Jan 02

Christ and the Children of Rachel

This disturbing story is not one we usually include in our Christmas-card retellings of the birth of our Savior. The lectionary, the list of suggested readings for Sunday mornings, had us read Isaiah 63 today, but it would have been better for us to have read from Exodus 1, because the picture couldn’t be clearer: Herod, the king of Judea, has become Pharaoh, the murderer of the children of God. And wherever Pharaoh rules, God’s people are still in exile, and God’s reign is not yet fully known. The people of God do not need to move to Egypt to discover that they are under the thumb of their archenemy. Continue reading

Dec 26

The Interrupting Word

There are times when we need to be interrupted. Life seems to be going on very smoothly, we’ve finally got our heads above water, comfortably, and we think we’re all set. Friends tell us how good we’re looking these days, colleagues wonder how we’ve managed to have everything so put together, and neighbors are glad to live near us. The road ahead is clear of all foreseeable obstacles. When things are going badly we know, instinctively, that we need help, even if we’re afraid to ask for it, or too proud. But when things are going well, autopilot: those are the times we need to be interrupted. Continue reading

Dec 26

The Ones Who Matter Most

There is something very significant about being able to call for a census, to enroll people on a tax list, the way Caesar Augustus does in Luke 2. Calling for a census shows that you matter: you have the power to make everyone give you their name and their status. Surely that is a power both fun to use and easy to abuse. Every time a person registers for the census, he or she does so knowing that Caesar is lord, Caesar is master, Caesar is the one who matters. God knows every hair on your head, but Caesar demands to know who you are, where you live, and how much you’re worth to him. Caesar is the one who matters most. Continue reading

Jan 03

Who Is Jesus Christ?

For our gospel reading this morning, this second Sunday of the Christmas season, we return to a reading from Christmas Eve: John 1:1-18. We read this as our fourth lesson at the 11:00 service, but it comes up in the lectionary, the list of readings for the church year, again this morning. The two Sundays after Christmas each emphasize the most important belief that Christians have: that Jesus Christ is both really and fully a human being, and that he is both really and fully God. Last week the reading from Luke 2, which was about Jesus in the temple as a 12-year old boy, underscored the humanity of Jesus. This week John 1 reinforces that this human being Jesus really was and is the Son of God. Continue reading

Dec 27

Fully and Truly Human

For most people right now, we have entered the post-Christmas season, a kind of recovery period from the stress of holiday preparations and the overindulgence of holiday festivities. But in the church we are just at the beginning of the true Christmas season, which lasts 12 days. Today is the third day of Christmas: three French hens, as the song goes, sometimes interpreted as the great theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, other times thought of as the three Persons of the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Continue reading