December 18th: Don’t Call Jesus Lord if You Mean Something Else

On December 18th the Church in Advent cries out once again, saying “O Adonai!” or “O Lord!” invoking the Christ to arrive as promised.

The interesting thing about this title, Lord, is that it’s become so singular and common place that I don’t think we truly grasp what a revolutionary (and treasonous!) thing it was to call Jesus “Lord” in the ancient world.

Lord was a title reserved for the Emperor.

So when people started saying that Jesus was Lord or even “comes in the name of the Lord,” they were making a political statement. They were saying that Jesus, not Caesar, was Lord.

Which is why they got into so much trouble…

Being so divorced from this truth, this reality, has done a number on Christianity.

Now in much of America I believe that “Christianity is Lord,” and I don’t mean that in a good way because it totally betrays the idea of those first Christians who didn’t want “religion” to be Lord, they wanted Jesus to be it.

The humble Jewish guy who said “love your neighbors as yourself,” who flipped over the money-changer tables, who broke bread with the outcast…

Here’s a good question, Beloved: who do you want to show up this Christmas?

Do you want the bread-breaker and wandering, itinerant preacher who made friends with the outcast and called the comfortable to task?

Or do you want the one who demands prayer in schools, everyone go to church on Sunday, turns a side-eye to the scheming wealthy but berates those “who live off the system?”

If you call Jesus “Lord” (and, I actually don’t love the title, honestly) I’m just wondering…like, what do you mean by that?

As we await the coming of the Lord, it’s a good thing to wonder about, right?

As you’re wondering, throw up Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ “Man on Fire.” Look up the lyrics, listen to the words…that song is, I think, one that reminds me of that first Jesus who walked around, not this latent imposter much of religion has turned him into.

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