4th Day of Christmas

by Matthew B. Harper

But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts…” 1st Samuel 17:45

The Lord who is “God of all the Hosts,” and “God of all the armies,” is surely a God of getting things done. This is not the quiet God who is preaching on a hillside to fisherman, this is the God who is out conquering new lands and subduing other peoples. I like this God.

I like this God because I am a guy who likes to get things done. I like to make to-do lists and I love to cross things off of them. I love to always feel like I am accomplishing something. I feel an almost manic need to always be accomplishing something in prison, or I feel that I am simply wasting my time and my life. If I am not busy I begin to almost frantically fill the time with something. I cannot seem to even sit to watch the television without also trying to read a book and eat a meal at the same time. I used come to work and often found myself frustrated with the men who would stop by because they were preventing me from getting my work done. It was a humbling day when I was reminded in prayer that these men were my work.

When the Bible introduces us to Mary and Martha we are challenged to compare those who are always doing for the Lord, and those who are simply being. It is easy to sit back and ask ourselves which one are we. I, for one, am much more comfortable as a ‘Martha’, but God calls Mary the better choice.

In prison I have often found myself forced into inaction. I have been literally bound up and alone for long periods of time. These turned out not to be the empty times that I needed to fill, they became opportunities for God to fill me. The world needs both ‘Marys’ and ‘Marthas’ but it is only when we are quiet and ready to receive God, that we can be doing for God.

Angels we have heard on high, singing sweetly through the night, and the mountains in reply echoing their brave delight.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Hymn 96)

“Time-Released Details” (1st Sunday after Christmas)

1st Sunday after Christmas Day – December 27

1st Samuel 2:18-20, 26; Luke 2:41-52; Colossians 3:12-17

“Time-Released Details”

by CM

A parallel between the Old Testament reading and our Gospel reading is that we’re observing a moment of boyhood in the lives of two individuals who are intrinsically linked across the span of many generations: Samuel and Jesus. One eternally occupies the Throne of David as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Savior Jesus; while it was Samuel who became the man that inaugurated the line of Israel’s royalty and anointed its first two kings.

We also see the hearts of two mothers—Hannah and Mary—women who have prayed, dedicated their lives to faithfully carrying out the requirements of the law as a result of their devotion to God, and two women who have divine insight into the destiny of their special boys, even if they lacked the details. And it’s in the lack of details that the real value of the faith journey is revealed.

These mothers, looking at their boys, both of them products of God’s word to them in “time release” form. Who can say with certainty what the details of a boy’s manhood will look like? Yet, as is pointed out—in 1st Samuel 2:26, in relation to Samuel and Hannah; and in Luke 2:52, in relation to May and Jesus—both moms watched their boys grown in stature and in favor with God and men as they transitioned from boyhood to manhood.

So I ask you now, what has been produced in your life pursuant to your relationship with God which unites you in your experience of that production with Hannah and Mary? What has God brought into your life on a “time release” basis? Something that requires a period of maturation?

In what ways may you yourself be that time-released gift to humanity from on high? In what ways have you ever considered that the promise and purpose of your own life may be directly linked to the life of another across the span of generations?

It is this consideration that brings forth the sacred in your life. Embrace this truth and sanctify this reality by doing all things, be they in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus, as is pointed out in our epistle reading, Colossians 3:17.

You can imagine, coming from the perspective of an incarcerated man, scriptures that highlight transitions across the passage of time—“time-release” workings of the hand of God—are particularly encouraging. May the areas in your life that require a period of maturation be seen in new light, and as our two mothers in these readings, keep these things in your heart and be encouraged too.