A New Decision
An Advent Reflection from Old Testament Scholar and Theologian Walter Brueggmann (found in Celebrating Abundance: Reflections for Advent)
In that region, there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
—Luke 2: 8–11
Christmas is the celebration of the new decision of God. You know that decision well: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (v. 11). Not Caesar in Rome, not Herod in Jerusalem, not Pilate as governor, not all the presidents and premiers and executives and generals, not any of them will be king, because the world has been turned a new way. It has been turned so that a king shall come from Bethlehem, not from the great city, but from a little city filled with filth and poverty.
But think what it means. It means, to anybody who knows, that the promises of God have been kept. He is faithful. He has not reneged. For a thousand years earlier he has said, I will keep this royal family and this royal promise and this royal vision. I will send the true David, and he will turn the world back to its sanity. Where there has been fear, he will bring joy. Where there has been oppression, he will bring justice. Where there has been suffering and sorrow, he will bring wholeness.
All the kings of the world hustled to keep their thrones. They are panic-stricken powers, scared of everything and everyone, but they don’t know how to work at it except to kill and destroy, and our whole human history is like that.
Except God has made a fresh decision, and this new one does not come as threat but as child. He does not come as victory but as helpless child. He does not come in pride but in a way almost unnoticed by the world. But he is king. He is not robed in splendor but in baby clothes. He is not in the royal nursery but in a barn. None of it makes any sense. At least it does not make sense to people who think they have all of life reduced to a pattern and a formula.
The Christmas event in Bethlehem makes no sense unless you allow that it is a fresh decision from God himself about the new shape of the world. All of that came with the new announcement of the king. And then that messenger was joined by the chorus of angels who gave the theme of the divine decision: glory and peace.
Maybe you think angels are a little primitive, but it is one symbolic attempt to talk about God’s new program coming to us. Christmas is a time for leaving our sober, sane world of budgets and schedules and rules and for just a moment blowing our minds with the thought that God intends other ways for us to live.
Break into our staid lives with the power of your holiness.
Break up our old patterns and expectations,
and transform us through the good news brought by the singing of angels:
“to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.
– Reflection and Prayer by Walter Brueggmann, from Celebrating Abundance: Reflections for Advent
Coming This Sunday
December 24, 11:00 am – Morning Worship – “God With Us: Inhabit”
December 24, 5:00 pm – Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service
The Church Office is Closed this week and Pastors Jason & Joanie are taking the week to be with family.
March 01, 2018
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December 20, 2017