Jesus v. Santa Smackdown

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Yes, this is how I think of Advent. In our present state of missing the point of Christmas, I think of Advent as a way to fight back – a Jesus v. Santa Smack down.

“In this corner, weighing in at well over 200 pounds, and dominating the retail scene from Halloween to December 24 is Santa Clause, also know as the Reindeer Runner…in the other corner is the Lord, trim and already a victor.  This will be a 27 rounder, from November 27 to December 24…”

Advent give you a chance to read and reflect on the history of the Promise from the earliest days (Genesis 3) through the prophets and down to the birth of Jesus (Luke 2).  The story is not over until He returns.  There is a lot there.  So I encourage you to find a reading plan and follow the story.

Here is a place to start –Readings

Here are some more – More Readings

 

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Advent Poem – “The Nativity”

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I have carved a few nativity figures.  The Nativity scene as we know and celebrate it has its roots in the ministry of St. Francis.  His love of nature and animals has made some impact on our Christmas decorations at least.

In this poem, C. S. Lewis imagined the story through the eyes of the creatures of the nativity.

“The Nativity” –  C. S. Lewis

Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)

I see a glory in the stable grow

Which, with the ox’s dullness might at length

Give me an ox’s strength

 

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)

I see my Savior where I looked for hay;

So may my beastlike folly learn at least

The patience of a beast.

 

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)

I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;

Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence

Some wooly innocence!

Advent Poem – “The Risk of Birth”

I love this poem.  1st Century Palestine was not filled with precious moments figurines, but busy people trying to make a life under the leadership of Rome, masters of power.  The world today is also not such a safe place.  I once had a friend honestly say that he did not think it was right to bring a child into such a troubled world.  The Almighty did not think that way…

The Risk of Birth

 

This is no time for a child to be born,

With the earth betrayed by war & hate

And a comet slashing the sky to warn

That time runs out & the sun burns late

 

That was not time for a child to be born,

In a land in the crushing grip of Rome:

Honor & Truth were trampled by scorn—

Yet here did the Savior make his home.

 

When is the time for love to be born?

The Inn is full on planet earth,

And by a comet the sky is torn –

Yet love still takes the risk of birth.

Madeleine L’Engle

 

The Threads of John 1:1-18

logo4One can consider John 1:1-18 as the overture of the book.  It establishes themes that are picked up later in the book.  I also think you can compare it to a weaving.  There are themes, like colored strands of wool yarn, woven along the duration of the text.  The book is not outlined and linear like a book on Organic Chemistry.

Why is that?  It seems to me that life itself is complex.  We weave in and out of places and situations all the time.  On one day you can be at home, in the Lord’s presence during your quiet time, with your housemates at breakfast  with your fellow commuters and co workers during the day, with your Face Book Friends during break, then back home, maybe you go to a meeting or eat out and all along there are calls to make or emails.  Life is more like a tapestry than it is like a text on Organic Chemistry.

John starts with the invasion of the Eternal into the temporal.  Jesus comes to weave his thread into the human story and “to those who will receive him” into individual stories.

Thus the Sermon theme in December, the season of Advent is based on John 1.  We are picking out the threads of “Word”, “Wisdom”, “Light”, “Flesh” and “Lamb” among others and exploring them as they develop in John 1 and further into the text.

This will be part of a Slow Read of John, that will take us through Easter Sunday in sermons and in class discussions.  So I will be posting the schedule of readings if you want to join it.

December 25 – Isaiah 61:1-2

What is the mission of Jesus?

This is what he said at his first recorded message, from Isaiah 61:1-2

                                The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…

Luke 4:14-20

 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,  and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

December 24 – Isaiah 55:10-11

Our words are hit and miss.  We make promises, but we can not guarantee anything absolutely.  We try to find words to encourage and heal and they occasionally fall flat.  Yet the word of God is seen as a force in itself.  Isaiah speaks of the ower of the Word in this passage.  John calls Christ the Word in his introduction tot he Gospel.  The Word of God spoken will be fruitful, the Word of God Incarnate, even more so.

Isaiah 55:10-11

  As the rain and the snow

come down from heaven,

and do not return to it

without watering the earth

and making it bud and flourish,

so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

  so is my word that goes out from my mouth:

It will not return to me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

John 1:1-4

  In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God. 

 He was with God in the beginning. 

 Through him all things were made;

without him nothing was made that has been made. 

 In him was life,

and that life was the light of all mankind.

December 23 – Isaiah 55:1-2

This is an open invitation.  Who can come?  “All who are thirsty.”  Who pays?  “Come…buy…without cost.”

Isaiah 55:1-2

“Come, all you who are thirsty,

come to the waters;

and you who have no money,

come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,

and your labor on what does not satisfy?

Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,

and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.