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ADVENT: DAY 18

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To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’  For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”—Luke 7:31-35

 

 

Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

 

Wisdom, who cries out in the street;

In the squares she raises her voice.

At the busiest corner she cries out;

At the entrance of the city gates she speaks.

 

The LORD by Wisdom founded the earth

 

Does not Wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand;

Beside the gates in front of the town,

At the entrance of the portals she cries out

 

“The LORD created me at the beginning!

 

When there were no depths I was brought forth,

When there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped, 

Before the hills, I was brought forth

 

When the LORD 

 

Established the heavens

Drew a circle on the face of the deep

Made firm the skies above

Established the fountains of the deep

Assigned to the sea its limit

Marked out the foundations of the earth

 

I was there, like a master worker.”

 

In the beginning was Wisdom

Wisdom was with God

Wisdom was God.

Wisdom became flesh and dwelt among us.

 

She has built her house, she has hewn her seven pillars.

She has slaughtered her animals, she has mixed her wine.

She has set her table.

She has sent out her servant girls.

 

She calls from the highest places in the town

 

“You that are simple, turn in here!

Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.

Lay aside immaturity, and live!

And walk in the way of insight.”

 

Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,

He broke it and gave it to them.

And he did the same with the cup after supper.

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

 

Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.

 

They cry out in the marketplace

“We played the flute for you, and you did not dance.”

“We wailed, and you did not weep.”

 

Will this generation be ready?

Will this generation prepare the way?

 

Will we dance with her children,

Will we rejoice with her?

Will we weep with her children,

Will we grieve with her?

Posted December 16, 2015

 

Posted by Tyler W. Orem with
Tags: advent, wisdom
in Advent

ADVENT: DAY 17

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

After they had set a day to meet with him, they came to him at his lodgings in great numbers.  From morning until evening he explained the matter to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the law of Moses and from the prophets.  some were convinced by what he had said, while others refused to believe.  So they disagreed with each other; and as they were leaving, Paul made one further statement: ‘The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah, ‘Go to this people and say, you will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive.  For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them.’  Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.’  He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”—Acts 28:23-31

 

This passage encapsulates what we try to do every Advent with the chosen readings, messages, and songs.  We do a survey of the law of Moses and the prophets and use the words to proclaim the fulfillment of both in the coming of Jesus Christ.  Masterpieces of exegesis from theological treatises to Handel’s Messiah try to persuade us that the one who would bring salvation to God’s people indeed has already come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  And he shall reign forever and ever!

 

Even for many Christians, though, forcing Jesus into all the words of the prophets and the law of Moses is an exercise of mental gymnastics and contortion art.  We pick and choose that which seems to fit our various images of Jesus and discard that which does not.  Most of us are guilty of supercesssionism, disregarding thousands of years of Jewish wisdom and tradition and declaring our own beliefs superior.  In the end we do a disservice to the person of Jesus, to our Jewish neighbors, and to the Scriptures themselves.

 

Should we read the law and the prophets with an eye towards illuminating the life an mission of the Messiah?  Of course!  We should not, however, decontextualize the texts and separate them from their authors and settings.  The coming Messiah is prophesied through many different visions and portrayed in many different images.  At times the Messiah is a mighty king and at times a suffering servant.  At times the Messiah is exclusive to the Israelites and at times for all of humanity.  At times the Messiah is a fierce warrior enacting violence and vengeance, and at times the Messiah is the Prince of Peace.  This is because people have had different needs throughout history, and the words of Scripture reflect the needs of the people at any given time.  It is no wonder that the Jews in Rome had contentious debates over Paul’s teachings.  How could this one person who was executed by the Roman Empire be the answer to everything that was ever written, especially since that Empire was still going strong and attacking Jerusalem?  It is also no wonder that the Gentiles would be more open to Paul’s teachings, as they did not have the history of tradition to define who the Messiah should be.

 

This reflection is in no way meant to belittle the role of the Hebrew Bible and tradition in preparing the way for Jesus of Nazareth.  Instead, it is meant to encourage those of us who believe he is the Messiah to accept him on his own terms in his own context.  The gospel of John ends by saying, “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  Jesus was a Jew born in a stable in Palestine to unwed parents.  Jesus was miraculously conceived and came to be known as the Son of God and the Human One.  Jesus performed miracles of power over bodies, spirits, weather, water, food, air, and even death.  Jesus was a rabbi to twelve named disciples and a teach and friend to countless others.  Jesus taught and embodied radical principles of justice and equality.  Jesus started communities that exhibited alternative social realities which were in open defiance of the Roman Empire.  Jesus flipped the tables of economic injustice.  Jesus gave sermons on mountains and plains that shocked the people with their messages.  Jesus was publicly executed by the State.  Jesus rose again from the dead, defeating death itself.  Jesus walked on the earth again.  Jesus ascended into heaven.  Jesus did so many more things that the world itself could not contain their record.  

 

This is the one we call Messiah.  This is the one who we believe initiated the Kin-dom.  Perhaps he did fulfill the Hebrew law and prophecies, and perhaps he fulfilled many other laws and prophecies that are not even in our awareness.  What matters for us, though, is who he actually was, the life he actually lived, and the context in which he existed.  And when it comes to judging people for not understanding the person of Jesus as we do, we should remember that the final words quoted from Isaiah by Paul are words of healing.   

Posted December 15, 2015

 

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Being planted in the rich soils of Zambia to inspire regrowth at home. “Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit” -Matthew 13:8