Mountains and aurora reflected in water

Reflecting on and in the Holidays

Jay Smith, YTI President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

November-December 2018 Inscribed

As we go through the holiday season—October 31 through January 6—we start calculating and planning for the economic and familial impact we will have to manage. We ask ourselves questions such as, “Who will come to Thanksgiving this year,” or, “Where will we spend Christmas,” or “How much will we spend on the kids,” or “How much will we spend on each other this Christmas?” Quite often the holidays bring more stress and anxiety than “comfort and joy!”

Feasts and Festivals in the Life of Jesus

When we read the story of Jesus in the gospels and Acts, the narrative is laced with important feasts and festivals, such as Passover, Tabernacles, and Hanukkah. Jesus related to each of these festivals though the content of his teaching or the symbolism of his actions. The celebration of these festivals provided a platform for Jesus to show the people who he was, what he meant, and how they could find and know God in him.

These festivals informed the identity of the Jewish people and gave them an opportunity to strengthen the roots of their faith. A case in point: when Jesus was 12 years old, Mary and Joseph went up to Jerusalem for Passover and Jesus  went with them. It is in Jerusalem, at that Passover, where Jesus demonstrates to the temple leadership his extraordinary knowledge and insight.

What does it mean that a 12-year-old Jesus demonstrated his knowledge and insight to the temple scholars on Passover? The readers and hearers of this passage in Luke chapter 2 would have reflected upon the immense symbolism and its implications for the prophetic coming of the Messiah. The Messiah has come!

Your New Year Routine Can Be Better

This holiday season will be hectic, exhausting, and, hopefully, filled with joy. On December 26, you will be ready to sleep in! And then, it’s over. A new year starts with new responsibilities and new bills to pay. You know the routine, you’ve done it before. But it can be better. I promise.

This year, add something different to your routine. Take the time. Let me say again, take the time. Take the time to stop, and read Matthew 2 and Luke 2. Read them daily—Breathe.

Breathe in the words, the Spirit, and the Truth therein. Make it a point to reflect on pieces of these scriptures, those pieces that touch you, speak to you, and live in your imagination. Share them with those close to you. Let God work through the stories, the narratives that ground these holidays we celebrate. Do that, and your holidays will take on a whole new, and vibrant meaning. Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas!

Dr. Jay Smith is president and Bridger professor of theology and ethics at Yellowstone Theological Institute. He has taught at Howard Payne University, Baylor University, and the United States Naval Academy. A published author, he and Stanley Grenz co-created The Pocket Dictionary of Ethics (IVP, 2003) and Created for Community Revised Edition (Baker Academic, 2015). A conversation with Jay reveals his passions for literature and adventure. He loves to hike, compose music, and write about Jesus. Jay roots for the Baylor Bears and Howard Payne Yellowjackets.

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