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Showing posts from December, 2018

Christmas: The God Who Comes

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (John 1:5)
The Conflict
We meet the darkness again. Yes, that darkness we met in Advent. The darkness God calls his people to engage to prepare themselves to serve in the new movement God is about initiate to reclaim and restore his hijacked creation to its proper Lord and proper ends.
In Christmas we acknowledge and celebrate the beginning of this movement. Into the darkness the light we glimpsed through God’s call in Advent comes. Up close and in person. Ready to do hand-to-hand combat with its defenses and forces. The verse from John cited above makes this clear.
From the time God began this reclamation and restoration movement with Abraham and Sarah and promised to give them a people whom he would bless and protect and through whom he would bless the world (Gen.12:1-3), he’s been aiming for this moment. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son” (Gal.4:4). Though humanity had defaulted on God’s g…

Advent is Not Christmas – and it’s a Good Thing Too! (4, Year C 2018)

The Meaning of Advent
Micah 5:2-5a/Luke 1:46b-55 or Psalm 80:1-7/Hebrews 10:5-10/Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
Now we move to the end of Advent, threshold of the arrival of the Christ-child, the God who comes. With him comes the fulfillment of God’s plans and purposes. Source of unending joy and delight. Joy itself is the hallmark of God’s presence and power. Joy attended all Israel’s expectations and anticipations of this fulfillment.
Yet when the Christ-child comes history does not end, everything is not brought into alignment with God’s design, sin is not abolished, nor are heaven and earth fully and finally harmoniously reunited. Instead, Jesus engages and defeats the powers of Sin and Evil in a battle climaxing in his resurrection from the dead. His victory accomplished, God’s Israel on this side of the cross lives out that victory going forth to spread and implement its fruits in reconciliation and new life.
Christ will return to finally and fully put heaven and earth harmoniously back tog…

Advent is Not Christmas – and it’s a Good Thing Too! (3rd Advent, Year C)

“Advent creates people, new people.”
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas)
Zephaniah 3:14-20/Isaiah 12:2-6/Philippians 4:4-7/Luke 3:7-18
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Advent
The “waiting which hastens” is a key scriptural text for Advent we have discovered. Bonhoeffer helps us better understand this when he says, “Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespected hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them (God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas). Waiting (for the fruit of Advent to ripen) hastens the coming of the day of the Lord (because it matures us) to practice Christmas as we should.
And how is that? Bonhoeffer again: “Who among us will celebrate Christmas correctly? Whoever finally lays d…

What I Believe I/We must Learn from Theology

From Karl Barth we need to learn anew that it is God speaking to us in Holy Scripture’s witness to Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit.
From Dietrich Bonhoeffer we must learn that Christendom is over, to perpetuate it is folly, that is, unfaithfulness based on fear and lack of discernment), church must be rediscovered in the local, in the last and the least, and in the double immersion in the daily life of the world and the life of Jesus to discern the will and way of God among us re recommends in his Letters and Papers from Prison.
From Michel de Certeau that the task of the church is to establish boundaries and create a space, a home for its members and at the same time transgress those boundaries in openness and welcome to those outside.
From Rene Girard that desire, disorded desire, mimicking what God and others do, have, and are generate the violence that corrodes and degrades all of us and our world.
From the Liberation theologians that God exercises a “preferential option for t…

Ch.3: Jumping into Revelation (1)

Jumping Off into Revelation
Before jumping into something we must jump off something. Same with Revelation. Before we jump into it we must jump from where we currently are. And where we are is discerned by where in the profile of the seven messages of Christ to his church(es) in Rev.2-3 we find ourselves. Let me spell that out in more detail.
-Christ delivers prophetic messages to seven actual churches in Asia Minor in the late 1st century a.d.
-In John’s world numbers are symbolic and often used as adjectives (see FAQ).
-Seven in this symbolic world means “completeness” or “fullness.”
-Thus, Christ addresses both the seven actual congregations in Asia Minor and through these messages the whole church (including us).
-these messages provide a differentiated portrait of these churches (the church).
-Where we discern our church(es) fit in this profile (which of the churches we most fully identify with) helps us identify both where we jump off from and where we jump into Revelation.
Robert Wall…
December 6, 2018
by Brian Walsh

[ A homily preached at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, New Toronto, on December 2, 2018. The texts were Jeremiah 33.14-16, Luke 21.25-36]

There is nothing ‘festive’ about Advent.
At least not if you are listening to Jesus this morning.
We read the gospel of Luke today
not as a warm up to Christmas,
nor as a way to get into the ‘spirit’ of the season,
and certainly not as a way to ‘lighten up’
as the days get shorter and darker.
Not for Jesus.
In this gospel reading everything is going to hell.
Jesus paints a scene of cosmic collapse,
and everything – literally everything! – is falling apart.
There are portents in the sky,
paralyzing distress and confusion amongst the nations,
and even the sea seems to be totally out of control
with rising sea levels and devastating tsunamis.
No wonder people are fainting from fear,
no wonder people are overcome with anxiety,
no wonder hope seems to evaporate
in the heat of foreboding panic.
Doesn’t this feel as if it could have be…

Advent is Not Christmas – and it’s a Good Thing Too! (2)

Advent Begins in the Dark with God (Year C, 2nd Sunday 2018)
(Malachi 3:1-4/Luke 1:68-79/Philippians 1:3-11/Luke 3:1-6)
Advent begins in the dark. So we have seen. But that does not mean we are without hope, people like us sunk in the darkness. That too we have also seen. However useless, hopeless, full of ourselves, accomplished, middlingly moral, maddeningly scrupulous, or ethically destitute we may think ourselves to be, and may actually be, whatever the flavor of our darkness, none of that finally matters. None of it
Because Advent is not about us! Not about us.
-Not about our feeling good or bad about our lives.
-Nor about our moral improvement.
-Nor even preparing ourselves for Christmas (as our culture (mis)understands it).
It’s about the darkness that enshrouds us. And God.
-That darkness that cannot “endure the day of hi coming” (Mal.3:2).
-That darkness which requires our “refining” to escape (Mal.3:2-3).
-That darkness cast by the political shenanigans, ambitions, and realpolit…