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What's really going on, and those who get it

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Isaiah 60:1-6 Matthew 2:1-12
Epiphany has come to be known as the celebration of the three kings’ encounter with Jesus, only in this text there are only two kings, and neither of them are the Magi.
Our passage begins “in the time of King Herod”, and I translate, “In the time of a notorious authoritarian demagogue, enormously wealthy and notably insecure, a ruler obsessed with his reputation, who both taxed the people extensively and offered extensive job creation on vast construction projects throughout the kingdom designed to build up his name. Herod was a sovereign answerable to a foreign government, who spent lavish sums of money building up his own private empire and secure fortresses, whose rule was characterized by security measures aimed at suppressing the people’s contempt for him and keeping them from speaking out, and whom history remembers for both for his successes and his tyrannical despotism, in that time…” In the time of that “king”’s rule, comes another king.
A baby, born …

Yes to God's Yes

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Luke 1:26-45
This week I was introduced to a gorgeous poem by Denise Levertov, called "Annunciation," that I carried throughout my week.It suggests that we all have annunciations in our lives. Moments of divine announcement that invite us to be part of something more. That’s hard to imagine in the midst of daily traffic and business meetings, home improvements and political fiascos, global suffering and parenting challenges.That we are invited by the divine into something extraordinary? But imagine this is true. (Because it is). And imagine for a moment how we might greet these annunciations.
Lots of people, this poem suggested, do great and valuable things in life without any awareness of or appreciation for it. They go through life unaffected, oblivious to the conspiracy of redemption unfolding around, and indeed even sometimes through, their own lives. Others come to their annunciation moments with definite awareness, and so also fear and trembling at the terrible toll that r…

Shifting into Advent Mode

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Isaiah 40:1-11

We are living in a time of upheaval and struggle.Fires and floods and famines are not new, neither is war, nor corruption.But right now, the veneer is being stripped off of everything, and ugliness and pain is being revealed at every turn. Suffering and struggle is exposed, our hypocrisy and sin is right in front of us, and it feels maybe like everything is breaking down.It’s a strange time, a tense and wearying time.We’re all on edge, reactive, exhausted and short-fused.

But here comes Advent, right out in front of Christmas, bringing its on-purpose darkness like a blanket, gently laying it over us no matter what else is going on around us or within us. Advent doesn’t hold off to make sure we’re ready for it before it begins, and it doesn’t demand our attention with loud, frowning and urgency.  Instead, it comes steady and sure, rolling over us like a soft fog and inviting us into a different kind of being for a spell.
I once asked a Benedictine Monk about evil. Real, ter…