Advent 4 – Rom 1, Ps 80 and a naughty little Jesus bum

Running in Parallel – Romans 1:1-7

It’s nearly Christmas, and we all know what that means.

No, I wasn’t thinking of a mountain of chocolate topped with turkey and tinsel, though who am I  to judge?

The clue is in the name – CHRISTmas. So what are celebrating? All shout out together. Yes, Jesus’ birthday.

It’s funny that. Shouldn’t we call it JESUSmas? Probably, because it’s the birth of human Jesus that we are talking about. Christ always has been. It wasn’t like before the first Christmas there were only two persons of the Godhead and then at Christmas God the Father and the Holy Spirit had to shuffle up on their cloud to make room for the Son as well. He always was and is and will be. All of ‘em. All the time. But human Jesus was definitely born as a baby and definitely died thirty-odd years later.

So what’s with this human-god thing? Are we saying God pooped his nappy? Seems a bit disrespectful. Or are we saying Baby Jesus had all of God’s knowledge and power in his cute little baby fingers and could walk on water before he could walk?

Kinda. I guess. He was definitely God and definitely human as well. Fully this. Fully that. One plus one equals … one. God and human. With these two natures running in parallel.

He was “descended from David according to the flesh, and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit.” (Rom 1:3-4)

Two natures, running in parallel. Like Olympic triathletes the Brownlee brothers, seen here, running in parallel. (Sort of. Don’t burn me for heresy. And if you’ve never seen the Brownlees finishing THAT race, here’s a link.)

Jesus tried to explain it to Nicodemus. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6-7) Nicodemus was surprised and he really didn’t get it. Hardly surprising. We’ve been wrestling with the concept for near on two thousand years and it’s still a doozy.

But did you notice something there? It wasn’t just Jesus who had two natures running in parallel, Nicodemus needed it too. Born of flesh and born of Spirit. The life of this age and the life of the age to come. Not one after the other, here on earth and then in heaven. They’re both at once, running in parallel. The life of heaven lived now, right alongside our daily hustle and bustle and ingrowing toe-nails.

Born and born again. Two natures. Running in parallel.

This Christmas, as we think of Jesus and his eternal life compressed to mortal days, let’s remember the reason he came: to expand our mortal days to the fullness of eternal life. Two natures. Running in parallel.

Liturgy for Advent 4

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19, Romans 1:1-7

Confession and Absolution

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
as we kneel before you in sorrow for our sins.
Restore us, O God.
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart,
and we eat the bread of tears.
Restore us, O God.
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

We confess that we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves
and we drink tears in full measure.
Restore us, O God.
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Restore us, we pray.
Then we will never turn back from you.
Give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O God.
Let your face shine, that we may be saved.

May God who is full of mercy,
our loving shepherd and tender master,
retore and revive us
and make his face shine upon us, that we may be saved.

Blessing and Dismissal

You are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
You are called to be saints.
You are called to be his who loved you
and gave himself for you.

Live in that calling and blessing,
and may the grace and peace of God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
indwell you by the Spirit of holiness,
this day, this week and forever.

Go in peace as Christ’s body on earth.

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