Bread – Beginnings

November 29, 2010


Readings for Monday, November 29, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: Isa. 1:10-20; 1 Thess. 1:1-10; Luke 20:1-8; Psalms 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

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November 28 (yesterday) does not seem to be the beginning of the year, but it is. It is the beginning of the church year, called Advent, when we begin anew to prepare for the Lord’s birth, His coming into the world.

There is a certain pattern which has developed in our lives as Christians, in the church, and in our society, where we have a time for giving thanks and for eating orgies, followed by an immediate turn to Christmas, the overnight transformation of our dull landscape into artificial illumination, and the focus of our efforts into buying the gifts (the sooner the better in order to help the economy) which we believe are so necessary to our happiness and the happiness of others.

In today’s readings, God has something to say about this:

“Hear the Word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; Listen to the Law of God, you people of Gomorrah! …Stop bringing [Me] meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me.  Your New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your evil assemblies.” Isa. 1:10, 13

Ouch.

This is why we have beginnings which predate the event. When we begin to look at the event from far off, we have the time to observe it for what it is before we enter into the maelstrom of holiday cheer. We have the time to think soberly about God’s Work. His Work in creation. His Work in history. His work in and through Jesus Christ. His Work in our lives.

So, since we are at a beginning and are thinking about beginnings, where did your beginning come from? Did it come from your mother giving you birth, your environment, and your decisions in life or did it come from God?

In Luke today, Jesus is confronted with the question by the Pharisees of where His authority comes from. Jesus asks them about John the Baptist in response. The question that Jesus asked was: “John’s baptism – was it from heaven or from men?” The Pharisees responded that they did not know. Jesus then said that, since they did not know the answer to that question, neither would they know the answer of where Jesus’ authority comes from. Luke 20:1-8

Same question, isn’t it? And it is only a question which can be answered by you. No one can tell you the answer and no amount of argument will reveal it to you. You either know the answer or you don’t. The answer has either been revealed to you or it hasn’t.

So before we launch into Christmas, both the heavenly version and the earthly version, maybe at the beginning it would be useful to answer the question about beginnings. Was John’s baptism from man or from God?

Maybe your answer is “from man.” If so, have a merry Christmas! Maybe your answer is “from God.” If so, have a holy Christmas! Maybe your answer is “I don’t know.” If so, my prayer for you is that, just as the wise men began their journey to truth through seeing a light from God, you will also right now begin your journey toward life in the power and by the guiding light of the Holy Spirit.

Merry Beginnings and Happy (Church) New Year.

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