Monthly Archives: December 2011

Question Friday: looking back, looking forward

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On the brink of a new calendar year, look back for a moment. Share with us one God-sighting from 2011, and one hope for 2012.

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Preparing: O Emmanuel

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We continue our series reflecting on the O Antiphons, the prayers for the seven days before Christmas.

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, God with us, our King and Lawgiver, hope of the nations and our savior: come and save us, O Lord our God.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Amen.

“The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Emmanuel means “God with us”–God not far away, not enthroned on high, not distant and uncaring, but here, in our midst, sharing our flesh, our life, our pain, our hopes, our dreams, our hungers, our fears, our tears, our laughter, our achey joints from so much walking, our sights and sounds and smells, our tastes and loves and losses. This is the scandal of the Christian faith–that God would lower Godself to take on mortal flesh, to be in a particular time and place with a particular people, to know bodily life and suffering and death. This is the Big Idea of Christianity, the thing that makes us different from other faith traditions–that we claim that God came In The Flesh, that God was incarnate in one man so that the divide between divine and human might be bridged once and for all. This incarnate word, God made flesh, come to dwell among us, brings us the good news that we too can be fully human, that the flesh is not evil, that God can be known right here, right now, just as we live and breathe and eat and drink and suffer and rejoice. This life matters so much that God came and lived it with us. Life before death–what God is all about in the Christian story.

How have you seen and known God with YOU this Advent season? Where do you hope to see God in the flesh in the coming season?

Preparing: O King of the Nations

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We continue our series reflecting on the O Antiphons, the prayers for the seven days before Christmas.

O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations)

O King of the nations, you alone can fulfill our desires: cornerstone, binding all together: come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust of the earth.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Amen.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onwards and for evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9.6-7)

In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2.2-4)

What does it mean for Christ to be King of the Nations? Not just king in our hearts, though that is important. Not in the sense of having Christian Governments (whatever that means). What would it look like if we, the body of Christ, believed and lived as if our citizenship was in this kingdom of God that is so eloquently described by the prophet? Jesus lived his life as if he was living in the kingdom of God here and now. In many ways, the early church described in the book of Acts tried to do the same. Of course, neither the gospels nor Acts give us much hope that this way of life will lead toward the kind of success our culture values, but might it lead to a different kind of success? The kind where justice and righteousness reign, where the implements of violence are turned into implements of care, where we live in peace? It’s hard to imagine, and the argument always is that if you turn your sword into a plow, someone who didn’t will come along and kill you with their sword (and take your plow). Does that mean we should strive for this, and pray for this, and pray to be made into instruments of God’s reign, anyway?

Can you imagine a world in which Christ is King of the Nations? What would that be like, and how can we work toward that day?