Breaking with the Old, Making the New

A new year offers new hope. Whatever nostalgia we have for the past, each year's end provides an opportunity to take stock, make new promises, set new goals, and develop new relationships. However, for all too many people much will remain the same: Denial of citizenship, lack of human rights, poverty, oppression, and violence will continue to mark their lives.

As God's people we are invited to renew our discipleship, to dream of a new community, to repent of our complicity in injustice, and to rededicate ourselves to the cause of the saving justice of God. We also are called to count the cost—"deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow me." We need to listen, discern, and witness to the hope that is in us, and once again be faced with the question from Jesus: Who do you say I am?

January 5
Arise, Shine Out
Isaiah 60:1-6
Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

People who are oppressed need to dream of another world. Isaiah paints a picture of a city where oppression and war are no more and the nations are reconciled (Isaiah 60:18-22). Isaiah's vision of Jerusalem symbolizes a new community, a new way of being for God's people. For the wise men who followed a star (a mythical symbol of tyranny), Jerusalem represents a city in the grip of a paranoid monarch, who cynically promises to do homage to the infant King of the Jews, but in his heart plans a slaughter (Matthew 2:16).

The three stories of Herod, the wise men, and the holy family together demonstrate the way things are in the world. The wise men, Joseph, and Mary represent those who obey the signs of promise and look for a new order. Alternatively, Herod stands for the powerful who seek a new world order through cynicism, cruelty, and oppression.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1997
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