Sunday, December 11, 2011

Third Sunday of Advent

The LORD says to my lord,
    "Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your

The LORD is at your right hand;
    he will shatter kings on the day of
          his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the
    filling them with corpses;
he will shatter heads
    over the wide earth.
He will drink from the stream by the
therefore he will lift up his head.
       Psalm 110:1, 5-7

Even David, that great exemplar of Hebrew expectations, believed that God would send someone who would be even greater than he (and hopefully without the frailties and failings).  That seems clear in this psalm which is attributed to him.  Early Christians accepted this tradition, which may account for it being quoted several times in the New Testament.  While many folks may still hope that God will knock the heads of leaders together to get their attention or rain down fire upon all those nations we don't like, there are those believers who have trouble with this language of judgment, retribution, violence.  No wonder this psalm is not quoted on Christmas cards, or is the scriptural basis for carols of the season!

Yet, it is a pretty accurate description of what Jesus did, it seems to me.

Didn't he shatter all the expectations of who the Messiah would be, and what the Messiah would do?

Didn't he put to death all those assumptions of how God acts in the world, telling us of the God who longs to love us, forgive us, save us?

Didn't he fill the world with people who were, and are today, willing to let their old lives die (becoming 'corpses' in a sense) so that the new life in Christ might emerge in them?

Didn't he continually invite us to drink from the living waters which are all around us?

The writer of Ephesians (2:11-22), perhaps with this psalm in mind, speaks about Christ as the One who shattered the barriers which we put up between us and otehrs; as the One who breaks down the hostility between human beings; as the One who takes those considered to be dead by the world (all the outsiders, the aliens, the strangers) and makes us all members of God's household.

May God continue to shatter our frozen hearts with that love and hope which came down at Bethlehem.

(c) 2011  Thom M. Shuman

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