Sunday, December 26, 2004

ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS. Christmas is winding down for most, but just winding up for some. If you've spent yourself in the build up to the "big day," why not let God's grace begin to gently replenish and refocus you over the next ten days. You've given, now receive. Dare to celebrate the Twelve Days from Christmas to Epiphany.

TWO TURTLE DOVES. The first day's gift was Jesus the Messiah, the "partridge in a pear tree" in the nmemonic song that is actually a catechetical tool first used in 16th-century England. Each gift conveys a basic aspect of orthodox Christian faith. The two gifts offered you today are the Old and New Testaments--the "two turtle doves."

CHRISTMAS TRANSITION. Christmas is the transition point from Old Testament to New Testament. The ancient anticipations, expectations, and interpretations of the Law and prophecies of a Messiah (Christ) are challengingly fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Many good people were so deeply entrenched in their traditions that they simply could not make Jesus fit into their worldview. Many others -- hungry for grace, liberation, and restoration – in faith opened their hearts to Jesus, in whom they found the embodiment of God’s promises.

COMMON THREAD. The dramatic diversity of the books of the Bible makes it difficult to find a common thread running throughout. But both Old and New Testaments speak pointedly of the Kingdom of God -- the reign of God as Lord in the lives of people and communities who embrace grace. God’s reign is depicted in the Old and New Testaments as a kingdom of peace. So it is fitting that today’s gifts are depicted as “turtle doves,” the dove being the ancient and contemporary symbol of peace, or shalom. The dove is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit, who brings the Word of God alive in our lives. Embrace God’s gift peace expressed in the new covenant mediated and sustained by Jesus Christ (the “partridge in a pear tree”).

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