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The Word Became Flesh

Humans are limited by our human understanding of God.  And sometimes we re-create God in ways that we understand and limit God to our human thoughts.  But… John in his gospel is telling us about the Word sent into this world to reveal God to us.  
And we note a number of things about the Word that tell us just what kind of communication this is…
The Word is God, creator, pre-existent.
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
      The Word was with God,
      and the Word was God.
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through him,
      and nothing was
created except through him.
Words have to do with communication… with words we communicate in an orderly fashion so that we might be coherently understood.  The Greek word for word is logos and has to do with logic… There is a logic about God in the way he is and the way he communicates.  John says that Jesus is the logos, logic, or the coherent communication of God…Jesus as logos fully reveals the divine will o…

The Song of Mary

I was reading a book on Mary... the author was writing about the song of Mary and how during a tumultuous time in South American, singing this song was tantamount to treason.  The rulers banned it and this song could not be sung in the churches.  When we think of Mary, we think of a kind-hearted country girl, tender, nurturing but that is not how Luke is showing her.  She dared to sing a song that challenged the powers.  The child she would bring into the world would be a new king… a threat to the control and power of the current king.  That’s why Herod sought to kill all of the babies in the city.  The reign of God is a threat to the reign of the sin system.   
In New Testament culture one’s honor was established in some sense by domination in which the strong and the mighty exercised dominion over the small and the weak.  To be a dominated people was a shameful condition for the people of God at the time Christ was born.  They had suffered years of brutal mistreatment at the hands of…

In Need of a Savior, Thoughts on Luke 2

These days in our nation are difficult.  We have come out of a serious recession, people all over our country have lost their homes, and are in serious debt.  We have been at war as a country.  Our federal government is in debt.  Our state government is in financial crisis and the jobless rate is unsteady.  Rape and domestic violence has risen and people are facing loss of home and country--there is difficulty all over our world.  There is no one person powerful enough to rescue us.  We are still a world in desperate need of a savior.  
The world within which Jesus arrived was also in need of a savior.  Times were even worse than now.  Economically, the poor which were most of the people, were struggling to get enough to eat.  The nation was in tension with some of God’s people adopting Roman ways and traditions while others were holding on to the ways of Israel.  The result was tension.  It was not a good time to be a woman who could be taken captive by Romans, raped or abandoned.  
Th…

Christmas Images And Some Meanings For Us Today

What does the Christmas story really mean?

We tell it year after year after year. It is a sweet story filled with sentimental images and stories of the miraculous. We like telling because it is filled with hope. But it is more. The Christmas story is filled with images of subversion that confront each person, and each culture. It has the potential… like the song of Mary says to topple thrones and radically change the world. When we look at the birth story within its social and cultural context we notice significant images that offer greater meaning in the birth event.

Let’s look at the Setting: Matthew was written to encourage faith among Jews and validate the Messiah to Jewish hearers. It was also written to encourage faith among Gentiles and validate the church to Gentile rulers as coming out of Judaism. Connection to Jewish faith was significant because they were a legal religion in the Roman empire. Christians at the time were experiencing oppression and persecution…

The Sin System... Processing the Human Trafficking Conference

Today I attended a Human Trafficking Conference put on by Running for Justice in Elk River, MN.  As I listened to the trafficking investigator and the sociologist and the stories of the victims, I could not help beginning to think about this Biblically and Theologically and about the narrative of the Sin System.  I had a massive surge of emotions ranging from anger to compassion to grief as I listened.  Stirring was the reality of evil and the need we really do have for redemption and deliverance from the clutches of sin.

We often image sin as the violation of a command or as some sort of personal deed.  And while sin certainly involves deeds and commands.  And sin is most definitely a personal action, I think it is so much more.  There is an insidious sin system that captures and rules in our minds and robs us of our true humanity as people.

Our first speaker, the investigator of sex trafficking told story after story of how victims were emotionally exploited and manipulated into …

The Touch of Jesus--The Way of Jesus

One of the books I have been reading is Unclean, by Richard Beck within which Beck examines how human beings "otherize" people.  These "otherized" are considered in some sense unclean--not like us--contaminating.

Consider the Leper in the Bible.  Lepers had a skin disease that rendered them unclean.  According to the Law, they had to keep away from people and call out "unclean" as others neared them.  They lived outside the city and outside the community.  We usually stop at the Leper's healing in this story focusing on the power of Jesus to heal the sick.  But digging a little deeper, we also see the heartbreaking isolation of the Leper.  He might find a bit of community among other Lepers but the Leper is alone... away from family, friends and community.  Jesus not only heals the Leper but restores the Leper to community.  Jesus asked the newly healed man to see the priest, offer the proper sacrifices so he could be declared clean.  Jesus healed h…

The Song of Heaven and Dissonance

In the last post I wrote about dissonance as a clashing symbol or something that disrupts our peace or security in knowing.  I wrote about how believers as those who live by the way of Jesus are a source of dissonance within the worlds they dwell.  As the people of God, we are invited to live according to the music and song of heaven instead of the tune playing in our culture.  For us too, the new song can be a source of dissonance as we come into the new community of God's people.  In the last post, I asked a few questions about which tune we hear and how much of that tune is informed by the world that seems normal to us and how much of that tune is sung by heaven

I think that one of the greatest obstacles to hearing the song of heaven is what we know and what we learn.  Often in my neck of the woods, I hear the idea that those who are educated have somehow been corrupted by the song of the world and those without education or those who have a Holy Spirit education are somehow m…

Crashing Cymbals and Dissonance, More Thoughts on 1Peter

A well timed cymbal crash can create drama in a piece of music or ill-timed, it can create dissonance.  That is what it feels like when one is learning a new concept or a new paradigm or a new narrative.

What is a narrative?  A narrative is a story that informs our way of thinking, seeing and living.  Narratives are often informed by our culture and within the community of which we are a part.  Each family has a narrative--even towns and regions have narratives.  These are stories that inform what we believe and what seems right to us.  Some narratives are shared by a whole nation, others are common to our localized community.  But narratives play a powerful role in what we believe and even more, how we structure our lives together in community.

That is where dissonance comes in.  When God and God's narrative breaks in, our way of seeing and hearing and being in the world is suddenly transformed.  Scripture has a great picture of this in the story of Saul who became Paul on the r…

The Beat of a Different Drum Series in 1Peter - week one

When we answer the call to follow Jesus, we in a sense begin a journey keeping in step with the beat of a different drum. We hear another rhythm, another song, we are invited to another dance.  But that invitation creates a dissonance between the new rhythm to which we walk and the the old tune that carries a different way.

The Apostle Peter says we are like strangers and aliens journeying in a foreign land.  We live by a different ethic, we live within the embassy of God's kingdom, or within a different Household that is nothing like the households of this world.

What is it like to be a stranger and an alien--homeless?

That is what the hearers of Peter's first letter are feeling... as if they are strangers and aliens--homeless.  They may have been literal strangers or figurative strangers, nevertheless, they were feeling the dissonance between the music of their world and the heartbeat of God.  Many believers in 1Peter we in challenging situations.  Some were suspected of …

Co-Leading and submission

Many are curious about what it means for a husband and wife to co-lead in marriage.  Often I notice wonderment about how we work out disagreements.  If the husband is not the final say decision-maker, then how do couples deal with conflict that goes unresolved?  And what about submission?  Does a wife submit in a co-leading situation?  Does co-leading mean a wife is unwilling to respect her husband and does it mean that she will usurp his role spiritually?

In our marriage, my husband and I do come to impasses around certain decisions.  We talk about what we need from one another around a disagreement.  Sometimes it might mean that we take into account one another's feelings.  At other times, it means that we may defer or submit if it is an area where there are not strong feelings or preferences.  Such as, if we are deciding where we should go to dinner and one of us really cares and the other does not... that one will defer.  We might also defer when one person has a greater ins…