The Biblical witness can not be summed up by any one passage of the scriptural text. When passages are cherry picked, it most often leads to a watered down gospel or failed truth that does not stand the test of the Gospel on the whole. How we treat the word “slave” is a key example.
We should not cheapen the Biblical word due to our insufficient English translations, but claim the fullness of God’s desire for humanity as laid out in the ancient texts. God longs for us to delight in the goodness of creation, but not in a way that threatens the peace of the community.
Almost every major division within the greater Christian body stems from a disagreement in the way we read and understand the Biblical text. The translating of the ancient Greek and Hebrew texts is a challenging task, and often has lasting implications on how Christians think, act, and believe.
The celebration of Christmas is not just about the hope and promise that the world will be made whole. It’s not just about God coming so “everyone else” can receive new life. Christmas is about acknowledging the brokenness in your own life, and the promise of God in Christ to make you whole, to give you hope, to give you new life.
Why do people say politics and religion shouldn’t mix? Even our favorite Christmas hymns mix politics into the birth story of Christ. Proclaiming God’s gift of peace in Christ is politically motivating, and it calls us to a greater understanding of the joy we proclaim when we sing, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!”
The promise and invitation of the Magnificat is to trust in the promise of God that is proclaimed in the birth of Christ. It is a song that declares that in the Incarnation, God is humbling the proud, and lifting up the lowly; God is supporting the weak, and weakening the strong; God is breaking down barriers, and building up community. And the Word In-Fleshed comes to invite us to participate in this, God’s work.
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
This nuances of the Greek language are important. When we read 2 Thessalonians 3 to be speaking of “idleness,” as in “not-working,” it makes space for poor Christian euphemisms such as, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not what the text is saying. A deeper reading is necessary for a faithful understanding.
2 Thessalonians is written to remind us of what matters most: that we hear the words of Christ, that we follow the teachings of the Lord, that we share God’s love with everyone around us, and that we rejoice in all things, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for each of us.
To understand Paul’s writings, you have to understand the art of letter writing. Paul wasn’t writing a collection of instruction books for the whole of Christianity, he was writing as an apostolic leader to communities of faith he planted. How we understand his writings will be wholly dependent on how we understand why he wrote.