Good News! But, Are We Ready?

Post a Comment » Written on December 25th, 2005     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

CHICAGO, IL (December 25, 2005)  – What Child is this who laid to rest?

Herod was right, of course – the child was dangerous. Herod had never  heard Mary sing or Simeon prophecy, but he knew.

The teenage mother sang of the coming danger when the child, nestled in  her womb, took his first breath on this terrestrial ball:

(God) has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the  humble;
He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away  empty.

When he beholds the baby, Simeon takes the infant in his arms. The  prophet overflows with gratitude that had been waiting for decades. But  then he says to Mary these words:

This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of  many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed;
and a sword will pierce your own soul, too.

We cannot think of Jesus’s birth without thinking about how he would  grow, what he would do, and how he would die. The Pharisees did have it  right, of course – the man was dangerous.

In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning writes: “It did not  escape the Pharisees’ attention that Jesus meant to befriend the rabble.  He was not only breaking the law, he was destroying the very structure  of Jewish society. They all complained when they saw what was happening – he has gone to stay at a sinner’s house.”

The Pharisees knew Jesus was upending the well-structured,  taken-for-granted religious and civic culture. Of course, none of them – Herod, Mary, Simeon, or the Pharisees – knew the full implications of  what they were saying. How could they?

Today songs, hymns, and carols are sung in older churches and in  emerging congregations with names like Quest and The Well, and at every  church in between. In all of our churches, we will, of course, proclaim  what Jesus’s birth means.

Do we know what we are saying?

How many of our church societies, our theological camps, and  latest-greatest ideas will we let Jesus overturn? How much in our  thinking of who Jesus is – the thoughts we take for granted – how many  of them will we let him tear down?

And renew.

For this infant lowly came not simply to tear down, but also to build  up. He says on more than one occasion in different ways that he has come  to lift the humble, to feed the hungry, proclaim good news to the poor  and set captives free. He came to the properly religious and says,  “You’ve got it all wrong,” and to all who have it all wrong, he  continues to say, “I’ve come so you can get it all right.”

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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