The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached at Springwood by Brother Andrew on 27th December 2015
The First Sunday after Christmas year C
A Tale of three families
When I began writing this Sermon I had thought I would be speaking about two children and their relationship with God yet having reflected and done a little reading I really think that we are speaking of two families, or rather three when we include the Body of Christians at Colossae to whom Paul writes.
It is only a couple of days after Christmas, King Wenceslas has looked out on the Feast of Stephen and already Jesus is 12 years’ old and apparently up to mischief and like all parents of 12 year olds Mary and Joseph have very sore toes.
We need to take a breather to take in the reality that these are the family some Christians refer to as the Holy Family, as though there were nothing ordinary about them, as though they were untouched by the 80 km of dusty roads leading to and from Jerusalem and Nazareth and the niceties or nastiness of traveling with kith and kin. Mum and dad left Jerusalem with the others, when the Feasts were over, to return to Nazareth, believing Jesus to be with friends in another part of the caravan but discover a day later that he is missing, humph, not very holy of them. Very, very human they worried, about Jesus they were angry with him and they returned to Jerusalem to spend the next three days looking for him.
And they found him in the Temple astounding the scribes and Pharisees with his wisdom and- what did he say, listen carefully! – they said ‘Son, why have you treated us this way? Behold, your father and I were anxiously looking for you.” And he replied “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49.49 extract). (Aside)How is it that all of our children seem to consider us know it all’s until a certain age – I bet this was the last time Jesus did.
Jesus knows he is the Son of God and has two fathers one in Heaven whose business it is time to heed and his earthly parents who he still owes obedience to for some time to come. And Mary added this to the number of mysteries she pondered in her heart while Jesus grew up in everyone’s good books.
Jesus knew his true Father.
Samuel was another miracle baby, like, Isaac, Jacob, Esau and John the Baptist, born to a woman who was barren and who had prayed to the Lord for a child; Elkanah, according to the Books of Chronicles (Not I & II Chons) was a Levite,1 rather like the situation that Elizabeth and Zechariah found themselves in before John was born. I have just slipped this in because I was curious to know why Samuel served in the Temple at Shiloh as a Levite i.e one who served Eli the Priest 2
When Samuel was anything between 2 or 3 years old Hannah took him to the Temple and left him with Eli to serve the Lord , dressed in a linen Ephod meaning that he was an ordinary Levite.1 Eli blessed Hannah and Elkanah that they might have more children and they returned home and had 5 more, 3 sons and two daughters. Every year Hannah returned to the Temple, with a new robe for Samuel, when she came with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifices.
Samuel was one whose name the Lord knew. Samuel was also the one who heard the Lord speak.
Jesus, who must be in his Father’s house left that House to continue his life of preparation and little Samuel remained in that House, as a Levite, to serve the Lord to prepare the way for the Lord as history proved. Samuel was a King maker he anointed David as King ……. Jesus is of the House and lineage of David.
I can quite safely say that when we engage ourselves in the everyday history of our own lives we rarely give a thought to the larger ramifications our actions will produce. Samuel knew he served the Lord but not the big picture. We must remember to live our lives in Christ knowing that they are intended to bring about his intentions.
Well the third family is us, exemplified by the Church of Colossae, who as the Christians there were God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, called to live in harmony together, in absolute painful patience and to forgive each other, however impossible, resentfully, self-righteously, as Christ forgave us. To work together and play peacefully. Allowing the wisdom of the Word which Christ shared with the Keepers of the Temple to make its home in us, which is opening the door and letting Jesus walk straight in, it is to listen and to hear as Samuel heard.
This family we have in the Lord did not begin with Jesus’ birth but has siblings reaching back to Isaac and Joseph and all the righteous ones who were God’s Friends; this is why Samuel who appears in the midst of it to consecrate David is our brother in the Lord because it was Jesus’ voice that called to Samuel in the Father’s House.
Jesus knew he was in his Father’s presence and also that he didn’t need to be in any one place to be in that presence and like the Colossians we are encouraged to practice the Presence of God with the singing of hymns and Psalms in our hearts. We are exhorted to teach according as we are given insight that no one need be ignorant of what it is like to know the wonder and awe of hearing one’s name called in the middle of the night, to be as Samuel, a hearer of the Lord and as Jesus a Knower of our heavenly Father.
For Whatever we do, in word or in deed, do everything in Jesus’ giving thanks to God the Father, through him, for he is our advocate with Our Heavenly Father.
- Elkanah was the son of Jeroham, who was the son of Elihu, who was the son of Tohu, who was the son of Zuph. Elkanah is described as having originated from Zuph, specifically Ramathaim-Zophim, which was part of the tribal lands of Ephraim; however, the Books of Chronicles state that he was a Levite. Elkanah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2015. Elkanah – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elkanah#Lineage. [Accessed 24 December 2015].
- What is the difference between a Priest and a Levite?. 2015. What is the difference between a Priest and a Levite?. [ONLINE] Available at: http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2004/2004-08-28.htm. [Accessed 26 December 2015].