Jesus at the Temple - Presenting a Generous Orthodoxy

Themes: Epiphany Luke

Annette James

Luke 2: 22 – 40 - Epiphany 1

I'm not sure if everyone has had chance to look at our church website? When you do have time, look to see what we say about Christ Church and how we describe ourselves. You will find that we use the term Generous Orthodoxy which is the title of a book by a man called Brian McLaren.

I have not read the book, however I have spent some time researching the term Generous Orthodoxy and the coming of Jesus and the passage we read this morning focused my mind on what this Generous orthodoxy means for me/us and how I/we understand the term. I just want to introduce some thoughts for us on this subject this morning.

Brian McLaren’s book Generous Orthodoxy is described as….

A confession and manifesto from a senior leader in the emerging church movement.

A Generous Orthodoxy calls for a radical, Christ-centered orthodoxy of faith and practice in a missional, generous spirit…

A Generous Orthodoxy rediscovers the mysterious and compelling ways that Jesus can be embraced across the entire Christian horizon. Rather than establishing what is and is not “orthodox,”

McLaren walks through the many traditions of faith, bringing to the center a way of life that draws us closer to Christ and to each other. Whether you find yourself inside, outside, or somewhere on the fringe of Christianity,

A Generous Orthodoxy draws you toward a way of living that looks beyond the “us/them” paradigm to the blessed and ancient paradox of “we.”

The word ortho-doxy (Greek for “right doctrine”) have both positive and negative connotations.

"The position taken by Frances is that we cannot do without orthodoxy, for everything else must be tested against it, but that orthodox (traditional, classical) Christian faith should by definition always be generous as our God is generous; lavish in his creation, binding himself in an unconditional covenant, revealing himself in the calling of a people, self-sacrificing in the death of his Son, prodigal in the gifts of the Spirit, justifying the ungodly and indeed, offending the “righteous” by the indiscriminate nature of his favor. True Christian orthodoxy therefore cannot be narrow, pinched, or defensive but always spacious, adventurous and unafraid."

Malcolm Gladwell

“The phrase ‘Generous Orthodoxy,’ coined by Hans Frei, is an oxymoron. To be orthodox is to be committed to tradition. To be generous is to be open to change. Hans Frei thought that the best way to live our lives was to find a middle ground.


• Orthodoxy without generosity leads to blindness.

• Generosity without orthodoxy is shallow and empty.

Paradoxically this text, while focused on Jesus throughout, also records the responses of the adults around him to the child. In fact, this text poses a critical set of questions for adults who have anything to do with children, be they parents, members of religious communities or the general public:

What expectations do we have for our children as they grow toward adulthood? What are our hopes for them? How do we utilize the resources of our faith communities to support children? What protection and guidance do we offer them so hopes and expectations can be realized for their flourishing? What responsibilities do all adults have for children, regardless of whether or not they are related to them by blood or marriage?

Luke’s words portray a picture of hope, innocence and adult concern for the infant Jesus, nostalgic and loving sentiments. This child, Jesus, received a strong start in life with loving parents.

When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon Jesus.

In juxtaposing Luke’s text with some of today’s facts and realities about children, the biblical passage slashes across our lives with a harsh warning. Remember the children of Syria, Yemen, Iran, Nigeria, Romania, US and Russia and China. The children in the local hostel.

Just before Christmas Peter arranged for Michael and I as part of Indigo Vibe, to sing in the local hostel - the children joined us – they were enthusiastic and delighted to be part of the group) - and all who suffer as refugee, asylum seeker and especially those children who are trafficked – We are witnesses – how does the encounter with Jesus this Christmas change our lives, how can we share the love of God but through the caring and nurturing hands of adults, whatever that may entail.

And God help us to continue to learn from children…AMEN