When you think of Advent and Christmas, what comes to mind?
Mangers? Sheep and oxen? Snow and hot chocolate? God with us?
All good answers. But we’ve talked about that stuff before! Let’s face it, after years and years (and years) of Advent, we could be tricked into thinking we’ve mined the depths of the season, and there is nothing left to discover.
But this, of course, would be a huge mistake… because there is always more to discover.
Advent is about the anticipation of GOD taking on FLESH. God coming entering into God’s creation, taking on our skin, purifying our world, and birthing something new in the midst of it.
And there’s something… deeply sexual about the whole thing!
So what if we explore that for Advent 2015? What might we learn about our relationship with God, with one another, with the creation and with our own bodies?
And how might it fill us again with wonder: Wonder at the Divine Mystery of the Incarnation!
This week we start with what it means to be pure and holy, and how it relates to sex, to God, and to Christmas!
Are we talking about a giant white man on a throne in the sky? Are we talking about a physical being at all? Are we talking about a crowd freaking out at a spots game?
And what does it mean to have a relationship with this Divine-Creator-Sustainer-Energy-And-Life-Behind-All-The-Cosmos?
Well, it’s kind of like a plastic cow.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. … 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. … 16 From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
As the road to Christmas comes to a culmination, Leshia (our Pastoral Intern) takes us to visit Mary, the mother of Jesus.
And Mary gives herself a title that, to many of us, seems oppressive or wrong. She calls herself “God’s slave”.
How is THAT good news?
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Now that we’ve tackled women and children’s submission we can move on to a simpler, more Christmas-like topic… slavery. …
Let’s be honest: lots of people want to put the bible on trial for what it does and does not say when it comes to slavery. But the same bible that was used to defend human slavery was also used to give hope to the enslaved!
What exactly was Paul saying to these slaves and slave owners in Colossae, and perhaps the more frightening question, what is the text saying to us two-thousand years later?
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
“Son of Man” was an apocalyptic phrase that lived in the imagination of the Jewish people. At the time of Jesus, people were looking for the Son of Man, the one who would overthrow their enemies and bring them victory and peace.
But things aren’t going to go exactly as they planned.
How do we respond when the story changes, when things get flipped on to their head?
Chris Cuthill, professor at Redeemer University (teaching such fine courses as art, art history and pop-culture) looks at times of great change throughout history, the evils and fears present in them, and at how Christians have responded using Apocalyptic language and imagery.
He also talks about Pope-pooping devils, Trans-Ams covered in Revelation, the spirituality of zombies, and Homer Simpson.
It’s a real good one.
Raw demo of Brett Klassen/DJ CLUTCH’s cover of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - starts 39 minutes in.
The way you view the birth of Jesus depends a lot on where you’re standing.
For Advent this year we are going to look at the Christmas narrative from multiple perspectives, and ask the question: “how did each group view the incarnation?”
This week we look at the ox. What did the ox… think(?!)… about the incarnation?
The ox probably thought about the sacrificial system; all the stories he had heard about the altar growing up. He probably reflected on how so many of his friends ended up there, and wondered if this little child might change everything.
Apparently, the ox thought about all sorts of things.