Saturday, December 27, 2014


One of many pleasures of rising several hours before most of the rest of the living in the time zone is its opportunity to read, think and explore. Arrival of the world wide web means we no longer must keep a stack of books at hand, or an Encyclopedia Britannica, or wait for the public library to open, because virtually everything in books is at the fingertips of anyone with online access. Computer, smart phone, tablet. It’s all there if you look for it. So lately, including this morning, I’m browsing Tracey Rich’s website Judaism 101 to discover and understand Jewish heritage that underlies much of our Christianity, including what comes up in our lectionary readings.

Any number of such websites are online, but because bias affects reliability, I check authorship first off and avoid those authored by Christians or so-called “messianic Jews.” It always pays to check authorship first anyway, and to dig a bit further if a bell rings even distantly or a light goes on even dimly. Tracey Rich seems legit.

In our lectionary cycle, tomorrow December 28 is Christmas One, its gospel from Luke 2. After Mary’s purification, parents of the newborn Jesus take him to temple in Jerusalem to fulfill tenets of the Law of Moses that apply to a son who is her firstborn. The law is specific and it is clear that Jesus qualifies.
 In fact, I wonder whether Luke’s preamble through Elizabeth and John the Baptist, and God’s angel and Mary of Nazareth, is not more to establish Jesus‘ credentials -- as a child of the temple, a son of David, a kinsman of Samuel, the new Moses -- than to dig foundation footings for the later church’s Doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

That is to say, Luke not distracted by miraculous impossibilities of nature, or celibate male obsession with an unattainable woman on a pedestal, but Luke certifying that Mary has not had other children or a miscarriage that opened the womb, such that Jesus qualifies for the Jewish ritual of redemption.

Who knows: we may or may not discuss this at Sunday School tomorrow morning. 


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