EP: Psalm 145; Isaiah 44:1-8; 1 John 5:1-12
With Christmas carols still ringing in our ears, our Daily Office readings take us, today and yesterday, to the end of Jesus' life and well past his departure from earth. Today we remember and celebrate St. John, yesterday, Stephen. John, thought of as "the one whom Jesus loved" and Stephen, one of the first seven deacons in the church and one of the first martyrs. Christmas carols and a babe in a barn two days ago, and a snippet of the Passion narrative today, and the story of the founding and formation of the church after Jesus' ascension, yesterday. The folks who selected our lectionary are certainly whip-sawing our attention away from the birth narratives.
Is that dramatic shift a signal of the lack of importance of Christmas? Is this shift meant to take us out of the sappiness that can come from romanticizing God's lowly birth and remind us of his challenging ministry and life and death? On what do we focus this time of year?
God's taking human form, and living and being among us, as one of us, is not to be sentimentalized, but rather should force us to evaluate our past year's activities and accomplishments in being the change agent we are called upon to be as the Body of Christ in the world today. That seems to be part of the intent of the lectionary builders: to shock us out of our sentimentality and remember the work of building the kingdom we are called upon to be doing on a daily basis.
Fast paced, yes. But so is life. And there is a lot to do.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Downtown Minneapolis from the Eastside, jfd+ 2011