On the one hand, there is in the foreground “a land flowing with milk and honey.” On the other hand, as one reads the text with modern eyes and ears, the problematic language of inheritance, possession, and settlement the chapter begins with rightly alarms readers concerned about occupation of stolen lands using theologically justifying language.
We look for revelations on the mountain tops—among the most powerful and famous. God’s politics of reversal, on display throughout Luke, call us to re-center this search in the valleys and level places, in the face of the child and the plea of a father.
Joseph’s claim that it was God who engineered the situation for good is indicative of a person, or at least a narrative character, who has experienced healing over time, away from his abusers. He has reframed his narrative to better suit how he sees himself and his world now, a world where he has power.
For those who experience a divine compulsion to publicly resist the perversions of the powerful, despite their own hesitations and fears, Jeremiah may be an encouraging witness to the potential for an experience of divine presence alongside the pain.
The disruptive presence of Nehemiah in spaces that are intended to erase his identity allows for a broader understanding of God’s word. While religious laws may sometimes be exclusionary in their nature, a higher law, one that is grounded in one’s fidelity to God through the way one lives one’s life, allows for radical inclusivity of all before God.
Both in Jesus’ baptism and in the later giving of the Spirit through the laying on of hands in the early Church, we see significance accorded to touch. This importance given to touch—to the tangible—summons us into the realm of human and bodily connection and engagement with others.
When we think about Christmas, do we associate it with charity or justice? Christmas certainly appears to be associated with charity in our larger culture. In contrast, Isaiah 9:2–7 reminds us that the lectionary readings for the season consistently focus on justice.