Jews and Christians celebrate the good works of the
Creator, from the macro- and microcosmos to the intricacies of the
human person being shaped in their mother’s womb (Psalms 19 and139).
Ancient Israel was encouraged to remember the works of the Lord (Isaiah
40-43) and Christians are focused the central work of Jesus: his death
on the Cross and victorious resurrection (I Corinthians 15).
Advent story reveals three further attributes of God’s work that can
help us in ours. The first is God’s motivation for the Incarnation:
love. This agape disposition of desiring the highest good for others and
sacrificially laboring for their welfare is the foundation for all of
God’s works (John 3:16). As we go to work, do we love our colleagues and
customers, even the nasty ones? God does. Do we offer our labor as
worship, or merely getting by until the weekend (Colossians 3:17-24)?
The second attribute is humility. As Pastor Justin Buzzard has said in a recent article at Made to Flourish (www.madetoflourish.org/resources),
humility is the one thing God honors. In contrast, pride brings divine
resistance! As we go about our work, are we celebrating others, helping
advance the mission apart from our position, and seeking god’s glory and
the good of others? Humility is not self-hatred; it is sober reflection
on ourselves and warm affection for others (Romans 12:3-8).
Advent work teaches us another lesson for our daily duties: The Lord
loves using all kinds of beautiful and broken people to accomplish his
work in the world. Matthew and Luke’s Nativity narratives display humble
women, poor shepherds, aged prayer warriors, and an overwhelmed couple
willing to accept the Lord’s word in the midst of familial and social
misunderstanding (Matthew 1-2; Luke 1-2). Can we see past status and
learn from anyone, even helping others realize their potential at our
humility, and a willingness to learn from anyone will help our daily
work be infused with adventure and meaning, even as we wrestle with
boredom, repletion, imperfect systems, and selfish people. God is the
First Worker (Genesis 1-2; Psalm 33) and he models actions and attitudes
worthy of our aspirations. Practically, we can live these principles as
we pray for others, model good teamwork, and encourage all around us.
Gospels of Matthew and Luke have extensive birth narratives with the
young, betrothed Jewish woman name Mary as the focus of God’s grace and
self-disclosure to the world. Luke’s Gospel carries this theme of
empowerment and equality forward with the list of women that funded the
mission of Jesus next to the list of his first disciples (Luke, chapter
8). In almost every passage with parables, Luke has a woman and a man as
the focus of Jesus’ illustrative teaching (see Luke, chapter 15). And
in all the gospels, women are the first to see the Risen Christ and
share the good news.
history, there are godly women in all vocations who proclaimed the
gospel, ruled empires, led communities, pioneered new ministries, and
raised families. The great 4th century Cappadocian Fathers
were discipled by Macrina the Elder and Macrina the Younger. Hildegard
of Bingen confronted bishops and popes, offered deep scientific and
theological insights, and composed amazing poems and songs in a medieval
era if systemic inequality. Eleanor of Aquitaine astonished all around
her. From the 1800s to the present, courageous female leaders have
served the vulnerable, fought for justice, started businesses, and made
the world a better place. Think of Dorothy Day, Catholic social
reformer, Margaret Thatcher, Methodist Prime Minister of Great Britain,
Mother Teresa, prophet for the poor, and many others. There stories are
often buried under the weight of a dominant patriarchal culture.
is time for all thoughtful persons to end ungodly and unprincipled
sexism and affirm the equality of all persons and the gifts that each
one brings to our world. This is not eliminating male and female
differences or opening the door to confusion. In our responses to the
anarchistic anthropologies of our day, we must not react with unjust
subcultural responses, confusing truth with particular cultural or
historical gender roles. In the end, we are catching up to the divine
image bestowed by the Creator.
A Poem for Christmas Eve
Candlelit church services with wiggly children;
Warmth around a fireplace.
Last minute creating and cooking, shopping and wrapping;
Poignant memories of departed loved ones.
Meals served to thousands without a home;
Grace encounters as Christ comes clothed with gratitude.
The kettle bells ring one more day;
Families brave the weather to visit friends in need.
Divine love comes wrapped in swaddling clothes;
A Virgin Mother nurses her Creator and Redeemer.
Longings for peace arise in hearts;
The Prince of Peace comes near.
A Merry Christmas to all!