Revised Common Lectionary: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Psalm 148; Luke 2:41-52; Colossians 3:12-17

Merry Christmas! On this day, we remember Jesus as a boy, the only story we have of his childhood. We look back at the memory of the boy Samuel in the temple, and how the priest Eli shared a blessing with Elkanah and Hannah for the gift of their son. Samuel was a boy promised by God to parents who had been waiting for a long time, like John the Baptist after him and Isaac before him. We skip over the parts in this reading of how the priest Eli’s own sons were not following God’s ways and were rebelling against God, but we read instead of the faithfulness of Samuel’s mother Hannah in caring for him, even though she could only visit him once a year.

Psalm 148 is a familiar song of praise to God who created heaven and earth, calling for all of creation—not just living creatures, but the stars and moon and sun to praise God. All people of all abilities, status, class, gender—all people are called to praise God by the psalmist.

Luke 2:41-52 is the story of Jesus as a boy in the temple, mirroring the few verses of Samuel’s boyhood. This is a familiar story and the only one we have of Jesus as a boy, where he manages to elude his parents and stay behind in the temple while they travel home. Of course, like any frantic parents, they go and search for Jesus but it takes them a couple of days before they go back and find him in the temple. Jesus reminds them that he was in his “Father’s house.” This is the first time that Jesus himself reminds his parents and all of us that he does not belong to them, or to us, but to God. This is a good metaphor for us—we may claim Christ, but do we claim Christ for our own gain, for our own purpose, or do we allow Christ to claim us?

Colossians 3:12-17 is a passage of instruction for followers of Jesus on how we ought to be with one another—that all our actions must come out of love. We are to have Christ rule in our hearts, to clothe ourselves with Christ—in other words, to allow Christ to claim us, to put on Christ and to seek Christ in each other.

We are still celebrating the Christmas season, we are still rejoicing with our friends and we are looking forward to a new year. As we prepare to make resolutions and changes in our lives, let us start with Christ, remembering that so often we want to make God in our own image, but rather, God has made us in God’s image. We cannot claim Christ, but Christ claims us. Let us work to mold ourselves into the mind and heart of Jesus, rather than trying to use Jesus to justify our own wants and desires for life. Let us live in Christ, seeking Christ in each other.

Call to Worship
We rejoice in the birth of our Savior!
Christ is entering our lives in a new way.
We celebrate the Incarnate Word!
Christ is entering our lives in a new way.
We look forward to a New Year with awe and wonder!
 Christ is entering our lives in a new way.
We know this season is coming to an end, soon—
But Christ is entering our lives in a new way!
     Let us worship Christ our Savior!

Prayer of Brokenness/Confession
God of the Covenant, we confess to You our broken promises, our failed attempts, our forgotten commitments. As a New Year comes to light, we remain in the darkness of unfaithfulness. Forgive us when we have hurt those we love as well as strangers when we have failed to live up to what we had hoped we would be. Forgive us when we have failed to remember You in our lives. Call us back to You, loving God. Call us back to Your ways, and as we prepare for a New Year, help us not to make rash oaths and quick promises, but rather, to change our lives for You. Create in us a new heart, O God, to face this New Year and to enter with the strength and courage You give us to live our lives in the fullness of Your calling. In the name of Jesus, who offers us grace and forgiveness, we pray. Amen.

Blessing/Assurance of Pardon
Surely you know, God forgives you! Surely you know, God loves you! God has made you, from the hair on your head to the nails on your toes, from your heart to your brain; God has made you and loves you. God is calling you into a new life now, a life full of hope. Go with this Good News. Amen.

God who comforts us, continue to bring us comfort this season, as we pray and reflect on this past year. We continue to mourn with our neighbors in Newtown, in Clackamas, in Aurora, in so many places torn apart by violence. Help us not to forget the violence that continues around our world, for those killed in Pakistan and Afghanistan by insurgents and our soldiers, by drones and computers. Help us not to forget the violence in Gaza and Israel that has occurred and continues outside of our media, help us to remember those in Syria and the Congo. Prince of Peace, may Your peace prevail. As we enter this New Year, may we walk in the steps of the one who went before us in the way of peace, who guides our feet into the way of peace, who steps onto the cross of death and steps into eternal life. May we make our steps without fear into this New Year, into the way of peace and reconciliation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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