That sweet little babe in a manger would grow up to passionately proclaim a message of a new world order in which everyone would be treated with equal dignity. That little baby would become an enemy of the state and an opponent of the institutional religion of his day by daring to embrace outcasts and sinners, foreigners and pagans, the lepers and the lame into his circle of belonging - no one ever on the outside looking in.
In the earliest days of Christianity, those first followers of Jesus would meet in darkened caves and catacombs - hidden in the shadows of night. They were enemies of the state, considered to be subversive revolutionaries because of the message of love and compassion that they lived and preached - so opposed to the accepted cultural norms of dominance and oppression.
However, over time, it all got tamed and declawed. Those revolutionaries in the cause of love became "members of a church," replete with a hierarchy of importance and a system of laws and regulations about who belonged and who didn't. Over time the revolutionary disciples would become the very thing Jesus opposed.
Tonight as people from all over the world gather in darkened churches in the middle of the night to sing about peace and calm and hear the sweet poetry of a baby's birth, I pray that they may remember again that revolutionary mission entrusted to those who would be his followers.
As the songs are sung in the hush of the night, I pray that those who gather together might also remember their ancestors who likewise gathered in the middle of the night in those darkened caves for fear of being arrested by the forces of the empire, and that songs of calm might also be loud protests in the cause of compassion.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Most of us will tuck into a good meal tonight, and on this blog most of our readers will go to church. We'll think of the familiar story, cushioned warmly in a crowd. We won't think of "them" much, except in the abstract. You know, those losing unemployment, the poor who are hidden away from so many of us . We may rail against the unChristian conservatives who are slashing food stamps and oppose providing health care for the "undeserving" poor, but it is at some level an issue of degree, and not manner, because we are all pretty comfortable and far too complacent, except in the abstract of having political arguments on the internet. So what are we going to do about it?