Sunday December 26, 2021 The Feast of the Holy Family (Cycle C)
The tie in between today’s readings: The Answers is: Answers
Christianity in the United States is declining. Many parishioners have a humdrum view of worship. People who spike the roles around Christmas and Easter are more the tourist type rather the any who would be seeking the face of the Almighty. With all this in view, I read today’s selection in Psalm 84, and I ask myself, “Who is this guy?” His gushing passion, longing, and devotion for temple worship rivals Freddy Eynsford-Hill’s “On the Street Where You Live” scene in My Fair Lady. Of course, it’s not the street as much as it’s the home of the lovely Eliza Doolittle that elicits such affection. Forget the place, then. It’s all about the one who is there. So, I look at the author of Psalm 84 with a peculiar envy and wonder. How can anyone have such a dynamic love for God and His church…and how can I get it? I study the rest of today’s readings for help and come up with one conclusion: ANSWERS! Even though you can and should pray, seek God, and meditate on His word during your day, church is a particular time and place, almost like a date, that you put away all other distractions and focus on the One with all the answers
Hannah gets an answer, 1 Samuel 1:1-28. Hannah had a burden; she wanted a baby. Her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, had no problem getting pregnant and enjoyed rubbing it in her face. I have to think that Hannah wanted to be a mom for the sheer joy of motherhood. After a while, people who taunt us like Peninnah just get old. “Yeah, Yeah, Peninnah, whatever!” When the family went to sacrifice at the tabernacle’ she poured out her heart to God so deeply that the ever-astute Eli, the High Priest, thought that she was drunk. Finding out the truth, Eli blessed her instead. Hannah asked for a son and vowed to dedicate him to God. Little Samuel was born the next year and when the time was right Hannah fulfilled her vow. God gave her many more children to make up the void. The tabernacle was the “power place” where she met God and shared her burden with another. Some things to notice: the Almighty answers heartfelt prayers. He doesn’t grant wishes. Think about it. You have to be part of the answer to your petitions if at all possible. God honors community prayer and is pleased when you stay true to your promises. He will make sure you don’t lose anything. The Lord of the universe is no man’s debtor.
Jesus looks for answers. Imagine you’re a twelve-year-old boy and sacrificing the Passover at the temple. By this time in your life, you have at least an inkling of your destiny. You look around and see the sacrificed lambs, and the blood. You eat the Seder meal. The ritual, the smells, the sounds, the prayers, all of it is intimately connected with you somehow. And here you are in of all places: Jerusalem, the fountainhead of Judaism, the Oxford of Rabbinical learning, Ground Zero of all things Jehovah! You have so many questions and you just have to know. He spends three days in a Q & A with the most brilliant minds of His time. When his frantic parents finally locate Him at the temple, God’s lost and found, He tells them that He had to be about His Father’s business. He and His bewildered parents head for home, but I suspect Jesus’ as well as their understanding about who He was took a quantum leap for the experience. Don’t go looking for God in all the wrong places. Come to church. Find the answers.
1 John 3:1-2; 21-24: you must be the answer. We need to rethink our worship. God abides in the believer. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. That means we’ve got the same stuff in us that Jesus let out on the Mount of Transfiguration. Respect that! We are the holy ones not the church building. So when the kids are chewing gum in the sanctuary, it’s the sanctuaries that are actually chewing the gum. Understand that church isn’t something that you do; it is the someone that you are! We need to be the tabernacle animated. We come together on Sunday to celebrate what God has done for us, to grow in our faith, and then to launch out again into a world in need. Love your enemy neighbor. Help the unlovely and undeserving. Our greatest challenges of faith could very well live under our roof. We are the sacrifice of Christ to the world and are to sacrifice in the effort. Where else can you get the resources that you need for these God challenges if not in church and worship? Jehovah in His holy temple asked the question “Who will go for Us?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me.” What do you say?