Sixth Day of Christmas   9 comments

Jesus Mosaic, Ravenna, Italy

Unity Through Jesus

DECEMBER 30, 2023


1 John 2:12-17 (New Jerusalem Bible):

I am writing to you, children,

because your sins have been forgiven through his name.

I am writing to you, fathers,

because you have come to know the One who has existed since the beginning.

I am writing to you, young people,

because you have overcome the Evil One.

I have written to you, children,

because you have come to know the Father.

I have written to you, parents,

because you have come to know the One who has existed since the beginning.

I have written to you, young people,

because you are strong,

and God’s word remains in you,

and you have overcome the Evil One.

Do not love the world

or what is in the world.

If anyone does love the world,

the love of the Father finds no peace in him,

because everything there is in the world–

disordered bodily desires,

disordered desires of the eyes,

pride in possession–

is not from the Father

but is from the world.

And the world, with all its disordered desires,

is passing away.

But whoever does the will of God

remains for ever.

Psalm 96:10-13 (New Jerusalem Bible):

Say among the nations,

Yahweh is king.

The world is set firm, it cannot be moved.

He will judge the nations with justice.

Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad!

Let the sea thunder, and all it holds!

Let the countryside exult, and all that is in it,

and all the trees of the forest cry out for joy,

at Yahweh’s approach, for he is coming,

coming to judge the earth;

he will judge the world with saving justice,

and the nations with constancy.

Luke 2:36-40 (New Jerusalem Bible):

There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was well on in years.  Her days of girlhood over, she had been married seven years before becoming a widow.  She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God day and night with fasting and prayer.  She came up just at the moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child [Jesus] to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

When they [Mary and Joseph] had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  And as the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.

The Collect:

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


John wrote to a congregation split by theological arguments, almost certainly involving proto-Gnosticism, which is inherently not Christian.  He encouraged the faithful Church members, making the connection between their struggles and cosmic spiritual strife.

I have grown up in a series of congregations, for I am a recovering “Preacher’s Kid.”  Life has taught me that congregations attract dysfunctional personalities with egos either too small or too large.  (One needs to look out for and avoid these control freaks who weaken churches!)  And I have learned that others (the sincerely wrong) want to maintain their congregation and/or denomination as a kind of memorial society and theological/liturgical museum.  So, in the case of my adopted Episcopal Church, Prayer Book revision can lead to great strife because it involves change.  The type of change does not matter to some; the fact of change itself is enough to set them off.

Perhaps the most frequent idol is false certainty, whether to the Left or to the Right.  Jesus of Nazareth (the historical person) was profoundly disturbing–sufficiently so that he scandalized respectable religious people and attracted the unwelcome attention of the Roman imperial leadership.  As I read the Gospels, taking them seriously, I detect teachings of Jesus which unsettle me (a self-respecting liberal) and contradict what I hear from many self-professed Conservative Christians.  My spiritual discipline involves humility, especially in the face of the teachings of my Lord and Savior.  Jesus was he was and is who he is, not who I want him to have been and to be.  If I cannot deal with that, I have a grave spiritual problem.

And I admit that those who disagree with me might be correct, at least partially.  I have, in fact, changed my mind more than once.  So I have not always agreed with myself.  When I attend Church I do so in the presence of people to my Left and to my Right theologically and politically, and I know that they are good Christians, too.  We have unity through Jesus.

So, despite my willingness (even eagerness) to defend what I believe, I know the difference between a major disagreement and a minor one.  And I prefer not to argue about minor points.  I want to focus on unity through Jesus.


Written on June 6, 2010


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