hope is visualized in the Light of Christ being with us as we are gathered in Christ’s name, as it will go with us when we leave.
“Angels, from the Realms of Glory”
Jesus reminds us of God’s parental care and provision for us so we don’t have to worry - just like God makes armadillos swallow air to become buoyant when they swim. Like God created cows to have best friends. Like a blue whale having a tongue - weighs as much as an elephant. Like a reindeer's eyes that can change colors with the seasons.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!
“His Eye Is on the Sparrow”
As we approach a new year, we hear again God’s claim on our lives. We play better and work better and live better when we know where the boundaries are. That’s not to say that we always abide by boundaries. Our world is not the same one in which the first piece of gold at Fort Knox arrived by mail. Even more than lions, tigers and bears, may we be able to see God’s presence with us.
But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
“Be Thou My Vision”
We need not fear the grave, because Jesus Christ was born to save. The sheen or light that you see when you closer your eyes and press your hands on hem is called phosphenes. Even that tiny utterly minuscule part of life has a a real thing with a real name. How much more blessed are we that ours is a God who knows each of our names? By the way, that guy in the game Operation? His name is Cavity Sam.
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said
“Good Christian Friends, Rejoice”
Do not be afraid—Jesus tells us he is the First and the Last. Shakespeare's plays feature the word "love" about 10 times more than the word "hate." The day after tomorrow is called overmorrow. Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End, we don’t have to worry about our overmorrows, because in the end, God will wrap up everything with God’s own self, just as God started out.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
“Go, Tell It on the Mountain”
Just the messenger. And the collector and arranger of that which has been received. References available upon request.