Was the cross cosmic child abuse? Or appeasing the wrath and violence of a distant God? Could God not forgive sinners without someone dying? Why the need for so much blood?
I know from talking with people over the years that the crucifixion is a major stumbling block for some people when it comes to following Jesus.
If you are a person who's always found the death of Jesus confusing at best or troubling and disturbing at worst, this sermon is for you. Because it's actually really beautiful and good news that Jesus was murdered... and I am aware how weird and morbid that sounds.
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.
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.