LEAVE IT TO PEEVER
In my comfort, I hope I’m always uncomfortable
What keeps calling me to the Christian faith? Mostly the radical element. Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. I thought the book, “Irresistible Revolution,” by Shane Claiborne, was a good example of responding to the radicalness of faith involved when one takes the life of Christ seriously and tries to live by it. The underground railroad, the civil rights movement, anti-war activities, Habitat for Humanity, all are, for me, examples of the Christian faith at it’s finest. I’ve always been interested in spiritual strength and action, not fundamental nonsense.
Christmas is a time of mixed emotions for me. I don’t like the consumerism involved, although I readily participate in it. I keep going back, wondering if I’ve bought enough. What troubles me most is that. That weakness. What do I do it for? Am I trying to buy love? I know better than that. Am I duped by the ads, the commercials, the sales gimmicks, the discount hype? I know too much psychology to fall for any of that. Still, I go back, right to the end, sometimes just hours before we open our presents, looking for that one last item, that one special something which will bring happiness to the receiver, the one that will put me in a good light. It all is ridiculous, and I know it, but I continue to do it. That’s what I don’t like about Christmas-the contradictions.
Christ, born in a stable, amongst the filth and stink. Not a very noble start. Pretty much homeless. The wise men are always portrayed as good looking in the Christmas nativity scenes and plays. They were probably ugly and stinky. The swaddling clothes was probably strips of a gunny sack. Used. No one likes to think of Christ in this manner. We like the clean-cut version. I have always thought that if one were to take the life of Christ serious, and use him as a role model, you would definitely get your hands dirty.
I don’t go to church. I don’t like sermons. They drive me crazy. I like singing, and I don’t mind praying, but I don’t have to go to church for either. I probably should be a little more specific. I don’t like Sunday morning church. But I do like some churches. There are some where I get a sense of the divine, where the sacred is obviously present. There are other places where I get that same feeling, like the ocean, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Rainier, Aztec temples, Stonehenge, the pyramids. I think it is good to visit and partake of sacred sites. I’d love to go to the Chartres Cathedral, Notre Dame de Paris, the Sistine Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral. I just don’t need the sermons that go along with them. I got enough hangups the way it is, I don’t need someone telling me I’m a sinner. I can figure that out on my own.
Man, there are a lot of people losing their jobs this Christmas season. What a crock! You’d think companies could wait until Jan. 2nd. Of course, that wouldn’t start the new year out very well, but still, it would seem to be more civil. They probably don’t want to pay any promised bonuses for 2009. And I can hardly believe we allow an immoral and illegal war to continue. It is pure evil, and should not be tolerated, particularly on Christ’s birthday. I bet there won’t be many Christmas sermons proclaiming the evils of war. The word Peace will be used, given lip service by many a minister, but barely a one will insist on it.
My theology has always been a little weird. I don’t even need Christ to be real for his message to be relevant to my life. I take the story to mean I should strive to be a better person. That in my comfort, I should always be uncomfortable. That if there is a child without a mother or father, an elderly person sitting alone and cold, someone hungry, someone living on the street, a sick person who can’t afford help, a friend in need or a strange looking to be seen and acknowledged, that if I now of any of those things happening and I close my heart and eyes to them at Christmas, I would be doing what Christ explicitly warned against. It is in the contradictions and betrayals that have become our modern day Christmas that I find my greatest meaning and purpose: To do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I don’t need all the fancy glitter, nativity displays, or Christmas Eve candle-light sermons to understand such a simple Christmas gift.
Happy Christmas and Peace be with you, both outward and inward. The Peever