Advent is a great time to notice how much of the Good News of Jesus Christ is couched in words of blessing. All week long the people in our churches are brutalized by words which attack them, devalue them and challenge their core worth. These souls are crying out for the healing balm of a blessing.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer told his seminary students, “Only he who cries out for the Jews may sing Gregorian chants.” As Christian worshipers stand to sing on Sunday, we would do well to remember Bonhoeffer’s confession.
Jesus Christ is above party and nation. Confessing Christ is a political statement. If Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. This means speaking truth to power, regardless of the stance taken by our favorite cable news outlet (or that of our Facebook friends).
In our journey to know God’s will, after we have prayed, sought appropriate counsel, considered circumstances, studied scripture and used the brains given to us by God, we eventually have to “put our money down” and make a faith bet.
The Bible’s accounts of children provide subversive stories which expose pride, hatred and entrenched, institutionalized evil. These stories remind us that our attitudes toward children reveal much about what is in our own hearts regarding all marginalized and devalued people.
The biblical stories remind us that our lies, cover-ups, excuses and foot-dragging do not make the national blight of sexual misconduct go away.
Every pastor needs ancient reservoirs to sustain relevant ministry.
Let’s name these false deities security, convenience and control. These are not three separate gods. They are the same idols, simply described in different ways, each highlighting different connotations and pointing in slightly different trajectories.
Instead of flailing and screaming against the powers of darkness, we could allow God to transform them into opportunities to trust and grow. When our enemy’s face comes to mind, we could pray for her by name and ask God to bless her. When some controversy hovers over our church family, we could ask what new thing the Spirit is teaching us.