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Where I live near the Rio Grande, ecosystems of desert, river, mountains, and urban mixes of concrete and lawn meet together—portraits of conflict, coordination, creativity and change.
Change, life’s only constant, is stirring and shaking our churches. And not just Seventh-day Adventist congregations. Denominations across the Christian faith (and perhaps also across Judaism and other religious traditions) are undergoing a more than the “normal” dose of disruption.
One day in January my husband Peter and I drive to the top of the Sandia Mountains near our home, 10,500 feet close to sky. Albuquerque is a warm 58 degrees Fahrenheit, but 5,000 feet higher the snow is deep in and out of shadows. Our snowshoes leave claw marks on the icy, crusted path where other hikers have walked, but sink in the woods where only squirrels and other light-footed creatures scamper. It is impossible to lose Peter in the firs and spruce trees. His neon yellow snow-pants (reversible to neon pink) shine between straight trunks and thick evergreen boughs.
Today, June 28, the Christian world remembers Irenaeus of Lyons, an early church father from the 2nd century AD. We do well to remember him, as we have Irenaeus to thank for much, including the ordering of our four canonical gospels, his contribution to the establishment of scripture’s authority and a theology of the unity and goodness of God within the Trinity.
I can count on one hand the number of times Joseph—husband of Mary, carpenter, angel-dreamer, step-father of God—is mentioned in the Bible. What do we do with a biblical character who is so little mentioned, but who is so obviously important? We could study his lineage, make sure he satisfies all the prophetic requirements to be “parent” of the Messiah. We could find the literary parallels between this Joseph and the Old Testament dreamer. Once we’ve exhausted the ways of analyzing and exegeting Joseph’s story, what are we left with? Mostly mystery.
Luke 1:46-56 KJV
And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden:
for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
A fellow I know once sent me virtual chocolates via email on Valentines Day. Quite unsatisfying—images of luscious dark truffles on a computer screen. I replied, “What kind of guy gives fake chocolate?” A few days later there was a box of honest-to-goodness chocolates in my real mailbox; I enjoyed every bite.