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.
“We’ve always done it that way” is one of the least faithful responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gifts us for far greater freedom than being slaves to our past. There is a more faithful way.
We need to rethink our usage of the word “evangelical.” Evangelism doesn’t require that we tell others how sinful their lives are. Evangelism stems, from a Biblical perspective, from acknowledging that in Christ we are a new creation, and are, as such, gifted with the ability to see others through God’s lenses.
Paul makes it clear that if we’re living according to God’s desire, our first focus – our primary desire – will be the cares, interests, and concerns of others. How does our stewardship – our giving of time, talent, and treasure – support this call?
Paul helped structure the early church to live into God’s desire for the Church. Only, hierarchy and power perverted that design. Building up bigger buildings for ourselves, the church in America looks very little like what Paul envisioned. To reclaim that vision is challenging, but it’s necessary work to become who God has created us to be.