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Birthday Flowers

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My mother, Emily, in her prime

 

Today is my mother’s birthday.  She would have been 99.  No one in our family has lived to such an age; it’s apparently not in our genetic code.

If church were meeting, I would be bringing flowers this week.  The last job my mother had was as church secretary for her Unitarian church.  Among her duties was bringing flowers if no one had signed up to do so.  And so I honor her with flowers.

 

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This year, not needing a large bouquet, I picked a few from my garden.  Snapdragons don’t last long as cut flowers, but they offer a cheerful mix of colors, appropriate to the Easter season.

An Easter Story

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Lee Van Ham’s new book, “The Liberating Birth of Jesus” came out in late fall.  The timing and the title might lead one to expect that it’s a story of Christmas.  It’s not, though there’s mention of how our culture crowds out the full meaning of Jesus’ birth.

It’s an Easter story.  Specifically, it’s about two Easter people, whom we know as Matthew and Luke, who wrote for Easter people, to help preserve for future generations the mind-blowing experience of encountering Jesus.

Why do we have these two birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke?  Because each writer is using different but complementary ways of making the case that the Jesus whom the early Christians encountered brought them to a new consciousness, a new creation.

Van Ham works through all the pieces of the story, the magi from afar, the shepherds close by, genealogy and dreams and angels, showing how they point to the arrival of a new creation.  For us today, this new way of seeing can lead us to living radical creation-centered lives.

Christmas as we know it came in with government-sanctioned Christianity in the fourth century of our era.  Over and over, the Easter message has been co-opted by human institutions.  Over and over, prophets arise to bring us back to the main point: the energy of Easter that is a new beginning.

“The Liberating Birth of Jesus” is a short but solid book that would make a good group study.  I highly recommend it.