Monday, November 19, 2007

God Among Us discussion 01

Here's the link to the basic course description and outline; since my first class will be this coming Sunday, Reign of Christ, due to the short week I actually finished my handout this morning and I'm blogging it now before it gets away from me. Because there will be interested people at both churches (4 Sundays at one; 3 Wednesdays at the other) who won't be able to attend the discussions, I've tried to be fairly comprehensive, though these all are biblically literate folks! The study is for Advent as we anticipate God coming into our midst in a unique way, so I'm drawing some of the Reign of Christ and Advent pericopes from the RCL. This time I've imported my MS Word doc into google docs rather than going back into word to change the smart quotes into straight ones as I usually try to do; these days it seems as if the internet handles curly quotes and diacriticals far better than in the former days. BTW, my series title comes from «Dieu parmi nous» in Olivier Messiaen's La Nativit√© suite for organ. Except for John 1:14, all scriptures are NRSV.
Advent 1: Historical Witness – Creation and Prophets

Advent 2: Historical Witness – Jesus Christ

Advent 3: Liturgy, Word, Sacrament

Advent 4: Contemporary Witness – us and our neighbors


Before Jesus came onto the scene, throughout the earlier witness of the Bible, God partially revealed himself in ways humans could see, touch, hear and feel, giving people some idea of a God close to creation rather than far-away and distant. In our own lives, word, sacrament and liturgy are audible, tangible signs of the presence of the Divine and are some of the ways we remember God’s past saving deeds and find living hope for a free and surprising future.

Isaiah 64:1-5 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence...

2 Samuel 7:5-6 “Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling.’”

John 1:14 And the word became flesh and tabernacled, pitched a tent among us...The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. [MSG] In the Exodus desert and supremely in Jesus, God pitched a tent—traveling alongside us. How about us? Tent-toting, tent-pitching alongside each other and our neighbors?! Think about it; pray about it! Dream about it!


Creation is a product of God’s word and will.

Revised Common Lectionary year C – Christ the King: Colossians 1:11-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…in him all things in heaven and on earth were created…

Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 God creates everything, and also provides for the healthy environment all creation needs to live faithfully and fully. God creates humanity in a multifaceted Image of the Divine; God’s attributes and our attributes include holiness, justice, righteousness, servanthood and creativity.

RCL, year C, Christ the King: Luke 22:23-27 …the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. ... I am among you as one who serves.

Genesis 2, 3 Do not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, in the center. We find the real Tree of Life, the cross of Jesus Christ, on the edge, on the margins, outside the political, social and religious establishment, and in Jesus we partake of the real Tree of Life. You shall be as gods? In Jesus Christ we fully participate in the divine nature as servants, co-creators and stewards of creation.

From these early Yahwist texts in Genesis to the end of the bible:

Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-6 The new Jerusalem, City of God with the River of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, from the cross.

Genesis 6:1 - 9:17 God freely and persistently approaches us, draws us into covenant. “But I will establish my covenant with you ...and with every living creature… this is the sign of the covenant ...when the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember…”

Genesis 11:27…through Genesis 25 Abram/Abraham was an Ivri, a Hebrew, one from the other side. In Jesus we meet the God from the very other side, yet paradoxically contained within human flesh. Abraham, Jesus, us – from the other side of culture, the other side of the world, from our neighbors’ other sides? Think about it!

RCL year C – Christ the King: Psalm 46 God is in the midst of the city; the Lord of hosts is with us…

Stewardship of Creation

Creation: “Into the land” is the deuteronomic historian’s (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) constant refrain, and clearly shows God’s Jubilee passion for the vital and complete needs of creation.

Deuteronomy 4:32-40 Keep his statutes and his commandments, which I am commanding you today for your own well-being and that of your descendants after you, so that you may long remain in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.

Leviticus 19:1-18 “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” This section includes the Ten Commandments.

Leviticus 25:1-12 is the Jubilee text and points to Jesus’ establishing the fullness of Jubilee.


Prophet: spokesperson for God, speaking against the conventional political, social and religious establishments, against injustice and exploitation, and laying out alternatives that will lead to justice, righteousness and faithful stewardship of all life, to a true common-wealth. Back to the Deuteronomy and Leviticus texts, especially Leviticus 25.

The prophets came into a setting in which the adjacent cultures had place and fertility gods that existed within cyclical time, with the endless recurrence of the same thing; Yahweh’s people, Israel, wanted a god like the other people’s gods, a god housed in a fixed stone structure and location. Yahweh self-reveals as the God who forms ever-changing, surprising and endlessly permeable history, with a presence often hidden from sight, always free, most typically elusive and never subject to human control. One of the revolutionary things about Yahweh as opposed and contrasted with the other Ancient Near Eastern deities, was that Yahweh didn’t require beseeching, entreating, sacrifices or other extraordinary displays of loyalty; Yahweh’s specialty was constant, unmediated presence with creation. How about us?

Amos 5:18-24 I hate, I loathe, I despise your festivals; I am not appeased by and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. ...But let justice well up like water, and righteousness like an unfailing ever-flowing stream.

Micah 6:8 ...And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?

Isaiah 58:6-8 Is not this the fast I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to set the broken free, and to shatter every subjugation? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry...the glory of the Lord shall be your safety and security.

RCL year A – Advent 1: Psalm 122 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

RCL year C – Christ the King: Jeremiah 23:1-6 Woe to the Shepherds...the days are surely coming...a righteous branch, justice and righteousness...

RCL year A – Advent 1: Romans 13:8-14 Owe no one anything, except to love one another...

© Leah Chang 2007

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