December 2014 and January 2015: Christmas and the New Year

December 2014 and January 2015: Christmas and the New Year

Christmas

In the midst of the normal oppression of the reciprocal and domination tendencies of human politics and relationships, the story of Jesus’ entry into the human drama is notable. It is neither reciprocal nor dominating.

The promise of John’s arrival comes as the fulfilment of Elizabeth and Zacharias’ deepest hopes. The interaction between Gabriel and Mary is by no means power-balanced, yet there is a sense of welcome by Mary of this yet-to-be-understood blessing.

Contrast these welcomed blessings with the self-serving upheaval of Augustus’ decreed census. The entry of Jesus on the scene would prove to bring more change (upheaval) in human history than anything before or since. Yet the event is both offered and received as ‘blessing’.

Wherein is your hope found? How does your hope draw you into the fullness of life this Christmas season?

4 January – John 1:10-18

Something so profound occurred in the arrival of Jesus. Even before Jesus willingly accepted his death on a cross the impact of his presence could only be described in vague and almost mystic tones.

The use of a phrases like, ‘we saw His glory; glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth’ — only makes us wonder what the experience was really like. When we read these words of introduction in the light of the events subsequently recorded in the gospels, wonder only increases.

Jesus confounded and confused his core disciples and fringe followers alike (not to mention those who were so threatened by him). A strange glory indeed!

What do you project into your notion of God’s glory? How does your experience challenge this understanding?

11 January – Mark 1:4-11

The notion of repentance is not unique to followers of Jesus. However, there is something unsurpassed in the depth of personal reconfiguring that takes place when one becomes open to God.

The symbolic act of washing expresses (among other things) the intent to start over — a clean start. The dirt that sticks/clogs/impedes gets washed off leaving the essential person free to respond anew.

There is no mention of Jesus repenting of sin but his baptism clearly marks a significant life-change for him none-the-less.

Reflect on your own baptism…What did you die to/ what was washed away? How does that enable you in your following Jesus today?

18 January – John 1:43-51

This highly condensed story leaves many questions unanswered. That said, it does indicate that Jesus encountered particular people and invited them to follow him.

The responses of these followers suggest more in-depth interactions than this brief story records. Philip’s disarming invitation to Nathanael offers an appropriate model for us in inviting others…”You might be doubtful, but hey ‘come and see.” Clearly, when he did ‘come and see’, Nathanael discovered Jesus really ‘got’ (understood/knew) him.

Jesus goes on to make an outrageous claim that indicates they will discover him to be the point of direct access to the divine.

To what extent do you experience Jesus as someone who knows/understands you and gives you access to the divine?  How does that shape the way you invite others to encounter Jesus?

25 January – Mark 1:14-20

Time is important. There are moments in history when things can happen that until that point would have not been possible. Jesus’ arrival in history is such a moment. The development of the laws, cultic sacrificial system and the prophetic critique of both, created an environment of awareness, understanding and possibility that provided vital context to Jesus’ role, identity and purpose. The time was indeed full!

The choice of fisherman as Jesus’ key/first disciples warrants some consideration. Rather than the established religious identities (priests, scribes or Pharisees), Jesus opts to call common or even fringe people.

How has timing been significant for you in your discoveries of God? What do you consider appropriate credentials for discipleship?

This Lectionary Reflection was written by the Rev. David Gore

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