The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Advent 4 :: What’s in a name?


Matthew 1.18-25

What’s in a name?

Every year, at around this time, just a few days or so before Christmas, pastors and theologians and Bible geeks and just plain regular folk banter back and forth about the translation of one simple word: “virgin.” In Hebrew, the word from Isaiah’s prophecy to Ahaz [ch. 7.14] clearly means “young woman,” whereas the Greek usage of St. Matthew means “virgin.” Which is the better of the two? Which is more clearly the “correct” translation? Does it matter? What are the implications for today? And so on, and so forth, ad nauseam.

While not wanting to lessen the import of this centuries-old discussion, there is another word encountered in today’s Gospel reading [and in our first reading from the prophet Isaiah] that might elicit more rapt attention. “Emmanuel” or, as transliterated through the Hebrew, Immanu-el, meaning “with us [is] God.”

Advent 3 :: Are you the one?

Scotland 2013 081

Matthew 11.2-11

Who is Jesus? The messiah? The one we've been waiting for?

This is the question John the Baptist asks after Herod has put him in prison. But shouldn’t he know if Jesus was the Messiah? After all, it was just last week [in Sunday Lectionary terms] that he was out in the wilderness proclaiming that “one who is more powerful than I is coming after me.” John’s baptism was one of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. But the baptism of “the coming One” would be with Holy Spirit and fire. Certainly, if Jesus were the Messiah, he would be exactly as John predicted, wouldn’t he? He’d be preaching about sin and would go around separating the wheat from the chaff and throwing the bad people into the fire. Right? That’s what John said he’d be doing, and, if John is the Prophet everyone says he is, that’s just how the Messiah would act.

Advent 2 :: You Brood of Vipers!

Scotland 2013 496

Matthew 3.1-12

Think for a moment about all the things expectant parents do as they await the arrival of a new child into their lives: deciding on a name, sending out announcements, going to baby showers, decorating the nursery, picking out clothes and all sorts of baby paraphernalia. Then there are the doctor visits, diet regulating, reading baby books, gleaning info from other parents and family members, and a hundred other things that will come cropping up.

The expected day is a wondrously glorious, if not terribly frightening, occasion. But soon a little one will be a new member of the family and their responsibility for her is just beginning.

Our expectation over the birth of the Christ-child should be no less exciting, even if our preparations for the blessed event are a good deal less involved: decorating the house, sending out cards, picking out presents to give, parties to attend, stories to tell our children, and a hundred other things that demand our attention this time of year.

Advent 1 :: Stay Awake!


Matthew 24.36-44

So here we are again at the beginning of yet another year in the warp and woof of our liturgical life set out in the Church Calendar. And here we are again being reminded that someday, somehow, somewhere, the Day of the Lord [Second Coming of Christ, Judgement Day, Armageddon, the Apocalypse—take your pick] is going to happen. Well. Really? Really?

So it’s been two thousand years and there’s been no Rapture, no taking up of folks into the Heavenly Realm to be with Jesus, no great and terrible conflagration where all you-know-what breaks loose, no blood-red Moon or stars falling from the skies or planets losing their way in orbit. Nothing. Now, there has been that Great-and-Powerful-Day we call Black Friday with all its terrible display of human greed and economic lust. But that hardly suffices for a great day of judgement which is supposed to come from God. Black Friday is a Judgement Day of another kind altogether.

© 2016 PGRider  E-mail me