Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Rejoice at the Coming of Peace

December 23, 2016

If there is one word that describes Advent and Christmas, it would be peace. We use that word often in December. Of course, then we file it away with the Christmas decorations until next December.

I have two foundational principles–peace and justice. These guide my political decisions and theological reflections. If Christmas is peace, Easter must be justice.

Thanks to ever present news and efficient news gathering, we are constantly presented with violence events everywhere in the world. We could easily think that the world is “going to hell in a hand basket.” It is depressing. Just picking up my phone with the latest iOS operating system, the screen lights up and I see notifications. Guy was shot in Milan. Someone was shot somewhere else.

Did Jesus really usher in an era of peace? Would his birth have made it on CNN? A breathless Wolf Blitzer, “Here I am live in Bethlehem…” OK, probably not. As they say in the news business, if it bleeds it leads.

If you can cleanse your mind for a bit of all those news pieces, you can see that the world really is getting better over the centuries. Overall we live better. We recognize peace and justice more than ever.

However, like the author William Gibson observed, “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Pause and reflect over the big picture. Jesus’ birth leads to death and then resurrection. But that’s not all. It all points to the New Heaven and New Earth. The New Jerusalem. Jesuit priest and philosopher Pierre Teilhard (one of my favorites) called it the Omega Point.

Augustus Caesar called himself the Prince of Peace. He didn’t last long. Jesus was called the Prince of Peace and he guides us toward peace still some 2,000 years later.

Merry Christmas, and Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward all humans.

Tell The Story Of Christmas

December 22, 2015

Can there be anyone in the world who does not know that Friday is Christmas?

It is impossible to live in the US and not know about Christmas–at least as a holiday. The name is everywhere.

Many people will have the day off work.  Many have been buying presents. Even people who do not celebrate Christmas or know about the reason for the celebration buy presents for celebrations.

Unlike Easter which always occurs on a Sunday, Christmas can be any day of the week. But still churches are filled during December. Maybe not so much in January, but the last Sunday before Christmas and Christmas Eve services will draw more people than any other time excepting Easter.

Even more than presents and church attendance, the holiday means family gatherings. These dinners are as often fraught with tension and disappointment as they are joyous. Often the tension between hype and reality takes the luster off the day.

Let’s look at just the “Christian” perspective.

Is this just a celebration for the “in” people? We gather the members, sing songs, pat each other on the back, congratulate the pastor on drawing a big attendance.

What if…what if the followers of Jesus took advantage of all this marvelous (and free) advertising. We don’t have to be apologetic. Or in your face. We don’t have to say “merry Christmas” as if it were a challenge.

But so many people are hearing about Christmas who have no idea what the meaning is. They only know rumors and bad information about who that man Jesus was. Some may only have a vague idea that this is a birthday party for a man who changed the world and billions of individual people.

What if we saw this season as a great opportunity to start conversations with people outside the church. Let’s turn it all inside out. Instead of inbred celebration, let’s reach out to others.

Marketers spend tons of money and lots of energy to create this sort of messaging. I consult with companies to help them achieve just a part of this sort of marketing. Companies use this marketing to start conversations with prospects.

What if we used all this awareness throughout the culture to introduce people to a man who was God who can help them through so many life challenges? Not by shouting at people but by conversing with them.

They Don’t Tell The Story Anymore

December 17, 2014

“Fewer and fewer people tell the story of Advent anymore.”

Perhaps I listen to the Pastor too carefully. Sort of like a professor in college rather than as a professional speaker whose aim is not to enlighten but to move emotions.

This may have been just a rhetorical device. Build up a “straw man” only to tear it down later in the talk.

More likely it is the lament of a person (most of my contemporaries in west central and northwest Ohio) who grew up in a village of perhaps 1,500 or fewer population. Everyone in the village was the same. Christian. White. Worker.

That is not the way it is anymore. We live in a multi-cultural time. Even within my Yoga class, not only do I have the “usual suspects” of white Christians, but we have had class members who are Jain, Sikh and Hindu. Oh, also Islam. Probably a few “pagans”, too. That is in a town of fewer than 20,000 people.

The majority in town most likely are those without a god. They live life day-by-day according to the whims of their emotions. “Sinners” as Paul the Apostle would say. People not only not trying to live a moral life, but actually deriding those who do.

Is the problem that fewer people are telling the story of Advent these days or that we in the church are doing such a poor job of it?

One of our pastors has a great heart for children. I wish some of her empathy could be siphoned off into other vessels of human flesh who could use some of that. But she has said every year at this time, “I was worried that the kids would not have Christmas.”

Let me translate for all of you non-Americans who read these words. She means, “I’m afraid that the kids will not get presents.”

Even devout followers of Jesus equate Christmas with receiving presents!

Circling around to the pastor’s comment–I was immediately reminded (as I sat there listening to the rest of his talk) of the Acts 2 church. They added daily to the number of followers–by the way they lived.

We added four people to our membership Sunday. But they all came from other churches. How many people in your groups have been added because they have see a better way to live due to your example?

Maybe we are the cause of the “fewer”?