Materials for Worship on Second Sunday after Christmas

Moira writes: As you prepare to light your candle for worship this morning you may wish to read through our lessons from scripture.  The first short reading is from the book of Numbers, chapter 6, verses 22-27 and the second short reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, chapter 4, verses 4-7.  Finally, our gospel passage is from Luke, chapter 2 verses 15-21.

In the gospel passage, there were two words which stood out for me as I read it through.   The words “hear” and “see.”   After the angels had gone back to heaven, the shepherds went to “see” what had taken place.   They “saw” all that had been made known to them and they returned to their fields telling everyone who would listen, all they “saw” that day.  They “heard” the message from God, spoken to them by the angels, and all who listened to them on their return, “heard” the wonderful story of the birth of Jesus, and all who “heard” it were amazed.   Two simple words, “see” and “hear,” words which are echoed in Acts chapter 4 verse 20, when Peter and John were brought before the council in the earliest days of the church and were warned not to speak or teach again in the Temple about Jesus.   Peter and John reply, “for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

 Over the season of Advent and into this season of Christmas, we have “seen” and “heard” many passages of scripture leading us to the birth of Jesus.   These passages are not just for us alone to think and ponder over (just as Mary pondered over the words from the shepherds) they are to be shared and treasured not only in our hearts but shared with others, so that they might “see” and “hear” God’s word spoken to them.   As we move on to verse 21 in today’s gospel reading, right at the end, we hear a short passage about Jesus’ presentation in the Temple.  Circumcision on the eighth day was a standard Jewish ritual and, easy as it is to overlook, it’s a reminder that Jesus was born and brought up in an observant Jewish household.  Therefore, it’s a useful reminder that the Jesus claimed by Christianity was a Jew, and an observant Jew at that, and the clues to support that are there to be found throughout the Gospels, sometimes to the surprise of many.

Something more than circumcision happens to Jesus on his eighth day, He receives his name.   In the Jewish tradition, circumcision is when a boy receives his name, and the name Jesus receives is heavy with significance.  It is the same as that of Joshua, the Old Testament hero who leads Israel into the land of freedom.  The name means literally “The Lord is salvation.”  This is the name that Gabriel, at the Annunciation, tells Mary to name her child.  And so, it is not a name thought up by the baby’s parents, it is a name that comes from God.  The name of the Saviour, the salvation he brings, and he himself all come from God.  We would miss the significance of the name of Jesus if we took that name as only a label, a way to distinguish one person from the next.  The name of Jesus points us to who he is and who he is for us: the Saviour, the one who delivers us, rescues us; leads us, as did the Old Testament Joshua, into a land of freedom, and a different way of life.  The name of Jesus is, as today’s collect states, “the sign of our salvation.”  Given to us by God, this name is a sacrament in word, something spoken which conveys to us the grace of God.   When this name is used by us with faith and reverence, it is for us a prayer.   No other prayer is so simple, and none is so great.  And so today for us, may our prayer be that we continue to “see” and “hear” all that God wants us to hear and that we not only ponder his words to us, but that we share the good news with others, just as the shepherds did over two thousand years ago, as they returned to their fields.

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.”     Amen.

As you focus on this image of the circumcision of Jesus you may wish to pray for babies born in difficult circumstances throughout the world.

For all who are fleeing persecution and violence.

For all who find this time of year difficult as they remember loved ones no longer with them.   For anyone God has placed on your mind and in your heart.

Pray that we might be observant in “seeing” and “hearing” the needs of others around us and give thanks to God for all the good things in our lives.


May 2022 bring joy, peace, love, good health and happiness to you all.


Take care and God Bless,