I LOVE comments. Please leave some even if they are brief half-formed ideas
that you aren't even sure you really believe. I just love comments.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Question for the Day

Assuming that Jesus was raised in the traditions of his day practicing spiritual disciplines like studying scripture, praying, and helping the less fortunate, did he become a radical spiritual revolutionary because of, or in spite of, this participation in religious custom?

Jesus Presented in the Temple

So, the shepherds have gone back to their sheep. No more angels in the sky. The stressful holiday travel is behind them. And with glow of new parents still fresh on them, Mary and Joseph take care of some business.
On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord"), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons."

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel."

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
(Luke 2:21-40) There are hints here. Some tough to see, like talking about "their purification" when the law really only required the mother to be purified; like noting their sacrifice of two "young pigeons", the exception for the poor from the Lamb and pigeon required for most. Others are easier to see, Mary and Joseph paired over and over again, a prophet and a prophetess, revelation to the Gentiles, and a sword that will pierce the mother's heart. Hints of the radical world shift Jesus was to bring. But for the most part, isn't this a story of traditional people carrying out the old traditions?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Custom & Convention

Francis Bacon wrote of the Various Hindrances to the Growth of Knowledge that
The first of these is the extreme affecting of two extremities; the one antiquity, the other novelty ... one of them seeketh to devour and suppress the other; while antiquity envieth there should be new additions, and novelty cannot be content to add but it must deface: surely the advice of the prophet is the true direction in this matter, State super vias antiqas, et videte quaenam sit via recta et bon et ambulate in ea.[FN1]
Google Books Excerpt FN1 "Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths. Where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

Random response: I have heard from friends a concern that novelty is not content to add but to deface antiquity. I suppose to know which of the ancient paths is a good way, we have to know the ancient paths.

Anyone else have a random response?