January, 2011 ~ The Paradox
Posted by allsaintslutheranchurch.com
From the Pastor…
new life, new hope the child will bring. (Worship hymnal #297)
The coming of Christ is a foreboding thing: we hear in Matthew’s gospel, “keep awake for you know neither the day nor the hour” (25:13). We’ve often pointed to those words when speaking of death – no one knows the day or the hour. But what about new life? As I write this, my family about to have a baby, and we’ve been told it could be anytime. No one knows the day or the hour of birth!
As All Saints dives in to a new calendar year, I’m conscious of our ability to ‘have life’ – will we be in existence as we have been until now, or where will we go and what will we do this year? I’m optimistic of us being able to go somewhere, but am not clear as to where that is and who will be on-board with where we go as we get going.
The Advent and Christmas story get us anticipating and expecting new life. Perhaps we have, in the church, made that ‘new life’ too rigid: we know what to expect, we’ve made plans so we know how to anticipate. Maybe the new life we’ll engage in and receive in this new year is not what we expect or that for which we plan. Maybe we’ll find new hope in ways we’d never imagined.
But we, each of us, has a part to play in the unfolding and nurturing of new life. If there is to be new life, we must be the warmth and care it needs to thrive and take root.
As we hear the story of the baptism of Jesus in January, let’s consider how we are called into new life ourselves. Let us engage in that new living, and put our time and resources into seeing it take root. -Pastor Tyler Gingrich
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What do you desire for the future of this community? How will you contribute to making it happen?
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– to Cathryn and Karen, along with Darlene, Jack, and Liz, for hosting our Campus Ministry fundraising supper on December 5th!
– to Wood ‘n’ Strings for the music in December!
– to Karen, Jesse, and Cathryn for representing All Saints in our ‘pew swap’
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Words of wisdom
[It] is quite possible as a Christian to believe Jesus had a biological father and believe the story of the virgin conception says something important. It all depends on what you think “virgin” means. I think the most significant meaning of Mary’s virginity is Christian resistance to the oppression of the Roman Empire.The keystone of Roman power was the pater familias; the patriarchal system was its tax base and source of soldiers for its legions. By extension, the emperor was the ruling father of the empire, supported by the male heads of households who owned everything and everybody: the women, younger men and slaves. In the pater familias system, a virgin was an unmarried daughter who had not had sex with a man — this male-ruled type of family is still favored by right-wing “family values” Christians. If a daughter was not a virgin, she was worth far less to her father, who had to find a way to marry her off.
Mary was definitely not a virgin of this type — her father plays no part in her story. She is independent of a father’s rule, and by implication, of the father-in-chief, the emperor. Her only kin in Luke’s Gospel are cousins who are experiencing an unusual pregnancy in their old age. She visits them for three-months, when the only one of the couple with a voice is Elizabeth, the wife. Mary’s husband Joseph obviously serves her, not the other way around. […]
Unfortunately, Mary’s virginity has been domesticated, as if the point was her innocent chastity or lack thereof, which cost the sponsors of the dueling billboards about twenty grand each. Artist Rich Doty’s “logos” of the season, below, capture layers of irony around the domestication and commercialization of a story that is pretty revolutionary, if you think about it a bit.
It signals a new model of human relationships built on justice for the oppressed, food for the hungry, protection for those endangered by violence, and God’s favor on those whom none of the mighty would expect to have any power to do remarkable things for the good of others.
We might describe the story of Mary as a powerful rejection of patriarchal family systems and imperial powers that oppress everyone subject to them. By blessing her and trusting her with the Spirit in human flesh, God challenges the rich, proud, and haughty, which means those who love her story and follow Jesus ought to be doing the same.
(Rita Nakashima Brock, “The Importance of Mary’s Virginity,” The Huffington Post, December 14, 2010)
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– Pastor Tyler will be taking a course that will take up several days per week, lasting February until July
– Ash Wednesday is Mar 9
– Our congregational meeting will be coming up soon – what visions do you have for our future?
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