good news of great joy

"According to Luke" by Rhonda Chase
Preaching is a challenge on Christmas Eve. At University Hill Congregation we have one great Christmas Eve celebration full of carols and candles and children. This year the sermon is in three parts, with each coming as a response to the arrival of the characters in our nativity scene. We invite the children to dress as angels or shepherds in order to join in telling the story. You can imagine the excited entry of angels and shepherds in the midst of the sermon that follows. By the way, the magi will arrive at our nativity scene just after the twelve days of Christmas, on Epiphany.

- Luke 2:1-20

Scene one - Mary, Joseph & the Christ-child

“Good news of great joy.” It is the reason that we are together here on the eve of Christmas. Here because there is “good news of great joy for all the people.” It is good news for the human spirit. It is spiritual good news. It is, in other words, inspiring. Yet notice, biblical spirituality is always embodied spirituality. In the Bible the spiritual is inevitably material. Christian theology is about matter, about what matters. Did you hear it? Hear it in the first few verses, hear it in the materiality of people and places and things that matter: Emperor Augustus, all the world, a decree, registration, their own towns, Quirinius, Syria, Joseph, Nazareth, Galilee, Judea, Bethlehem, the house and family of David, Mary, engaged, expecting, time to deliver, inn, no place, gave birth, first-born son, bands of cloth, manger.  This is not a story about spiritual truths. Nor is it a story about universal values. It is the astounding news that God is working out humankind’s redemption incognito - below our spiritual radar - in the details and confusion and stresses of a very material world. How extraordinary. God entering the world and redeeming the nations through an obscure Jewish birth in occupied territory. Do you see? If then, also now. If there, also here. If them, also us.


velcade (round two - cycle seven)

Life on bortezomib (Velcade), cyclophoshamide and dexamethasone continues as I am now well into another thirty-five day cycle of weekly doses. Did I say that I am just a little tired of the weekly mood and energy swings caused by even my relatively mild dosage of dex? Oh, yes, I did. Nothing new on that front. However, my struggles with dex are offset this month with the good news that the free light chain count dropped from the last report of 145 to 95 - under 100 for the first time in awhile. It is a welcome Christmas gift to receive. After the slow and steady increases in the free light chains it is a bit surprising to see this reversal. It will be interesting to see if it continues following cycle seven and cycle eight. That will be the end of this round on Velcade. We have been assuming that the ever increasing numbers meant shifting to a new treatment plan in the Spring. But if the numbers stay low perhaps there will be the possibility of gaining approval for another round of this treatment. In the meantime, we carry on ...