For many folks, by this Sunday Christmas is over! For them the decorations have started to come down and they are solely focused on the New Year of 2016. However, Christmas lasts for 12 days and is not over until January 6. Occasionally, like this year, there are two Sundays in the Christmas season; but it is this Sunday that follows Christmas that is always known as “Holy Family Sunday.”
Both Old Testament and Gospel lesson readings for this Sunday are connected by the fact that both Samuel and Jesus are in situations away from their families. Samuel now lives in the temple working with the priest Eli, and Jesus after the Feast of the Passover stays behind in Jerusalem while His parents were on their way home to Nazareth.
Samuel is influenced by Eli to become a role model of faith and Jesus at the age of 12 begins to demonstrate he is a role model of faith. And God uses others around them to strengthen their faiths.
I know in America we pride ourselves on rugged individualism. It has almost became a religion! But Samuel and even Jesus shows us that we often need the perspective and help of others to strengthen our faith. So on this last Sunday of the year 2015, Holy Family Sunday, our faith gets a shot in the arm as we encounter in scripture both Samuel and the Holy Family.
I was reading this week about a missionary in Kenya from many years ago. The missionary was given a jeep to help him in his ministry going from village to village to help people. However, after he had the jeep for a few months, all of a sudden it refused to start. He looked under the hood, but like me, he knew nothing about automobile engines, he just presumed the battery was worn out.
He found out that he could get the jeep started by getting some folks to give him a push, or he could park it headed downhill and roll forward engaging the clutch. For two years, the missionary started the jeep like that. When time came for him to come back to the U. S., his replacement arrived and the missionary showed his replacement how to start the jeep by pushing it off or rolling it down a hill.
The new missionary looked under the hood for a moment and then he said: “Sir, I think I see the problem! The battery cable has come loose from the starter.” The new missionary reached in, reconnected the loose cable, got into the driver’s seat, turned the key, pressed the starter and the engine returned to life.
Many of us need the help of others to reconnect to God. So in like manner, Christmas reconnects us to our power source. Through the Holy Family and Samuel, scripture also reminds us of the importance of having role models to help strengthen our faith.
Join us in worship at Covenant on this last Sunday of 2015, Holy Family Sunday. The sermon is “The Perfect Model of Faith” based on “I Samuel 2:18-20, 26” and “Luke 2:42-52. And by the way – HAPPY NEW YEARS!