Archives for December 2001

Bible Study for Christmas Day (B) – December 25, 2011

Discussion Leader: Colin Chapman, General Theological Seminary

Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) readings:
Isaiah 62:6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:(1-7)8-20
(Click on the link to jump down the page to each reading.)

Welcome to this week’s RCL Bible study. Please feel free to post comments. All viewpoints are respected.

If you find you don’t have time to go over all the readings, you might simply consider the following verses from this week’s scripture:

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’” (Luke 2:13-14).

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Isaiah 62:6-12  (New Revised Standard Version)

6 Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
You who remind the Lord,
take no rest,
7 and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it renowned throughout the earth.
8 The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine
for which you have laboured;
9 but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in my holy courts.

10 Go through, go through the gates,
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
clear it of stones,
lift up an ensign over the peoples.
11 The Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
‘See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.’
12 They shall be called, ‘The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord’;
and you shall be called, ‘Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.’

 

This week’s seminarian, Colin Chapman, said …

Like the lighting of the pascal flame at the great Easter Vigil, this reading serves as a transition out of the atmosphere of longing expectation that we have journeyed through over the past few weeks. As Jerusalem’s faithful continually remind God of God’s promise of redemption, they are given a foretaste of the salvation that is to come; they are reminded that their cry out for justice has not been forsaken. The proclamation of 62:11-12 is a message to all who wait with longing expectation for mercy and justice whether it be the oppressed, the unemployed, or the Advent church. It is a call to not lose faith in our darkest days.

How has your faithfulness been tested in recent days, weeks, or months?

Do you ever feel reminded by God that your patience is not in vain?

How has the past Advent season prepared you to rejoice in the birth we celebrate at Christmas?

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Psalm 97  (Book of Common Prayer, p. 726)

1 The LORD is King;
let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of the isles be glad.
2 Clouds and darkness are round about him,
righteousness and justice are the foundations of his throne.
3 A fire goes before him
and burns up his enemies on every side.
4 His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees it and is afraid.
5 The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD,
at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth.
6 The heavens declare his righteousness,
and all the peoples see his glory.
7 Confounded be all who worship carved images
and delight in false gods!
Bow down before him, all you gods.
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O LORD.
9 For you are the LORD,
most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10 The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he preserves the lives of his saints
and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light has sprung up for the righteous,
and joyful gladness for those who are truehearted.
12 Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy Name.

This week’s seminarian, Colin Chapman, said …

As we enter the Christmas Season, our psalm this week, like Psalm 96 before it, reminds us of the sovereignty of God. This reminder may be an important one as we have walked through the past 25 days with images of a lowly manger in store-front windows. While this week represents the birth of the incarnate God, as we read our psalm this week, we are beckoned to not only see the infant Jesus but also the mighty Kingship of Christ. Although the dramatic language of clouds, fire, lightening, and melting mountains may feel out of place along side the Silent Night, this is the magnificent tension of the Incarnation that must be in the front of our minds in the Christmas season.

Why do you think so much of our kingly imagery, particularly in the psalms and Old Testament, stems from scenes of epic proportions?

How is this imagery different than the imagery of the new-born Christ the King as found in the stable?

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Titus 3:4-7  (New Revised Standard Version)

4 But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared,
5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour,
7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

This week’s seminarian, Colin Chapman, said …

Is there any greater “reason for the season” than the epistle reading from Titus this week? In all the promise in Isaiah, the mighty imagery to the psalm, or angel’s proclamation of salvation in the gospel, the letter to Titus reminds us that the gift of the Incarnate Deity comes from nothing we have ever done, but through the grace and mercy of God. In this passage, the church should be reminded of baptism through water and the Holy Spirit that we participate in, in this moment of Grace.

What does it mean to you to be “justified by grace”?

Verse five suggests that this message may speak out against a faith based on good works. Do you think there is a distinction between the good works we do on our own accord and those things we do on behalf of God and God’s Kingdom?

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Luke 2:(1-7)8-20  (New Revised Standard Version)

1 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.
2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
3 All went to their own towns to be registered.
4 Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.
5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:
11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’
16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child;
18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.
19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.
20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

This week’s seminarian, Colin Chapman, said …

It should be old advice at this point, but it is a good idea, whenever one reads “Do not be afraid” (or some variation), to know that someone’s world is about to change. It may be Mary, or it may be the disciples, or in this case, it may be a group of unsuspecting shepherds; but how can life go back to the way it was after one hears “Do not be afraid”? Could you go back to work after hearing that the Savior was born? If you needed further proof, would the appearance of the multitude of heaven change your mind? How could the shepherds do anything but leave for Bethlehem and see things with their own eyes? The shepherds would have been aware of the promises we read in Isaiah this week, and the sight of the heavenly hosts may have even invoked in them the images of Psalm 97. In this experience, these shepherds became the first Evangelists; they became the first to be so amazed and formed by the existence of the incarnate Christ that the only suitable response what to proclaim what they had seen.

Think of a time when your life has been changed by experiencing the incarnation. Was it in an interaction with a friend? A neighbor? A stranger? How did you respond? Was it your first inclination to tell everyone else about your experience with the Incarnation? Did you?

 

Meet Colin Chapman, seminarian for the week of December 19-25, 2011.

Colin ChapmanColin Chapman is a senior at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, currently living off campus with his wife and their son. Before seminary, Colin worked as a Ryan White case manager with HIV/AIDS patients, and he spent three years working for Apple, Inc. His passion for the church and technology has led him to focus on the education of church leaders in understanding the importance of social media and how it relates to the Incarnation. Colin is currently a postulant in the Diocese of Connecticut.

 

 

 

 

For questions about the RCL Bible Study, please contact Sarah Johnson, writer/editor, Office of Communication, The Episcopal Church: sjohnson@episcopalchurch.org.