What’s The WORD?

December 25, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Christmas III
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

John’s gospel account of Jesus coming into the world is powerful and poetic. It doesn’t tell of the birth of a child in a stable in a little town called Bethlehem, but instead, the opening words of John’s gospel bring to mind the creation story of Genesis, which begins:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Gen 1:1-5, NRSV)

But, John’s gospel backs up even farther. It doesn’t begin with the creation of the heavens and the earth, but instead, with the nature of God. In light of the incarnate Jesus, God can no longer be understood in the same way God was understood before. After the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, there was a deeper understanding of the complexity of God – that this one-God whom the people of Israel followed is actually a three-in-one-God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Now, while this doesn’t seem too complicated to you and me, having heard of this Trinity God from the beginning of OUR religious context, this was pretty radical stuff a couple of thousand years ago; certainly for the people of Israel. One thing that set them apart from the gentiles was their devotion to ONE God, not may gods. Remember, the first commandment brought down by Moses from Mt. Sinai was:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods besides me.” (Ex. 20:2-3)

So, then comes Jesus, and Houston, we have a problem! Read the rest of this entry »

God with Mary; God with Us!

December 21, 2014

Christ Church Episcopal, Norcross, GA

Advent 4– RCL Year B
2 Samuel 7:1-11; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Although the Advent wreath prayers today were focused on Joseph, the text from Luke’s gospel is centered on Mary; specifically, the visit that she received from God’s messenger, Gabriel.

From out of the blue Gabriel appears to Mary saying, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.”

Luke’s gospel gains immediate credibility for me when it tells us that Mary is confused by this greeting. Here she is, a young woman, probably in her early teens, most likely living a very ordinary life. As a girl, she wouldn’t have much influence on what would happen in her life. Her father had already decided who she would marry, which we know was Joseph.

From there, after their marriage, Mary would dutifully carry out the tasks of tending to the household. She doesn’t study or read scripture, but instead prepares the daily meals, carefully adhering to the dietary rules of the Jewish tradition. She makes sure that her husband’s needs are attended to, and there would certainly be an expectation that Mary would have children – hopefully male children, to carry on the family line.

And while all of these things are essential and good, they would not likely earn the greeting bestowed upon Mary this day, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you.” So, Mary is perplexed. Read the rest of this entry »

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