Gestating Jesus

Christmas

This Advent season I’m writing reflections on the lectionary Gospel readings forLight Reflections and reposting them here. Please feel free to borrow and steal anything from these that might be helpful in your own Advent sermon,teaching, etc., work.

Luke 1:39-55
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be* a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

46 And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Last week I wrote that the terrifying image of Jesus with a winnowing fork is a far cry from the babe in the manger who we anticipate this time of year. This week we are reminded that these two images are not so far apart at all! Whether it’s Jesus at the end of time or Jesus entering into time, the Good News is consistent – his arrival will raise those whom our world sees as lowly and it will humble those we imagine to be mighty.

In the first few weeks of Advent, we’ve mostly pictured Christ’s arrival coming from somewhere distant Continue reading

Good News For All?

Trees

This Advent season I’m writing reflections on the lectionary Gospel readings for Light Reflections and reposting them here. Please feel free to borrow and steal anything from these that might be helpful in your own Advent sermon, teaching, etc., work.

Luke 3:7-18
7 John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our ancestor”; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’

10 And the crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ 11In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’ 12Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, ‘Teacher, what should we do?’ 13He said to them, ‘Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ 14Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,* 16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

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So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people!

This image of Christ with a winnowing fork, clearing the threshing floor and burning the chaff with unquenchable fire doesn’t immediately ring of Good News to me. It doesn’t quite match up to the vision I too often Continue reading

Time and Space for Good News

After 8.5 hours...just exited The Clock to a beautiful morning

Through Advent, I will be writing reflections on the lectionary texts for the website Light Reflections, and reposting them here. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to use any of them in sermon, teaching or other church education type prep.

Luke 3:1-6

3In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler* of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler* of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler* of Abilene, 2during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,

‘The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” ’

These stories about John in the wilderness are so familiar that I risk no longer fully hearing them. I can jump right over the political positioning in the first few lines to get straight to the heart of proclamation because familiarity makes me think that’s where the meaning is. But not this year. This year I’m trying to dwell in the time and space established by those first few lines to see what might reside there. Continue reading

The Gift of Alienation

Through Advent, I will be writing reflections on the lectionary texts for the website Light Reflections, and reposting them here. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to use any of them in sermon, teaching or other church education type prep.

WEEK 1: Luke 21:25-36
25 ‘There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ Continue reading

Another Open Letter to the AGO

Dear AGO,
Every morning on my way to work, I pass a poster advertising your current exhibit, “Frida and Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting.” Now, I’m an art lover. So you would think I would be excited that I get to stroll past your art images each morning. You would think your posters would inspire me to walk a few extra blocks from my workplace to check out your exhibit on my lunch-break. But, in fact, each time I pass this poster, I find myself less inspired than angry. The poster reads: “She painted a diary of her life. He painted a diary of Mexico.” Continue reading

The Space Between Words

Given how sad – livid – I am that one of my favourite paintings was vandalized this week, I’ve been digging through some old files to see if I can find the piece I wrote on it 7 years ago. It’s funny to read an old piece of writing – a little embarrassing, but also kind of fun to be reminded of the things that moved me back then…many of which still do today. I get that to a lot of people, most paintings by Mark Rothko look the same – I’m posting this old piece of writing because for those of us who love his work, there are paintings with which we’ve spent hours of time in conversation and contemplation, paintings of his with which we’ve developed old, familiar friendships. The one that was defaced is one paintings of those for me.

I wrote this piece in 2005 while I was living in London. I wrote it in part for fun, but also with the thought that I might share it with my various friends who visited over the year, take them to the Tate, and let them enjoy this little aesthetic experience I’d put together. The Tate has since rearranged the room in which the Seagram Murals are housed, painted it with brighter colours (I liked the old version, in which I wrote this piece better). Nevertheless, the integrative art experience would still work – so if you find yourself in London, maybe pop on a little Ani, and make your way to the Tate with what follows after the jump in hand Continue reading

Transcending Memory

I am usually in bed by 9:30, to fall asleep reading by 10:15, 10:30 or so. It’s been years since 10pm marked the start of my evening rather than its end. But last night I made an exception, trudging out of the house at 9:20pm and making my way down to The Power Plant at the Toronto Harbourfront to see if I could pull an all-nighter to watch a good chunk of Christian Marclay’s, The Clock.

I expected long lines and a minimum 1-2, probably 3, hour wait, which is I why I aimed to be there for 10. I wanted to be in the room when the clock struck midnight. But I arrived just in time to be the last person let in before the line-ups began.

The Clock is a 24 hour video compilation of short clips from films (and some tv shows), each of which contains some reference to the time, Continue reading