Regeneration at Advent

This says it all…
(Image by Me: New York City October 2019)

Scripture reference: Luke 1:5-25. The narrative of Zacharias and Elisabeth.

It’s a new day and time. Since the time of Malachi, Israel has been overrun and dominated by foreign powers. By the time of Luke, we see the Roman Empire in charge where Israel is now called Judea. In Judea, the Romans install a puppet king named Herod. Gone are the glory days of Israel we read about in the Old Testament…

It’s in this backdrop we see a couple named Zacharias and Elisabeth. Zacharias was a priest in the line of Abia (Abijah [ref: 1 Chronicles 24:10; Nehemiah 12:4]); Elisabeth was of “the daughters of Aaron”. They were a good couple who’s stuff was tight, except for one issue…

…They couldn’t have kids. Talk about a slap in the face! I believe that Zacharias and Elisabeth truly loved each other, which made it hurt more. I could imagine the years of trying to have a family-especially in a culture where having kids (especially boys) was a big deal. Imagine the heartache and heartbreak of a barren womb mocking Elisabeth, where her womanhood would be questioned. Zacharias serving the people who questioned his masculinity, and wondered if God was pissed with him in some way. Imagine the passing years of watching friends and loved ones having kids before their eyes. Imagine the sting of “well meaning” and not so well meaning criticism. It was painful to say the least.

I also believe in time, Zacharias and Elisabeth resigned themselves to their fate and decided to live their lives the best they could…

Until God stepped in with Divine power. It was at the temple where God, through the archangel Gabriel, announced to Zacharias that he and Elisabeth will be parents of a son who will be “great in the sight of the Lord” Now what made this interesting that the Scripture said Zacharias and Elisabeth were “well stricken in years.” Now, the author of Luke paints this couple as Ma and Pa Kettle ready for senior housing. However, with the life expectancy of the time, Zacharias and Elisabeth probably were in their 40’s.

Despite Zacharias doubts (verse 18), God pulled a stunt that would make Dr. Who proud and regenerated a “dead” couple with Divine erotic (living) power (verses 23 and 24). God showed that He/She can regenerate even the most hopeless and heartbreaking of situations. And we know that Zacharias and Elisabeth would bring John (the Baptist) into the world.

Today, many of us are like Zacharias and Elisabeth, dealing with a painful issue so long that we believe is “dead” in our lives. We dealt with that issue so long in our lives that we think nothing more can be done. We just resign ourselves to our situation and get along with our lives in our pain…

However, as we await the coming Christ, we can look for his Divine regenerative power in our lives. God is regenerating dead situations today just like He/She did in the Scripture text. Rejoice this Advent season family! Whatever we’re going through, God can-and will-regenerate the dead into life; now and always!

Peace!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Preparation at Advent

People Get Ready. A Change Is Coming…
(With a nod to Curtis Mayfield)

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:1-3

and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.

Matthew 1:17c (both passages from the King James Version)

Welcome to the Third Sunday of Advent. Today, we see a shift in the story. Earlier, I wrote from the Old Testament Prophet, Isaiah. Today, we are shifting between the Testaments: from the prophets to the prophet, God’s Christ Jesus.

Our Scripture texts start at Malachi, the last prophet (and book) of the Old Testament. Here God is telling Israel about His/Her messenger, who this time will be the one who will “prepare the way of the Lord”. Plus this messenger will be the ultimate Priest to purify the Sons of Levi, who was the tribe of Jewish priesthood. This is traditionally seen as a pointer to Jesus and his future ministry…

…Then we jump into Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. The verse from Matthew is like a link from the exile (during the time of the prophets), to the time of Christ. Traditionally, Matthew is seen as the Gospel that expresses the Jewishness of Christ. The author of Matthew wants us to see that from Adam to Jacob to Judah to David to the exiled Jews in the tribe of Judah up to Joseph and Jesus the Christ. This would help to link the Testaments since Malachi was penned around 420 BCE. If you look at it, there were no more Jewish prophets after Malachi in the BCE period.

As we continue our Advent journey, we’re going to shift into the New Testament narratives. We’re going to rediscover the old stories that still speak to us at Advent as we await the coming of God’s Christ. Let’s prepare ourselves!

Peace!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Comfort At Advent

Where can we find comfort?

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

Isaiah 40:1-2 (King James Version)

I’m enjoying lunch whilst subjected to popular Christmas tunes (torture). All about me I see people going about their business getting ready for another Holiday Season. Last night I enjoyed a Christmas handbell concert at my church, and one of our weekend projects at home is the Christmas decorations. 

However, all is not merry for lots of people. As I touched on in my last post, life will suck at times-especially this time of the year. Many are going about their lives trying to keep their “smiley face” on while in pain on the inside. These people feel as if they’re on the outside looking in as they alone deal with what life tosses at them. The pain they feel could be something they generated, or as the undeserved result of someone else.

In today’s Scripture, we see Israel in deep shit. If I recall correctly, thanks to turning her back on God, Isaiah prophesied that Israel would ultimately wind up in exile in Babylon. Of course it spelled a dark time for all, with despair for the future. There were probably those who felt their exile was just, while others felt they shouldn’t have to suffer for someone else’s sins. However-despite the grim outlook-all was not lost. It was at this time that God comforted Israel that her punishment would come to an end. God will pardon Israel for her sins.

Today many of us are living in exile with despair for the future. There are people wondering how they’re going to make it through this “happy” time without losing their hope. They wonder if they will be comforted and find pardon for their situation. Will they ultimately have a better end in sight?

Thanks to the Christ who comes into our world, we have comfort-Divine comfort. We also have that pardon for our situations in life. Praise God that we are not in exile; that God is with us through our tough times. That is something worth celebrating about during this Advent Season-and beyond.

Thank God for the comfort. Thank God for the pardon. Peace!

(Image by Me: Abandoned Pine Brook Motel, NJ. 2019)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It's All Good at Advent

Whatever we’re going through, thank God it’s all good.
(Image by Me)

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Job 19:25-26 (KJV)

I pray this post finds you well during this Advent season. This post is also written in memory of my niece, Ashley Migliore who passed away this week at the too-young age of 42; I’m still trying to wrap my head around the passing of such a beautiful soul… 

Life’s gonna suck at times. Shit will happen to us-either directly or indirectly-that’s an inescapable fact of life. Death of loved ones, illness, divorce, desertion, job downsizing, bankruptcy, foreclosure, eviction, false accusations, false arrest and sentencing, discrimination, broken promises, the list is unfortunately endless. You may think me a downer, however Advent calls us to face this fact of life.

If anyone could tell you this, it’s Job. The unwilling party of a wager between God and Satan, Job lost it all: his wealth, his children, his health, even the support of his wife. To make matters worse, Jobs’ friends kicked him while he was literally down. Job been through shit that would make any sane person do a high dive off the George Washington Bridge sans parachute.

Today’s Scripture text came to mind because of the theme, plus this text is included in Handel’s Messiah which is sung this time of the year. And it’s in today’s text we see something interesting. During Jobs’ monologue about his plight, Job interjects the above words. This is the shit that makes you stop and think. Here’s a man who’s going through a personal nuclear holocaust, yet still have assurance that it’s all good. What I believe is that Job is saying is that God’s still in charge-despite the shit Job’s going through. Also that even if his trial should kill him, he will still see God “in his flesh.” Job knew it was all good, and that God makes it good. Plus, Job knew that God was greater than his trials.

As we await the coming of God’s Christ, Job’s words are relevant to us today. As Christ is revealed in our lives, God makes it all good. Despite the shit life hands us, and going through days that push you to the brink, God is still in charge. Please understand, these are not idle feel good words, this has been my experience in life as well. It’s been this assurance that’s kept me from losing my mind.

As we continue into Advent, and I prepare to say “so long” to my niece, let us remember that God’s still in charge and it’s all good despite what’s thrown at us. 

Peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Shit’s Getting Real at Advent

dscn2935

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Isaiah 6:1-5 (King James Version)

As we continue our Advent journey, we also contend with the Holidays. The endless orgy of TV specials with commercials telling us to buy whatever, 24/7 shopping frenzy, parties and other gatherings, etc, etc, etc. With all this tugging at our attention, it’s easy to get caught in such an orgy.

Before you pick up that Christmas cookie, let me ask you a question: instead of looking at this Advent season as the Holidays, went don’t we look at this season as the Holy Days? (Thank you Pastor Buffalo for the inspiration).

Ahh… Made you drop that cup of cheap eggnog. Made you think for a moment. Good! You see, we’ve become disconnected from the holiness, the mystical and the uniqueness of Advent. We’ve allowed crass commercialism, the general culture, and sappy sentimental “religion” to dumb down the holiness of Advent. 

There’s a holy mysticism about Advent. Think about it: God is becoming one with humanity through His/Her Christ. Divinity is intercoursing with us on a transcendent and intimate level. The wonder and awe of God is coming into our midst….

Yet we switch on “Holiday” mode and go about our day…

I believe we don’t see the holy in Advent is because a for real Divine revelation would fuck with our heads. Today’s Scripture text says it all. The prophet Isaiah just had a vision in the temple that was an eye-opening experience. I know if I alone saw God on His/Her throne with seraphim flying about in my church, I know at best I’d pee in my pants for sure. 

You see, when the Divine engaged Brother Isaiah, he had his “Oh shit” moment and thought he was a dead duck. Isaiah recognized his sinfulness living among the sinful. When God engages us and His/Her Wildness and Erotic power flowing from pure holiness, we discover that we ain’t all that. We see our “uncleanliness” and how we’ve missed the mark in our lives compared to the Divine. We would have to be real with ourselves and with God. So these days we just dumb everything down and turn the dangerous Holy Days into safe and distracting Holidays.

However, if we started to again see Advent as holy, to see the mystical with open eyes. To allow ourselves to be engaged by God’s Christ in all his wildness and power. To see ourselves as what we truly are, instead of being distracted with Holiday stuff. When we do this, we will see Advent as a holy season instead of a countdown to Christmas. We will truly take to our hearts and minds what the coming of God’s Christ means to-and for-us.

Peace.

Post image taken by Me November 12, 2019.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now That It’s Advent

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord…”

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.  Isaiah 40:3-5 (King James Version).

This was originally to publish on First Sunday of Advent.  However, trying to blog from mobile screwed things up.  However, better late than never.

Welcome to Advent 2019!  The season before Christmastide where we celebrate the coming of God’s Christ into our world.  It’s a time where we waited with anticipation for Christ’s arrival.

Tonight’s Scripture is a passage usually read during Advent.  It’s where the Old Testament Hebrew prophet Isaiah is announcing the coming of God’s Realm.  It was announcing the coming of the Lord.  That we’re to prepare for the Lord’s coming by making a highway through the desert.  That in the midst of our “desert” or lifeless places, we are to prepare for the Lord’s coming.

And Heaven knows we’re in a desert place.  Today, we’re wandering in a desert of every ill imaginable: climate change; prejudice of every stripe; economic and social inequities; wars and rumors of wars; political theater; terrorism; the list goes on.  However, God calls us to prepare so we can receive Christ when he comes into our world.

What will Christ do when he comes?  Straighten shit out.  Christ will usher in the Realm of God where all things (and people) will be upended.  The humble will be exalted, whilst the exalted will be humbled.  The marginalized will be included.  The “other” will be “in crowd”.  On the other hand, those who thought they were “in” will find out how “out” they really are.  It will be a different world.

Then, the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed to all.  We’ll all see God’s Glory through His/Her Christ.  And the Realm of God shall be fulfilled.

While we are waiting, come.  Come God’s Christ.

Peace.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why the change?

Good Evening and Happy Autumn!

I am maturing into a different version of myself, thus the change in site. It’s a work in progress that will eventually change over time. So, you’ll see a change in this site.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment