Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Click here for my comments on this same collect last year.
Micah gets to say, “I told you so!”
Micah predicted correctly where the Messiah would be born, in “one of the little clans of Judah,” not one of the large ones.
Today most of the Christians in Bethlehem are Palestinians, and their numbers are rapidly decreasing as they are killed or flee further violence from Israel.
A great many of those Palestinian Christians are Anglicans, yet few Episcopalians seem to know that. Most Americans are woefully ignorant of geography. Some Christians act as if “Since God has the whole world in his hands, I don’t have to.”
Frequently conservative Episcopalians accuse me of mixing politics and religion. “You bring the world’s agenda. We need to be about the business of saving souls.”
Tell that to Mother Mary; she seems to make my own mistake:
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
That sounds like the business of saving souls to me. That does not sound like the world’s agenda: it sounds like God’s. That’s how Mary understood her pregnancy.
Saint works really hard to get Christians to accept his doctrine of the blood atonement. Since Christ is sinless, his sacrifice of his body is efficacious in paying the price of the sins of all others. We really don’t have to work our way into heaven: Christ has already met our price of entry.
Then what’s our motivation for doing good works, since we are going to get into heaven regardless of our worthiness? Like Christ we come to do God’s will not to appease God, but to show our gratitude that Christ as already appeased God on our behalf.
That’s news genuinely good. Imagine how we would pack our pews if we got the word out that these pews are safe for sinners. Throw the self-righteous out of the temple. They are the G*n*r*t**n *f V*p*rs that John the Baptizer spoke of in last week’s reading.
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
Elizabeth acknowledges that her sister Mary is to mother the messiah. Elizabeth’s own son, John the Baptizer, is but a fetus but jumps in Elizabeth’s womb to acknowledge Mary’s presence, as if already to pay homage to the son that Mary will later conceive.
Micah knew in advance. Elizabeth knew in advance. John the Baptizer knew even while in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary prophesies it, especially as a triumph for the poor and the oppressed whom God has chosen to honor in this way.
How about us? Do we know it in advance of December 25th, now only five days away? What does the birth of Christ mean to you? What news in it remains genuinely good now 2009 years away -- give or take a couple of years when they recalculated the calendar? What news in it remains genuinely good?
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly
Is that good news for you?
Have you had enough of cleansing? Want some lessons that more directly celebrate God’s love and concern for you, indeed for the whole world? Don’t stay home on Thursday night. Attend the midnight mass with great expectations!