For most of the world, Christmas is over. For a few of us we are counting down the twelve days of Christmas. Many of the people who will gather for worship on Sunday have packed up their Christmas decorations and have moved on to New Year’s plans and resolutions. Yet, on the only Sunday in Christmastide, we are to invite them to put on some different clothes and search for Jesus. At least, that’s what I hear in the texts this week.

We can easily find sympathy for Mary and Joseph in the Gospel reading. They lost Jesus in the midst of those who made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. If you’ve ever lost track of your child, or someone else’s child, then you know the fear that sets in. Mary and Joseph faced that fear, probably imagining the worst, while they retraced their steps looking for the nine-year-old Jesus. Not surprisingly, Jesus didn’t know he was lost. When his anxious parents find him in the Temple, he just told them that he was where he was supposed to be, sharing the Truth.

The search for Jesus in those days was much easier than it is today. I’m not sure that too many people are looking for the Jesus who is where Truth is being shared. We tend to want the Jesus that makes us nostalgic – the innocent babe in a manger. Or the Jesus who offers hope – the man who tells us to come to him for rest. But we aren’t fond of the one who tells us to love our neighbors or the one who gave his life so that we could live in God’s abundant love.

It’s hard to find the places where Truth is shared. We want to turn away from those who cry for justice. We want to run and hide from the voices who clamor for our attention, our action, our love. We certainly don’t want to go looking for Jesus in the places where brokenness, hunger, fear, and illness live. Searching for Jesus these days is far more complicated than it was for Mary and Joseph. That isn’t a good excuse for us not to go looking, though. We need Truth now more than ever before.

Lest we want to give up, we should take the advice found in the Epistle reading and put on some different clothes: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Then we might remember that we are a forgiven people and forgive others more willingly. More importantly, though, we need to put on love and peace and remember that we are one in Christ. If we are dressed in these holy clothes, then peace, praise and gratitude will fill our hearts, spirits, and lives. The search for Jesus, the places of Truth, might become a bit easier to find.

We made the journey to Bethlehem. Now we have to figure out where we go from here to make sure we are still guided by hope, peace, joy, and love. The season is not over. For those of us who seek to be the Body of Christ, the season of Incarnation never ends.

We may be tired and not quite ready to think about preaching again, but Sunday will soon be here. Where is the Spirit guiding you this week?

Photo: CC0 image by Jan Alexander

Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com.

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3 thoughts on “RCL: Get Dressed and Go!

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