Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scandalous Spirituality

Mat 1:18  Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19  Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20  But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22  All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23  "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." 24  When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25  but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Here are all the ingredients of a scandal: a pregnant, unmarried, young girl in a rural village; a righteous, upstanding man of the community who discovers that his fiancé is pregnant Рand he knows that he is not the father; add to this angels, a spiritual impregnation, and sexual abstinence and this is the stuff of the tabloid press.

Jesus was not born into genteel, refined living. He arrived in the middle of the village scandal, and spent the rest of his life bringing God’s love into scandals. Christmas reminds Jesus-followers that ours is a faith that is rooted in poor, messy, complicated, real-life situations. Let us commit ourselves this Christmas to bring something of Jesus’ love to someone who is currently embroiled in a messy life situation.      

Second Sunday in Advent
4.  God is with us
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 32.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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