First Sunday after Christmas

God Cares for His Sons

These are the readings for the First Sunday after Christmas.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)

God’s Word for This Week

God’s grace, or undeserved love, is mighty and accomplishes his will. Despite the opposition of wicked people or human barriers, God’s grace accomplishes his desire—the eternal salvation of immortal souls. Even after all the gifts have been opened and used, we stand in awe of God’s gift to us, his grace in Christ, Bethlehem’s baby.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 63:7-9

Why is the phrase “he became their Savior” a clear example of God’s grace? (See 7:8.)

Notice that God is taking the initiative. We don’t make the first move to get ourselves right with God; he takes the first step, becomes our Savior, and does everything to make us his children. And amazingly, we don’t even deserve it. That’s grace!

What do you think the phrase “he redeemed them” meant to the Old Testament Israelites? (See 7:9.)

It meant exactly what it means for us today—God paid a price to buy us back. We certainly belong to our God because Jesus’ life purchased us to be God’s prized possession.

Supplemental First Lesson – Hosea 11:1-7

How did God care for his son, the nation of Israel? How did he use his Son to restore them to sonship?

God had made a son for himself in the nation of Israel, but they turned away from God again and again. God had cared for his son by healing, teaching, and feeding him, but Israel failed to recognize his care. The Father kept calling, but the son turned further and further away. To his rebellious son, Israel, God said, “I love you, but I will judge you.” That judgment on Israel certainly came. But God had not stopped caring for his sons. God sent his Son to be the son Israel should have been so that his repentant children might be his sons again.

Second Lesson – Galatians 4:4-7

How do you know the birth of Jesus was not a random or chance event?

The apostle Paul makes it clear in verse 4 that God sent Jesus at just the right time. The time was right for God to fulfill every prophetic promise to care for his children.

Why is the word “adoption” or “full rights of sons” a fitting comparison to our status in God’s family? (See 4:5.)

Because of sin, we were not born into God’s family. And we were powerless to do anything to change the situation. So God’s grace took over—he sent his Son to be our Savior, he sent his Holy Spirit to bring us to faith, he did the “adopting” and we simply receive all the benefits. That’s grace!

Gospel – Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

What is the sad irony of Herod trying to kill the baby Jesus?

The baby Jesus, whom Herod viewed as a rival and enemy, was Herod’s Savior, his only way to eternal life.

What comfort do you find for your life in the account of God leading Joseph and Mary to Egypt and then to Nazareth?

The malice of Herod could not rob the world of the peace God intended to bring through his Son. God cared for his Son and all the sons of God by using Joseph to keep him safe in the land of Egypt. Certainly, the God of grace knows your needs, understands what threatens your safety and can act in a way that accomplishes his purpose for you. We can trust him; he will lead and guide us with his grace.

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