Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Day

Isaiah 52:7-10
52:7 How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
52:8 Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the LORD to Zion.
52:9 Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
52:10 The LORD has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
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Psalm 98
98:1 O sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.
98:2 The LORD has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.
98:3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
98:4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
98:5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.
98:6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD.
98:7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who live in it.
98:8 Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing together for joy
98:9 at the presence of the LORD, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Hebrews 1:1-4, (5-12)
1:1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,
1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
1:3 He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
1:4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
1:5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you"? Or again, "I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"?
1:6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."
1:7 Of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, and his servants flames of fire."
1:8 But of the Son he says, "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom.
1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."
1:10 And, "In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
1:11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like clothing;
1:12 like a cloak you will roll them up, and like clothing they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end."

John 1:1-14
1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
1:3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being
1:4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
1:5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
1:10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.
1:11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.
1:12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,
1:13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
1:14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

I want to write a sermon on these passages, the third available reading for the Nativity of the Lord for Christmas Day; but time truly won't let me.

I want to point out how Isaiah is the "Third" Isaiah, clearly written after the end of the Exile (Isaiah starts before the Exile), and how physical and metaphorical the ruins are there, especially for Christians at the end of Advent. The wisdom of the church in selecting that passage; the wonderful hope it embodies; all of that.

And how that hope is sung in the six verses of the Psalm. And how it is all made timeless and a light to the nations (we Gentiles) in the Letter to the Hebrews.

And the overwhelming mystery of the Incarnation, in John. How odd and hard to translate the language of that opening hymn is (it's the only Greek I still remember from seminary; I often quote it in lectures), written so that it sings all by itself in the original, and yet the translation is so hard. "With" God? "In the presence of God"? "Was God"? We think it is clear, and it isn't, at all.

And how that ambiguity, that fundamental unknowable-ness, links to the mystery of our incarnation. Howt he Word made flesh is made flesh again when our tongues tell it and sing it and talk about it.

I want to write a sermon on all of that. But it's Christmas Day; and the turkey wants to come out of the oven.

So, all I have time to say is: God's peace be with you.

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