I probably should have written this earlier this a.m. as I lay in bed pondering just where I might be in my faith. Often as the weary mind processes through another active day, the best moments emerge for meditation.
This season seems to bring out the desire among so many to be grateful, generous and available for family and friends, even among those of different faiths. It just so happens that I married the Christmas Queen, and as we round the month of September, we begin planning when we will mark the Charlie Brown Trees that we have for over a decade traditionally cut pre-Thanksgiving! We factor into our calendars the Christmas parties of faithful friends and begin allocating time for volunteer service.
Holiday traditions (I’ll use the word Christmas, so as not to offend) are a part of the sentimental longings we humans have. Nostalgia reigns, with special moments to revisit the best seasons of life. Christmas is a good idea, perhaps a God idea!
Yet as one ages, life experience can jade our child likeness, forcing us to look at the bigger picture, often in the wee hours of morning. Nostalgia is revealed as too often providing cover for our comfort zone, as another year passes with little change in our spiritual lives and the world we are called to serve.
This Bethlehem Jesus that so many now celebrate was a radical, not a fundamentalist! He was unafraid to push at religion, even that of his own family! Yet, his actions, at least as captured in Holy writ were undeniably bathed in love! Oh to be like Him!
Out of that short lived life came a new gospel; tightening the lenses of religion and clarifying our focus upon this God, now incarnate, long missed by the children of Abraham. The end result would require the death of this God-man, if religion were to survive His “heresies”.
Yet, today truth continues to march forward, though blood continues to be shed. As for His followers, a new lifestyle is demanded, not of religion but of love and if need be personal sacrifice for those still fleeing religion. Religion’s only purpose seems simply a means of frustrating man to the reality of grace; absolutely necessary for life transformation. It would now be by grace that one was “saved” not of works, lest any should boast (Eph 2:8-9). What a radical concept!
God’s grace doesn’t scorn the sinner, for that is the truest heresy. God’s grace abounds even where sin reigns! A Refuge for the refuse of life! Radically welcoming those lost in life. This Gospel calls us not to better teach the laws of religion, not even those now long accumulated around our 2000+ year old Christianity! It calls us to love one another!
In the “dark night of the soul” the “god” I too often demonstrate as a churchman, politician and community leader seems quite different than the One whom Christ modeled. In those moments I struggle with my “wholiness”.
Oh to be like my savior, not the sentimental Jesus we come around during this season, nor the heretical Jesus that allows us to go about life in the “off-season”, in a way that sustains the decline of a nation once intended as a light on a hill!
I prefer the fearless yet harmless, radical Jesus, who waded into the lives of harlots, tax collectors, religious zealots, all chained to the tombs of human failure. His message was freedom and hope; his requirement, nothing more than a desire to be whole.