Sunday, December 25, 2005

January 1, 2006 - Year B - Christmas 1

Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3
Psalm 148
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:22-40

A new year rolls around. Is it new or a repeat? Probably some of both.

The excitement of the birth is over, the journey from "home" to "home" has cycled through an oppressors census. Now it is on to usual rituals and expected maturing.

As we return to our usual routines, do we still expect to grow in wisdom? How might that look in 2006? What needs to be ignored? What paid attention to?

There is going to be falling and rising this next year. Are you ready? Ready to take your part in bringing both to pass?

If you are looking for redemption of Jerusalem or the Earth or whatever, a helpful starting place is looking for your part in a redemptive process, claiming it, and following where it leads.


  1. Luke 2:22-40

    Even the newest revelation seems to require the oldest of traditions to affirm it. Later we will find Jesus transforming the rituals, but here the folks around Jesus seem to need more than angelic visitations and reports from the shepherd. They need the affirmation of the traditions that will later take second place instead of first.

    In addition to the angels and shepherd from a few days earlier, we now have Simeon and Anna raising their witness about this babe.

    There is a sense in which the best clowns need to have the highest skills, be among the best practitioners, of what it is they are spoofing. In this sense Jesus needs the firmest foundation in the rituals and the study of the faith of Israel. With these under his belt he can teach with authority and move beyond the rituals and accumulated wisdom of the people.

    If Mary and Joseph had been up for following up on the angels and shepherd, reinforced by Simeon and Anna, they might have begun the process of stepping away from what had been. This, apparently, wasn't a possibility for them and so pigeons are sacrificed.

    For now a question of ourselves and what traditions we still feel necessary for our well-being. What tradition coming up will you be able to walk away from? Will it be New Year's Resolutions, Epiphany Gifting or Assumptions of a heterosexual-only Valentine's Day?

  2. Galatians 4:4-7

    Yesterday we had an opportunity to spend time with our adopted grandson and his parents. Why this child, out of all the millions of children that need a new home? Why the need to raise an image of oneself, when some choose to adopt and some choose not to?

    "Paul employs the theme of inheritance, introduced in chapter 3, to dissuade the Galatians from becoming circumcised." [The New Interpreter's Study Bible] There are other arguments that could be made to not follow the Jewish law of circumcision. So the adoptive role is not unique to the situation and therefore not required. This opens the arena of speculation regarding adoption.

    In some sense this is simply a welcoming home, as in the tale of the Prodigals. The creation image of G*D was never lost (even if it be rudimentary [elemental] in some, or even all). Prevenient Grace has kept us all within the purview, providence, and provisions of G*D's image. This is a recovenanting as much as it is an adoption. This accords better with the sense of coming to maturity that is Paul's endpoint reason for dismissing circumcision as a requirement.

    Adoption has a legal feel to it that may or may not get lived out in the formation of a real family. There are poor adopters and adoptees as well as good one. Again and again we need to look beyond the formal relationship to the lived relationship.

  3. Psalm 148

    More than Simeon is looking for an expression of G*D that will be recognizable and establish the dignity of the people, people beyond the rulers. Here all of creation is on tiptoe, the manger scene many times larger.

    One of the questions regarding our hope, what it is we are looking for, is what we anticipate our response will be to finding evidence of things coming 'round right. Do we expect to be thankful with such evidence? Will we use it to be able to say, "I told you so," to those without the same picture of a preferred future? Will we accept it and humbly, or not, ask for more evidence to corroborate this beginning piece?

    Another way of addressing this is to wonder about the absence of some folks and how that holds rejoicing at bay. This Psalm is inclusive. Praising is a unifying factor and takes unity to pull off. Who is not on board because they have learned from the rest of us that they are not welcome? It is time to change that message and start by joining them in whatever praise they have that the praise of the rest of creation might be brought to bear and join them in rejoicing.

  4. Isaiah 61:10 - 62:3

    I believe I am praised out for the moment. Suffice it to say, "Hooray for G*D!"

    Oh, by the way, a big Hooray! for those who go on to include more folks in the Hooray!ing by dealing with the healing issues of salvation.

  5. Galatians 4:4-7

    "When the fullness of time had come" suggests one of those once-for-all moments. Even so it is possible to see the fullness of time as a quality that is ever present. If the cosmologists are right about an ever expanding universe, whizzing in every direction it can whiz, then "fullness" is always present. Suppose for a moment that not only did G*D "send" Christ Jesus, born of a woman, born into a specific context in order to set folks free from the limits of that same context that they might continue maturing and not get caught in a perpetual adolescence, but that G*D has also given direction to you -- born of a woman, born into a specific context with its legalisms, in order to set folks of this day free from the limits of the current blinders to a better future and help them mature into it.

    "When the fullness of time comes" is a convenient excuse to leave everything in the hands of a master puppeteer who will care for all things. It is a state of mind of a slave, a minor, of romance and a coming prince.

    "The fullness of time is here", "This is the acceptable day of Jubilee", is the fullest way to live. Enjoy it, though it cut the old duties out from under us.

  6. Luke 2:22-40

    How fortunate, Simeon -- one of so many who are so sure they will see G*D in their life and who claim that surety is completed in one heart-warming moment or other.

    I am not so sure. Time after time -- justice is delayed, meanness rises to the top. I no longer expect to see the healing of the peoples, but rejoice in the healing of this one or that. The falling all too real: the rising all too distant. Anna's who have so much to say are still not heard.

    And yet I am called to finish that which has come down to me and to grow further in wisdom. We polish the past and open the future.

    Hooray for Simeon sure and assured by such a little thing as a baby. Tonight we host our adopted grandson while his parents are off for a relaxing night away. Hooray for us and all who are unsure and still nurture a baby.

    May we work with the Children's Defense Fund and UNICEF and all others, sure and unsure, who simply care for babies whose strength and wisdom may finally polish off our past and open their own future beyond our wars and rumors of war. To catch a glimpse of such a future read The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk or anything by Ursula LeGuin.

    For now, join Anna in speaking what you can about re-redemption (going past buying or ransoming to graceful hope in so little). In so doing we honor Christmas, have the energy to enter one more year, and bring our Epiphany gift.


Thank you for blessing us with your response.