From Pastor Kenny's Desk
December 30, 2018
The parents of Jesus used to go every year to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when Jesus was twelve, they went up for the celebration as was their custom. As they were returning at the end of the feast, the child Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph. Thinking Jesus was in their caravan, they continued their journey for the day, looking for him among their relatives and acquaintances.
Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem in search of him. On the third day, they came upon Jesus in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. All who heard Jesus were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When Mary and Joseph saw Jesus, they were astonished, and Mary said, “Son, why have you done this to us? You see that your father and I have been so worried, looking for you. Jesus said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Abba’s house?”
But they didn’t understand what he told them. Then Jesus went down with them to Nazareth and was obedient to them. Mary stored these things in her heart, and Jesus grew in wisdom, in years and in favor with God and people alike.
~ Luke 2:41-52
This Sunday, December 30, is the First Sunday after Christmas and MCC Richmond’s observance of Kwanzaa.
This sacred text is the only passage in the gospels that speaks of Jesus’ childhood. In this passage we find the boy Jesus has traveled with his family to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. However, on the way home, his parents discover he isn’t with them. It takes them three days to find Jesus, who remained in the temple. He was sitting with the
teachers, listening to them, and asking questions. Those in the temple were amazed at his understanding and his answers to their questions. When his parents find him, they are astonished, and Mary says, don’t you know that your father and I were so worried about you? Jesus responds, Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know I’d be in my Abba’s house?
The scriptures tell us that Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what he was saying, but nevertheless, he obeyed his parents and returned home with them. And for the second time in this chapter … the first being after the arrival of the shepherds … Mary treasurers all these things in her heart. Even though she doesn’t understand fully, she understands enough of God’s mystery to wonder, and to treasure this time.
Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. In the fullness of humanity, as a child he questioned, he sought answers, and he didn’t always remember to tell his parents where he was or what he was up to. In the same manner, his parents didn’t remember where he came from, that he didn’t only belong to them, but to God. We don’t always remember that we belong to God. We don’t always remember where we have come from. But God continues to unveil the mystery to us … speaking to us by angels in the night, or by songs of joy and praise, and by this life we have been given, to live in the fullness of God’s love.
Kwanzaa is a beautiful way for congregations to honor, celebrate unity and diversity given to us through God’s loving embrace. Kwanzaa is a rich and noble celebration whose purpose is to renew and reaffirm our commitment to positive values. The word Kwanzaa means “first” referring to “the first fruits of the harvest” festival which occurred throughout Africa since the early days of Nubia and Kemet, Egypt. These first fruits festivals continue today in Africa.
In 1966, after years of research of these festivals and other African practices, Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chair of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, California and executive director of the Institute of Pan-African Studies, initiated an African American holiday based on these practices. Kwanzaa is celebrated December 26 through January 1 of each year and is based on Seven Principles. This time of the year was selected because it corresponds with the seven day harvest celebration by the Zulu nation. However, the principles of Kwanzaa are relevant throughout the year.
Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa because he believed that two basic groups of African people exist. The first group, Continental Africans, refers to Africans living on the continent of Africa. The second group is the African Diaspora, referring to Africans living away from the continent.
He observed that many Africans in the second group were stripped of their language, values, principles, cultural and spiritual practices when taken from Africa. It was Dr. Karenga’s belief and that of many black scholars that reawakening to the positive African care values, practices and history would serve to raise self-esteem, self-worth in the collective consciousness of the African Diaspora.
These black scholars understood that positive changes had to come from within. Dr. Karenga created Kwanzaa to help stimulate self-determination in African and African American people. This is the second principle of Kwanzaa and is achieved by an individual and/or group speaking, defining and creating for themselves. This principle requires African Americans to assume leadership and responsibility for changing their present state, creating a brighter future and reclaiming the best of what has come before.
According to Dr. Karenga, the practices and principles of Kwanzaa were designed to bring people of African descent to a point where they can once again “self-consciously contribute to the forward flow of human history.” The spiritual essence that permeates the Kwanzaa ceremony and celebration is ancient and has proven tie and time again to positively impact people of all ages, race, ethnic and socio-economic groups. Kwanzaa offers us an effective means of honoring diversity.
Although Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, it is a deeply spiritual celebration offering a rich array of ritual and ceremony that creates a bond for all. Kwanzaa may be celebrated by all people, regardless of race, gender, gender and sexual identity, age or ethnic background.
Bring a friend to church as we embrace and worship the God born among us, pray, sing, fellowship and join in celebration of the richness of cultural diversity … and more!
Enjoy this utube of A Kwanzaa Song from the 100 Decibels Music Group: