Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent 2 Friday

Today's lectionary passage from Isaiah 7 contains the "money" verses of prophecy for many Christians:

13Then Isaiah said: "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 

Phew! That's pretty potent stuff. One little discrepancy from the way we often hear it translated-- "Behold, the Virgin shall conceive," the alto sings in the Handel setting. Trouble is, the Hebrew doesn't say "virgin." It says, "young woman."

Other interesting things in this passage you won't hear too much about in the Christmas sermon:

20On that day the Lord will shave with a razor hired beyond the River - with the king of Assyria - the head and the hair of the feet, and it will take off the beard as well. 

And also,

23On that day every place where there used to be a thousand vines, worth a thousand shekels of silver, will become briers and thorns. 24With bow and arrows one will go there, for all the land will be briers and thorns; 25and as for all the hills that used to be hoed with a hoe, you will not go there for fear of briers and thorns; but they will become a place where cattle are let loose and where sheep tread. 

Oh, we Christians are so great at plucking verses of scripture out of context to support the arguments we want to make.  Please don't get me wrong: my faith is in Emmanuel, God-With-Us, in Jesus. But this is precisely the same trouble we get into when we want to enforce all the verses we think are about particular understandings of sexuality, and ignore, for instance, all the verses in which Jesus tells us what we should do with our money.

What we need, when we read scripture, is some humility. Which, in fact, I think is found in the post below, in which Dave Matthews sings a song of Jesus that gives me chills.

Hear this, and I think you hear the words of another kind of prophet.

She was his girl; he was her boyfriend
She be his wife; take him as her husband
A surprise on the way, any day, any day
One healthy little giggling dribbling baby boy
The wise men came three made their way
To shower him with love
While he lay in the hay
Shower him with love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around
Not very much of his childhood was known
Kept his mother Mary worried
Always out on his own
He met another Mary for a reasonable fee, less than
Reputable as known to be

His heart was full of love love love

Love love love
Love love is all around
When Jesus Christ was nailed to the his tree
Said "oh, Daddy-o I can see how it all soon will be
I came to she'd a little light on this darkening scene
Instead I fear I spill the blood of my children all around"

The blood of our children all around

The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around
So the story goes, so I'm told
The people he knew were
Less than golden hearted
Gamblers and robbers
Drinkers and jokers, all soul searchers
Like you and me

Rumors insisited he soon would be

For his deviations
Taken into custody by the authorities
Less informed than he.
Drinkers and jokers. all soul searchers
Searching for love love love
Love love love
Love love is all around

Preparations were made

For his celebration day
He said "eat this bread and think of it as me
Drink this wine and dream it will be
The blood of our children all around
The blood of our children all around"
The blood of our children all around

Father up above, why in all this anger have you fill

Me up with love
Fill me love love love
Love love love
Love love
And the blood of our children all around

More lyrics:


Anonymous said...

You're a good writer and have some good insight. But I'm not sure you're submissive to God and His Word. In making the point that Scripture should be interpreted on a contextual basis (a very reasonable hermeneutic), you implied that some "biblical" understanding of sexuality has developed out of context. Please explain.

Cecilia said...

I'd be happy to do so.

I will take the issue of "marriage between a man and a woman" and the further notion of the Christian family as being a married man and woman and their children. This is currently idealized in many Christian circles as being the "biblical" definition of marriage, largely based on Jesus' admonition, itself based on Genesis 2:24: "He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh." Matthew 19:4-6.

However, this ignores a number of issues, such as: the acceptance of multiple wives/ wives and concubines in the Old Testament (ex, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar; the Kings of Israel and Judah). These are also "biblical" notions of marriage. Further, we have Jesus clearly undermining the nuclear family: "For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Matt. 10:35); and "'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'" (Matthew 12:48-50).

I simply think we need to be cautious when we cherry pick verses to uphold a particular view which may be very culturally driven, and may or may not reflect the true arc of the scriptures, which I believe bend towards justice and mercy (as only God can achieve).

Thanks for writing! And, please-- take a name. Anonymous comments are published here, but it's always better to have an identity. Otherwise, every "Anonymous" might be mistaken for a single writer.