Jesus Is The Hospitality of God

Jesus Is The Hospitality of God

Christmas in Mexico begins with Los Posadas, a nine-day reenactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging in Bethlehem.

The children gather each afternoon for nine consecutive days leading up to Christmas. One child plays the role of the Virgin Maria. Another is San Jose. Others are the angelos. Others are the Santo Reyes (three wise kings). And the rest are pastores (shepherds). They are decked out in colorful handmade costumes and carry faroles (paper lanterns). They form the parade of Santos Peregrinos (Holy Pilgrims). They go from house to house requesting posada (shelter). They sing outside the front door:

En nombre del cielo buenos moradores dad a unos via’jeros posada esta noche.

In the name of God, we ask those who dwell here, give to some travelers lodging this evening.

From inside the house comes back the reply, “This is not an inn, move on. I cannot open lest you be a scoundrel.” The children go on singing, explaining that they have traveled from Nazareth, are tired, and that Mary is expecting a child. All to no avail.

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God Meets Us In The Vulnerable Christ

God Meets Us In The Vulnerable Christ

We are vulnerable and we know it.

We have seen high tech space shuttles disintegrate leaving no trace of human remains; skyscrapers collapse; stock markets plummet, rearranging retirement plans; companies bought, sold, and moved with city-wrecking swiftness; viruses spread, kill, and mutate; radicals believe that their god has told them to behead us; babies snuffed out in the womb because their timing was inconvenient; the earth poisoned, polluted, and warmed to its destruction; health disappear at the reading of a blood test; careers end with the slip of a tongue; hurricanes rearrange life for millions; governments fail to deliver financial responsibility; and nations bring the world to the brink of war.

Any serious person who thinks about the way the world is and the way it seems to be headed, has reason to feel vulnerable.

Why We Love Mary

We love Mary because she is a picture of vulnerability. Look her up in your pictorial dictionary. How tall is she? How old? Where is she standing? What is she wearing? What color is her hair? How is it fixed?

At the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, you can see Mary through the eyes of the artists of the ages. And in the composite, she is a mature adult, wears velvet dresses (usually a deep red), lives in a larger than average home, has a chair by the window through which light cascades softly, and she likes to read. This is the Mary of classic art. And she appears to be fully in charge of her space.

But we know better.

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The Difference a Border Makes

The Difference a Border Makes

I was in Canada this past Saturday speaking at a conference. As I listened to their news and conversed with Canadians, I detected a very different tone regarding the Syrian refugees.

A local Nazarene church was preparing to receive refugees. A denominational organization, The Christian Missionary Alliance, was working to help Nazarenes receive refugees. The commentators on news programs were suggesting to American political leaders that caution and compassion are not enemies. Both can be done simultaneously.

Then I preached to a wonderful congregation on Sunday morning. We sang about our God: “You’re the defender of the weak, You comfort those in need.”

Then I flew home Sunday night, turned on the news, and heard Trump’s rant and governors’ statements and a senator suggesting that we use the National Guard to round up Muslims.

Monday morning we started pulling out all our Christmas stuff for decorating. It’s time to celebrate the story of the infant Christ visited by wise men from across the border, which becomes the story of the massacre of babies by violent powers, and ends up with Jesus being a refugee in Egypt.

I wonder what kind of Advent we are in for on our side of the border.

Christmas Greetings

Christmas Greetings

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14