Archive for the ‘Human’ Category

Isaiah and Jesus: Prince of Peace

January 11, 2017

For a child has been born for us,

a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 NRSV

Prince of Peace is the last of Isaiah’s four royal titles and for many of us, perhaps, the most familiar. (Our series on these titles began here, and continued here,and here.)

When the Bible speaks of peace it is talking about something more than the absence of conflict. While ending war would significantly improve the lives of many people, God has an even grander vision. Peace, as the prophets speak of it, is a world where people are secure, are not afraid, have enough to eat, are healthy, have meaningful work and so on. God’s peace is a place and time where everyone can reach their full potential, where everyone can be the person God desires them to be. Biblical peace is big, inclusive and so wonderful that it is nearly unimaginable.

In the ancient world, as today, rulers were charged with keeping the peace. The security and prosperity of their kingdom was the ruler’s responsibility. Often to achieve “peace” rulers and nations used force.The “Pax Romana” was a peace that benefited the Roman Empire and was imposed upon conquered nations and peoples. As Brueggemann asks in his book, Names for the Messiah, can real peace be imposed?

We can think of times when peace was the result of treaty, or defeat and see that that sort of enforced peace is not true peace for everyone. Winners live in peace because the losers can no longer fight. Losers live in peace because the winner’s stop (mostly) killing them.

Rulers, in addition to keeping the peace are also expected to ensure prosperity. Sadly, war is more prosperous than  God’s peace. So we live with peace that is not true peace. No wonder we are confused by Jesus.

The Prince of True Peace does not bring the peace we know and expect. Perhaps most confusing is that the Prince of Peace does not impose peace, because peace cannot be imposed. The Prince of True Peace shows us what true peace looks like in a world filled with false peace.  True peace is so different from the false peace we are used to, that true peace doesn’t even look like peace to us. For that true peace to become reality, we must accept and seek true peace. The Kingdom, at least for now, comes one person at a time.

Now that the Advent and Christmas talk of peace has died down. How do we go forward as people who bring and embody true peace into an unpeaceful world?

My reflections this Advent and Christmas are based on Walter Brueggemann’s book Names for the Messiah: An Advent Study Guide.  

In the Image

July 2, 2016

Often when we talk about what it is that makes us human, we talk about how we are different than other animals. We talk about upright posture, language, culture, self transcendence and so on. Our concern seems to be to articulate and establish our distance from animals.  Theologically speaking what makes us human, what makes us distinct is our responsibility for creation as bearers of God’s image and not whatever way we might be different than other animals.

It is interesting when God uses images and metaphors to describe God’s own self, God and the Biblical writers don’t have any problem comparing God to various animals.





God is even compared to plants and rocks. Apparently it doesn’t bother God to have some things, some attributes, in common with animals and even plants and rocks.God isn’t threatened or diminished by naming common ground with the animal world.

God appears to be perfectly comfortable saying, I have some characteristics in common with bears, and eagles, and lambs and even chickens.If God isn’t afraid to embrace a connection with the animal world, why are we?

Being part of the long process of evolution, sharing genetic material, sharing abilities and traits with the rest of the animal world simply doesn’t diminish us.  It does connect us in deep and wonderful ways. That animals make tools, teach their young, make lifelong friendships, play, mourn, and reason is a wonderful witness to the amazing creativity of God.

We don’t need to separate ourselves from the animal world. We can embrace our connection with other living creatures who are, like us, created and loved by God. We won’t be diminished. Our exploration of the interconnections in the animal world can be a way to enter into the creative mystery of God. It can be a pathway into a deeper relationship with God and the world where God continues to create and care and love.

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