02 December 2015

Christmas Spirit, and Poverty

It has been my habit to activate an Advent Wreath graphic on this blog, and as my profile picture on Facebook. Today, "Cyber Monday" as we now must name it, is when I would do it.

Doing that, on this blog, is the work of only a minute or two. So why do I hesitate?

In much of the apocalyptic language in the Hebrew Scriptures, (Cf. Jeremiah or Daniel,) the coming of the Messiah is called, "The Day of the Lord." The picture is not kind, gentle or peaceful. Over and over one reads, "On that day" followed by foretellings of judgment. Mathew 25 moves the story into the New Testament with the foretellings given by Jesus himself describing the coming judgment. Mathew 25 is never included in the Christmas lectionary.

Given the complete mess, we have made of God's creation, and the rampant injustice visible anywhere one chooses to look, why exactly should we pray for that coming event?

So, are these merely the bleak meanderings of an old, destitute, and depressed fat man? Maybe, and yet maybe not. John the Baptiser did not appear with a message of comfort, he came proclaiming that the day of the Lord, the kingdom whose birth would be an event of judgment and terror. If we listen to Jesus both affirming John and in his own comments, the day of the lord is to be devoutly delayed.

And yet here we are, Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, the churches of the liturgical year, in Advent. We pray, "Oh come, Oh come." That prayer calls to mind the ancient Celtic saying, "be careful what you pray for: you might get it!"

We have sanitized the day of the lord. We do not want the mature Christ who drove the merchants from the Temple, and disrupted the sacrificial system, the Jesus who quite intentionally led his followers into Judea by crossing the Jordan, mimicking and claiming Joshia. No, we want the baby, the distorted image of Mary.

"Be careful what you pray for, you may get it." Jesus comes to all of us. The question is what we do about it? Maybe I am just not ready for the baby, the anticipation. We shall see.

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