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Showing posts from December, 2017

The Liberator

When preachers and teachers tell the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, they often draw attention to her brave act of submission. After the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she is to give birth to the Son of God, Mary responds: "I am the Lord's humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me" (Luke 1:38). Mary, no doubt aware that she could be stoned as an adulteress for having a child out of wedlock, says Yes to the dangerous, messianic mission presented to her by the angel. Mary is the model of female compliance, or so we have been led to believe throughout much of church history.

The depiction of Mary as an innocent and docile peasant girl is carelessly, perhaps even willfully, selective and incomplete. Sadly, the iconic portrayals of Mary have only served to reinforce the stereotype of a meek and mild Mary. But if we keep reading the story in Luke 1, just a few lines later we find a song erupting from this feisty young girl's mouth, a son…

a long list of names

When I ask people what their favourite part of the Christmas story is, I get a variety of answers. Kids like the angels and the animals. Others mention the incarnation, the courage of Mary, the kindness of Joseph to a son who was not his own, the remarkable dreams which led the young family away from danger, or the excitement of the shepherds. Very seldom does anyone mention the genealogies. I am not quite sure why, but rattling off a list of people’s names (most of them long dead) is usually left out of nativity pageants. Perhaps we should change that.
The genealogies of Jesus are found in two places: Matthew 1 and Luke 3. Go ahead and read them now if you like. The family tree in Matthew is the shorter one, with only 42 names listed, while in Luke we find 77 names. Matthew, meant for a Jewish audience, focuses on the nation of Israel’s highlights. Luke, written primarily for non-Jewish ears, is much more inclusive. There are some other differences between the two genealogies. Since…