When Christmas falls on Sunday

There has been a flurry of blogging about (mostly) mega-churches that have opted not to have a Sunday service in light of their attention to Christmas Eve services. Most of the blogging has been negative, some of it sharply so. I’m thinking here of Ben Witherington’s blog – and Ben is a friend and a [Read More…]

Mary and Elizabeth 4

For Mary, Christmas end the beginning of the end for systemic violence (1:51-55). A student told me the other day that Christians don’t believe James 1:26-27 (pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans). In my mind, I went to Mary who was the mother of James and she was a widow, and his [Read More…]

Mary and Elizabeth 3

Christmas meant justice for a poor woman (Luke 1:46-50) When Mary hears the words of Elizabeth, when she hears that Elizabeth’s little baby leaped in her womb at the very sound of Mary’s voice, when she hears Elizabeth’s blessing on her – when these various strands come into play, Mary suddenly bursts into song. [Read more…]

Mary and Elizabeth 2

Christmas meant role reversal for Mary and Elizabeth (1:39-45). Mary comes from a hamlet; Elizabeth is from a hill town in Judah, where her husband, a priest, had a house so he could manage his way to the Temple when on duty. The hamlet woman greets the Temple woman (1:40). Entirely appropriate for Mary to [Read More…]

Mary and Elizabeth 1

This week, as we prepare for Advent 3, we will look at Mary and Elizabeth. Christmas for them meant the favor of God (1:23-25, 26-38) Elizabeth, an old woman, is barren — a sign of the lack of God’s blessing. Her barrenness was an opportunity for God to step in with a miracle of provision [Read More…]

Advent: Joseph 5

Christmas, for Joseph, meant obedience and restraint (1:24-25) Roman Catholics and Protestants have been fighting for far too long about what Joseph and Mary “did” after the birth of Jesus. Does “had no union with her until…” mean that he did not have “union” with her even after or does it mean he did have [Read More…]

Advent: Joseph 4

Christmas, for Joseph, meant that God was at work on earth (1:20-21). It strains my mental abilities to think that Joseph could knowingly become the (adopted) father of a baby who was “Immanuel” — God with us. I’m not sure he was thinking (in fact, I’m quite sure he was not) in terms of the [Read More…]

Advent: Joseph 3

Christmas meant that Joseph learned that sometimes God surprises (1:20-21) I doubt that many think of Joseph when, this Christmas, they give to their loved ones a “good surprise” at Christmas. We’ve all had our share of presents that were both surprises and generally unwelcomed ones. The best presents, of course, are both surprises and [Read More…]

Advent: Joseph 2

Christmas meant that Joseph practiced a rare combination: both righteousness and mercifulness (1:19) The text says Joseph was “righteous.” Now this translates a Greek term (dikaios) which translates a Hebrew term (tsadiq) – and all these terms point to one thing: Joseph was known for doing whatever the Torah said. To do it, he had [Read More…]

Advent: Joseph 1

This series is my own preparation for Advent, and it will look at the First Christmas and how various characters encountered the First Christmas. “What was Christmas like for….?” is the question we are asking. We will look at Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph, Mary, and Simeon/Anna. Each will have five separate posts around this theme: [Read More…]