The Gospel is about transformation. But there isn’t much transformative power in the baby Jesus, maybe that’s why so many people like him. But for the good stuff, the hard stuff, you got to let him grow up; and then in a sense he helps you grow up as well.
This Week's Text: Isaiah 61.1-4
For Further Study: Rachel Held Evans, Blog: Blessed Are The Entitled
Teaching Link: "Sorrow Transformed" December 11, 2011
Questions for Groups or Reflection:
1. When you think of the “true meaning of Christmas,” what comes to mind? What do you think of the “war on Christmas?” Why are both of these concepts important to people?
2. Read Isaiah 61.1-4. The word “anointed” in Hebrew is the same word for “Messiah.” What are some of the things the “Messiah” is going to proclaim? What, if any, of these groups do you feel like a member of? What would “good news” look like for you?
3. The “anointed one” has something for “those who mourn.” Are there things you grieve? What would it look like to have “ashes” turned into “a garland;” “mourning” into “gladness?”
4. Read Luke 4.16-30. Jesus selects this passage (Isaiah 61) to announce his ministry in Nazareth. What does he mean when he says, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing?”
5. At first the crowd welcomes the arrival of the “anointed one.” They turn on him once he challenges them. (The challenge has to do with the “exceptionalism” of the people of Israel.) There is a parallel to Christmas. Everyone loves a baby. But people lose interest, or get uncomfortable when faced with discipleship. It is easier to demand public nativity displays than care for the poor. It is easier to insist that others do thigs exactly as we do than work for justice for the oppressed. What are your reflections about this?
6. What are ways you can be challenged by Christmas this year?