We are now well into our Christmas Season, and I hope you have begun to sense the true War on Christmas. It is not “OMG, we can finally say Merry Christmas again” but a clear assault on Jesus Christ just as soon as he is announced as come to earth.
This war is not simply waged by the retail industry which is set up for Valentine’s Day (or July 4 for all I know), but waged by those who pretend to know Christ, but have no true intention of turning their lives around and following the Incarnate One. The fake US Christian/Nationalists pretend to be merry, but have no idea what that word even means.
Newness and hope are the centerpieces of God’s salvation. It is the story of truly turning one’s life around.
We see newness and hope and this “turning” today in all our scripture readings, but especially in the Old Testament lesson. Joshua leads the people across the Jordan into the promised land. Just like the parting of the Red Sea, here the river is temporarily dammed, long enough for the whole people of Israel to cross over. The water becomes like bookmarks on each end of the 40 year journey.
Once they get there, they commemorate their journey with the 12 stones representing the 12 tribes.
It is a breathtaking liturgical procession, wrought with symbolism and intrigue. It makes me want to do a procession like this with our churches – perhaps during baptism – a journey toward new life.
In liturgical processional fashion, the people march into the promised land, complete with the ark of the covenant, where God is said to live at that time. What I do know is that hope is right around the corner. And God goes with them.
The message of Christmas continues! God goes with us. Emmanuel means “God with us.” As Christians we see the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. As Christians we see the closeness of God going with us in a unique way, as we turn around.
May today be a celebration of that.