Why is he here?
And so it began—the long human wondering, imagining, arguing, asserting, interpreting, deciding, proclaiming, expanding, emphasizing, controlling, re-ordering, etc. of reasons for Immanuel, God with us.
Yes, there was wondering before it happened. It was a particular responsibility, rich with meaning and a belonging held in trust by some and not others. Then, with Immanuel, there was a wider wondering into those more ancient promises—a wondering that grew wider and wider and is still expanding with the universe. Why is he here? You tell me.
Yes, you tell me. That’s the focus for the readings of this second Sunday after Christmas that aren’t even used sometimes a because of where Christmas lands in the week. But this is our lucky year. And here they are.
It’s a gathering. And of all the ways it could be described, Jeremiah’s faith highlights the gathering with some compelling details. What are the images, turns of phrases and promises that resonate with or enlarge the gospel purposes living within you? Why is he here? How can we live more deeply into Jeremiah’s vision of “the gathering”?
For the writer of Ephesians it is also a gathering (v.10), not so much in one place but in one Being, not so much a people, but all things in heaven and on earth. What are the images, turns of phrases and promises that resonate with or enlarge the gospel purposes living within you? Why is he here? How can we live more deeply into the writer of Ephesians’ vision of “the gathering”?
John 1: (1-9), 10-18
There is so much grace here that I want to count it, keep track of it, point to it. It is “grace upon grace” we have received in Jesus (v. 16). It, too, is a gathering—a gathering of an infinite grace into one human being who lives his days on this earth revealing it and setting it loose among us and within us. What are the images, turns of phrases and promises that resonate with or enlarge the gospel purposes living within you? Why is he here? How can we live more deeply into John’s vision of “the gathering”?
Why is he here? Why is God with us?
It is tough to resist making the answer so small that it is only about forgiveness, or God’s partnership with Mary, or whatever else catches your interest. It is indeed about all those things that are not really small at all until we try to make them everything. It is a story, an event, with many portals. Here is some of the “why” for me, this year.
Jesus is here to affirm the holy power within a human life. Oh I know that some woman have been partners with God in this power since the beginning—but not all women. And men were largely left out of this stunning capacity of life created and grown within a womb, then birthed into the world by a woman’s determination to literally push it out of herself. This is the story that says this holiness is now within us all—all human beings however they identify have this capacity to create and grow new life within them. It is not a gender thing at all. We all can birth it into the world with the same hope, wonder, vulnerability, possibility, commitment, power and grace that God shows us in Jesus.
But that’s just me. I know that you have something to tell, too. This may be the Sunday to tell it.
Diane Strickland, ordained for 33 years, is a Community & Workplace Traumatologist, Compassion Fatigue Specialist–Therapist and Critical Incident Responder. She is retired in The United Church of Canada, serving special emergent needs–like supporting ministers and ministries during a pandemic.
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