Familiar Promises for Unfamiliar Times – December 2021 Lectionary Preview

November 17, 2021 by Rev. Dr. Neal Presa

In a few weeks, our family will welcome back home our eldest son after the first semester in college. Being 2000 miles away from home, our son, as with any college student, has said he looks forward to seeing his room, lying on his bed, seeing the neighborhood, the smells and tastes of our home cooking, the welcome of the wagging tail of our dog greeting him at the door, and, yes, even the jokes and jibes of his younger brother. With his arrival in early December will be our traditional task of hauling the Christmas decorations from the storage to make the house – inside and out – look and feel more festive. In fact, as I write, our neighbors across the street are hard at work in planning and staging the outdoor light show that has become an expected display for our neighborhood and the throngs of cars, pedestrians, and visitors across north San Diego county to behold as a visible sign that Christmas has come, that hope is here, that the familiar still abides.

For so many in the United States and around the world, this Advent and Christmas may be the first time in a long time that we will see loved ones face-to-face. Perhaps this might still be the season where travel restrictions and physical inability will limit our desire to hug one another in the same space and we’ll have to content ourselves for the time being with yet another Zoom family gathering. And for every one of us, there will be one or two (or several) empty chairs at the table, a stocking on the fireplace bearing the name of a loved one no longer here, the memory of last Christmas or of Christmases long past when the family gathering or the office party was a bit larger and livelier. Whether this Advent and Christmas are happier and healthier, or not, or an admixture of emotions and sentiments that run the gamut, every one of us needs to hear, receive, and ponder the familiar stories of Christmas through the lens of the Holy Family in these unfamiliar times. When Easter and Christmas come and church attendance rises, we preacher-types look for that different angle to preach about so that the familiar stories don’t meet eye-rolls and yawns. Yet, I think we, and the communities in which we serve, need and desire the familiar, the tried-and-true, the comfort of Christmas stories, the conviction of the familiar promise of the Christ-Child. Let’s journey together in the Gospel according to Luke.


The Familiar Promise of Preparation
December 5, 2021
Luke 3:1-6
The Familiar Promise of Action
December 12, 2021
Luke 3:7-18


The Familiar Promise of Joy
December 19, 2021
Luke 1:39-55
The Familiar Promise of the Savior
December 24 & 25, 2021
Luke 2:1-20


The Familiar Promise of the Unfamiliar
December 26, 2021
Luke 2:41-52



Neal D. Presa, MBA (cand), Ph.D., is Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation. He is Associate Pastor of the Village Community Presbyterian Church (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), Senior Visiting Professor of Pastoral Ministry of Union Theological Seminary (Dasmariñas, Philippines), Adjunct Professor of Practical Theology of International Theological Seminary (West Covina, CA), Research Fellow of Practical and Missional Theology of the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa), and Fellow of the Center for Pastor Theologians (Oak Park, IL). He was a past Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012-14) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). For more information about him and his publications, visit www.NealPresa.com  To connect via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook: @NealPresa