Here are several stories related by Scot McKnight that I thought well worth the mentioning. I especially liked the first two from City Church and on Advent until the Grinch of Lee Wyatt's last story sadly stole my feeling of awe and wonder quickly away. I'm not into fret and anxiety as a Christian and so, I might encourage a re-reading of stories 1 and 2 this coming Sunday morning to expressly pray and meditate over the tone and temperament that might pervade our spirits within the grace and mercy of our glorious God set around His personage and will. Enjoy.
December 1, 2012
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[Selected] Weekly Meanderings
by Scot McKnight
December 1, 2012
Prayer on the First Sunday of Advent:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
From City Church SF [this you, Fred?]
“When I begin seeing the leaves turn, when I smell the turkey roasting in the oven, when the familiar Christmas jingles start playing on every commercial – I know it’s time. My calendar still reads November, which makes it hard to believe that invitations to Christmas parties are already showing up in my Inbox.
But Christmas intrudes into our present like an old friend, who reliably shows up time and again with the promise of something new.How do you experience time? I know someone who feels time is an enemy. She’s constantly running out of time. Often, life feels frantic and out-of-control for her. She’s always saying, “So much to do; so little time!”
Knowing the inevitably of time’s endless rhythm, a few wise old souls many, many years ago decided to order time in a certain discernible pattern, a pattern that echoed the even more ancient Jewish cycles of worship and prayer, but markedly different. The Christian calendar would become a way of ordering time centering on the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. And its rhythm would hold the very real potential of ordering our lives around His Story, so much so that we might be able to relinquish our need to somehow control time, or relax our fear of running out of time.
What if your story was somehow ordered by a larger Story? What if you could relinquish the frantic need to master time, and relax into a more sacred rhythm? What if this season of Advent could mark a renewal in your life, a renewal of your time? This week, the Christian calendar begins with the Season of Advent, the beginning of our Christian calendar year.”
“Advent is all about desire,” an elderly Jesuit in our community used to say every year as November drew to a close. And whenever he said it, I would say, “Huh?” But gradually it dawned on me. Christians desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways, a desire that is heightened during Advent.
The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful “O antiphons,” sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations towards the end of Advent, speak of Christ at the “King of Nations and their Desire.” The Gospel readings in the coming weeks tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel’s hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son.
My friend was right. It’s all about desire.”
Lee Wyatt on what to do about Christmas
“I hold in my hands the essential tools for liberating Christmas from its captivity to North American capitalistic, consumeristic culture. The Dr. Seuss tale How the Grinch Stole Christmas; C. S. Lewis’s Narnia story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; the “Christian Seasons Calendar”; and the Bible.
In the U. S. News & World Report a few years ago, Jeffrey Sheler surveyed what he called “the battle for Christmas.” His thesis was: from the time when Christians began celebrating Christ’s birth (which surprisingly seems not to be until the fourth century when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire), from that beginning the celebration of Christ’s birth was locked in a desperate struggle to “christianize” the midwinter Roman festivals of Saturnalia and various other pagan sun deities.
The fascinating history Sheler recounts alerts us to the danger of nostalgia in our present skirmishes over this contested season. There never was a time, it seems (Norman Rockwell notwithstanding!), that Christmas enjoyed a pure, unsullied status, free of the taint of commercialism and excess – a time from whose heights we fell and to which we must return.
No, the reality is that we are still groping towards a clearer understanding and proper celebration of the birth of the Savior. If we are going to get free of the dreadfulness of Christmas present it will not be through revisiting Christmas past but rather by boldly pushing ahead into Christmas future.
And that’s what I want to do this morning – to envision what Christmas future might be and what kind of people we must become to live out that vision.”