Christmas 2017

“Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that.
You cannot hold onto the old, all the while declaring that you want something new.
The old will defy the new;
The old will deny the new;
The old will decry the new.
There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it.”
—Neale Donald Walsch

I’ve been silent since the election in 2016. Finding words has been difficult in these times. This Christmas, though, I am drawn back to the image I found in 2015 of the Middle Eastern couple and child in the stable.

 

 

 

 

As I remarked before, the golden halos are missing. This was before the birth narratives were written and the fine robes and incense of Christology became the central message and worship drove out following.

How do we, then, make room for this New? What of the Old must we give up?

In 2018 I’m going to write about this newness from my perspective as an elder. Seems to me that what pudding I liked the best when I was eight is missing the point. Jesus of Nazareth, ageism, sadness, transformation, love, and fear are subjects more to my liking.

I’ll see you next week!

 

 

 

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Hurry and Christmas

There is a close connection between speed and impatience. Our culture has become so speeded up today that no one has time to be patient. People in a hurry cannot be patient—so people in a hurry cannot really love. To love, we need to be sensitive to those around us, which is impossible if we are racing through life engrossed in all the things we need to do.
Eknath Easwaran
Blue Mountain Journal Winter 2015

Part of Christmas for me in the past has been that the season was tied to the retail clock, which runs increasingly faster from the first of October through Christmas Eve. The increasing activity that runs toward Christmas morning didn’t leave any time for reflection, not that I’d have slowed down back then.

Now that I’m older I value my quiet and withdraw from the popular culture and commercial frenzy of the holidays.

I finally found the picture which gives meaning to me for Christmas. A Middle Eastern couple, resting in a stable after the birth of their child. No glowing halo on the baby’s head. A tired mother and a thoughtful father. Centuries of human theology and religion yet to come. The invitation for our transformation is here in the beginning, before all the pomp and circumstance, before all the hurry, in the poor circumstances of the child, in the repose of Mary and the quiet contemplation of Joseph.The Birth

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

 

Christmas

Communion

 

 

 

 

 

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
– Mary Did You Know?

Some Biblical scholars believe that not only do we celebrate the birth of Jesus on an arbitrary date, but that the birth narratives added to Matthew and Luke are not historical and were added to fit theological needs.

This Advent I had the thought to not give energy what is now a too-popular trend for sensational headlines and sound bites, I’d focus on what probably happened and see where that led me.

I believe it’s fair to say that Jesus of Nazareth was born, despite the sketchy historical record of this. I say this based on the resultant enthusiasm for his life and teachings by his followers. It’s also fair to say that he was born of a woman, whom Christian scripture names as Mary.

Leaving all the theology aside, we then have a child born of woman in poor circumstances who later would teach a message people centuries later would look to for inspiration. A newborn baby in the hinterlands of Galilee would grow up and ask individuals and humanity as a whole to be transformed, as he became, in its relationship with God.

Christianity hasn’t done much with this transformation, settling for dogma and ritual, but there is time right now and in the future for it to mature and grow. It, of course, is us. The birth of a child is the growing edge of humanity, then and now.

Hopeful, peace on earth to men and women of goodwill!