Christmas: Day 5

Before you move on from Christmas, give some thought to these words from Bob Dylan.

Three angels up above the street,
Each one playing a horn,
Dressed in green robes with wings that stick out,
They’ve been there since
Christmas morn.
The wildest cat from Montana passes by in a flash,
Then a lady in a bright orange dress,
One U-Haul trailer, a truck with no wheels,
The Tenth Avenue bus goin’ west.
The dogs and pigeons fly up and they flutter around,
A man with a badge skips by,
Three fellas crawlin’ on their way back to work,
Nobody stops to ask why.
The bakery truck stops outside of that fence
Where the angels stand high on their poles,
The driver peeks out, trying to find one face
In this concrete world full of souls.
The angels play on their horns all day,
The whole earth in progression seems to pass by.
But does anyone hear the music they play,
Does anyone even try?

From the Album, New Morning, 1970.

Advent 2017.3: Come, Emmanuel

Words of hope and assurance from Meister Eckhart:

If I were alone in a desert
and feeling afraid,
I would want a child to be with me.
For then my fear would disappear
and I would be made strong.
This is what life in itself can do
because it is so noble, so full of pleasure
and so powerful.

Advent 2017.2: The Waymaker

“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’ ”
Mark 1:2-3 

The world needs waymakers just like John the Baptist. We need courageous voices who will speak not just a good word for Jesus Christ, as my former homiletics professor used to say, but a prophetic word. A pointed word. Direct. Clear. Uncompromising.

One such waymaker in 2017 is the Rev. Dr. William Barber, an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Dr. Barber has taken up the call to lead the Poor People’s Campaign, originally began by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. He has brought to the national conversation a message that is biblical, moral, and Gospel-oriented.

The call by the Poor People’s Campaign for a moral revival is as timely as ever in these United States where economic disparity continues to widen, the dialogue is toxic, civil rights are threatened, healthcare is still out of reach among poorest citizens, and racial tension persists. The rotting of the American soul is further manifested in the dehumanizing treatment (especially by President Trump and some congressional leaders) of women, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. This is not the Way of Jesus. In fact, it’s immoral and rooted in evil.

If the Advent/Christmas season is merely a celebration of some magical event in the distant past then the point has been missed. The voice of the first-century waymaker prepared the people for the one who calls us to a wholly different way of life. Holy. Peaceful. Generous. Compassionate. Just

If the voice of John the Baptist is to be heard today, we need to bridge the span of time so his message can “cut us to the bone” (Joseph Donders). That’s precisely why we need more voices like William Barber.

May we be inspired and compelled by those who serve as 21st-century waymakers to go and do likewise.

iu-1
kairoscenter.org

 

 

Advent 2017.1 – Impatient Waiting

False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray. . .be alert. . .I have already told you everything. . .keep awake.
Mark 13:21-37

The powers and principalities of the Earth have cast a dark, ominous presence over this world that, if left unchallenged, will siphon all hope from those who need it most.

The shadows are stalked by false messiahs and prophets who prey upon the fears of the masses, convincing them that only they can save this world from destruction. Or worse, they pacify their audiences by affirming their prejudcies and hatred, and in return the people lay their hands on the deceitful ones, offering unholy blessings.

They create phony wars on one of the holiest of days and make empty, meaningless delcarations like, “We’re saying Merry Christmas again.” For they know the problem the  Christ Child poses is a political one. This Gift Bringer promises hope, love, peace, and justice. But not the familiar justice of retribution and punishment. No. This is about God’s justice- Restorative. (re)Distributive. Abundant. God will not be mocked.

God’s Light of Hope shines truth upon those who practice the dark arts of oppression, disregard for basic human rights, dehumanization, greed, and war, dispelling their lies. For Jesus has already told us all we need to know.

The Light of Hope grants the faithful the “impatience to wait for [Christ’s] coming to the bottom of our toes, to the edges of our fingertips” (W. Brueggemann). We are awake, alert, prepared.  We are not idle. Instead, we are mobilized and actively defy those who would bring harm upon our sisters and brothers no matter their place in life. So, we walk toward the Light of Hope, yearning for the promise of the Christ-child. The Gift Bringer. The Messiah.