Most of the information about Christmas is found in the Gospel of Luke. Luke was probably a gentile by birth and was believe to be well educated in Greek culture. He was a physician and was probably a good friend to Paul. Luke’s account was believed to be the most accurate historically; it seems he took extra pains to be sure that everything was just right.
It would be interesting to learn where he got the Christmas information. Did he get it from on of the apostle’s lips, strictly from divine inspiration, or from verbal accounts of others? We will probably never know. Luke is the only writer to tell us that Jesus was born in a stable.
I don’t remember Jesus ever talking about his birth or childhood? I guess he left that to others. Anyway, let us all remember the true reason for the season. I thought I would close out this entry recognizing the prophetess Anna. She doesn’t get mentioned much in the Christmas texts today. I always find myself gravitating to those least recognized heroes of the past.
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Let me start out by telling you that this post is not about Jesus being a radical but there is definitely some truth to that statement and I will address that in a future post. I know this title is kind of confusing. Is there really such a thing as an “ordinary” radical. I don’t know but that is what Shane Clairborne calls himself. Shane is one of those few people who really seems to live out the words of Jesus Christ. Yes, he is an out-of-the-box thinker and doer who is part of an organization called “The Simple Way”. Shane and the people in his group live a very simple community lifestyle. They take the words of Jesus to the streets of Philadelphia by witnessing, through their actions as well as words, to the poor and undernourished (both physically and spiritually). I sometimes like to think of myself as a radical. After all I was in college in the 60’s. But, to tell the truth, I was working 40-50 hours a week in order to pay my way through college and also taking almost a full academic load so there was really no time for those pesky demonstrations that were happening all around me at the time. I am kind of ashamed to say that I have lived my life pretty much as most others do. Maybe I am a radical in thought only but I have been trying to change that lately!
Let’s get back to Shane. He has written several books including one from which I pulled the moniker above. It is entitled “The Irresistible Revolution – living as an ordinary radical”. This book totally blew me away when I read it! How can a young man, at least young by my standards, have such wisdom about Christian living! Tony Campolo’s remarks at the front of the book does a very good job of expressing my thoughts. He wrote
“Shane expresses the kind of authentic Christianity that most of us are trying to avoid because the cost is too great. He proposes a lifestyle that prophetically proclaims what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the twenty-first century”.
I highly recommend this book, and any of the others he has written. But, I must admit these books are not for those who think we are doing just fine in our Christian living and outreach. I gave a copy to my pastor to read and the first thing he said after reading it was that “the author doesn’t think much of churches today and he is kind of a communist”. According to Wikipedia’s listing for Shane Clairborne, my pastor’s views are shared by other social conservatives in the Christian Evangelical community. I was expecting my pastor, like me, to hook up with the zeal and passion that Clairborne has for Christ but that was not to be. But don’t hold my pastor’s comments against me even if I am not running for president. Maybe I am a radical after all. If you have an open mind and are ready to admit that we, as 21st century Christian, can do a better job of living according to the words of Christ and in reaching out to the community (especially the youth) then you can learn things from this young man. Their website in listed in my blogroll if you care to visit them.