Yr C  27.12.15  1 Samuel 2.26     Luke 2.41-52 Christmas 1

At Christmas time we celebrate that God took on flesh and blood. Baby Jesus is God with skin on.

Please could you take your left hand in your right hand. Take hold of your hand. Feel every finger on your left hand. Can you feel the joints? Aren’t hands wonderful. You can do so much with hands.

What sort of things do we do with our hands? Can you wring out a wet clothe? Can you trace the lines on a carving, feel the shape of a stone?

Ask the person next to you: ”Do you mind if I touch your forehead?” With your pointing finger trace the lines across their forehead.

Are any of you good at mending things? Who is good at mending bicycles? Who can put a new washer in a tap? Can you put in a new light bulb? Who can put a new battery in a torch? Or in to a fire alarm?

Is anybody able to sew? Can you type? Many of you can press the keys on a mobile phone.

Our hands can grip and hold and our fingers can point. Even the fingers of a new born baby can close around the finger of a grown up and hold it tight.

When God took on human form, he was born as a baby. Jesus Christ was fully human, and fully God.

A human baby grows. The baby Jesus grew like any human child.

In our Old Testament reading we heard about Samuel. Can you find the last sentence from our reading from 1 Samuel 2? Can you find verse 26? ‘Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favour with the Lord.’

That means that Samuel grew taller. When you were a child, did your Mum or Dad ever mark your height on the inside of the door with pencil? Did you stand with your back against the narrow edge of the open door, and your mother or father made a pencil mark, where the top of your head touched the door? Sometimes they wrote the date, so that you could see how much you had grown in a year.

Samuel also grew in favour with the Lord. That tells us that Samuel prayed every day, and grew to know God. The result was that Samuel also grew in favour with the people. People liked Samuel and trusted him. He was growing more like God as he spent time in God’s presence in the temple, God’s house.

In our gospel today, in Luke 2 verse 52, we heard that the child Jesus increased in wisdom and in years. Like Samuel before him, the young boy Jesus, increased in divine and human favour. His time studying God in the Scriptures and listening to God in prayer shaped his character. He became fair minded, sweet natured. Spending time in prayer with God gives our faces a natural radiance. A person who does not spend time in the light and beauty of God’s presence might not reflect much light or beauty. The word ill favoured signifies not good looking, or ugly.

If we want to be good looking, I recommend prayer. Spending time in God’s presence, taking time to reflect on God, we start to reflect back his good nature, his beauty.

The child Jesus also began to reflect back God’s character. In Isaiah 7.14 the prophet wrote: ‘A young woman is with child, and she will bear a son…By the time he has learnt to reject evil and choose good, he will be eating curds and honey….’

In other words, from the time a child is weaned they are already able to learn what is right and what is wrong. Parents show their child what is right by the way they live. A father or a mother who speaks quietly and shows patience will help their child to be gentle. A parent models love and generosity to their child.

Jesus followed the pattern laid out by his father. The child Jesus heard the Hebrew Scriptures read in the synagogue where his family worshipped God. The boy Jesus learned many sections of the Old Testament by heart, like many boys whose families attended the synagogue. The gospels are full of quotations from the Old Testament. Jesus, and his followers, were steeped in the Old Testament. Jesus took in what he heard. He was delighted when his family and neighbours travelled to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover.

At last he could pray in the magnificent Temple. This was his chance to hear what the really well read teachers of the Law and the Ole Testament said. Jesus was fascinated with everything to do with his father.  He had his father’s tastes. Jesus was a chip off the old block. Jesus longed for righteousness.

The story about Jesus staying on in the Temple challenges us. Do we spend time seeking God’s presence in prayer? Do we stay on in God’s house? Do we want to grow more mature in our faith?

Do we have a thirst to understand how to grow more like Jesus Christ? May we grow up in to the full stature of Christ, let us grow to the full height of faith.

This time of year is about Jesus Christ coming down to us. Christmas is also about us receiving Jesus

Christ. Letting him enter our lives and our hearts. May the word of God dwell in us.