Jesus pronounced judgment on the entire system and dismantled it with a whip – modeling for us how to treat egregious distortions of Christian worship that distract from God’s redemptive work. This is not politics “out there,” in the public square, but in house.
If God invites dialogue and intervention and is moved by human persons, God is thus open to changing God’s mind. This picture of God has implications for human interactions. In cultural and political movements, people often make up their mind and are unpersuaded by what other people say or do. When these others are suffering others, being unpersuaded is a mark of tyranny. When evidence of malevolent intention is presented and the evidence is brushed aside in favour of aligning with larger—national or otherwise—interests, impassibility is a crime.
Transfiguration means to be challenged and governed by a different set of norms, in opposition to this world and the powers that disfigure the image of God in each one of us. Theologically, transfiguration is an eschatological vision that transforms and revolutionises our present.
Jesus and his disciples can be seen to both affirm and expand the construction of first-century family, even as they are not limited by it. Such a reading of Mark complicates any single definition of “biblical family” in favor of recognizing the fluid and constructed nature of family systems across time.
Jonah sat in the belly of an ocean beast for three days rather than face his duty to call Nineveh back to God. And Christians — especially white Christians — in this country have long been ignoring their duty to call one another to repentance.
The tearing open of the cosmic order is the descent of the true justice of God, waged against the empires of this world who rule under the banner of “order and justice,” but whose “justice” is always only violence and oppression.
This Christmas season, what might it mean to live into the promise of hope fulfilled, when our pandemic experience means that hope strains against lost lives and lost livelihoods? Perhaps it involves visioning a redemption—one built on the social and economic implications of Jeremiah’s vision of those redeemed.
Those who read Paul’s propertied incarnation in Galatians should not run away from its horrors or theologize them. We should find truth in them (though perhaps not the truth Paul intended). We should tell truth from them.
This Advent, we are in desperate need of both prophetic voices and prophetic imaginations. Voices to put our politicians in their place and imaginations to help us recognize the shape of God’s hesed in the midst of personal and global trauma.
The Magnificat is a song that disrupts both gender and hierarchical spaces. It is a song of anticipation and a song of realization. And as we meditate on this song during advent, we meditate on the nature of advent that is both a time of anticipation and realization. Advent is an ambiguous space that invites us to anticipate and realize the erasure of differences here and now.
The Gospel of Mark’s beguiling beginning bids us to consider the dangers of beginnings. John the Baptist’s heralding of Jesus’s coming was not the finality of salvation, but merely a herald to its coming. In this light should we consider our works of bringing God’s salvation and liberation to the world. The work of justice and liberation is long and hard, and many of us will be called to herald it, to lay the groundwork for its eventual manifestation.