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Christmas

". . . to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven . . ."    - Luke ; Luke 1.77-78


"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him . . ."    - Luke ; Luke 1.76


"And to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."    - Luke ; Luke 1.74-75


"To show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies."    - Luke ; Luke 1.72-74


"He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us."    - Luke ; Luke 1.69-71


"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them."    - Luke ; Luke 1.68


"He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”     - Luke ; Luke 1.54-55


"He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty."    - Luke ; Luke 1.53


"He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble."    - Luke ; Luke 1.52


"He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts."    - Luke ; Luke 1.51


"He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble."    - Luke ; Luke 1.52


"His mercy extends to those who revere him, from generation to generation."    - Luke ; Luke 1.50


"From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name."    - Luke ; Luke 1.48-49


"And Mary said: 'My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.'"    - Luke ; Luke 1.46-48


"All the poor, insignificant, forgotten people of the world can gather around the manger and dare to believe that the Babe who lies there really belongs to them."    - M. O. Tobert ; (unspecified)


"What would you think of a book that started with the opener, 'I am going to discuss Mahatma Gandhi as a Hindu saint, but I’ll skip all that distracting stuff about British imperial India'? Or another with, 'I am going to describe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a Christian saint, but I’ll get right to his biography and skip all that stuff about racism in America as background baggage'?"    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Among the occupations of first-century Israel, shepherding had a lowly place. Shepherds were considered untrustworthy and their work made them ceremonially unclean. Thus the most obvious implication is that the gospel first came to the social outcasts of Jesus day."    - Walter L. Liefeld ; The Expositor's Bible Commentary


"In his name, all oppression shall cease."    - John Sullivan Dwight ; O Holy Night


"Western Christianity has equated Christianity with ‘respectability’ for so long that the Church has often missed out on people on the fringes – such as the shepherds."    - Jenny Robertson ; (unspecified)


"Neither the familiarity nor the season’s festivities should prevent us from realizing the scandal that God came into human history completely helpless, as a newborn, and was laid in a feeding trough . . . By entering human history this way, God identified with the powerless, the oppressed, the poor, and the homeless."    - R. Alan Culpepper ; (unspecified)


"Some people laughed to see the alteration in [Scrooge], but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe for good at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the malady in less attractive forms."    - Charles Dickens ; A Christmas Carol


"What is at stake in Daniel is this: the first four empires are inhuman beasts; only the fifth and final empire is truly human."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"But the stories of Jesus’s birth are more than sentimental. The stories of the first Christmas are both personal and political. They speak of personal and political transformation. Set in their first-century context, they are comprehensive and passionate visions of another way of seeing life and of living our lives."      - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"A historical approach means 'ancient text in ancient context.' What did these stories mean for the Christian communities that told them near the end of the first century?"    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Who is the 'King of the Jews'? That was Herod the Great’s title, but Matthew’s story tells us Herod was more like Pharaoh, the lord of Egypt, the lord of bondage and oppression, violence and brutality. And his son was no better. Rather, Jesus is the true King of the Jews. And the rulers of his world sought to destroy him."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Who is the Son of God, Lord, savior of the world, and the one who brings peace on earth? Within Roman imperial theology, the emperor, Caesar, was all of these. No, Luke’s story says, that status and those titles belong to Jesus. He— not the emperor— is the embodiment of God’s will for the earth."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Who is the light of the world? The emperor, son of Apollo, the god of light and reason and imperial order? Or is Jesus, who was executed by empire, the light in the darkness, the true light to whom the wise of this world are drawn?"    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Where do we find the fulfillment of God’s dream for Israel and humanity? In the way things are now? Or only beyond death? Or in a very different world this side of death?"    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Emphasis on the Marginalized . . . in Luke the angelic announcement of his birth is made to 'shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night' (2: 8). As a class, shepherds are even lower in the social order than peasants and would qualify quite well as the 'lowly' and the 'hungry' of Mary’s hymn, the Magnificat. This is another overture preparation for a theme very much emphasized in Luke’s gospel. He insists, again more than the other gospels, on the obligations of the rich to the poor, the outcasts, and the marginalized."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


"Eschatology is not, of course, about the destruction of the earth, but about its transfiguration, not about the end of the world, but about the end of evil, injustice, violence— and imperialism. Think of the eschaton as the Great Divine Cleanup of the World."    - Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"The titles of the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus were: Divine, Son of God, God, God from God, Lord, Redeemer, Liberator, and Savior of the World. To use any of them of the newborn Jesus would be either low lampoon or high treason. And, since empires always know their opponents, Rome was not laughing. But for now, what did those titles mean as applied to Caesar Augustus? Without knowing that we will never understand what they meant when transferred by some Jews to Jesus."
 
   - Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"We think hearing their ancient and contemporary meanings matters particularly for American Christians today. To say the obvious, America is in the powerful and perilous position of being the empire of our day. As we will see, the stories of the first Christmas are pervasively anti-imperial. In our setting, what does it mean to affirm with the Christmas stories that Jesus is the Son of God (and the emperor is not), that Jesus is the savior of the world (and the emperor is not), that Jesus is Lord (and the emperor is not), that Jesus is the way to peace on earth (and the emperor is not)."    - Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"[The Christmas stories] are about a different kind of world. God’s dream for us is not simply peace of mind, but peace on earth."    - Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"For Augustus and for Rome it was always about peace, but always about peace through victory, peace through war, peace through violence."    - Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"There are, in other words, two utterly divergent descriptions of God’s final solution to the existence of imperialism, one violent and the other nonviolent, one extermination in a Great Final Battle and the other conversion at a Great Final Feast. They are both there from one end of the Christian Bible to the other. Which one, do you think, is announced by those Christmas stories? When Luke’s angels announce “peace on earth” to those shepherds at Bethlehem, is it peace through victory or peace through justice?"    - Marcus Borg & John Dominc Crossan ; The First Christmas


"Because of the importance of Christmas, how we understand the stories of Jesus’ birth matters. What we think they’re about – how we hear them, read them, interpret them – matters . . . The Christmas story is the entire Christian gospel in miniature. Get it, and you get everything; miss it, and you miss all."    - Marcus J. Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


“'Spirit! are they yours?' Scrooge could say no more. 'They are Man’s,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree; but most of all beware this boy [Ignorance], for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!' cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. 'Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!'"
   - The Ghost of Christmas Present ; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


"There are some upon this earth of ours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”    - The Ghost of Christmas Present ; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens


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