Meanderings

Kings Journey (Matthew 2:1-12)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – God with Us – KINGS JOURNEY

I have observed that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who think there are two kinds of people and people who do not.  It is in our very nature to divide between us and them, winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, State and Carolina, ECU and any ACC or instate school, rich and poor, those born below the Mason-Dixon line and those born above the line, etc. (help me out with your divisions of the world).  Just one more observation, if you are worshiping with us on this one of the lowest attendance Sundays of the year, you are the ultimate insider.

(North Point Community Church outside of Atlanta does not have worship celebrations on the last Sunday of the year to give their 1000+ volunteers a break.  When I brought this up with my staff they thought this would be a great model to follow, but others disagreed.  Most of the dyed in the wool Christians I know consider cancelling Sunday worship a heresy, excepting for snow or others “acts of God.”  I mean if its Sunday then we are … playing some football right?)

I bring this to our attention because most the lessons about Jesus’ birth are about establishing his insider status among God’s chosen sons and daughters.  The “Scandal of Particularity” is that God became flesh and blood and moved into the backwater towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth, in the backwater province of Judea on the edge of the mighty Roman empire.  If God were planning to transform the whole world (see John 3:16, “for God so loved the world …), then the plan seems inverted.  Wouldn’t have made sense to have God’s child show up in Rome and born within the emperor’s lineage?  If God is going to transform the world, don’t we need the assistance of those insiders on Wall Street (financiers), Pennsylvania Avenue (politicians), and certainly K Street (lobbyists)?

This was brought back to mind this week, when Leonard Sweet’s text message came across my phone’s screen this week.  Len’s tweet was Where are the Wise Men? Are they disappearing from Xmas story? Particularity=Jewish Messiah. Magi open us to Universality: Savior of World. That’s right I thought, without the Magi (and the shepherds) we outsiders do not have a chance at this flesh and blood Savior born among us.

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Queen Street

Kings Journey (Matthew 2:1-12)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – God with Us – KINGS JOURNEY

I have observed that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who think there are two kinds of people and people who do not.  It is in our very nature to divide between us and them, winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, State and Carolina, ECU and any ACC or instate school, rich and poor, those born below the Mason-Dixon line and those born above the line, etc. (help me out with your divisions of the world).  Just one more observation, if you are worshiping with us on this one of the lowest attendance Sundays of the year, you are the ultimate insider.

(North Point Community Church outside of Atlanta does not have worship celebrations on the last Sunday of the year to give their 1000+ volunteers a break.  When I brought this up with my staff they thought this would be a great model to follow, but others disagreed.  Most of the dyed in the wool Christians I know consider cancelling Sunday worship a heresy, excepting for snow or others “acts of God.”  I mean if its Sunday then we are … playing some football right?)

I bring this to our attention because most the lessons about Jesus’ birth are about establishing his insider status among God’s chosen sons and daughters.  The “Scandal of Particularity” is that God became flesh and blood and moved into the backwater towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth, in the backwater province of Judea on the edge of the mighty Roman empire.  If God were planning to transform the whole world (see John 3:16, “for God so loved the world …), then the plan seems inverted.  Wouldn’t have made sense to have God’s child show up in Rome and born within the emperor’s lineage?  If God is going to transform the world, don’t we need the assistance of those insiders on Wall Street (financiers), Pennsylvania Avenue (politicians), and certainly K Street (lobbyists)?

This was brought back to mind this week, when Leonard Sweet’s text message came across my phone’s screen this week.  Len’s tweet was Where are the Wise Men? Are they disappearing from Xmas story? Particularity=Jewish Messiah. Magi open us to Universality: Savior of World. That’s right I thought, without the Magi (and the shepherds) we outsiders do not have a chance at this flesh and blood Savior born among us.

Continue reading

Queen Street

Kings Journey (Matthew 2:1-12)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – God with Us – KINGS JOURNEY

I have observed that there are two kinds of people in the world: people who think there are two kinds of people and people who do not.  It is in our very nature to divide between us and them, winners and losers, insiders and outsiders, State and Carolina, ECU and any ACC or instate school, rich and poor, those born below the Mason-Dixon line and those born above the line, etc. (help me out with your divisions of the world).  Just one more observation, if you are worshiping with us on this one of the lowest attendance Sundays of the year, you are the ultimate insider.

(North Point Community Church outside of Atlanta does not have worship celebrations on the last Sunday of the year to give their 1000+ volunteers a break.  When I brought this up with my staff they thought this would be a great model to follow, but others disagreed.  Most of the dyed in the wool Christians I know consider cancelling Sunday worship a heresy, excepting for snow or others “acts of God.”  I mean if its Sunday then we are … playing some football right?)

I bring this to our attention because most the lessons about Jesus’ birth are about establishing his insider status among God’s chosen sons and daughters.  The “Scandal of Particularity” is that God became flesh and blood and moved into the backwater towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth, in the backwater province of Judea on the edge of the mighty Roman empire.  If God were planning to transform the whole world (see John 3:16, “for God so loved the world …), then the plan seems inverted.  Wouldn’t have made sense to have God’s child show up in Rome and born within the emperor’s lineage?  If God is going to transform the world, don’t we need the assistance of those insiders on Wall Street (financiers), Pennsylvania Avenue (politicians), and certainly K Street (lobbyists)?

This was brought back to mind this week, when Leonard Sweet’s text message came across my phone’s screen this week.  Len’s tweet was Where are the Wise Men? Are they disappearing from Xmas story? Particularity=Jewish Messiah. Magi open us to Universality: Savior of World. That’s right I thought, without the Magi (and the shepherds) we outsiders do not have a chance at this flesh and blood Savior born among us.

Continue reading

Meanderings

God with Us (Matthew 1:23 & John 1:14)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – GOD WITH US – Kings Journey

Tonight as we continue our journey of paying attention to the no fear moments of the coming of Jesus into the world I invite us to pause over these two portions of scripture:

  • "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
    which means, 'God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23, NRSV).
  • "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14,  The Message).

I will add the context for these passages below the split, but first I want us to hear again that God in Jesus came among us!  In Jesus we see not only God's presence, but also the affirmation that God likes humanity in general and you in particular.

Much of the time we in the church spend a lot of time criticizing others for being ungodly and forget that Jesus "came among us" which is what our theological word "incarnation" means.  Jesus became (our) flesh and (our) blood to show how much God loves us, not to prove that he was God (I think that that is already known).

We are told that Mary pondered many things on her heart as she witnessed the birth of Jesus.  One of the things I have been pondering most this year is the recurrence of the promise to  "fear not" (KJV) or "do not be afraid" (NRSV).  The question that continues to come to me is this: "Is God looking for people who will look fear in the face and stand firm knowing that God is with us?"

Continue reading

Queen Street

God with Us (Matthew 1:23 & John 1:14)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – GOD WITH US – Kings Journey

Tonight as we continue our journey of paying attention to the no fear moments of the coming of Jesus into the world I invite us to pause over these two portions of scripture:

  • "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
    which means, 'God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23, NRSV).
  • "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14,  The Message).

I will add the context for these passages below the split, but first I want us to hear again that God in Jesus came among us!  In Jesus we see not only God's presence, but also the affirmation that God likes humanity in general and you in particular.

Much of the time we in the church spend a lot of time criticizing others for being ungodly and forget that Jesus "came among us" which is what our theological word "incarnation" means.  Jesus became (our) flesh and (our) blood to show how much God loves us, not to prove that he was God (I think that that is already known).

We are told that Mary pondered many things on her heart as she witnessed the birth of Jesus.  One of the things I have been pondering most this year is the recurrence of the promise to  "fear not" (KJV) or "do not be afraid" (NRSV).  The question that continues to come to me is this: "Is God looking for people who will look fear in the face and stand firm knowing that God is with us?"

Continue reading

Queen Street

God with Us (Matthew 1:23 & John 1:14)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – Shepherds Come – GOD WITH US – Kings Journey

Tonight as we continue our journey of paying attention to the no fear moments of the coming of Jesus into the world I invite us to pause over these two portions of scripture:

  • "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
    which means, 'God is with us'" (Matthew 1:23, NRSV).
  • "The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood" (John 1:14,  The Message).

I will add the context for these passages below the split, but first I want us to hear again that God in Jesus came among us!  In Jesus we see not only God's presence, but also the affirmation that God likes humanity in general and you in particular.

Much of the time we in the church spend a lot of time criticizing others for being ungodly and forget that Jesus "came among us" which is what our theological word "incarnation" means.  Jesus became (our) flesh and (our) blood to show how much God loves us, not to prove that he was God (I think that that is already known).

We are told that Mary pondered many things on her heart as she witnessed the birth of Jesus.  One of the things I have been pondering most this year is the recurrence of the promise to  "fear not" (KJV) or "do not be afraid" (NRSV).  The question that continues to come to me is this: "Is God looking for people who will look fear in the face and stand firm knowing that God is with us?"

Continue reading

Meanderings

Shepherds Come (Luke 2:8-20)

Angel Announces – Mary Sings – Joseph Prays – SHEPHERDS COME – God with Us – Kings Journey

I joined my son's classmates on Friday to watch The Tale of Despereaux at the local theater. Two lines stood out from this movie about a mouse who decides to be a man ("Are you a mouse or a man the mouse council?" asks him).  The first line was Desperereaux's insight that "A hero doesn't appear until the world really needs one."  How true, and how much are we in search of a hero today?  I remember Drew University's poet laureate introducing the thought of Governor Tom Kean becoming our president with the thought that every institution needs a messiah and asking was Cain Abel?  Americans are in desperate search of a hero or a messiah, and anyone will do as long as the hero does!

The second line was the communal understanding that mice were to "scurry and cower" when presented with certain objects (kitchen knives) or situations (encountering people).  Despereaux is unable to perform these actions because he is a person of the book.  Not any ordinary book, but a book he was to digest (literally) as a test of his mousedom, but chose to digest (metaphorically) the stories of a knight's quest to right a wrong.

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