Sunday, December 25, 2011

Are We Deaf?

I attended the Christmas Eve service which my parent's church holds every year, save for one year when I think it was too dangerous to ask people to come out on the icy roads. The service was nice, being greeted by people who have watched me grow up like it was a treat to have me there was also nice, but the most incredible thing happened almost as an afterthought. Just before dismissal, the worship pastor lead the congregation in a somber and heartfelt rendition of O Holy Night. As I sang along this verse caught my attention,

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His Gospel is peace
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy Name!

I was floored when I watched as the lyrics came up on the projector screens and even as the words came bursting from my mouth. This is the Christ that I've been wanting to have a relationship with. This is the Christ who brought a new Way, a Way of love and peace that surpasses all understanding. He set the precedent for the end of slavery, since we were all slaves to sin before Him. There it is in plain and simple English, from a song we all have heard at least once in our lifetime, and yet somehow Christians throughout history and in the present have a few notions which I feel are misguided. War, subjegation, inherited rights, and an arrogance that stinks worse than Chicago city sewage. Yeah, I know some reading this will feel that I am exaggerating the situation, while others will feel I'm being too generous.

But here it is, Christians today have made quite a name for themselves, and though not all of it is bad; there's certainly a bitter taste in the mouths of many who call us by name. What are we doing to impact the world with restoration love and peace? Megachurches, built for the spiritually and physically healthy while the sick lay dying at our doorstep. My friends and siblings in Christ, I know that none of you whom I've spent even a fraction of time with has a desire to see this happen. None of you are heartless, cold, and unsympathetic to the brokeness of humanity. Something else is broken though, something within our system, our way of doing things is very broken and the only power to fix it is Christ. Our dollars, our time, our debates, my writing is meaningless without Christ.

Maybe this Christmas, the celebration of our Lord's birth which the Church sought to replace the ancient pagan holiday of Yule, we can contemplate the meaning of this often sung but perhaps not often thought about verse. Perhaps this verse can remind us of what Christ came to do, what He did, and what it means for us now. Jesus said that we should worry about today, for tomorrow has its own troubles. Today, as we gather together with our families, or go to work, or take care of other matters which life does not seem to stop for even on this day; shall we consider what it is we have to worry about today? Let's consider who isn't at our table for Christmas dinner. Let's consider today the millions who wouldn't understand how we can feast on the (proverbial) day that Christ came onto this earth to give us a new Way. His final act, to die for our sins and be resurrected, was not His only act. His first act, as we understand in chronologically linear terms, was to become a vulnerable and pathetic human infant. If we are to follow His example, how can we humble ourselves and be vulnerable with the people who need the love and peace that Christ offers?

To all of you who read this, I wish you a Merry Christmas and peace that surpasses all understanding.

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