The gift of Christmas

Considered Christmas from God’s perspective?

Santa hanging out of an inflatable caravan? Our neighbours in the next street had a sense of humour. At least, I hope they did, because the next morning Santa and his caravan were lying on the grass looking very deflated.

Maybe that happens to our childhood dreams too. My Dad would cut branches from the Athol trees and bring them inside for Christmas. Grandma’s house was filled with relatives, festive food, songs around the piano, presents under the tree. But it never feels quite the same when you grow up to find yourself making the preparations, cooking the food, and cleaning up the wrappings. Santa got lost in the transition from what you might get to what you might give.

Have you considered Christmas from the Giver’s perspective? What was it like for the Father of humanity? For unto us a son is given (Isaiah 9:6).

Continue reading “The gift of Christmas”

Happier than ever: what I heard from Billie Eilish

(Warning: explicit language)

She’s one of the most creative singer/songwriters of our time. Her mystic is the strangeness that never belongs to any genre, a feeling that things are never quite as they seem.

She’s chilled, with lyrics that can be chilling.

She’s a warm soprano, with the highs filtered out.

She’s the mellow whisper that draws us into her trance.

Complementing her voice are filtered electronic rhythms, smooth bass, edgy guitars and percussion, blended by the master-chef Finneas — the less conspicuous member of the duo. She may be a soloist, but it can take a symphony orchestra to create that sound.

That’s all part of the enigma that attracts us to her music. When things don’t quite match, we’re drawn to explore further.

Continue reading “Happier than ever: what I heard from Billie Eilish”

One ruler can bring humanity home

What kind of ruler could bring an end to war and injustice? He’d need to be a very different kind of ruler, and all humanity would need to submit to him.

As you read the Christmas story, do you see how rulers today still rely on evil and death as Herod the Great did? The spirit behind Herod reigned in the rulers who came before him: Antiochus Epiphanes IV, Nebuchadnezzar, Pharaoh Neco, Sennacherib, …

When Fidel Castro died, some rulers like Canada’s Justin Trudeau sparked a social media storm for eulogizing him (#trudeaueulogies). Michael Bird chipped in with examples of how rulers still reign through the power of death: Continue reading “One ruler can bring humanity home”

King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-10)

Who was king of the Jews — Jesus, or Herod?

herodiumandmasada
Models: Masada and Herodium

Open Matthew 2:1-12.

Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds, and perhaps angels. Ask people to name the key players in the Christmas story, and that’s probably what you’ll get. There’s someone else who doesn’t make our Christmas lists. That’s because we don’t read the Bible as a kingdom story. Continue reading “King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1-10)”

Jacob in exile: hope in difficult times (Genesis 29–30)

Despite Jacob’s failures, YHWH establishes the foundation of his kingdom.

In the third generation, the promises God gave to Abraham hang on a knife-edge. Jacob is the sole person who can advance the vision of descendants in the land (YHWH’s nation), but he has splintered the family and abandoned the land. The whole kingdom project dangles like a thread. Continue reading “Jacob in exile: hope in difficult times (Genesis 29–30)”

The binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:3-9)

In the story of the binding of Isaac, is there a hint of the suffering God’s people would endure in the years ahead?

There are times when life is good, when you feel you have God’s provision, his blessing. There are also times when you don’t receive what you prayed for, or you lose what’s most precious to you. It’s in the difficult moment that you discover the basis of your faith. Do you love God for the benefits he gives? Or do you love God for who he is, holding onto him even when you lose everything else? Continue reading “The binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:3-9)”

Who will represent the sovereign? (Genesis 5)

We felt the despair of Cain’s version of humanity—away from YHWH’s presence, run by human power, offering greater violence as the answer to violence. We felt the contrast when Seth’s renewed humanity began calling on YHWH’s authority as their hope of survival. The narrator now leads us into this godly community. Continue reading “Who will represent the sovereign? (Genesis 5)”