Sunday, March 29, 2015

This week's lesson (March 28 - April 3): the coming of Jesus

"[God] has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty." -- Luke 1:51-53, NIV
It's obvious that God never went to high school.

Just like any high school, after all, Luke's society is motivated by honor and shame -- a society in which you live and die by people's opinion.
  • That's why you surround themselves with a retinue -- with an entourage of people who make you look good.
  • That's why you avoid the vulgar -- the rabble who won't do you or your reputation any good.
  • And that's why you're scandalized that the angels' "good news" -- a phrase that usually refers to important news from the imperial court . . . but you're scandalized that high-status news like this is delivered to shepherds.
You see, shepherds don't count. They're not important -- as Garrison Keillor notes, they are the ancient equivalent of parking lot attendants. No, their work makes them ritually unclean; their reputation as thieves makes them unwelcome in polite society.

That's why they're not allowed to testify in court.
That's why some towns ban them altogether. 
That's why an angel appearing to a shepherd is absurd. It's ridiculous. It's like the head of the cheerleading squad going to the prom with a member of your high school Chess Club.
In short, it ain't going to happen . . . 
But it does.
Yes, God sends his angels to shepherds -- in effect, he takes his cafeteria tray to a table full of "losers," and asks if he can eat lunch with them.
Obviously, he doesn't know any better.
Or maybe . . . 
Maybe he just doesn't care?

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