Headlines from First Thoughts

Monday, November 29, 2010

"We've never done it that way before" would not make a good jingle for the mall merchants. #Advent blog:

The calendar from late November to mid-December usually answers one question for most East Tennesseans: "What did we do last year?" If you look at your calendar today, it's probably very similar to the one last year. Even if you did nothing last year, and the same this year, you've carried on a tradition.

But Isaiah asks us to think differently even about tradition. He knew even as a Jerusalem priest, tradition, annual feasts, celebrations, and especially the tradition of apathy were not nearly enough to get people ready for change and hope. In most cases, traditions just blind people further. Religious types tend to repeat traditions and keep the status quo for fear of losing what they know and for upsetting those they perceive have always liked it this way. "We've never done it that way before" would not make a good jingle for the mall merchants or a song on the all-Christmas music station.

Isaiah knew, and we know, that in order for Advent work, God must do something that we've never seen before. And we must respond in a way that we've never tried. Yesterday, we learned from Isaiah 2:1-5, in order to climb the mountain of the Lord, we'll need to check our weapons at security never to pick them up again.

When the light shined out of the cave of Bethlehem, down the mountain of the Lord, and drew people unto himself, God was asking for us not only to shed our political weapons of war but also our religious weapons of tradition. From Isaiah's perspective, the only traditions worth doing this month are the ones that cause us to shed our baggage and help us climb the mountain of the Lord with the things God really needs from us.

Like mountain climbers, we need people we can trust, whom we can tie onto as we climb the mountain. When we reach the summit, we'll need to offer the only gift that God wants-- our lives.

Perhaps you've never tried this, but Jesus' mother Mary could teach you a song or two about that. And in order for this to work, we're going to need some group to try.

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