Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas morning 2016

Probably surprising no one who read last night's blogpost, this morning's sermon also seemed banal to me. The presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Luke 2:22ff) -- which is more appropriately next Sunday 'cause circumcision is 8 days after birth (it's right there in verse 21) but okay, I can roll with it (and the preacher pointed out that this scene actually happens 40 days after the Nativity -- which I can believe is the purification period law, but I would have appreciated an explicit nod to that*).

When we imagine the baby Jesus, do we see Jesus the way that Simeon (and Anna) did? One could actually do things with that, but I felt like the sermon was so blah blah blah. Like, even if I agreed with the preacher's theology (which I don't entirely) I don't think I would have felt nourished by the sermon.

A couple times he quoted Simeon's line to Mary "and a sword will pierce your own soul too," but he didn't talk at all about how it can be difficult to follow in the Way of Jesus, to have one's life transformed by accepting the promise of salvation/redemption/restoration that God offers us in Jesus. He talked a little about how Simeon and Anna were the only people to recognize Jesus out of all the adults and all the babies in the Temple that day, but he didn't talk at all about what it might have been like, for example, for Simeon to spend his whole life waiting for this promise to be fulfilled -- did he ever doubt? So many opportunities to make this story relevant to contemporary U.S. Christians, even without getting into national/global politics, and none taken!

I didn't feel like I came out of the sermon with any real idea about who/what Jesus "really" is, other than some vague nods to the Crucifixion and Jesus as savior of the world. But "seeing who Jesus really is" was the whole point of the sermon, so that feels like a total preaching fail to me.

I just, I don't have the ability to talk for 5-10 minutes (I didn't time the sermon) and basically say nothing, and I don't understand how someone can draft a sermon like that and think it's acceptable.

* My HarperCollins study Bible on verse 22 referred me to Leviticus 12, and the purification period for the bearer of a child assigned male at birth is 33 days (verse 4). But it also asserts that the periods are consecutive ("For seven days following the birth of a male child and fourteen following that of a female child, no conjugal relations are allowed. For an additional period of thirty-three and sixty-six days respectively, contact with sacred spaces and objects is proscribed.") so 7+33=40.

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