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

 

Sabbatical

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I’ll be on a sabbatical week where I can do some reading, thinking and walking around looking at trees and rocks.  My reading list includes

  • the Bible – but not all of it.
  • The Lost World of Scripture by John Walton
  • Meditation and Communion with God by John Jefferson Davis
  • The Unfolding Mystery of the Divine Name, Michael Knowles
  • Bridging the Diversity Gap by Alvin Sanders

 

Reading – according to Chrysostom

John 5:39-40   English Standard Version (ESV)

39  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

“…and so, it was with good reason that he said ‘you think,’ because they did not actually listen to what the Scripture had to say, but merely prided themselves in the bare reading.” –       Homilies on the Gospel of John 41:1

Exiting Warp Speed – textually speaking

Sometimes we read or teach at a rapid pace.  In Narrative we need to keep the story’s internal momentum intact, so excessive discussion of the meaning of seven stones or the weight of Goliath’s spear only encumbers the drama in data.  However, some passages deserve a reflective slow read.

I was switching gears from Advent/Christmas to Romans 12 for 2012.  This was inspired by New Years day being on a Sunday.  Now it was possible to bust up that chapter into 5 or 6 weeks. Or it was possible to take Chapters 12 to 15 in that same time frame.  But as I was reading the text, it became obvious that I was hurrying it and missing the details.

Romans 1-11 is the doctrinal/theological foundation of the book, and chapters 12 to 15 are the application passages – though one has to be careful with those distinctions.  One can apply all along the way in Romans 1-8 in particular.  And the application has to be clearly connected to the doctrinal.  (see “Therefore” in Romans 12:1).

It will be a good time for us to take a new year, and a new phase of the churches ministry (having tied up a major building project) and ask what it is we ought to be doing with this gift of righteousness discussed in the earlier chapters.

Romans 12 is as close as Paul comes to Wisdom Literature – the verses have a proverbial quality, a number of phrases are rich for reflection and connection to life.  Consider “Love must be sincere” and “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

John Stott pointed out in his book on Romans the many allusions in this chapter to the teachings of Jesus. (Romans; God’s Good News for the World, IVP, p. 317-319)  This is interesting for those who say Paul took Jesus and turned him into Christ (i.e. he dogmatized a spiritually fluid tradition.)

So this is what we will be Freshly Reading for the next two months.