Today we are looking at the two Epistles Passages; the passage from Titus is part of Proper II, the portion of the lectionary for Christmas. The passage from Colossians is for the first Sunday after Christmas.
The Epistles – Week of Christmas: We need Jesus
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7)
While it references the salvation we receive through Jesus Christ, it does not speak directly to the nativity. It does touch on the theme of confession, penance, and forgiveness, but I do not think Proper II (or any of the Propers) ties itself to any certain lectionary year. At least I am hoping not because I would dislike misrepresenting the lectionary cycles. But . . . I digress.
We need Jesus Christ’s birth in order to have all that the passage from Titus promises. It is because that is how God designed it; not that we would have a Messiah and Savior that comes complete and fully grown but having no connection to humanity. (By now I assume you have read my two postings for Dec 19th.) God designed and planned for a Savior who was well steeped in humanity but did not have the sinful and fallible nature of humanity. The writer of Titus (which is actually a letter to Titus, but apparently widely shared) talks about “the goodness and loving kindness” appearing, but it was not a sudden appearance; rather it was a growing realization of a different way to live and relate to one another and to God.
The Epistles – First Sunday After Christmas: Our actions in light of Jesus Christ’s birth
In the letter to the Colossians (which is the Epistles passage for the first Sunday after Christmas) the writer of the letter to the Colossians (who is thought to be the same writer of the letter to Titus) outlines how believers of both the baby Jesus and the risen Lord should act.
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)
This passage too has within it the theme of forgiveness – not surprising since it is a major theme. It will be interesting to see what how the passages during year C frame and highlight the themes of confession, penance, and forgiveness.
But for now, we are coming closer to Christmas. Think, beloved reader, of all the preparations and planning that go into a birthday celebration. For that is what Christmas is; God gave Jesus as a gift to the world. Jesus gave us the gift of . . . well, the gift of himself and the God-self. What gift will we give our Lord and each other to celebrate this?
May your coming time of celebration be filled with love, laughter, and joy! Selah!