The R.H. Macy Co. is milking the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" for all it is worth. They've been pushing the "believe" theme for several weeks now, one newspaper ad even showing an old-fashioned clockwork driven "believe meter." Hey, these days it would be digital and made in China, right?
They don't say what to believe in. But they do encourage people to "demonstrate that you believe in what the season's all about." Macy's encourages people to do good deeds in the community this time of year, and their Street Teams who go out and actually observe someone doing those good deeds are empowered to hand them $25 Macy's gift cards.
Hard to fault that. Macy's taking up the mantle of street ministry, demonstrating belief through action. Amen, amen, amen. And they're willing to put up to $1 million into the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They will contribute one dollar for every letter to Santa received in the "mailboxes" in their stores. Amen to that also. I guess.
I wonder if they receive any letters to Jesus? I wonder what they do with those?
"When you come to the fork in the road, take it." Perhaps that's the advice we should take when trying to figure out Luke 2:14. Greek manuscripts of the text, every one of which is a copy of a copy of a copy, contain a spelling discrepancy of one letter. This is not a spelling mistake. Both spellings are grammatically correct, but they say different things. This accounts for some of our different translations:
...and on earth, peace, good will toward men. (KJV)
...and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased. (RSV)
...and on earth peace among those whom he favors. (NRSV)
...and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests. (NIV)
...and on earth peace to those with whom he is pleased. (ESV)
And then there is the clarifying footnote in most annotated Bibles, "Other ancient authorities (meaning mansucripts, not scholars) read 'peace, goodwill among people.'"
"Men" vs. "people"? "People" is correct since all the Greek manuscripts use anthropos, the inclusive term equivalent to "humankind", not andros, which would mean only males.
Is God peaceably inclined to all people, or only those who please him, those good enough to be deserving? I won't answer that question for you on the basis of text criticism. The answer you and I and anyone will accept will have everything to do with whom we believe Jesus to be: the Messiah, and what we think Messiah to be. Is Messiah the Suffering Servant, the one who ended all atoning sacrifice through self-sacrifice? Is Messiah primarily a harsh judge or primarily the apocalyptic horseman riding roughshod over a world awash in blood up to the bridle of the snorting steed?
Yesterday President Obama received his Nobel Prize for Peace and delivered a speech making the case for just war. It's deeply ironic because war is deeply ironic. And always will be, no matter the cause or the combatants.
Is there peace on earth? Will there be peace on earth?
Perhaps better to ask if there is even a shred of peace on our streets. Yes! In the spirit of gold, frankincense and myrrh, here are three current examples:
And there's J. who has been off the streets and in housing for several months. And there is D. who went back home to reconcile with family after finally kicking drugs. A donor who wishes to remain anonymous bought him the ticket and put him on the plane so he wouldn't get lost on a week-long bus trip.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the earth."
I'm glad that statement didn't come from a campaign speech or someone's five-year plan. It gives me a lot of peace.
Peace on earth to all, no distinctions made!