“In the long way that we take in, in our growing up, in the vicissitudes of life by which we are led into its meaning and mystery, there are established for us, for each one of us, certain landmarks. They represent discoveries sometimes symbolizing the moment when we became aware of the purpose of our lives; they may establish for us our membership in the human frailty; they may be certain words that were spoken into a stillness within us the sound thereof singing forever through all the corridors of our being as landmarks; yes, each one of us has our own…”
Abraham had Isaac, Isaac had Jacob, Jacob had Judah and his brothers, Judah had Perez and Zerah (the mother was Tamar), Perez had Hezron, Hezron had Aram, Aram had Amminadab, Amminadab had Nahshon, Nahshon had Salmon, Salmon had Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Boaz had Obed (Ruth was the mother), Obed had Jesse, Jesse had David, and David became king. David had Solomon (Uriah’s wife was the mother), Solomon had Rehoboam, Rehoboam had Abijah, Abijah had Asa, Asa had Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat had Joram, Joram had Uzziah, Uzziah had Jotham, Jotham had Ahaz, Ahaz had Hezekiah, Hezekiah had Manasseh, Manasseh had Amon, Amon had Josiah, Josiah had Jehoiachin and his brothers, and then the people were taken into the Babylonian exile…Jacob had Joseph, Mary’s husband, the Mary who gave birth to Jesus, the Jesus who was called Christ.
One of the things I like about Christmas is getting all the pictures in the mail from family and friends. Even if I don’t hear from these friends all year, it is fun to get a card and see a picture of their family, see how old their kids are getting, be reminded of their presence in my life. And the genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel shows us that family is a part of the original Christmas story as well.
A Week for Joy?
This is the third week of advent which is to be marked with Joy. But when we hear the reading this morning from Matthew 11, what joy is given to John who finds himself imprisoned as an enemy of the state?
If he wantonly crushes ants for the fun of it, odds are he won’t be too concerned about the suffering and demise of larger species, including, studies have show, his own. – Leah Kostamo
I just finished the book “Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling and Community,” published by Cascade Books. What initially caught my attention about it was Eugene Peterson’s raving forward of the book. He writes,
When I sat down to read the manuscript that became this book, I intended to read for twenty minutes and then go back to working on my manuscript…Five hours later I turned the last page with a sense that I was participating in the remarkable story of people who ventured into seriously caring for creation in a highly unusual way – establishing an Environmental Center for the care of creation, God’s creation.
A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.
# Embracing Surprise
This is the Gospel reading for Advent 1 and the text my sermon was based on for yesterday:
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
(Matthew 24:36–44 NRSV)
Let’s Get Out of Here!
This passage has been the root of many a children’s sleepless nights and nightmares. Children laying in bed, terrified from what they learned in Sunday School, or a story they heard.
But is that really the intention of this passage? No, I don’t think so.
This is a story from Anthony De Mello’s book “Awareness” I used in my sermon yesterday:
Somebody once asked, “What is enlightenment like? What is awakening like”? It’s like the tramp in London who was settling in for the night. He’d hardly been able to get a crust of bread to eat. Then he reaches this embankment on the river Thames. There was a slight drizzle, so he huddled in his old tattered cloak. He was about to go to sleep when suddenly a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce pulls up. Out of the car steps a beautiful young lady who says to him, “My poor man, are you planning on spending the night here on this embankment”?
And the tramp says, “Yes”. She says, “I won’t have it. You’re coming to my house and you’re going to spend a comfortable night and you’re going to get a good dinner”. She insists on his getting into the car. Well, they ride out of London and get to a place where she has a sprawling mansion with large grounds. They are ushered in by the butler, to whom she says, “James, please make sure he’s put in the servants’ quarters and treated well”. Which is what James does. The young lady had undressed and was about to go to bed when she suddenly remembers her guest for the night.
So she slips something on and pads along the corridor to the servants’ quarters. She sees a little chink of light from the room where the tramp was put up. She taps lightly at the door, opens it, and finds the man awake. She says, “What’s the trouble, my good man, didn’t you get a good meal”? He said, “Never had a better meal in my life, lady”. “Are you warm enough”? He says, “Yes, lovely warm bed”. Then she says, “Maybe you need a little company. Why don’t you move over a bit”. And she comes closer to him and he moves over and falls right into the Thames.
Ha! You didn’t expect that one! Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Wake up. When you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s the way you find it all. That’s where life finally becomes meaningful. Life becomes beautiful. -Page 32.