Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thoughts on the Eve of Christmas

I haven't blogged in the past few weeks, not because I haven't had any thoughts, but because I'm having such trouble getting them out in a coherent manner. Perhaps it's simply the busyness of this season, but maybe it's something more than that.

Like most pastors, I find the Advent/Christmas season to be simultaneously joyful and frustrating. It's wonderful because of all the traditions, the songs, and the decorations. They remind us of wonderful memories, and since this is my first Christmas as a parent, we are making wonderful new memories that we will cherish for a lifetime.

This season can be frustrating, too. The sheer volume of activity can be tiring. The stress of getting the "right" gift for someone can quickly overshadow the whole purpose of giving gifts in the first place. And, of course, the annual campaign of the "culture-warriors" who crusade against a perceived enemy (that doesn't actually exist) and turn "Merry Christmas" into a political statement.

In my moments of exhaustion and frustration I wonder what any of this actually has to do with Jesus.

But then, at the moment I least expect it, God reminds me that beneath the rather thick layer of crass commercialism and cultural shmaltz, there remains a deep significance to Advent and Christmas. Brian McLaren shared a Jackson Brown song on this blog the other day, called "The Rebel Jesus"

This Christmas, let us look past the lights and the presents for just a moment and remember how God showed up in the least expected of places and became a rebel who challenged the unjust social and religious practices taught by the leaders of his day, and continues to do so today. Let us not forget the Rebel Jesus whose birth we celebrate.

(Note- at the request of my dear friend and excellent New Testament scholar, Maria Mayo Robbins, I'd like to clear up any confusion about my view of Second Temple Judaism. Judaism as a religion has not ever been unjust, but the way it has been practiced by certain individuals has at times been unjust. Such is the case with every religion, especially my own. One need only casually read my blog to see that I am more critical of my own tribe than of any other. What Jesus challenged was not Judaism itself, as he was a very faithful and observant Jew, but certain practices that were enforced by politically powerful religious elites.)

1 comment:

andrew jones said...

have a happy new year matt and thanks for following my twitter.

good christmas post btw