I’m a day late to this past week’s “ponderings and links,” but as they say, “Better late than never.” (At least that’s what I say to my students.)
Here are my “Weekly Ponderings & Links” for Sunday, December 17, 2017.
I’ve been working my way through Eugene Peterson’s final work, As Kingfishers Catch Fire. It’s a culmination of many of his sermon’s preached to his congregation at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Maryland. These sermons are gathered into sections, offering reflections upon the words of seven biblical characters: Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John.
Just recently I read his thoughts on the well-known passage we reference during Advent and Christmas – Isaiah 9:1-7 – particularly, “For to us a child is born…”
These words stuck with me:
“God starts out where we start out: a child is born. He submerges himself in our biology, our psychology, our history. He becomes one of us so we can become what he is. He doesn’t terrorize us with doomsday signs. He doesn’t crush us with superior knowledge. He doesn’t tease us with mysterious clues. He is here with us, in Jesus. God’s way of revealing himself to us and giving himself to us is Jesus.” (p139)
Last night we lit the third Advent candle with our boys, the candle of joy.
In particular we read the account of the angel and heavenly host appearing to the shepherds, as found in Luke 2. I continue to be indelibly reminded of how God choses to reveal himself to the poor, the oppressed, the forgotten, the broken.
The angel announces something of great joy to these smelly, poor shepherds:
Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Deliverer has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (2:10-11)
A deliverer (or savior) has come. What a joyous occasion!
Yet the joy works itself out in the most odd of ways. It’s backwards to all that we’ve been taught in our world – even quite the opposite of much of what the church has taught in its history. It simply is not the charismatic or degreed or best-dressed or famous that are visited by God. Rather it is the underdogs and outcasts, as my friend would call them: shepherds, magi, women, poor, diseased, theologically inaccurate, etc. It’s not just this way at Christ’s advent into the world, but it continues on as we turn the pages of the gospels.
Somehow the Lion has become the Lamb.
Perhaps that is the joy. The deliverer, who has himself been “delivered” by his mother, delivers the outcasts by touching, listening to, talking and eating with them. And he suffers with them as the lamb, that they may delivered.
Somehow the Lion has become the Lamb.
As I mentioned last week, Wipf & Stock Publishers are having a big holiday sale. Grab any book for 40% off through tomorrow (Dec 19). Just use code word GOODWILL in the online checkout. That means you can grab a physical copy of my book – Change for the First Time, Again – for $10.80 or if you like Kindle books, Amazon has it for $9.99.
Supposedly 240 people a day go to the emergency room after falling off ladders, getting cut, or getting burned when trying to put up their holiday decorations. 🎅🏼🎄🤦🏼♂️
Scroll down in this post for an NPR interview with a man who shattered his pelvis and rotator cuff. Now the man just uses a mechanical lift to help decorate, which clearly allows him to go much higher.
Here are my top 6 Christmas movies.
1. The Polar Express – This is a magical movie. Some Christians do not like the idea of Santa Claus (because Jesus is the “real reason for season” or they feel the idea of Santa is actually a lie). I have no personal problem with the story. The Polar Express plays out the Santa story from the angle of a boy who is beginning to question all those “fairy tales.” This is one of my favorite scenes – the train winding up the mountain.
2. Home Alone – The first one, that is. This is a classic Christmas comedy. I can watch it over and over each Christmas and not bore of the tricks Kevin plays on the two house thieves. There is also an eery physical resemblance between Kevin and my 8-year old son! Anyways, “Are you thirsty for more…?”
3. A Christmas Carol – For the longest time I preferred the Muppet version, especially as Gonzo and Rizzo provide comedy relief. But I can watch just about any version of this film.
4. A Christmas Story – Little Ralphie! For me, it is a Christmas classic. I love the 24-hour marathon over that last half of Christmas Eve and the first half of Christmas Day. Everyone knows of the Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle because of this movie. But we also know we shouldn’t stick our tongues to cold telephone poles either.
5. Christmas Vacation – Pure comedy and not much else. My favorite scene is probably Clark’s response when cousin Eddie and family show up. And then there is the bit where Snots (the dog) starts drinking the water from the Christmas tree. Eddie tries to assure Clark that Snots will be ok, mainly because the he had drank a quart of Penzoil the week before and was just fine.
6. The Snowman – We also love this 1982 British classic. It’s a short, 26-minute animated musical with no spoken words. It’s shown on Christmas Eve in the UK. Walking in the Air is the magical song of the movie.
Those are my six favorites. Of course, many people have other favorites, such as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. I can watch most any Christmas movie because it draws me into the season.
I’d love to know your favorites.
Here’s a Christmas funny to chuckle at as I close.