I am not sure if I remember a year when Christmas was on Sunday – that is, a year when I was working with the lectionary passages or planning worship. It seems a little odd, as if Advent is not going through it’s usual paces, and Christmas if spring up without the usual leading up to the day. It’s just awkward and weird. If you remember, Advent started close on the heels of Thanksgiving. In fact, in the days leading up to Thanksgiving we were already treading into Advent. Now we in the week before Christmas, with little time to finish the last minute details. But then, what baby comes on a well planned out schedule?!
“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
Several things I want to note before we go much further. First, the writer of Hebrews is referring not so much to a baby as to the risen Christ. It is more of a reference to the resurrected Messiah than the infant Jesus. Odd than that it is here and being used as passage for Christmas. The verses this week are from Christmas/Nativity of the Lord Proper III. Last year was II, and the year before (Year B) was I. I had said that I would use each proper in succession, as I was commenting for each lectionary year (if that all makes sense).
Second, verses 5 – 12 are not specifically part of the cited lectionary passage. The RCL includes them as verses that might be used, but not necessarily used.
“For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?” (Verse 5)
Again, the writer of Hebrews seems to be more focused on Jesus the man rather than Jesus the infant. But then he writes,
“And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Verse 6)
The writer of Hebrews is setting the case for Jesus being a direct link and part of the Divine God, and not “merely” a messenger from God who has not role or stance other than delivering the words of God.
“Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire.” But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing; like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.” (Verses 7 – 12)
One can see why these verses do not point very well to the Nativity of the Lord. But they point beyond Jesus’s birth and growing up years to the purpose of Jesus and the purpose (or at least one purpose) of his ministry. Let us not forget, beloved reader, as we scramble to complete our Christmas preparations that the Jesus we welcome as a child will grow to be more than anyone at that time expected. But the Lord God knew, and had prepared for this long before any human knowledge of it.
[Ye gads! I’ve just made a solid point for all the foretelling Old Testament prophecies I have railed against! Look what Christmas can do to a person! Shalom!!]