Matthew 12:22-50 OR Luke 11:14-36 (37-54)
OPENING PRAYER [from GREATER ATTENTION: LERW, YEAR D]
Holy and Loving God, by your Holy Spirit, your son Jesus Christ came to expose the darkness of this world, to cast out demons, to deal death to death, and to inaugurate your new heavenly reign in the midst of our languishing earthly reality. Christ Jesus, the only begotten, has declared that everyone who does your will is his brother and sister, and he has blessed all who hear your word and obey it! Indeed, he himself is the Word of God. Help us, therefore, this night and always, to hear and receive him and all the good news concerning him, that we might forever be occupied with the true joy of hearts: Jesus Christ, the Son of David; greater than Solomon, greater than Jonah, greater than all, he is the Word and the Wisdom that gives life!
NOTE ON THE LECTIONS: These lections may seem peculiar for a Christmas Eve service, but I would urge the preacher to consider the possibilities that arise in light of the implicit logos Christology evident in the Epistle of James, in lieu of the more explicit logos Christology of the Johannine literature, then view the other texts through that theology of the Word. The contrast between careless, foolish, vain human speech and the divine and "implanted" word of truth is one that I think frames the whole feast of the Incarnation and the prospect of Epiphany (or Christophany) rather well, actually. In other words, do not be put off by the seeming lack of Christmas themes here. No, there are no nativity stories included, but neither is there a need to preach in isolation from them. The primary consideration, I think, is to approach these lections, not as though they have nothing to say of Christmas, but in the very light of Christmas itself, the Revelation of God in the Incarnation of Jesus: God's saving, embodied speech to the world. Let Christmas have its sway over these texts and vice versa, and new insights will undoubtedly emerge. Ezekiel will remind us that God's revelation is not merely beautiful, but true. Jesus and James will call us to live the faith and not merely profess it. The light of Christ shining amidst the darkness will be understood, not merely esthetically, but in terms of his mission to overthrow the cosmic forces of evil. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!