The season of Christmas as observed in American retail and popular culture, which starts shortly after Halloween, for the most part ended on December 26. If you've been dodging "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," your airwaves and grocery stores are now safely free of it.
But Christmas in church is not over yet. We will continue using the Christmas prayers, music, and white paraments this coming Sunday for the Second Sunday of Christmas. And in still another sense, the celebration of Christmas doesn't come to a real end until the festival of the Presentation of Our Lord on February 2, forty days after the birth of Jesus when, as the Gospel according to Luke records, Jesus was presented in the Temple and a man named Simeon pronounced his famous song to the Christ child:
Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
In Sunday School this week, and again on January 19, we'll take a look at the full season of Christmas in worship and in the Scriptures. It's a season in which the full meaning of the coming of Christ starts to become known and declared. The Holy Innocents of Bethlehem, killed by Herod, are remembered as witnesses to the Jesus who barely escaped their fate. Jesus is circumcised and named on the eighth day of his life, in accordance with the Law, so we'll look at the power and significance of the Holy Name. The magi, or "wise men" (though they were not necessarily men and perhaps not especially wise), come from Gentile lands to bring tribute, so we'll talk about the significance of Jesus becoming known to the nations of the world. We'll discuss the story of his baptism by John in the Jordan (celebrated in church on January 12 with a renewal of our own baptismal vows and promises), and finally come around to that day in the Temple when Jesus, not two months old, shows forth salvation to an old man who has been waiting for it.
It's a beautiful season with powerful Biblical stories and a rich tradition of worship practices that we'll explore together. Join us on January 5 and 19 at 10 a.m. in the upstairs classroom!
God's Work. Our hands.