O come, thou Branch of Jesse’s tree…

O come, thou Branch of Jesse’s tree,
free them from Satan’s tyranny
that trust thy mighty power to save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

There is a non-denominational church that sits just outside the entrance to my neighborhood.  As church’s are wont to have, this one has a sign board that is always good for a smug theological chuckle.  One particularly interesting post came a few months back when it read, “Would be willing to merge with a like minded church.  If interested call…”  That raise all sorts of questions about polity and ecclesiology for me, but that’s a digression for another day, perhaps.

Their current sign reads, “Jesus gave his gift on a tree, not under it.”  I always find the co-mingling of the Incarnation and Crucifixion to be interesting.  I’m certain that this particular church does not hold Good Friday services, saving the agony of the cross for Easter so as to fit a very narrow understanding of the salvific work of Jesus, there I go digressing again.  I can’t help but wonder why it is that the cross has to invade the manger?  I mean, one is not complete without the other, I get that.  The cross means nothing if Jesus’ isn’t the Word made flesh who dwelt among us.  The Incarnation is a quaint idea without some sort of soteriological event to back it up.  But do they have to invade each other’s space?  We don’t preach the manger on Good Friday, do we?

I was feeling all high and mighty about our better developed, more nuanced theology when I came to the O Antiphon for December 19th and found, what else, the cosmic battle between good and evil, playing out in one of my favorite Advent/Christmas hymns.  Maybe I should go back and reevaluate just how smart I think I am.

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