Sunday, December 01, 2019

DE Ponderings

by Kevin Kessler

Matthew 1:18-25

God without us will not; we without God cannot. –St. Augustine

For what purpose did Jesus come into the world especially during the time of the Roman Empire? Matthew suggests it was to save people from their sin. This salvation could be defined as being rescued from our individual indiscretions in order to receive an assurance of an eternal residence in a heavenly realm. Another way to view Matthew’s understanding of salvation is in terms of subverting a present societal system that functions to institute and perpetuate fear and death through measures of control. The Roman Empire was such a system.

While each purpose above could likely be supported scripturally, the latter view is one that offers inspiration and challenge for me personally. A deist view offers that God has set the universe in motion, stands back, then watches the created order move forward through natural laws. But if that is the case, then what is the need for Jesus? Rather, God embodied in human form in the person of Jesus engages the world to encourage its transformation. My view is that Jesus came at an opportune time during the woes of a crushing system to introduce another way of being that subverted fear and death to promote hope and life. That God was embodied in Jesus, human form, suggests that humanity is empowered with the ongoing work of transformation, of ushering in alternative ways of hope and life in the midst of fear and death. St. Augustine seemingly accepted this view as well. God without us will not; we without God cannot. We with God have the opportunity with our lives and living to engage in doing what cannot be done without us, that is, to help bring about the salvation that God envisions for the created order.

As we navigate the season of Advent looking forward to the celebration of Christmas, may we do so with renewed vision and understanding, in that we are part of the Advent of a transformed world of Christmas hope, peace, joy, love, and light. In this manner, the Christmas story is more than a historical event that we celebrate and tend to secularize more each year. Instead it becomes the inspiration and challenge for us to become more intentionally involved with God in bringing about transformation that saves the world from its own undoing. God with us. We with God.

(Addendum: In the December issue of The Reflector you will find information about the District Leadership Team. It is my goal to add this information to subsequent newsletters to keep the district informed of work being done by the dedicated members of the LT. Plus, you will find meeting dates and places (some tentative yet). All meetings are open and as meetings are held near you, please know you are welcome and invited to attend. This is your district! If you have news to share of happenings in your congregation or communities, please submit articles. We are glad to add your good news to the newsletter and share it with the entire district.)