One: Merry Christ mas

Christ, Christmas, celebration, blessings, greetings
All wrapped and ready to go.

”Whenever the material and the spiritual coincide, there is the Christ. Jesus fully accepted that human-divine identity and walked it into history. Henceforth, the Christ “comes again” whenever we are able to see the spiritual and the material coexisting, in any moment, in any event, and in any person.” Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations,3 December 2018.

Christ’s incarnation

I have been thinking about this joyful season and its greeting as the celebration of the incarnation of God approaches. More and more I hear people wishing a Merry Christmas to those around them. Perhaps the return of this greeting has something to do with the uproar over the song “Let it Snow”.

Celebration greetings

Amidst my pondering people have greeted me with happy Hanukkah and I wondered if Ramadan occurred around this time of year too. No one seems offended by greetings connected to these celebrations. So why is “Merry Christmas” banned in some places?

Well-wishers

From my point of view these greetings share the same invitation: well-wishes for everyone. Especially now, after all it is the time of solstice and the days will be getting thankfully longer. We will soon see the sun again as we move to and from work! Longing for light, we tire of the darkness.

Greetings reveal identity

Another consequence of having wished people well is the inevitable identification we shoulder. By wishing you a Merry Christmas I identify myself as Christian, not a popular stance these days and very much discouraged. “People might be offended,” they say. I have no idea why. I am not offended when someone wishes me a happy Hanukkah, or a happy Ramadan. Rather, I take it as a blessing, and we have much need of blessings these days.

Christ came for everyone

So, when I wish you a Merry Christmas, I am attempting to bless you not convert you to my rather imperfect religion. When someone takes offense, I am truly saddened to know this person has been somehow wounded by association with the Christian church. I understand and I will pray for that person. There is much need of healing. New teaching, more accurate teaching about Christ, would go a long way too. I pray for my embattled, imperfect church too. There is much to be done. I am hoping my joyful contribution will make a difference in this beleaguered world.

Blessings

With that in mind, Merry Christmas everyone. May you enjoy the blessings of this special season abundantly: joy, peace, love and fellowship. In addition, may you find it in your heart ot bless those around you with the gifts you have received and can share. Blessings to you all.

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One: Bullets

bullets, non-violence, peace, planet, Earth

The common reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”—either to pay a debt to the devil (common in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109). Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266-1308) agreed with neither of these understandings…

God in Jesus moved people beyond the counting, weighing, and punishing model—which the ego prefers—to a world in which God’s mercy makes any economy of merit, sacrifice, reparation, or atonement both unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) notions of human and animal sacrifice (common in most ancient religions) and replaced them with an economy of grace and love.” Richard Rohr Daily Meditations 21 January 2018

Bigger bullets, bigger mess

One would think after several millennia of violence we might come to the conclusion there is a flaw in thinking bullets create peace. In fact, within our lifetimes we have seen how bigger bullets not only inspire war but may destroy our common home, Planet Earth. Somehow Jesus’ message of non-violence got lost in the translation.

Retributive justice

Human beings, it seems, prefer revenge. We are into retributive justice. In fact, the Christian church has taught this point of view for centuries. Consequently we have taken Jesus and put him at the head of our armies as we marched against anyone who disagreed with us. Declaring God to be on our side, we completely ignored the scriptures indicating there is one God only, God of all, (Is 44::6b, Deut 4:35, 1 Tim 2:5, 1 Cor 8:6, to quote a few) who makes his rain to fall on the good and the bad (Matt 5:45). Can we conclude anyone who disagrees  with us constitutes a bad person? Are we not allowed different opinions, different forms of worship?

Restorative justice

St. Francis and John Duns Scotus proposed a different message. Jesus did not come to pay a price. Rather he came to show us how the love of God works. He taught restorative justice, mercy, a path to union with God. His teaching on non-violence led him to the cross where he did not lift a finger to resist, quite the opposite, he forgave his tormenters. Very counter-intuitive.

Hindi and Christian

Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King put his teaching into practice and in the same manner they paid with their lives.

Limits

So, how do we proceed from here? Chapter 5 in Matthew gives us a clue. We are to love our enemies, pray for them, return good for evil. We are not to be doormats either. Jesus always spoke up for the truth, naming the corporate evil of his day. Hence, we are to do the same. It will probably get us into a lot of trouble. Suggestions like living simply, limiting our consumption or engaging in circular consumption, do not encourage growth in the Gross National Product and are counter-cultural, therefore dangerous.

Put bullets away

Creating Heaven on Earth is not a one person show. Futhermore, it is not even humanly possible. Taking God up on his/her invitation to co-create makes everything possible.  Therefore we can put the bullets away. All it takes is surrender.

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