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I have always loved reading. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien, and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling-rank among my favorites. The authors tell a story in such a way that I wish their world existed. I long to walk through the wardrobe or to travel to the Lonely Mountain or walk the woods of Lothlorien. I want to be friends with the characters and be ranked with the loyal and brave of those stories.

I remember as a child hearing the stories of Scripture and wanting to join those stories. I imagined what it would be like to walk with Peter and James and John; to witness the miracles and hear the teachings of Christ. And that is the point. Scripture is the story of God and humanity–God saving humanity and all of Creation! And we are called to hear the Story and imagine the Kingdom of God. And then live out this new narrative. We have been given a new story. One where the hero overcomes evil with love and forgiveness. One where we are no longer slaves to possessions, to our anger, to our sin. One where we live in the presence of God at peace with each other.

And so it is disheartening as I hear from Christians that the answer to the violence in our nation and schools is arming teachers. It is disheartening as I hear Christians defend people carrying assault weapons. Christians sound an awful lot like our culture. They are sounding as violent as the culture, as vengeful as the culture, as fearful as the culture. Where is the alternative narrative?

The new narrative Christ spoke and lived out in a violent culture called for his followers to be peacemakers, lovers of enemies as well as neighbors, people who turned the other cheek. On the Cross, Christ did not call for God’s people to crucify those who crucified him. At the Cross the violence and evil of this word came face to face with the love and forgiveness of God.  Christ’s calling and response to a violent culture requires creativity–much more creativity than it takes to act out of fear, anger, and violence. What if this world will only believe and understand the sacrificial love when they see it present in our lives? If we continue to offer the world the culture’s narrative of fear, anger, self defense rather than the narrative of love, forgiveness, and self sacrifice, we fail to offer the Gospel.

So many Christians have chosen to speak the narrative of this culture rather than the narrative of Christ. Which I find odd. We have offered the world an alternative to the music they listen to, an alternative to the books they read, the alternative to popular t-shirts and breath mints and alternatives to halloween. Why do we shrink from offering an alternative narrative to live by?
We need to declare and live out a new narrative–one which causes people to “wish” they lived in such a story. One where they long to be best friends with the Main Character. Our story needs to be a true alternative to the violence of our culture. Our story needs to invite people to join this new reality.

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In horror, we watched the television listening to the tragedy unfold in Newtown, Connecticut. My parents were watching Fox News. And the reporter asks a famous pastor/politician, “where was God?” The pastor spoke to how inconsistent and ridiculous it is for us to “keep God out of the public school system” and then question where is he when tragedy strikes. While I agree that it is inconsistent to complain where is God when we leave him out of our day to day life, I was disheartened by Mr. Huckabee’s answer. He chose what is in my opinion a political answer rather than the Gospel of Hope.

In a couple of weeks we celebrate the Incarnation. And while God has proven he will not infringe on our free will, the Incarnation declares loudly that God does not run from our brokenness and sinfulness but runs to it. Christmas proclaims brilliantly that God cannot be kept out of our brokenness by our rituals, traditions, expectations, or politics. This is the Good News!

The Incarnation lets us know that God was in the middle of that elementary school in every wise thought and word, heroic deed, and every cry for mercy and in every act of kindness. God was huddled with those little ones, walking them home.

The Incarnation and the Crucifixion and the Resurrection declare that God does not shrink from our evil but overcomes that evil. So the true question for us Christians is: will we participate in the Incarnation of Love and Forgiveness, crucifying our likes, our comfort, our rights so we may rise to the fullness of Christ?

So the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. Now I love the royals and the pageantry and the history. But within 24 hours after the royal announcement the press has made every possible speculation it seems. What if she has twins? Will she name a daughter after Diana? They have even morphed the Duke and Duchess’s faces to speculate what the child will look like. Our imaginations are running wild. 

As we journey through Advent, we are invited to imagine the Kingdom of God come to earth. We are invited to imagine being the peace, the hope, the justice, the love, the joy of God’s Kingdom in our broken world.  

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