The book of Luke and of Matthew record Jesus being criticized as a drunkard and a glutton. So in an attempt to follow that example, today we eat and drink together. Cheers!
But seriously, these two brief passages do reveal something important about the impact Jesus made, that is applicable today as well. In his time, as in recent times, the religious system had become so focused on the rules and laws that they forgot their primary purpose.
In Jerusalem 2000 years ago there was a complicated legal system of what was clean and unclean. Who was in and who was out. And a requirement for specific sacrifices, rituals, and punishments that corresponded with different sins. It didn’t take long before the leaders of this religious system, that was also a government of sorts, became so focused on enforcing the laws of their system that they forgot the essential tenants of loving God and neighbor first.
And as had happened many times before in the history of the Hebrews, it was time for a prophet who would call them to account. It was time for a revolution. But not one that would blow the whole system apart, but one that would bring it back to its original intention.
You may remember from last week that the God of Israel set a new paradigm for existence. One that was about love instead of about appeasing a god with sacrifices, one that was about caring for one another instead of just surviving, one that was about a rhythm of work and rest instead of just acquiring, building, consuming more, more, more.
I can’t help but see parallels with our current culture, society, existence in both of these eras. Are we not today increasing more about acquiring, building and consuming even at the cost of our sanity and of the greater good? And have you ever felt as if the religious system has become about who is in and out and the rituals and rules, and has forgotten to love its neighbor, care for the poor? It would be too broad to generalize each church this way…many are doing amazing good…but there is a reason we have all become disenchanted with a message that doesn’t seem to resonate with the Christ they purport to worship?
The Advent Word for today is wake up. Yea. Wake up! Wake up church, before you become more like the people Jesus preached against that the person he was. Wake up people, before you become mindless survival machines instead of living, breathing, joyful people. Let us all constantly wake up to the way, truth, life of pure loving reality. Wake up to an existence that is plugged in to and guided by the source of all good, love and peace. Wake up to the joy that calls us into as we eat, drink and play together this day. And if we are called drunkards and gluttons for that…well, we are in good company. Amen.
As we enjoy this time of play together and launch into the Advent season, I invite you to spend some of your conversation time on what makes Christmas a special time for you. Memories? Songs? Traditions?