God on the loose

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”–Mark 1:9-11

My friend’s Facebook status update was outraged.  Someone had stolen Mary and baby Jesus from her church’s outdoor nativity.  “There is just something so wrong about stealing Jesus from a church!” she said.

And of course, stealing is wrong (trust me, I’m a pastor).  But my first thought on hearing the news was not, “Who steals Jesus from a church?” but, “Who expects Jesus to stay where we put him?”

The God who tears open the heavens is not a God we can keep in a box or on a string, or even in the manger.  This God is a God on the loose.  A God who tears down barriers, whether it’s opening the heavens at Jesus’ baptism or ripping apart the temple curtain at Jesus’ death.

A God who is not shy about naming and claiming Jesus: “You are my Son, the beloved.  With you I am well-pleased.”  A God who names and claims us, too.  That’s what Epiphany is all about:

A star so bright that foreigners follow it from a distant country.

A voice so mighty it breaks cedar trees and shakes the wilderness.

A love so deep it crosses time and space and never lets us go.

Thanks be to God!

New this week: Inspired by Lindy at The Full Plate, I’m linking up with Fresh Brewed Sundays.  Check it out!



Filed under Ministry Matters

10 responses to “God on the loose

  1. Ahhhhh!
    But, Maggie, can’t you post these lovely lectionary-related ideas a bit, um, earlier in the week/day?

    Love He Qi, too.

    I’m just loving the whole post. Yup.


    • I could if I had them! In fact, I added the Facebook / stolen baby Jesus when I got to church this morning (I had a slightly longer car ride today in which to work it into the sermon–my post is basically a piece of that). If I really got organized I could be a week ahead, but that seems . . . unlikely. Thanks, Jan!


  2. Jenny Olsztynski



  3. So true. We cannot keep Jesus in the church. We are supposed to take Him with us wherever we go. Nice to “meet” you. And thanks for linking up to Fresh Brewed Sundays.


  4. Well said, ma’am! I always feel like people who steal a Bible will be blessed for it if they use it for its original purpose, but I don’t know if the same can be said of a baby Jesus in the manger. 🙂 Still, I’d like to think the same can be true.

    I think we put God in a box because in our finite minds we cannot fathom Him and there are times when that is an awe inspiring (and slightly frightening thing).


    • Thank you! I think that’s true about Bibles. In fact, a lot of churches invite folks to take a pew bible home with them if they need one (and some get grants to purchase pew bibles if they do this, promising to replace them as they’re taken). I don’t know if Jesus and Mary were taken for a dare or a joke or to sell, but I like to think like you do.

      It’s much easier to wrap our minds around God if He’s contained–that’s the nice thing about Jesus, although he has a way of doing crazy things and showing up in unexpected places . . .


  5. Kristin

    thank you for such a wonderful post, Maggie!


  6. God on the loose! I love it. I think I might put it on my mirror to remind me.


  7. Thanks for this, had to facebook it!


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