Friday, December 4, 2015

So this is Christmas

So this is Christmas. What a year it has been and what a way to end it.

There’s beauty my eyes have seen and when or where I’d least expect it. In Haiti where physicians, nurses and volunteers debated their way into treating life-threatening illnesses with incredible generosity, in an Indian megacity with a population of nearly 9 million people that went underwater for a week and saw its government twiddle its thumbs while people went about heroically rescuing, opening homes to strangers, dispensing food, medicines and other aid, displaying an incredible ability to get to emergencies on time and coordinate their actions effectively, in Chicago where hundreds of people came together to support a beloved cancer patient. I’ve seen real grime and ugliness and heard even more in the news- beheading, airline bombings, mass shootings, religious zealots murdering people over trivial matters, intolerant and strident political voices rousing the rabble against minority groups, President-aspirants pushing to keep refugees out, build walls, and profile people on religious and ethnic lines, and many even grossly misinterpreting the message of a refugee-Savior born in a feeding trough for dirty livestock in a dung infested cow-stall, among lambs marked for slaughter, so as to opine that a glass of water given in his name should go to only those who believe in him.

In Josh Moody's first sermon this December,  he talked about how in the wake of the Paris shootings, a pianist towed his piano out to the middle of a square where people had gathered to demonstrate their solidarity, and began playing Lennon's 'Imagine', a perennial favorite played during such times, urging people to shed their faith in God, in heaven, hell or religion, and place their faith in humanity instead, so everyone can live in peace and unity. Josh pointed out the irony of placing faith in humanity, the same humanity that had just murdered so many in cold blood. How often we point to ideologies as being at fault and human beings simply driven by them, as if they themselves in their purest form, were not to blame at all. Despite so many instances to the contrary, we tend to believe in humanity's fundamental nobility- because to believe that we are evil and wicked would be to turn our attention to our own hearts' wickedness. Ultimately, it is not any ideology (regardless of its rightness or wrongness), but we who are the ones holding the gun, the ones to blame. Even our best manifestations, like the heroes of Chennai, are echoes of another land, not this fallen one- and not surprisingly, overwhelmingly informed by eternal, not temporal, hope.

If I have seen beauty it is in the midst of this, just like the sweet pondering of a mothers heart in the midst of violence against newborns in a Middle Eastern village over 2000 years ago. And so, "in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."

So this is Christmas. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Amen.

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