We have well traveled this path to the feet of the teacher. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted — blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy. The Sermon on the Mount. The longest text, the crux, of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament.
But come with me, dear reader, down the other slope. Maybe the following isn’t completely true, for positive statements need not imply their negative corollaries. However, walk with me and note the tracks of other New Testament voices here and there.
Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Jesus’ birthday during the winter? Have you ever wondered why we celebrate his birthday at all? It is not as if we know Jesus’ actual date of birth.
All we know is what the gospels reveal. We know that at the first Christmas, “there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8). Shepherds in the Middle East only pasture their flocks at night when it is warm out. During the winter, it is too cold. Instead of being in the fields, the sheep like being snuggled together toasty warm in a nice pen. This means that more than likely Jesus was born in the warmth of the late spring, the summer, or the early autumn. This is Read more “Guest Post: Our Christmas Hope – An Advent Reflection”
This is the transcription of a sermon that I preached at Elk Grove Congregational Church on 6/29/14. It is, in fact, the first transcript I’ve ever shared and the form is different from what I normally post on an irenicon. [Lectionary: Jer 28:5-9 | Mat 10:40-42]
Good morning, friends.
Thank you, James, for this opportunity to speak and, as he says, “it’s better when we’re together.” It’s good to be with you all.
My name is Allen and, as some of you know, I am a recent seminary graduate. In my past life I was a youth pastor, had even received my bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, but attending Seminary has given me a new (and ever growing) appreciation for the significance of what we do.
Especially when it determines who is inside the circle.
And who is not.
The Gospel of Mark is full of little devices I like to call “Markan sandwiches,” though more reasonable people use the term interpolations. The author of Mark creates these textual sandwiches by starting a story, inserting a second, then finishing the first.
Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
It’s a tale as old as time: pregnant couple travels home for the census, cannot find room at the inn when she’s ready to deliver the bun she’s been baking, stodgy innkeeper sends them out back to party in the barn. Cue baby Jesus, no-crying-he-makes (which is a fairly impressive feat for anyone spending the night among animals… much less an infant). Read more “What If I Told You There Was No “Inn””