Scripture Reading: Luke 2:22-40
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. — Luke 2:39-40
Of course, as with all births, Jesus’ birth was a beginning. It was the start of God come to earth. We struggle for words to describe this event and all that followed. We assign descriptive names to the baby attempting to understand the wonder of it all—Son of God, Prince of Peace, God with Us. And then we return to our regular routines of life just as Mary and Joseph did changed in ways we do not fully understand. Somehow we have been saved to make a difference. In my feeble attempt to grasp this reality, I distill this process of God with Us as striving for Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice. At least that is the perception I have of what Jesus did in his earthly ministry and what he calls those who chose to follow him to continue to do today and into the future. It is a circular process not linear. Wholeness leads to Oneness and Oneness leads to Justice and Justice in turn leads to Wholeness.
I have been struck throughout these days leading up to Christmas by the ads for a few movies being released here at the end of the year that speak to wholeness, oneness, and justice that may be worth our watching. I have not seen any of them, yet, but I hope to see them and thought you might want to also.
Unbroken is the true story of a young athlete, Louis Zamperini, who excelled in the 1936 Olympics. By the time the 1940 Olympics should have been held, the world was too caught up in war in which Zamperini served as a pilot, went down in the ocean, survived several days afloat in the ocean, and finally was taken prisoner where for two years he withstood the torture of being a prisoner of war. He survived, returned home, and was able to forgive his tormentors. It is a story of Wholeness.
Selma is the story of the civil rights marches in 1965 in the USA that were the catalyst for the Voting Rights Act passed that same year. It tells of the commitment of primarily people of faith to end by non-violent means the racially driven oppressive laws limiting voting in some parts of the country. These events resonate with the power of Oneness when the children of God come together for the right reasons. Particularly for those of us called to be the Body of Christ following Jesus’ resurrection, Oneness is pivotal.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is the third and last movie depicting J.R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit. The book illustrates well the struggles between good and evil. Although it is fantasy; it is violent and of necessity requires us to wrestle with the place of war in our world, if there is a place for war. It is about Justice.
We as followers of Christ have choices to make about how we go about bringing Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice to fruition, although we cannot question that Wholeness, Oneness, and Justice are our legacy.
Holy Spirit, truth divine,
Dawn upon this soul of mine;
Word of God and inward light
Wake my spirit, clear my sight.
Holy Spirit, love divine,
Glow within this heart of mine;
Kindle every high desire;
Perish self in Thy pure fire.
Holy Spirit, power divine
Fill and nerve this will of mine;
Grant that I may strongly live,
Bravely bear, and nobly strive.
Holy Spirit, peace divine,
Still this restless heart of mine;
Speak to calm this tossing sea,
Stayed in Thy tranquility.* Amen.
*Words by Samuel Longfellow
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.