What a year.
What a season.
Feeling funky and a wee bit bewildered?
In a month steadfastly associated with joy, merriment, peace, and goodwill, the world we share feels tight…tense. We are largely absent of the sweet spirit of carols sung, lights miraculously undimmed, and generous offerings of the harvest’s first fruits.
We need a little Christmas
(but I suggest this caveat)
only if this “Christmas” means love and community and caring more for the other than for our own short-sighted fears and wants.
Our offices at K-State are joined in geography with several diverse departments. For the past few days, I’ve had the privilege to listen and ask questions of people who understand the outrage of the slayings of innocents.
I’ve also read posts of friends…police officers who understand the outrage of the slayings of innocents.
Most of us make our best guess as to what is going on – fueled by media paradigms and history. There is so much we cannot fully know. We want to understand, figure it out, and do something to to improve the world for those we love and those of distant hearths.
Many of us believe that we need what was offered in that cold hay-y cradle and illuminated in the eight nights of rededication and spoken of in the community.
Whether Christmas is Santa or Savior or coincides with your non-yuletide observances, can’t we agree that a little peace on earth is something we can work towards?
It’s not a watering-down of our core and precious beliefs or traditions, but the reality that we are all in this together “on a dirt clod out in space*.” We may have elbow room here in the midwest, but we still have the obligation – the opportunity – to love folks across the divide. We can love and disagree.
It is a kick in the gut to hear people praise their God and call for the death of another human being(s). Or even just to be an ass to one another with stereotypes and hatred thinly concealed.
You know, I am white…”pasty” to be exact, but the cruelest and most grave evils ever done to my person were by upper and middle-class white people – family.
Some of the most enduring kindnesses came/come from folks who don’t look, believe, eat, or think the way I do, but these people became FAMILY. From the very beginning of my autonomy at Georgia Southern, the people who loved me deeply were a mosaic of grace-bearers and lovers of my broken soul.
And now, Dr. K lets me ask hard questions and for clarity without condemning me – in my not-knowing. I regularly break bread with a beloved friend who is a member of the tea-party. My best pals are true blue and we share a whole bunch of Green ideas.
If a few of us can get along in our messy lives, maybe we can join with the other pockets of “resistance” and take back this good place for purposes of love and kindness rather than entitlement and commoditizing others.
A house divided cannot stand. We can love and disagree folks, it happens each day in our families and friendships.
I understand that some of the holiest books speak as much of swords as they speak of ploughshares. If I recall, however, being known by “love” is considered a mark of a true believer. Faithful followers are not admonished to be known by “rightness” or how large your “take it from my cold dead hands” flag waves.
Think about it. If Jesus were to walk into your experience today – a baby of uncertain parentage and immigrants in exile from a poor tiny country, would you welcome him?
Would we recognize him?
This child of songs and worship, would we recognize him if he were bundled next to us on the subway platform as his parents huddled to keep warm and search for rest?
Or the child of that never-wed parent down the hall?
Or that scruffy tatted up guy with clothes that don’t resonate with our sense of aesthetics or austerity. (Not suggesting that Jesus was inked up, but several of his most loving and solid kids are artfully inked.)
What if Jesus were that too-loud-laughing kid on the corner with cheetos coming out of his giggling mouth and milk blurting from his nose?
It’s written that he was like us and completely human while being completely divine. I’m guessing that he probably did have falafel fly from his mouth as he laughed with his friends (human) and then stopped long enough to clean it up (divine).
As an Israeli, I’m guessing he also looked a lot more Mediterranean than Milwaukee.
So, as a gift to the kid-man-cross-bearer that we merrily sing about this season, can we determine to love? Slow down? Love? Be patient? Bear witness.
Can we – despite our differences – be known by our love in this and every season?**
*Randy Stonehill’s lyrics
Warning: very frank language follows. Turn back if you are easily offended.
** I really wanted to ask, “Can we not be assh*les to one another as we jockey for position, rightness, and the entitlement to foist our freedom to carry and religion upon one another? Can we live a life of grace?” But I’m not sure my little heart can handle the hate mail right now. Or ever.