Monday, December 5, 2016

Preaching Report: Gabriel and Mary and Good News Delivery Systems

Yesterday's preaching went well.  My church is off-lectionary, so we heard the story of Gabriel appearing to Mary.  I talked about Mary as an unlikely vessel for the holy, which my spouse worried offended some.

And yet, my larger point was true:  if you were God and going to make yourself completely vulnerable, would you choose Mary?  Of course not.  You'd choose someone with more and better resources.  Mary had so little.

Of course, throughout the Scriptures, we see God choosing the most unlikely ways to break into the world and to make changes.  It's become one of the things I treasure most about God.

I had worried more about what I said about the journey to Bethlehem because of taxation purposes was likely not a fact.  I first came across this idea in Reza Aslan's Zealot:  The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth:   "Luke's suggestion that the entire Roman economy would periodically be placed on hold as every Roman subject was forced to uproot himself and his entire family I order to travel great distances to the place of his father's birth, and then wait there patiently, perhaps for months, for an official to take stock of his family and possessions, which in any case, he would have left behind in his place of residence, is, in a word, preposterous" (p. 30).

I don't read the Bible as history--what folly that would be--but I know so many people who do.  They are astounded and disbelieving when told that there is no historical record of this census of the Romans.   My spouse reminded me of how many people at the late service are considerably older and not used to thinking of the Bible as true but not factual.

I used to wonder how many people complained to the pastor when he returned, but probably no one does.  They probably shrug and feel happy that I'm not preaching all the time.

My spouse also points out that most people are with me by the end of any sermon I give, that I bring it around to material we can all agree on.  Yesterday was no different.  At the end, I talked about remembering how much God wants to be with us so much that God will put up with the indignities of being trapped in human form.

Good news indeed.

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