This week's author is Rev. Timothy Haut, who has been the Pastor of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Deep River, CT, for 41 years, and who will celebrate 50 years of ordained ministry in 2022.. He has written a book entitled “A Deep River Year,” writes poetry, bakes blue-ribbon pies, tends a garden, and has a one-eyed dog named Bug.
Scripture: Luke 2:41-52 (NRSV)
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.
Reflection: Growing Up Too Fast?
They all grow up so fast. My granddaughters are already young women, strong and steadfastly stepping into a world that will be theirs long after I am gone. I am grateful that they are becoming such wonderful adults, but I miss tossing them in the air, riding them on my shoulders, and having them fall asleep in my arms. Sometimes I think we all grow up too fast. The child in us has always wanted to have Christmas weeks or months before it is ready to come, and most of us are itchy to grow up, drive a car, graduate from school, get married, get rich, get important and worldly enough that nobody has to make decisions for us anymore. We want the world to be ours.
In the lectionary for this coming Sunday, the day after Christmas, we get a 12-year-old Jesus marching into the Temple and confounding the teachers who were supposed to be smarter than him. Saturday he is born. Sunday he will be twelve already. I want him to stay a sweet baby just a little longer. I want to linger over that vision of the infant cradled in Mary’s arms, a lullaby filling the starlit night. As a matter of fact, I probably won’t use this Gospel lesson on Sunday at all, but instead I may choose the great prologue from St. John 1:1-14, which seems so fitting for the end of one year and the beginning of another. And this Sunday we will do our annual Good King Wenceslas pageant, when we get volunteers from the congregation to act out the story from the old English carol, and we’ll join in the aerobic exercise version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It keeps our Christmas celebration going just a little longer. For those of us who love Christmas, that’s not a bad thing.
But maybe the lectionary reminds us of a deeper truth. It doesn’t let us keep the baby Jesus very long, but challenges us to remember who this is whose birth we have celebrated. We need him to grow up because his gracious life is the shining star that we are asked to follow; because, his challenging message calls us to be better than we act most of the time; because his infinite compassion and love are what the world needs most right now. He comes to us, still, like he came to the teachers in the Temple, asking questions of us. Maybe he asks how our Christmases have made a difference in our lives. Maybe he asks how we plan to fix the bazillion problems that our world faces. Maybe he asks us why we think the world is ours to begin with. Maybe he asks us if we are willing to have our hearts broken for love’s sake—for God’s sake.
Sweet child of Bethlehem, Word become flesh, Star of wonder, Hope of the world, thank you for stepping into our messy world, for loving the child in us, for willing us to grow up into the full stature of Christ. Let this new year become the year of our Lord 2022. Amen
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the families and friends of more than 802,000 who have died due to the Covid-19 disease
- For the victims and their families of the 676 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For those who will celebrate the holidays this year for the first time without a loved one lost during the year
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the anticipation
This Week in History:
December 21, 1891 (130 years ago) The first basketball game is played. Created by James Naismith, a physical education teacher, the game was tested by students at the International Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) Training School in Springfield, MA. Naismith said he created the game because his students needed physical activity in the winter and were bored with established games. The game consisted of two teams of 9 (the current game uses teams of 5) and a soccer ball. The goal was to throw the soccer ball into a peach basket on a balcony 10 feet above the floor. Seven year later, Naismith became the first basketball coach at Kansas University.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”
the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Deep River, keeper of an open gate