Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?

Merry Christmas!

In Matthew’s Gospel, he states that the birth of Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7:14.

Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:20-23

Fulfillment in Matthew:

Matthew employs the phrase “this was to fulfill” a number of times in his gospel before citing a passage from the Old Testament. While his fulfillment language can sometimes refer to a rather direct prediction, like the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, the city of David, this prediction/fulfillment scenario does not exhaust the phrase.

The phrase is better understood as meaning something more like “this (event) brings to completion” or “this (event) is the fullest expression of”. As far as we can tell, no Jews were expecting the Messiah or Messsiah(s) to be born of a virgin. Continue reading “Advent, Christmas & the Nativity: Immanuel, God With Us, Is that good news?”

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Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy 

While those of you who have read my previous posts are scrambling to put together a model of a first century Bethlehemite home complete with guest room and attached stable, I am departing slightly from the Nativity scene itself as I turn to Matthew’s genealogy which precedes his passing reference to Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem.

In his genealogy of Joseph’s line, Matthew includes references to four women from Abrahamic/Davidic line. They are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah (or Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon).

Why does Matthew mention these women at the beginning of his gospel? As with most good storytelling, there is no single right answer to this question. That is, I think Matthew likely had multiple reasons for highlighting these women at the beginning of his gospel. In this post, I have no intention of being exhaustive because that would be exhausting.

Who is Tamar? Continue reading “Advent, Christmas and the Nativity Part VI: Strange Women or Xenophobia & Genealogy “

Pops Staples (1914-2000) Posthumous Album: Don’t Lose This

I mentioned Pops Staples in my last post. I discovered The Staples Singers when I bought a cheap compilation album of Gospel Greats. The album cover was a roulette wheel and boasted a rare recording by Aretha Franklin. The quality of the recording was what had made it rare, I think. Nevertheless, there were treasures on this cheap CD. The song that I kept playing over and over was “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” by The Staples Singers. Pops Staples’s haunting tremolo and his daughter Mavis’s powerful and rich gospel voice kept this song on repeat. Next time I went to the Record Store (and that is what we did back then) Continue reading “Pops Staples (1914-2000) Posthumous Album: Don’t Lose This”

Damn Right I’ve Got The Gospel

Sometimes, the good news is found in unexpectd places. In my own life, I first learned of redemption from the final scenes of Return of the Jedi. But when I was dragged to a church, I was told that God was nothing like the force in Star Wars. Too bad, the force is way cool (Or, epic, as my kids now say). I learned about the nature of sin and the propensity of human beings to cross the boundaries that God has set for us from Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. King’s books were forbidden in my home. So, of course, I got them from my sister. Continue reading “Damn Right I’ve Got The Gospel”