26 December 2021

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!” Pslams 148:1

Matthew West wrote a song called “Day After Christmas.”  Since this actually is the day after Christmas, it is a perfect fit for today.  It feels to me that we just extinguished the candles after singing Silent Night together here in the pews.  It was a beautiful service, why can’t we just do that all over again today?  Christmas doesn’t have to be over.  And really, it’s not.  We get to have twelve days of Christmas, all the way leading up to Epiphany.  So, if you thought that Christmas was one day and that was it, you are in luck.  This is a Christmas season.  Today is the second day of Christmas.  And there are ten more to go.  We read that the shepherds returned to their fields “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:20).  Also, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).  This is the time to do the pondering.  This is the time to go to wherever we go and glorify and praise God for what we have seen here.

Here is the song, “Day After Christmas:”

“Here comes the letdown Christmas is over
Here comes the meltdown, there goes the cheer
But before we have a breakdown, let us remember
The light of the world is still here

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

Come January I’m ready for summer
The Super Bowl’s over and I’ll settle for spring
Sometimes we all need a change in the weather
But it won’t change the reason we sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

So take down the stockings, take back the sweaters
Take down the lights and the star and the tree
But don’t let this world take your joy after Christmas
Take joy to the world and just sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here.”

Since we are still in the season of Christmas, it may feel odd that we are already talking about Jesus as a boy in the scriptures today.  Perhaps we should focus more on Psalm 148, which is all about praising God and God’s angels for all that they have done.  After naming all possible things under heaven, including “fire and hail, snow and frost, … mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds, kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth, young men and women alike, old and young together” the psalmist calls them all to “praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:8-13).  In Luke 19:40 we read that “even the rocks will cry out” if his followers were to keep silent.  Because God is so great, everything under heaven can and should praise the Lord.  If we keep silent, God will still be praised.  It is much more joyful for us to join in the singing rather than abstain from it.  It is better for us to join in with the churches praising God by living the lives that God has called us to live.  That is, we live lives of service for God, praising God, praying to God, listening to God, and sharing God with others.  We will consider all four of these areas over the coming four weeks.  Today, and this week, we are talking about praising God. 

In “Day After Christmas,” Matthew West tells us that we should not be sad because Christmas is over.  We should keep praising God because the light of the world is with us every day of the calendar.  That is, we always have a light to shine in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it (John 1:5).  It may not be Christmas every day, and we may not be able to have our Christmas decorations up all year round, but we know as we live and as we study the life and ministry of Jesus, we are never without him.  He is our teacher, he is our model, and he loves each one of us deeply.  We can always turn to him as a friend.  Perhaps that is enough to be able to be merry for the rest of the year, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).

With Jesus as our model, we should also look at the little information that we have on Jesus as he was maturing in his faith.  He felt the call to teach from a young age.  There was nothing more that he wanted to do.  Jesus was generally obedient to his parents, as we see clarified in Luke 2:51 so that we don’t think that Jesus was nothing but a troublesome child.  But he points out in this action that following God is actually more important than following family.  Following his call to teach was actually a way of praising the Lord God.  It is praising God because God is being glorified in that action.  Is there anything that you can do this week to glorify God?  Can you tell a friend or even a grocery clerk about how you have been blessed?  Can you talk about what God has done for you?  Could you say “Merry Christmas” instead of resorting to the now normal “Happy Holidays?”  Can you say “God bless you” instead of “Have a good day?”  Can you regularly show your neighbor that you love them?  Can you regularly show God that God is your first priority?  This can be done by praying, by reading Scripture, by going to church, and by participating in the life of the church.  All these are ways to praise God in your daily living.  We all want to stay at the manger praising the Lord Jesus, born to us from God to teach us how to live.  Yet even the shepherds went their own way to glorify God to those they met.  They told their story.  They lived their life and worked the same job, but they did so with a new spring in their step and a new story to tell.

The front cover of our Christmas Eve bulletin read “Wise men still seek him.”  Do you?  Then show it every day in what you read, in how you talk, and in how often you put aside time for church and prayer.  Perhaps we can’t tell our kids anymore that Santa is watching them, so they better be good (or have your kids tell you this).  But we can tell ourselves that God is watching, waiting, pleading for us to seek God more.  If you make any resolutions for 2022, include God.  Set your priorities.  Answer your call.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Scripture Readings:

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
2:18 Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod.
2:19 His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
2:20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the LORD”; and then they would return to their home.
2:26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and with the people.

Psalm 148
148:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!
148:2 Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!
148:3 Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!
148:4 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!
148:5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
148:6 He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
148:7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,
148:8 fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!
148:9 Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!
148:10 Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
148:11 Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!
148:12 Young men and women alike, old and young together!
148:13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.
148:14 He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

Luke 2:41-52
2:41 Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.
2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.
2:43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it.
2:44 Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends.
2:45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
2:46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
2:47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
2:48 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.”
2:49 He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
2:50 But they did not understand what he said to them.
2:51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

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