It has been a difficult, divisive, discouraging week in Washington and the rest of the country. So we turn to God and God’s word for grounding and inspiration and comfort. This week’s lectionary provides just what we need – a passage that conservative and liberals both value!
Paul is a fool too, a servant of the most High Fool, a God who seems to believe that the only solution to the brokenness of the world is not eloquent words, or force, or starting fresh.
Instead, God in Christ confronts humanity with all their sin and ugliness,
and goes to the cross, a death that, despite any veneer of justice, was, in fact, a lynching,
so that he might bring healing and reconciliation.
So I am surprised that there were no riots after John’s arrest.
Perhaps it was because of what Jesus did. Matthew tells us that when Jesus heard of John’s arrest, he withdrew to Galilee, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.
It sounds like he was fleeing to safety. He wasn’t.
I don’t know what messages you have gotten over the course of a lifetime. Some have probably been great news; others something you were dreading; and still others such a surprise that you didn’t know what to make of them.
Isaiah received a message, a message from God, a message to share,
with Israel, with a servant, with anyone who would listen.
I wonder, did Jesus feel long to fit in? Did he feel like he belonged?
Karoline Lewis asserts that the magi do more than simply respond.
She says they resist evil:
they witness to a truth that will challenge power;
they defy authority;
they trust YHWH’s angelic message over Herod’s.
It is a rather extraordinary way to look at them!
A modern director would have a get-away car with smoking tires, shots fired, crashing pursuers, maybe even an explosion or two. Mathew has to make do with an angel, a dream, and a get-away donkey!
Luke doesn’t seem interested in elaborating on the bare facts.
He proves much more interested in the response of some local shepherds who are told by an angel that the baby born in Bethlehem is the Messiah.
He says they were curious.
He says they “went with haste” and found Mary and Joseph and the baby.
He says they told the story of what they had been told about the baby … and all who heard it were amazed!
So I’m wondering about how we respond to news of the baby’s birth in Bethlehem.
We could stare at the baby forever.
But then Luke pulls the camera back to show the whole region.
It is rough country, full of hills and valleys, perfect for grazing sheep.
It is clear and cold and the sky is bright with stars.
And out in the darkness there were shepherds keeping a lonely watch.
Luke has pulled us away from the baby because he wants us to witness an encounter.
Joseph was a carpenter.
He knew how to make a yoke that would not chafe.
He knew how to build a table that would not wobble.
He could calculate how much wood it would take to build a cart or repair a wheel.
He knew how to select the right wood from local cypress, oak, cedar, sycamore, or olive.
What he didn’t know was what to do about Mary.