December 2012

Anna's Story

Have you ever wanted to rewrite a Bible story? Some stories are harder to read than others. Take the one in Luke often referred to as "the slaughter of the innocents." This is the dark side of the Christmas story when Herod finds out that the magi are not going to reveal the new king's location. I've always wished this story had a different ending, so I've written one. In light of the recent school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I was thinking that how we respond in love and faithfulness can write new and more grace-filled endings to the most horrific of tragedies. At the end of the service, we blessed 30 prayer shawls to go to the United Methodist Church in Newtown for distribution to first responders who are having difficulty dealing with the trauma.

In the beginning

So, what do we say to them? How can we bring them the Good News of Christmas? How can we assure strangers and friends that life can begin again? Preachers, teachers, counselors: we all rely on words. But sometimes words aren't enough. Yes, in the beginning was the Word, but we're not here because of the Word made words! We are here because of the Word made flesh. We worship Jesus Christ. And that's where you and I come in. We are the Body of Christ, so you be his kind hands. I'll be his sure feet. You be his clear eyes. I'll be his sharp ears. You be his loving arms. I'll be his strong back. Together, we'll get our loved ones to Bethlehem so that their world and ours can begin again.

God con carne

Jesus is God con carne. And if that says something wonderful about God, it says something even more amazing about us. First of all, because Jesus was human, no one can say that humanity is totally depraved and corrupt and irredeemable. The Word becoming flesh gives great honor to our flesh. Secondly, God became human so that we humans can become vessels of God. So, look at Jesus and you can catch a glimpse of the possibilities for us when the Divine life is released through our humanity!

Celebration

If you want to know, joy is what meeting Jesus feels like, even if that meeting is very tenuous and fleeting. If you've ever for a moment felt true joy—not happiness, not pleasure, but pure, unselfish, uncontainable, incontestable, indescribable joy—then you've met Jesus. But whatever you do, don't think you have to wait for some fuller revelation to have your celebration. When it comes to meeting Jesus, you don't have to know everything you're supposed to know. You don't have to be everything you're supposed to be. Paul says that we know only in part, and we see in a mirror dimly. [I Cor 13:9,12] So we see Jesus only intermittently. But that doesn't mean we can't see him at all. So, rejoice in the Christ you know. Celebrate the little bit of God you see. Share any scrap of Good News that you hear, no matter what's going on in your life, no matter what time of year.

"How can this be?"

Poor Mary. Call her "virgin interrupted." When the Angel Gabriel tells her that she's going to have a child, she can't believe it. Nothing in her world of experience can make sense of it. "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" Exactly. While her question is intensely personal, it's also universal. She speaks for every one of us, for when it comes to dealings with God, we're all virgins. That's what I was thinking as I was pondering this passage on the labyrinth last week. There is so much God we don't know, so much truth we haven't encountered, so many mysteries we haven't penetrated, so many joys we haven't felt, so much life we haven't lived.

"How can this be?"

Poor Mary. Call her "virgin interrupted." When the Angel Gabriel tells her that she's going to have a child, she can't believe it. Nothing in her world of experience can make sense of it. "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" Exactly. While her question is intensely personal, it's also universal. She speaks for every one of us, for when it comes to dealings with God, we're all virgins. That's what I was thinking as I was pondering this passage on the labyrinth last week. There is so much God we don't know, so much truth we haven't encountered, so many mysteries we haven't penetrated, so many joys we haven't felt, so much life we haven't lived.

What are you waiting for?

Maybe it was our 15th year, or our 47th year, or your 93rd year; when FDR or Eisenhower or Reagan or Clinton was president; when Brown or Brown or Brown again was governor, but some of us remember when the Word of God came into our wilderness. Some of us are still there waiting.